The Importance of Consistently

by Lori Saitz

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of the adverb “consistently” is “in a systematic or consistent (reliable, steady) manner.” No matter what you’re doing, doing it consistently is the key to success. Now that I just wrote that, let me add the caveat that whatever you’re doing also needs to be in harmony with the universal concepts of good. I’m thinking someone who consistently robs banks will eventually get caught and therefore not be successful. But I digress.

Recall all the times you’ve started an exercise program. After several weeks of working out consistently, you start to see results. It’s not as important that you work out really hard or for a long time each session as it is that you do it consistently. Maybe the results are not coming as quickly as you would like; that’s okay. Trust that changes are happening. If you continue to work out consistently, after a few more weeks, you’ll see definite and positive improvement in your physical and mental conditioning.

If you want to talk about things moving at a glacial pace, we can look at, well, glaciers. They move incredibly slowly, right? But they are moving consistently and eventually you (okay, maybe not you, but a scientist) will notice that they’re in a different place than they were.

We can apply the same principle of consistency to your business and the good news is it won’t take millions of years to see the changes. Research has discovered that communicating with your clients at least 25 times a year is optimal. WHOA! That’s the initial reaction I get from people when I say that. “Twenty-five times a year is way too much for my business!” No, it’s not. Here’s how you “touch” clients 25 times without being a pest.

Personal contact

You probably talk or meet with each of your clients at least once or twice a year just in the normal course of doing business. Personal contact is very important to keeping the relationship going. If you can’t manage to make a phone call or have lunch with a client once in an entire year, he’s probably not that good of a client. And for sure he won’t be a client for very long.

So that’s two times of contact.

Send birthday acknowledgement

A card, a little gift, something to let him know you remembered his special day. When is the last time one of your vendors or business partners acknowledged your birthday? Has it ever happened? Generally your birthday is a day that is yours alone; it’s not like a national holiday that everyone is celebrating, so it’s your special day. If you have a good relationship with your client, sending a birthday acknowledgement is not a hollow gesture and will be much appreciated.

That’s one more time, so we’re up to three.

Share industry information or tips

You can do this through an e-zine like this one, regular e-mail, a printed newsletter, copies of articles from a magazine, whatever works for you. I recommend sending this kind of information at least once a month. You may argue that you don’t have time to compile stuff that often and that once a quarter is good enough. I’ll give you that quarterly is better than not at all, but higher frequency, more consistently (just like working out) yields better results. If you are providing useful information, recipients will not mind receiving it.

Do it 12 times a year, added to the previous three and we’re at 15.

Mail postcards or greeting cards

Promote a special occasion, upcoming workshop or unusual event. Everyone sends cards and gifts for the holidays at the end of the year. Now more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon to send stuff at Thanksgiving, thinking that will set them apart from all the December exchanges. Who is reaching out at Groundhog Day (February 2), International Customer Loyalty Month (April) or Flag Day (June 14)? Pick a few times throughout the year and use them to express your personality, say thanks for your business or ask for a referral in an unusual way. Your clients will remember you better and more often.

Every other month is six times, plus the 15, and we’ve got 21.

Recognize clients’ accomplishments

When you see an article in the newspaper or hear through the grapevine about a client’s good fortune, send a handwritten note, (or at least an e-mail), to say “Congratulations!” Who doesn’t like recognition for a job well done? And your client will feel good about you for having taken the time/interest to let her know you’re aware of it.

Let’s say you do this once a year and now we’re closer to the target with 22.

Write a column for the local newspaper, industry publication, association newsletter, etc.

Share your expertise with an audience that includes your clients, as well as potential clients. You position yourself as an expert and you reach a lot of people at one time with minimal effort. If there are 1,200 readers, it certainly beats making 1,200 phone calls, doesn’t it?If you get published three times, we’re all the way up to 25! Wow, that wasn’t so difficult.

In addition to these suggestions, you may have some other ideas on what you can do to keep in touch with your clients. Take some time today to come up with a plan for consistently communicating and improving rapport with your clients.

You’ll soon see that whatever you choose to do, doing it consistently yields fantastic results.


Lori Saitz is an appreciation marketing expert and the founder and president of Zen Rabbit Baking Company. She created the Zen Rabbit Gratitude Program for business professionals who believe expressing appreciation – for their clients, referral sources and anyone else who supports their success – is important.

Educate Your Customers, Grow Your Revenues

by Ken David

What is marketing? First, it’s about understanding deeply the needs and wants of your customers and providing them with greater value. You must clearly identify the demand in the marketplace. At a minimum, most businesses can improve significantly in this area.

However, the real power and leverage of marketing comes from the next level of influence, communicating convincingly your unique and superior value proposition.

Marketing is about communicating with and educating your customers, prospects, and referral sources why it’s in their best interest to do business with your company. It is about educating the right target audience on the unique and superior advantages, benefits, value, and results you can provide and sharing the credible evidence/reasons that support and back-up such promises.

In short, marketing is about educating your target market on the advantages of doing business with you and the reasons why they should trust you to deliver on your promises.

Instead of impacting one prospect at a time (i.e. direct selling), marketing allows you to communicate with, educate, and influence many buyers at once. In a sense, marketing is a one-to-many selling system. Marketing allows you to target and influence large groups of customers, prospects, alliances, referral sources, reporters, etc. in a single action.

Unfortunately, most business owners mistakenly try to tackle most goals (i.e. growing sales) with a one-to-one, single weapon, combat mentality. For example, instead of considering the leverage of marketing (i.e. strategic alliances, referral systems, direct mail, telemarketing, etc.) to grow sales, many owners remain in the same comfort zone and deadly rut of using a single weapon like direct selling. They miss the chance to use air support (marketing) to vastly aid their ground war (selling).

They fail to consider and try new options, new approaches, and new strategies.

While all businesses have a selling process (converting leads to customers), most do not have a legitimate marketing process (generating qualified leads). As such, they miss out on tremendous leverage and revenue opportunities.

Your goal should be to add an ongoing marketing process to your business. Again, marketing is nothing more than understanding the needs of your customers and then communicating to them the superior advantages/benefits they can derive by doing business with you.

Think of marketing as ongoing education. You are educating customers, prospects, and referral sources why it’s in their best interest to do business with your company.

There are only 5 ways to grow your business:

  1. Keep the customers you have,
  2. Bring in more customers,
  3. Increase the average transaction size (unit sale),
  4. Increase the frequency of purchases, and
  5. Say “no” to bad customers/prospects.

In short, keep what you have, bring in more customers, sell larger amounts to them, and sell to them more often. Do one of these well and your business grows. Do two or more of these well, and your business can grow by quantum leaps and bounds, geometric growth instead of mere linear growth.

For this article, we will focus on strategy #1, keeping the customers you have. Don’t underestimate the need to satisfy and retain customers. Most businesses put too much money, time, and effort into chasing new customers/prospects and far too little resources trying to keep their current ones.

However, we all know that you can’t fill up a bucket if you don’t plug the leaks in the bucket. Real profits and stable revenue streams come from long-term relationships and repeat business with your current loyal, profitable customers. Some experts declare that 80% of a company’s future growth comes from existing clients, if served and cultivated properly. As such, customer satisfaction and retention should be your #1 marketing priority.

The primary purpose of a business is to attract and retain customers. You can’t grow and remain in business without keeping the customers you currently have. First, you must measure your current attrition rate (loss of customers) and set a goal for dramatically reducing this rate.

For example, let’s say, on average, that you lose 20% of your customers every year. A realistic goal would be to reduce this attrition rate to 10% per year.

Bottom line, it is easier and nearly eight times cheaper to serve and retain current clients/customers than to pursue new ones.

Once you have plugged the holes in your attrition bucket, you want to serve better and get closer to these profitable and worthy customers. You want to better understand their needs and then fulfill as many of these needs as possible with additional products and services. Continually communicate with your customers. Educate them. Give them value. Give them solutions. Focus on them and their needs, not on your products/services.

Communicate with them in person, in letters, in faxes, in emails, via your website, brief newsletters, etc. Don’t worry; you can’t over-communicate with your customers. Like employees, keep them informed, involved, and inspired to continue doing business with you. Also, repeatedly ask your customers the following questions:

  • “How are we doing?”
  • “What other needs do you have?” and
  • “How could we improve our value to you?”

Your objective is to provide them with more value more frequently and as a result, you will benefit with more profits. Never sell a customer only once. Real profits come from repeat business. As such, set goals to increase the frequency and size of repeat business. You want ongoing relationships and ongoing sales. Also remember, marketing is about educating your customers.


Ken David is the president of The Growth Coach® in Haslett, MI, a business coaching firm dedicated to helping business owners get more out of their businesses and personal lives.

Developing Your Introduction

by Amanda Chocko

How do you answer the question, “What do you do?” When answering this question you need to have a clear understanding of what you do, why, and for whom. You should be able to articulate what makes you special or different from others in the same field. And believe it or not, there are certain guidelines in developing your elevator pitch or business commercial.

First, do not try to encompass everything you or your company does in your introduction. It should be no more than 10 to 20 seconds in length. Your goal is to peak interest and encourage conversation, not give a monologue. If it sounds too rehearsed or like a sales pitch, you are sure to lose them at “hello.”

Come up with a unique title and identify the main benefits (not features) your company offers. Envision every person you meet with the letters (WIIFM-what’s in it for me?) written across their forehead. For example, when people used to ask me the question, “Amanda, what do you do,” I would respond this way:

“I own a company called Ready Set Network!” (Ho hum.) “I organize and facilitate networking events and workshops for professionals and job seekers.” (That’s nice.)

This response sounds okay, but I have come up with a better one. Now when someone asks me this question, I say “I am a Professional People Connector” (notice the catchy title?) This immediately invokes curiosity in the person I am speaking with and is usually followed by, “Really, how does that work?” or, “Tell me more.” Then, I explain the benefits of my business: “I help professionals become more confident and effective networkers. I do this by facilitating speed networking events and presenting networking workshops.” More often than not, the other person wants more information.

Your elevator pitch should also be simple to understand. Try not to use industry jargon, technical terms or acronyms that people won’t understand. First of all, most people will not ask you what you are talking about because they may feel inferior for not knowing, and you want to make it easy for people to refer you to their network. If they do not understand what you do, they will not be able to tell other people, and that is what networking is all about.

So, before you go to your next networking event or social gathering, practice your own unique introduction that sets you apart from the competition and gets people saying, “Tell me more.”


 

Amanda Chocko is the founder of Ready Set Network! offering “speed networking” events and networking workshops that will give you tools necessary to become a more confident and successful networker! She may be reached at (616) 450-2321.

6 reasons why a website is critical to your business

by Jamie Kiley

Since I’m a web designer, I have a tendency to think everyone understands that having a website is important. Every once in a while, I have to remind myself that some people just haven’t heard yet!

We’re going to go back to the very beginning and explain. Here are 6 reasons why having a website is such a big deal:

1. A website increases your credibility

Your website has a powerful impact on a potential customer’s confidence in you. A professional design, well-written copy, helpful product information, and good contact info can tremendously increase trust in your company. It lets people know you’re knowledgeable and up-to-date. If you take the time to develop a good-quality site with helpful information, visitors will have no choice but to be impressed.

2. A website makes your company visible anytime, anywhere

As of April 2002, there are roughly 165.8 million people online in the US alone. Some of them are looking for your products and services. With a website, you open yourself up to a world of opportunity in reaching people who might not otherwise find you. With the click of a mouse, anyone can get to your company’s website 24/7.

3. A website makes it easy for people to refer new customers to you

For many businesses, referrals are a crucial source of new customers. Having a website makes it easy to encourage referrals, because customers can simply send friends and business contacts to your site. Website addresses are easier to remember than phone numbers. Plus, giving people multiple ways of contacting you makes it more likely that they will do so.

4. A website is a powerful sales tool

Selling your products through an online store is often a killer way to expand your business. You have a perpetual, easily-accessed storefront—one that costs a fraction of a brick and mortar store and can reach many more people. Effective sales copy can do an incredible job of hooking visitors on your products and compelling them to click that “buy” button.

Even if you can’t sell your services directly over the internet, a website is still a powerful asset. It’s a primer that you use to convince visitors of why they need your services. You get them salivating to buy, then invite them to contact you through your site.

5. A website increases the value of your advertising

Adding your website address to all your advertisements, business cards, and company literature is a great way to draw potential customers to your company. Providing a website gives people a way to act on your message whenever they hear about you or see an ad for your company. Going to a website is easier than writing, visiting a store, or even making a phone call. Customers get the information at their convenience and don’t have to wait for a salesperson to help them. Also, it’s often more comfortable to visit a website, because there is no obligation. Visitors don’t feel pressured.

6. A website helps you stay in contact with potential customers

There are frequently people who are interested in what you have to offer, but they might not be ready to buy right now. You need to stay in contact with them so that you immediately come to mind when they ARE ready. A website is a great way to facilitate this. You can use your website to collect email addresses from visitors. Then you can periodically send out promotional emails or a newsletter. Staying in contact keeps your company fresh in visitors’ minds.

Well, there you have it–6 ways a website benefits your company and helps you sell more. Do you want to leave this opportunity to your competitors? Surely not! Each day you wait, you’re letting them establish themselves online as the resource in your field. Stop giving them that advantage!


Jamie Kiley is a web designer in Atlanta, GA.

Benefits of Link Building for Your Business Website

by Dane O’Leary

Having a strong web presence is an asset to any business. With technology and the internet being integrated into our daily lives to such a thorough degree, web presence could be considered the most important component of advertising, marketing, and customer acquisition for a business.

There are many ways to improve web presence and make a business’s site more prominent across the web and, in fact, sustaining a site’s findability requires ongoing maintenance. However, one of the most effective ways to ensure that a business’s website is easy to find is to list the site externally on other niche sites and web directories, which is frequently referred to as link building. Here are some of the benefits of making your business’s website available on other sites and directories.

backlink building

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Targeted Traffic

You can find niche websites on just about anything these days. Hobbies of all sorts, science, and a plethora of industries are just a small range of the topical sites that span the worldwide wide. When an individual needs information on a subject, they perform a search using popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, which compile a list of sites based on the search terms or keywords that were used; according to estimates, the strategic use of keywords is one of the key components to getting web traffic and can increase a site’s views by 200 percent or more.

The websites that are listed in these specific searches are niche sites that get targeted traffic, which is a steady stream of visitors seeking the information that the niche sites offer. Contractors, for example, can benefit from this targeted traffic generated via search engines queries by listing their businesses’ websites on the niche websites recommended by the search engines. Users who browse niche websites were able to find those websites because they already had interest in the content and links the sites offer. In short, a niche site’s traffic becomes a targeted audience who are likely to click suggested links to sites that offer services they were already looking for.

Increased Visibility

Niche websites and directories offer businesses a way to significantly increase their visibility on the web. Making a website available in numerous places throughout the web increases visibility in several key ways. However, understanding link building requires a basic understanding of the way search engines work.

A search engine’s responsibility is to provide users credible, relevant, high-quality information in the form of a list of links to sites offering products, services, and information that corresponds to what the users are searching for. Search engines like Google determine a website credibility by observing how often it’s referenced on other sites, the site’s organization and user-friendliness, whether it consistently posts information of value, and as well as many other determinants. Search engines then rank sites with the most authoritative, reliable ones at the top of lists of search results. As such, sites that search engines consider credible and high-quality will be significantly more visible because search engines put them at the top of search results. Consider it like the difference between Wikipedia and a blog; Wikipedia always tops lists of search results while private blogs are typically buried in the list unless the blogger has taken steps to improve their blog’s visibility.

When the California Implant Institute increased the number of quality links to their website on authoritative sites around the web, the amount of traffic to the institute website increased by 79 percent, which has contributed to increased business in the long-term. It takes time to improve search engine rankings; however, link building on niche websites and in directories considered credible and authoritative by search engines will have a huge effect on a site’s visibility. By improving search engine rankings, a business’s website becomes more visible while the numerous links across the web provide more opportunities for users to discover and access the site.

Networking and Partnerships

Another benefit to link building is the potential for networking. Not only does this increased visibility make a business more visible to prospective customers and clients, but it also increases the chances of being discovered by a potential partner and developing lucrative professional relationships.

Web partnerships can be a great source of traffic, especially when the two businesses offer related services; for example, a business that offers carpet installation could advertise for and link to the site of a carpet cleaning business. Such a partnership would be mutually beneficial because customers needing the services of one business might need the services of the other, but each business’s services would be sufficiently different that there wouldn’t be competition.


Dane O’Leary is a full-time freelance writer and design blogger for Modernize.com. He has degrees in psychology and anthropology with additional study in journalism, graphic design, and public relations. Dane is currently working on his debut novel.

10 Steps to Creating an Atmosphere of ROI Accountability

Are You Failing Your Employer by Resisting Measurement?
by Merry Elrick, CBC

A recent Wall Street Journal Europe article claims, “Many marketing managers are failing their employers.” (“Ambidextrous Marketing” by John A. Quelch, October 12, 2005) The reason? According to the author, right-brained marketers lack quantitative skills, show little interest in the bottom line, and resist being held accountable.

This is not the kind of article you want your CEO to read.

Yet many marketers are stretched too thin to develop the type of quantitative rigor that belies these accusations. Creating an atmosphere of accountability requires time and budget many marketers don’t have, yet that is what they are charged with today. And they’d better include ROI metrics, because that’s really the only measure CEOs care about.

So how’s a marketer to foster ROI accountability? Here are ten basic steps:

1. Align marketing’s goals with your organization’s goals

I know this one may seem painfully obvious, but ask yourself if every marketing decision you make supports your organization’s business goals. These goals are almost always related in some way to bringing in revenue, increasing short-term cash flows, maximizing profitability or building long-term value.

Maintaining an alignment with business goals requires constant vigilance. If adding a flash intro to your Web site will not contribute to short-term cash flows or long-term value, then why are you doing it? When you’re disciplined to think of programs in light of the return they generate, you’re more likely to have greater returns.

2. Separate business-building marketing communications from brand-building

Yes, yes, brand building does result in new business, ultimately. At some point. And business-building marketing does build the brand too. But try to distinguish between the two for measurement purposes.

The easiest way to do it is by objective: If a marketing program is designed to generate leads to increase short-term cash flows, then you can categorize it as business-building. If it’s designed to create long-term value, it’s brand-building. When you make this distinction, you can begin to track business-building results. (More about brand-building results later.)

3. Create business-building programs that are designed to generate leads

That means encouraging customer and prospect interaction. Actively seek feedback online and off. Induce responses through good old-fashioned offers like free white papers, guarantees or coupons. In other words, begin a relationship with prospective customers.

Of course this is easier said than done, but if you want to create business-building marketing, it’s important to provoke responses. And then capture and maintain that response information.

4. Follow your marketing communications investment

Begin by building response mechanisms into every tactic in your marketing communications mix. And each one should be coded with a unique 800 number, e-mail or URL. Work with your IT department to track online communications. Save room in your budget for training your call center personnel to ask how the inquiry originated. Everything designed to build business must be trackable.

And it’s critical to know every detail of every response generated by your marketing efforts. Make capturing and recording lead data systemic to your organization.

5. Make the VP of Sales your new best friend

S/he already is, of course, because you’ve been working with him/her to create marketing communications that will generate leads for the sales force. Right? But become even better buddies so you can follow-up on those leads.

You have to tie your marketing tactic to the resulting lead and then follow it through to the sale in order to calculate ROI. So you’ll need feedback from your new best friend to let you know when a sale is made. If you absolutely can’t play nicely together, you’ll have to get sales figures elsewhere, like from accounting.

6. Establish a lead qualification program

Another reason to be pals with sales is to find out how they define a qualified lead. What are the parameters of a hot lead versus a warm lead? How do you nurture the leads that are not quite ripe?

If you are investing in marketing that is designed to generate leads, you must know the quality of those leads. And sales can help you develop criteria for what constitutes a quality lead. When you pass along only the best leads and manage the rest, you make the process more efficient.

7. Develop a relevant database

Your company may have any of a number of systems that include lead-tracking modules. Chances are they won’t link your marketing efforts to the leads generated and then to the resulting sales. If not, work with your IT department to develop a database that is relevant to your needs.

You’ll want to know what part of your marketing mix is pulling the greatest amount of leads, how many leads convert to sales, and how much revenue they bring in. You’ll want to know details about respondents and their companies. You’ll want to compare campaigns, and tactics and media for their efficacy. And keep track of your budget versus costs-to-date. And so much more.

If your current system can’t deliver the metrics you need to determine ROI, then work with your IT department, or outsource to someone who can do it for you.

8. Measure ROI, not “click-throughs”

ROI is a financial term. Period. It is not an increase in awareness, market share, click-throughs on your Web site, or even the revenue generated from marketing communications. It is the profits generated over and above the initial investment and expressed as a percent on the investment.

That said, every company seems to have its own standards for defining terms and making the actual ROI calculation. Find out what your company’s standards are. Make the CFO your other new best friend. It will be one less person you’ll need to convince of the credibility of your metrics.

9. Manage your budget as the investment it really is

Once you know the ROI of all the components in your marketing mix, then you can compare to see which programs yield the greatest ROI. You can see what creative is most effective, and which publications deserve to remain on your media list. You can save money by eliminating what isn’t working, and invest more in what is.

Ultimately, you’ll increase your ROMI-return on marketing investment. That’s how powerful tracking your marketing efforts in a database can be.

10. Recognize that not every marketing program lends itself to ROI measurement

Now we get to brand-building marketing, which is more difficult for B2B marketers to measure than business-building. Measuring components of brand equity-brand awareness, customer loyalty, perceived quality-can certainly be accomplished. But if you want to demonstrate ROI of your brand-building marketing, then you have a more difficult task.

Emerging technologies and complex modeling offer some hope. Econometrics, which uses statistical analysis to measure the relationship between different sets of events, is beginning to take hold in the B2C world. But these complex solutions are likely to cost more than an entire B2B budget.

Does this mean we should abandon brand-building marketing? Perish the thought! It just means we may have to convince CEOs of the power of brand in other ways-increased awareness, for example.

We should show ROI when we can. When it isn’t feasible, we must make whatever meaningful measures we can-and embrace the idea of being held accountable.


Merry Elrick is president of DataDriven MarCom, Inc., which provides B2B marketers with full-service ROI metric management.

Marketing Idea #31: Know Your Neighbors

know your neighbors

Especially in a retail environment, it is important that retailers work together to synchronize and support each other’s activities. Likewise, the same can be true of strategic partners, where physical location isn’t as important as reciprocal efforts. If you haven’t taken the time to meet your neighbors (e.g., the businesses on your block, in your complex, in your part of town), you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Building relationships with these folks will lead to the ability to refer business to them, as well as the opportunity to receive referred business from them.

Boost your credibility as a leader

marketing ideas leadership

by Jack Pyle, Fellow PRSA

No leadership skill is more important than the ability to be persuasive; to speak with confidence and competence. The same statement could be made for all professionals, but it is especially true for managers. You must be able to be persuasive and credible if you are to convince others to use your ideas.

Managers can increase their credibility with staff, senior executives, clients and the public by strengthening their speaking and leadership communication skills. Fortunately, everyone can learn to be more dynamic and persuasive.

Simply by using the power of body language, you quickly increase your credibility and improve your ability to influence others with your ideas.

First impressions are crucial to credibility. In his excellent book, You are the Message, Roger Ailes points out that you must make a good impression within just a few seconds. In a job interview, Joyce Brothers says you have about 30 seconds to make a good impression.

Nonverbal communication (body language) is a key ingredient in first impressions. Your appearance and style make a big difference in how others see and respond to you. President George Bush, Senior certainly learned this well when he overcame the “wimp image” the media tagged him with before the first debate of his initial presidential campaign. Roger Ailes coached Bush on how to use nonverbal communications techniques effectively.

Everyone is familiar with the phrase: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Even though we know this bit of folk wisdom is true, few people heed it. Where do most of us spend our time when getting ready to guide employees, present a proposal to management or staff, or respond to a crisis? We work on the words, the content. How many actually rehearse the presentation of the ideas and critique it? Is it any wonder we don’t do a better job of presenting our ideas?

Words are important. On the other hand, nonverbal communication carries most of meaning when you talk to another. Inflection (how the voice is used) also carries a significant portion of the meaning. You not only need to know what to say, it is very important to work on how you say it.

Some of the ways nonverbal messages are conveyed

  1. Tone of voice: Varying both volume and speed is important to make your voice interesting to others. Voices with a lower pitch have more authority than high pitched voices.
  2. Facial expressions: Smiling, good eye contact, and listening have a strong positive effect on others.
  3. Physical appearance and manner: Posture, handshake, gestures, energy level and use of humor affect your message delivery.
  4. Dress: Neatness counts. Darker colors command more respect. Make sure shoes are shined. Conservative classic styles work best to get a good response from others.

That’s a lot to think about, but here’s an easy way to remember what you need to do to increase your credibility. No matter how nervous you feel inside, using the following five tips will help you appear confident when you speak to others.

When you speak, remember S.P.E.A.K.

S is for smile. It’s one of your best communication tools. It always helps you make a good first impression, and it helps make others want to listen to you. Most managers need to smile more.

P is for posture. How you stand or sit makes a big difference. Your physical stance tells others how you feel about yourself. Confident people stand tall and sit straight.

E is for eye contact. A person who is believable and honest “looks you right in the eye.” Don’t stare, but look at a person’s face for at least three seconds before moving on to look at another person. If you are talking to a group, give your message to one person at a time. (This is important in the U.S. culture, but eye contact may have a very different meaning in another culture. If you are traveling abroad or meeting managers from other countries, learn the cultural differences.)

A is for animation. Show you are interested in your subject with your energy and animation. Be enthusiastic. Animate your voice by speeding up and slowing down, talking louder and softer at times. Make your face animated. A is also for attitude. Make sure you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.

K is for kinetics or motion. Use your hands and arms to make gestures that support your words. Use two-handed, symmetrical gestures, and hold your hands high when gesturing at about the chest level.

Remember S.P.E.A.K. and you will boost your credibility in conversations and presentations. You will be much more persuasive, and people will respond more favorably to you and your ideas.


Jack Pyle, president and janitor of Face-to-Face Matters, Lansing, Michigan, USA, is a communication consultant and provides leadership communication training to corporate, government and nonprofit managers. He speaks frequently at state, national and international conferences.

The Basic Argument for Advertising in a Recession

advertising in recession

from The Wall Street Journal
(publication information unknown)
View the original article

When times turn bad, they’re made worse by hesitation, halfway measures, and panicky decisions. Such as the decision to reduce or eliminate advertising. The fact is, companies that maintain or increase their advertising spending during recessions get ahead. A less crowded field allows messages to be seen more clearly, and that increased visibility results in higher sales both during and after a recession.

Recessionary Advertising Works

Studies by the American Business Press examined the relationship between advertising and sales in 143 companies during the severe 1974/75 downturn. They found that companies that did not cut advertising either year had the highest growth in sales and the net income during the two study years and the following two years. The studies also proved that companies that cut advertising during both years had the lowest sales and net-income increases during the two study years and the following two years.

And not surprisingly, companies that cut advertising during only one of the recession years had sales and net-income increases that fell in between.

Long-Term Benefits

A study by McGraw-Hill of both the 1974/75 and 1981/82 recessions confirmed the long-range advantage of keeping a strong advertising presence. It found that companies that cut advertising in 1981/82 increased sales by only 19% between 1980 and 1985, while companies that continued to advertise in 1981/82 enjoyed a 275% sales increase.

An industry-specific study published by the Harvard Business Review found that airlines that increased their advertising expenditure during 1974/75 increased sales and market share in both years, while airlines that cut advertising in both years lost sales and share both years.

The results of all three studies are consistent, clear and unequivocal: Those companies that advertise during a recession have better sales than those companies that don’t.

The way to minimize a downturn and take maximum advantage of the upturn is to maintain a strong communications link with your buying public.


Recession? Don’t Run Scared

by Marcia Yudkin

During a recession, scared businesses tend to cut back on marketing expenses. This appears to be the smart bet. After all, most customers have become more cautious about spending. So why not conserve your resources, wait out the downturn and have funds to spend when the economy picks up?

In fact, smart businesses expand during a recession because they know there will be a shakeout caused by the scared businesses shrinking.

During any recession, there are always more than enough clients out there to keep you busy if you continue to market, and market smartly. Capitalize on your strengths. Make the most of your business relationships. Create or revive programs that enable customers to move ahead. (I just filled a seminar teaching a highly marketable specialized skill.) Above all, stay upbeat, putting the dynamics of self-fulfilling prophecies in your favor.

If you behave like the scared businesses, or target them, you will contract. If you market to the smart businesses during a recession, you will continue to prosper.

It’s up to you.


Get ideas for marketing moves during a recession from articles I’ve written, including “Clone Your Best Customers,” “Getting New Business Fast” and “Creating a Reputation.” Inspiration costs nothing! Marketing strategy articles: http://www.yudkin.com/marketingmoves.htm


The Sky Is Falling

By Robin Sieger

Speaking to people in business at the moment, there appears to be a storm on the horizon. The newspapers and media are having a field day discussing the rate of inflation, the spiraling cost of oil, the increased number of redundancies, the drop in house prices, the difficulty encountered when borrowing money from the banks, and the all-time favorite the cost of living.

If you’ve spent time living in Great Britain, or know British people, you will know that our favorite topic of conversation is the weather, which is not as surprising as it may sound as we still are the only nation on earth where you can have all four seasons on the same day.

But the favorite topic of conversation now has moved on to the economy (so things must really be serious). The economic downturn has affected everybody, even successful business friends of mine have quite seriously told me they think they’re going to go broke. No amount of positive attitude in the world and well intentioned clichés are going to change their thinking. They have borrowed heavily from the banks to build a business and now the rate of interest is increasing and the value of the businesses is decreasing. Bad times!

I can’t remember the magazine, but it was about nine years ago that I read a fascinating article in which four billionaires were interviewed. The one thing they had in common was they were all over 80 years of age. The interviewer basically asked them about the 20th century from a business point of view. The four interviewees said they had lived through a number of recessions, and one estimated in the 20th century there had been eight periods of recession. They all saw them as occupational hazards.

One of them gave an analogy based on a love of sailing. He said when the wind blows in, you get the sails up and travel fast and far. When the storm approaches, you take in the sails, make the ship safe and hang on. He added when you sense the worst of the storm has passed, you get your sails back up as fast as you can and get going. The biggest indicator of hope is that after the storm comes a period of calm and opportunity that you must never lose sight of.

For many of you, there is stormy weather ahead—how severe and how long it will last I don’t know. I only know that I will keep my eye keenly on the horizon and the moment I sense the storm is breaking start, I’ll put up all the sails I can. In business, recessions come and go just as opportunities come and go, but you must never lose sight of the opportunities that the storms often wash up on the shore.

In the meantime, I’m going to wait until people start talking tentatively about the weather again, which will be a good sign.


Robin Sieger, from Scotland, now divides his time between between Europe and America. He is a successful businessman, best selling author, and broadcaster with offices in the UK and Charlotte, NC. He is a leading success strategist and has a world-class reputation as a conference speaker who passionately delivers high-impact presentations that are informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Robin’s humor and ability to emotionally connect with audiences has seen him become the first choice speaker at major conferences around the world. For more information visit www.siegerinternational.com or email robin@siegerinternational.com.

Infographic: Digital Coupons

The growth of digital coupons has revolutionized how people interact with coupons. There is no longer a need to print your coupon and bring it to the store as digital coupons are becoming commonplace. In 2012, 92.2 million adults redeemed online coupons and this figure is expected to grow to 124.4 million by 2016.

infographic digital coupons

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It is vital that businesses have measures in place to fully utilize this growing market. There are seven key ways in which businesses can incorporate effective digital coupon marketing. These include integrating the offers with email, using text messaging, and most importantly measuring results to determine how effective each campaign is. This allows you to tweak your technique depending on the most effective methods.

This infographic from Colourfast outlines the growth of digital coupons and provides an effective seven-step plan to maximize the effectiveness of digital coupons for your business.

Have you ever used coupons or promo codes with your offers? Any success? Share below!

How to Make Money Blogging

marketing ideas make money blogging

Ah, to make money blogging. It’s one of the holy grails of the Internet community. We write, therefore we are–but we would rather our loquacious posts pay the bills too. Really, is that too much to ask?

Want your words working for you? Here are a few ways to help your articles make money online.

How to Structure Your Blog

Write. A Lot.

The more gravity your website has, the more value (presumably) it will have, providing you have valuable insight to offer on the topic at the center of your soapbox. The search engines don’t look at only pages; they look at the composition of the whole site, as well as the sites linking into it, the links leading away from it, etc. So the more targeted content you have, the more gravity your site will have on that topic and the higher you will rise through the results.

Keyword Research

Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool) to help you ascertain how people are searching for the content you want to offer.

  1. On the left navigation bar, set the search to [Exact].
  2. Enter your first attempt at keywords.
  3. Sift through the proposed keywords, looking for keywords and phrases with thousands of local visits, but which also have low competition. (This is Adwords ads competition, but we’re using it as an indicator of global competitive targeting.)

how to make money blogging

Sprinkle Keywords Throughout

Now that you’ve selected some keyphrases, it’s time to work them into your post. They should appear in your title and–if you’re using WordPress like you should be–in your page URL for the post or page you’re creating. Your keywords should also appear occasionally within your content and within a link or two.

Don’t go crazy here, as it all still needs to be readable by a human, but your blog post also needs to be found relevant by a search engine.

Title Your Images

Also, don’t forget to title your blog’s images. You will want to include the keyword in the alt tag for the image, as well as the actual file name for the image. For instance, the image above is titled “make-money-blogging.jpg” and its alt tag matches the title of this post; “how to make money blogging”. The alt tag is something you can set easily in the WordPress blog software.

While taking a second job might seem like the way to go there are only so many hours in the day, and the stress of the extra workload can lead to other problems. The key to generating a secondary income stream is to find something you enjoy, something you already do or could do, and get paid for it.

Leveraging Your Blog

Affiliate Marketing

One of the major methods people use to bring in extra money with their blog (or replace their main income in some instances) is affiliate marketing. One common approach here is to become a digital advisor and for every sale you make, you earn a commission. So say you write a blog reviewing books. In every blog post, you might place an affiliate link to the book you’re reviewing. Every time someone clicks that link and buys that book, you make X percent of that sale. If no one buys the product, you get nothing, but putting up a single, popular review has the potential to lead to many sales over time, creating an income stream once you build up a steady flow of traffic.

With affiliate marketing, you don’t have to be the magic or produce the magic. You get paid to offer information about whatever product, service, dream or dread the audience is seeking.

Per-Per-Click Marketing

Per-per-click marketing is used by services such as Google AdSense and InfoLinks. With this marketing strategy your goal is not to sell a product, but rather to get your readers to check out ads related to your content. Again let’s use the example of a blog. Say your blog is about aftermarket car upgrades and how-to articles for car enthusiasts. If you allow Google to place a link or banner onto your blog, your audience will now be exposed to the ad. If they click on that ad, you get paid. The more traffic your site gets, and the more ads those people click, the more money you make. Ideally it’s possible to build up a popular enough base of traffic that you can just sit back and let the money roll in.

Selling Your Crafts

Lots of people enjoy making things, but they would never imagine there was a market for the things they make. Whether it’s weaving chainmail or making necklaces, all you have to do is set up an Internet storefront. Websites like Etsy.com or Ebay.com allow you to put up items for sale (or re-sale if you want to try and get a good price for things you bought cheap like designer clothes at a thrift store). You simply create a profile and pay a small fee to list your items. When those items sell you mail them to the buyer, and you get paid. This is more like running a traditional store, but with less of the traditional overhead that comes with a bricks and mortar operation.

Warning: Blog Owner Beware

The Internet is a great way to make extra money, but you need to be cautious when you decide to try out something you found online. Research any site or system before you decide to invest your time and effort into it, and if a “business opportunity” requires you to buy a starting kit make very sure that you look for reviews from other people. Chances are good that the only person making money is the one promising that you’ll be able to quit your day job within the year.

Afterglow

Well, while this isn’t all the tricks you can do, these ideas will get you a long way toward making money online with your blog. After all, I didn’t even discuss sponsorships, mailing list subscriptions, squeeze pages or any of the other fun monetizing techniques. There are many ways to make money blogging, but the cornerstone to running a successful blog begins with these core steps. As traffic to your site increases due to the increased value you’ve built, these money-making techniques will work better and better.
In support of your efforts,

Matt

(Updated April 1, 2015. Original posted October 30, 2012.)

Infographic: The Art of Window Displays

Some fashion brands have gained a reputation for their impressive window displays, most notably high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. They go the extra mile when it comes to attracting shopper’s attention. Whether they have effective storyline type displays or they simply let colours or their clothes do the talking, these brands ensure they turn heads with their window displays.

infographic window displays

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It can be a task to get window displays right. In fact, window dressing is an art in itself which requires a lot of experience and of course, attention to detail. In our info graphic we outline some of the most impressive window displays over the past few years that have rocked the world of retail. We provide details on each: what is depicted in the display, where it is located and why is it so effective. These inspiring designs will make you look at window displays in a whole new light. From Bergdorf Goodman to Chanel and Apple, we cover some of the most impressive window displays over the past five to ten years.

See how visual merchandising is done right with our insightful info graphic on “The Art of Window Displays”. Enjoy!

~The ShutterCo Team
www.shutterco.ie

Do you recall the best dressed window you’ve ever seen? Care to give them kudos?

Infographic: Mobile Market Domination

Why Your Business Needs A Mobile Marketing Strategy

People are no longer only relying on their computers or a landline to stay connected with friends, family, and businesses. Instead, people are using mobile devices to build relationships with others and make purchasing decisions each day.

infographic Mobile Market Domination

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It’s predicted that by 2017, there will be 10 billion connected mobile devices. Additionally, more than half of all mobile devices will be smartphones. As mobile continues to dominate the market, brands will need to implement a mobile marketing strategy that will help them reach their customers.

Mobile is becoming an integral part of marketing strategies because it’s changing the way people consume content. According to the infographic, 51 percent of mobile traffic is mobile and 90 percent of tweets are from a mobile device. Clearly, mobile is making a huge impact on how brands should create content for their customers.

Mobile is also important for brands because people are using their smartphones to make purchasing decisions. In fact, four out of five consumers have used their smartphone to make a purchasing decision. Additionally, more than half of consumers believe mobile making shopping more enjoyable.

When people use their mobile devices for shopping, there are a number of things they look for. According to the infographic, 67 percent of consumers use their smartphones to search for a store’s location. Not only that, but 51 percent of consumers use their smartphones to research product information and 59 percent use them to compare prices.

Mobile domination is changing the way brands create exposure for their business and target customers. By creating a mobile strategy, your business will have the opportunity to create more awareness and build relationships with customers.

Have you had any luck marketing to a mobile audience?

marketing ideas, drive traffic, drive traffic to your website

Ivan Serrano is a social media, business and finance journalist living in the Bay Area of California. 

 

How to Create Engaging Content as a Finance Professional

blog marketing finance pros

Most people’s attention span is a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. The onslaught of digital tools has made us ‘skimmers,’ just as you may be doing right now.

As our brains act like a sieve, creating engaging content in any industry can be a challenge. Creating engaging content as a finance professional is one of the most difficult. It requires even more challenges than an average blog, article or the like.

Making finance interesting and even humorous is a fine line between sounding like an amateur or a professional. Yet, this is what engages a following. It can be much more of an uphill climb, but it can be done.

Out with the Old

In the financial world, a plethora of pertinent information is readily available but is often perceived as dry, mundane material that revolves around statistics, numbers and future predictions. This can often sedate readers into half-engagement, if any engagement at all. They want to retain the information but getting there can be a chore and for some it becomes a “par for the course” expectation.

However, what if your content not only informs but also draws in your reader to the point that they not only read every word, they come back to your info as well as recommend it to others? This is the Holy Grail for anyone wanting to get their work noticed, especially if it goes viral.

In a blog or article you want to gear your tone to the emotional side of finance as well as the practical. This, of course, doesn’t mean that your work should be fraught with so much emotion you lose your reader. It means that any feelings you may experience in your field are probably shared by others. Use these clues to keep it real but not over the top.

Outline

Like any finance project, before you decide to write content you need to know what and how you’re going to lay it out. Create an outline that covers the beginning, middle and end of what you want to say. Once this technical step is covered, adding in some personalization is next.

The Personal Take

Here is where it get’s tricky. Unless you are a known professional in your field that people want to listen to, chances are that self-indulgent work may immediately turn off your reader. Therefore, stick to writing in the third person putting your views into the eyes of the reader.

Stay Detailed

It is all well and good to write like a literary novelist but if you don’t say something meaningful with proof to back it up there’s no chance anyone will care. Lay out your content with bullet points, quoted financial analysis that is up to date, current events and news and various opinions (other than your own). All references must be sourced at the bottom of the page or as a hyperlink.

Title It Right

Using technical jargon in a title may be exactly what your reader will respond to. However, creating a “hook” that stands out from the rest could be your foot in the door. For example, if you are writing about how new technology has affected trading behavior you could use a title such as, ‘Machines Takeover: Trading in a Nanosecond.’

Go Digital Crazy

Getting read across social media platforms is the best form of self-marketing. When it comes to your engaging content this is where you can not only test it out but receive some actual feedback. Sure, grandma and all your loved ones may swoon but many social media users feel safe enough to spout their honest opinion.

Here a few tips to get your stuff on the social media highway:

  • Open Accounts – You should belong to every platform and any that are on the horizon. Unless you want to limit yourself to only financially related threads, connect and be able to link back to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter.
  • Open Your Mouth – Get word-of mouth recommendations of where your colleagues might connect.
  • Don’t just LinkPosting a link on your Facebook page to your blog or recent published work often gets lost in the sauce. Copy and paste a sample along with your link to hook a new reader.
  • Link Back – Many sites offer a ‘link back’ hyperlink or bottom source posting to your site(s) if you offer them a guest article. Others allow this in lieu of pay. Either way, finding someway to bring readers back to what your article refers to enables a solid reference that makes your work look credible.

How to create engaging content as a financial professional takes a ‘thinking outside the box’ approach to surpass all the competition. Stay clever and creative to make your work get noticed.

marketing for financial professionals

Megan Ritter is an SEO professional, writer and graduate student who lives in Los Angeles. You may follow her at https://twitter.com/megmarieritter.

How to Stay Motivated In Your Home Based Business

Having a home based business sounds great. In theory, it is wonderful to stay home, raise your children, and also support them with your business. However, it can be very challenging. Many people struggle to find a balance between work and family (whether they own a home business or not). Because you are your own boss, you may not have deadlines to keep you going. It can be difficult to find time to work and grow your business. You need to be motivated to be successful.

Here are some tips to keep you motivated in your business.

  • Set a goal and stick to it. You can make a goal based on how much time you want to devote to your business. You might want to decide how much money you want to make each week. No matter how you define your goal, once you decide, be sure to work toward it.
  • Get dressed every day. Part of the reason that home based businesses are so popular is because you can work at home in your pajamas. However, many people are not as productive unless they get dressed and ready for each day.
  • Find out when you work best, whether it is morning, afternoon, or evening. Many people have a time when they are most productive.
  • Use that time wisely. Set a schedule and be sure to follow it. Work when you say that you are going to work.
  • Sometimes, it can be helpful to think about how far you have come with your business. Maybe you started with nothing. Maybe you have paid off some of your bills with the money. Did you have enough to pay for a special family outing? This may motivate you enough to keep going.

It can be very difficult to be motivated when you are your own boss. Many days, you won’t feel like working and there is no one there to make you. It helps to see how far you have come in your business and set goals so that you have something to look forward to. Many people do better if they get dressed every day. You should also pick a time to work and stick to it.

Contact us for more help with your home based business.

Should Your Home-Based Business Outsource Work?

If you’re operating a home based business, you probably don’t have anyone working alongside you. Which is nice in the fact that you don’t have to bother with managing anyone. However, once you start to pick up a lot of business, you might feel overwhelmed with all the work you now have to do on your own. At that point, you might find the idea of outsourcing some of the work to be very attractive. But is it really a good idea?

Get More Done in Less Time

The biggest advantage of outsourcing work lies in the fact that it will allow you to get more done in less time. So if you’re behind in filling customer orders, then outsourcing might be the way to go. Because you definitely don’t want to be late in delivering your product or service to your customers.

Delegate Tasks You Don’t Like

There are many tasks involved in running a business. Of those many tasks, there are sure to be quite a few that you hate having to do. Therefore, instead of doing those dreadful tasks yourself, hire someone else to do it. You’ll enjoy your work day a lot more by doing so.

Always Keep an Eye on Things

Just because you’re assigning the job to someone else doesn’t mean you get to completely forget about it. At the end of the day, it’s still your business. Hence, you need to make sure that everything that’s going to be delivered to your client is of great quality.

Don’t Just Go for Cheap

Outsourcing can be great for your business. However, you must be careful about who you choose as the person to outsource to. Don’t just hire the cheapest person willing to take on the work. Opt for someone who is an actual good fit for your company instead.

Contact us to learn more about having a successful home-based business.

Tips For Raising Kids and a Home Based Business

Working from home can be a blessing for many but there are many disadvantages also. Many people think that they can have a successful home based business while watching their kids at the same time. This can make for long and challenging days filled with many interruptions. Some days, they might play well and you can get a lot done. However, there are going to be days that you feel like you don’t get one business item done.

So, what can you do with your children?

  • If your children are little, utilize nap times. As soon as you lay them down, be prepared to start working on your business.
  • When your children are in school, savor the quiet time and work hard to get things done.
  • Have a game plan. Know what needs to be done BEFORE you sit down. That way, if you get a few minutes here and there, you can work instead of deciding what needs to be done.
  • Hire a mother’s helper. Sometimes it would be helpful if you just had someone to get drinks for the kids or to make dinner. There is nothing wrong with getting a little help so that you can settle down and make some money.
  • Have special toys that you only get out when you absolutely can’t be interrupted. Often, children get bored with the same toys that they always play with. New toys tend to occupy them for a little longer. However, you do not have to spend a lot of money. Dollar stores are filled with lots of cheap toys.
  • Use tools so that you can work wherever you go. Get a tablet or a laptop with a good battery so that you can work while your kids play outside or at the park.
  • Utilize quiet times. There is nothing wrong with letting your children watch a little television when you really need to get some work done. You may also decide to have quiet time where they need to play in their rooms and not bug you.
  • Savor the times that you do spend with you children. Be sure to live in the moment and spend quality time with your children.

Balancing a family and business at home can be challenging but it is well worth it. It is important to have a game plan so that when you have time to work, you know exactly what you want to do. You should also use nap and school time to the best of your ability. Though, you should spend plenty of time with your children. After all, they are probably the reason that you work from home!

Contact us for more information about personal and business development.

Building Customer Loyalty

by Jack Pyle

Four years of Gallup Organization polls say consumers believe service quality in the U.S. has fallen and will continue to fall. Brand loyalty has been declining for years. The biggest gripes of customers are failure to do work correctly, slowness, high cost and employees who are unqualified, indifferent or even rude.

Some typical examples of poor service:

  1. Government agencies that emphasize paperwork rather than personal service. And many federal offices have almost incomprehensible voice mail systems.
  2. Hospitals whose first concern seems to be patients’ finances rather than healing.
  3. Car dealers who are only open for sales and service when their customer have to be at work.

The goal of organizations should be to provide value to the customer. But in most organizations, rules and policies are more important than customer needs.

Many managers take the wrong approach to building customer loyalty. They work on customer service-defined by the organization. The emphasis should be on customer satisfaction-defined by the customer. To build customer loyalty, you must focus on customer satisfaction.

The only way to know what your customers want is to ask them. Both qualitative and quantitative research is helpful. Build a customer satisfaction model. Ask managers and employees what customers want, and determine what employee behaviors will deliver it. Then ask customers to review the model and make changes.

Often the internal model is not what customers want. A hotel industry story illustrates this. A seminar group was asked to create a model of the service they wanted during coffee break. Then their trainer asked hotel management and service employees what was important in setting up coffee service.

Hotel people said coffee should be of highest quality and well brewed, served in polished urns with attractive china on a well-arranged table. What did their customers want? None of the above. They wanted fast service-no long lines. And they wanted phones and restrooms nearby. Not a single item hotel people considered important for good service was valued by their customers!

Is customer service worth the trouble?
A loyal customer spends about $150,000 over a lifetime with a car dealer. Does it make sense to argue over a $100 part? American Express research says a loyal customer spends about $180,000 over 10 years-employees make extraordinary efforts to keep them happy. Service is so good that U.S. citizens in trouble overseas are far more likely to call American Express than the U.S. Embassy.

Poor service causes 42% of customers to switch banks. Only 14% of car owners switch dealers because of the cars-68% switch because of “indifference” from sales and service employees.

Good service creates legends-and profit leadership.

  • Federal Express spawned an industry by providing a new customer service-reliable overnight delivery.
  • Nordstrom’s chain of fashion specialty stores saw sales skyrocket 700% in 10 years while profits soared nearly as fast.
  • Embassy Suites beats competition almost every way and is growing 10 times faster than the hotel industry. It recently was rated first by Consumer Reports readers against both mid-priced and high-priced chains.
  • Scandinavian Airlines saw its bottom line change from an $8 million loss to $72 million in profits 18 months later, following a $30 million investment to change its business approach and focus on service for the business traveler.

How do dissatisfied customers behave?
Managers still tend to think their customers are satisfied because few complaints come to their attention. Classic research conducted during the Carter Administration revealed 96% of dissatisfied customers do not complain. Smart managers use this research. They know that for every complaint, there are about 25 other customers with the same problem. If the problem is not resolved, they know people with problems will tell 10-20 people.

Smart managers encourage people to complain to the company and make it easy for them to do so because:

  • Complainers are more likely than non-complainers to buy from the organization again-even if their problems aren’t resolved.
  • 54-70% of complainers remain loyal to organizations when complaints are well handled; 95% will do business again if problem is resolved quickly.
  • Complainers whose problems are resolved tell five others about the good service they received.

The cost of getting a new customer is 3-5 times the cost of keeping an existing one. Yet most organizations spend 80-90% of their marketing budgets seeking new customers.

Creating a service organization
Building customer loyalty means creating a customer-centered management and staff. Service leaders typically do the following:

  1. Research. Excellent customer service professionals know that you begin with open-ended questions, focus groups and other non-directive methods to find out what customers really value and want from the organization.

    Common research mistakes include asking the wrong questions. One failure mode is to ask staff to brainstorm a list of service attributes, then turn them into a customer questionnaire. This approach gives you data for developing a service strategy that supports the existing approach.

  2. Develop a service strategy. Create a simple, long-term strategy focused on customer needs based on your research. It is difficult to provide excellent service to more than one market segment. Liz Claiborne and Frito-Lay concentrate on store owners, not consumers; Scandinavian Airlines and Embassy Suites target business travelers. Shelby Williams Industries sells chairs only to hotels and restaurants. (It owns the largest share-20%-of a tough commodity market.) Every aspect of American Express service is shaped by research. Frequent focus groups and two-hour follow-up interviews are used to develop 4-page customer satisfaction surveys which are sent to 12,000 customers annually.
  3. Encourage two-way communication. It’s an essential foundation for building employee and customer satisfaction. Managers and executives must model the behavior they expect from others. They need to learn to ask questions and listen well. Recent research has shown most quality improvement and worker empowerment programs fail because top managers continue their autocratic methods.
  4. Educate the organization. An absolute truth for creating customer satisfaction is that you first must achieve employee satisfaction. To develop a customer-service culture, front-line employees must be allowed and encouraged to make decisions. That’s where the service action is!

    Education is more than a training seminar. People forget 90% of what they hear in one week, according to communication research. Education is a continuous process which includes on-going formal training and on-the-job reinforcement. Managers and supervisors must be trained to be mentors and coaches so they help employees rather than give orders.

    Typical service training at most corporations involves a $1,000 expenditure per site. There is little on-the-job training, no follow-up to training and few programs to motivate employee behavior, such as bonuses. Only front-line employees are trained (sometimes only those in customer service departments). Usually there is no training for managers and supervisors.

The right kind of training is essential
Contrast that with training done by America’s service leaders. A survey by Citicorp of 17 companies known for excellent service showed that service training costs for front-line employees, managers, and executives averaged 1-2% of sales. Typical training programs share two key concepts:

  1. Vertical cross training. where employees learn jobs above and below their own level. Delta and Singapore Airlines require flight attendants to learn to handle reservations and trace lost luggage before they can fly.
  2. Horizontal cross training, in which employees learn most of the other jobs at their level. Hotels and food chains pay hourly workers extra to learn most of the hourly jobs.

Why cross training? It allows job switching and creates better understanding of how organizations operate, helps employees more easily solve customer problems and increases employee self esteem. Everyone has done the work of sales clerk at Nordstrom; at McDonalds everyone has flipped burgers; everyone can inspect a room for cleanliness at Embassy Suites; Avis vice presidents work at the front desk serving customers; and every officer has fielded customer complaints at Xerox.

Is it worth all this effort? Research suggests customers remain loyal to good service organizations even when things go wrong. Customers tend to be sympathetic when they feel a front-line employee cares about them, understands their needs and does his/her best to fix things.


Jack Pyle, APR, Fellow PRSA, builds trust by improving face-to-face communication through his company Face to Face Matters, Inc. His strategies and training help organizations with change, teamwork, leadership and crisis response.

5 Tips for Choosing a Web Designer

by Jamie Kiley

If you’re in the market for a new website, one of the first things you’ll need to do is hire a web designer. As in any field, there are good web designer and bad web designers, and it’s important to know how to determine which is which. Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1.  Don’t judge a designer’s skill solely on graphic design skills.

Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a web designer based on his or her graphic design skills alone. While graphic design is important, attractive images are not the most significant determinant of good design. In fact, they are a comparatively small part of what makes a good website.

Instead of focusing completely on visual image, concentrate on evaluating a designer’s other skills. Evaluate the designer’s portfolio by asking these sample questions:

  • Does this designer design with usability in mind? In other words, is the site designed for form or for function?
  • Does the designer have good organizational abilities? Look for organization of the entire site as a whole, as well as the organization of individual page layouts.
  • Does the designer employ good navigation techniques? Try out some of the sites in his or her portfolio and carefully examine how easy it is for you to navigate around the site and find specific pieces of information.
  • Instead of using graphics just for the sake of pizzazz, does the designer use graphics purposefully to organize the page and to direct a visitor’s attention to important points?
  • All sites should motivate a visitor to do something, whether it is buying a product, filling out a quote request form, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
  • Does the designer do a good job of visually showing visitors how to take action?
  • Does the designer design sites that are easy to use?
  • Instead of asking, “Does this site look good?” ask, “Would this site make me want to buy a product if I was in that site’s target market?”

2.  Talk with references.

Don’t just peruse the sites in a designer’s portfolio. Get in contact with some of the designer’s past clients and question them on the specifics of their experience. Ask how long it took to complete their website, as well as how easy it was to work with the designer.

Also, be sure to ask how effective the client’s website has been. How many visitors do they get? By how much have their sales increased? How well has the site accomplished the client’s intended goals?

3.  Have a basic knowledge of good web design techniques.

It helps significantly in evaluating a prospective web designer if you know at least the basics of good web design. This way, you’ll be in a better position to judge good techniques from the not-so-good.

Before you get ready to hire a designer, spend some time browsing the web and the shelves of your local bookstore. If possible, try to get a feel for the basics of usability and online marketing. Also, glean information from a variety of different sources. The experts often disagree, and it’s helpful to hear from a variety of perspectives and understand why they hold particular positions.

4.  Don’t necessarily go for the lowest bidder.

Remember, it’s not just about getting a website; you’ll need a website that will actually perform. Price and quality usually have a direct relationship, so you’ll get what you pay for. Designers who are overly inexpensive ordinarily lack experience, are difficult to work with, don’t understand much about online marketing, or don’t truly have a grasp of good web design techniques. A website from such a designer won’t be beneficial.

5.  Look for a designer who asks good questions.

Astute designers should probe you for specific answers to such questions as:

  • What is your primary goal?
  • By what standard will you measure the success of your site?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the primary benefits of your product or service?

Look for a designer who obviously understands marketing, not just graphic design.


Jamie Kiley is a web designer in Atlanta, GA.

Keep This in Mind When Starting a Home Based Business

getting started work from home

So! You’ve decided to push off into the seas of high adventure and being your own home-based business, eh? There are numerous benefits to owning your own business, especially one that allows you to work from home. If you’re interested in starting a home based business, you have a lot of things to consider. Here are some things you should keep in mind in order to be successful in your endeavors.

Setting Up Your Home Office

The most important thing involved in working from home is having adequate space to do your work in. Decide on a quiet location, and then determine the layout of this space in order to make the work you do more efficient. You’ll also have to consider things such as:

  • Lighting
  • Availability of telephone jacks and wall outlets
  • Privacy, as you’ll want to ensure that you will be able to work uninterrupted
  • Temperature control-is there sufficient heating and cooling available?
  • Is there adequate space for you to work in?

Mentally Preparing

You should also prepare mentally to become a business owner. Many people mistakenly believe there is nothing to owning a home-based business, when in fact, it can be anything but that sometimes. A few of the things you should consider include:

  • Motivation. As successful business owners must be self-starters who do not rely on someone telling them it’s time to go to work before they begin their daily tasks.
  • Discipline. Are you able to put aside distractions and focus on your work, or do you find it easy to get sidetracked by your favorite television program or phone calls from friends during this time?
  • Child care. If you have little ones at home, how will you handle your duties with them around? If they are of school age, you could plan on working while they are away, but if they are younger, you could need to consider hiring a sitter in order to help you out.

Talking with Family and Friends

You should ultimately talk with your family and friends about the changes that will take place once you begin operating your business. This is important, as many people think you don’t have a “real job” simply because you work from home. As a result, they may think it’s okay to drop by unannounced because you’re “not doing anything” anyway. Your partner could also expect you to do the majority of the housekeeping simply because you are at home all day. It’s important for everyone to understand that this is real work and should be respected as such.

Working from home can save you money and eliminate a great deal of workplace stress. After successfully establishing your business, you could just find that working outside the home is no longer appealing to you for a number of reasons.

How To Choose The Perfect Home-Based Business

These days you probably get invited to a lot of home parties to see different products. Then, the host will probably tell you that you can easily have your own business and make as much money as you would like, in your spare time. This sounds great and you might even consider it, until you go to the next party! Then, you think about selling that product. So, how can you choose the perfect home-based business?

Here are some tips to choosing the right business for you (and your family)!

  • treasure chestMany people choose direct sales because they work!
  • Most direct sales companies have a plan designed for you to follow so that you can be successful in your business. They offer steps in the form of training to help you grow your business, no matter how far you want to go.
  • If you are not a marketing specialist, you are going to want to find a company that is willing to help you with marketing. Many direct sales companies have policies to help you market both online and off.
  • You need to find a business where you have support. You want to pick the right person to sign up under so you have plenty of support as you grow your business.
  • You need to really love the products that you are going to sell. You are not going to be able to sell products if you do not believe in them. So, try a few products out, until you find something that you love so much that you just have to share with everyone.
  • While loving the product is important, you also need to know people who want your product. Some products are harder to sell than others. However, you can be successful selling anything, depending on who you know.

Choosing the right business is going to make the difference between a successful one and one that is not as successful. You need to find a company that will give you support and a plan to help you succeed. You also want to make sure that you really love the product and want to share it with everyone! You also need to find people that will buy the product that you are selling. So, go to a few parties and try a few products before you pick a product that you are comfortable selling!

10 Things That Are True About Home Based Businesses

“So you work from home? That’s interesting.” I imagine that when curious friends hear that,  immediately they are thinking that I’m schlepping around in my pajamas, making money just by cruising around on the Internet. Anyone who’s ever began and maintained a successful home based business knows that there are a lot of misconceptions about working a home based business but there are some true things too. Learn 10 true things about working a home based business.

  1. adventure in direct salesYou are the boss, that’s true. It’s a good feeling, isn’t it?
  2. You have to constantly look for work. Well, yeah, there’s that but I love even that.
  3. You get to design your life. That’s right, you get to pursue the things you love. That’s a huge benefit over a nine to five job.
  4. You may have to work late hours from time to time. That’s true, no matter who you work for. It may as well be you!
  5. You need to have a knack for being organized. If you don’t have a knack for it, learn how to organize your work.
  6. When you work from home, you may still need child care. However, bringing a reliable friend in to help you is a plus.
  7. You have to look like a professional at least 75 percent of the time. I would agree with that and say that if you have to Skype frequently, that number should go up to 90 percent.
  8. A home based business can also be a car-based business, depending on how much time you spend in it. In some types of home businesses, you must drive–a lot.
  9. You have to work closer to your customers and have better relationships with them. You don’t have a large pool of customers like a major corporation would have. Make every client count.
  10. You have control of the time clock. If you want to take off for religious holidays, music festivals or just because it’s Tuesday, you can do that. Enjoy!

With so much to love about working a home based business, why would you ever want to work for someone else?

Color: One of the Greatest Marketing Ideas

color in marketing

In the world of marketing, there are good ideas, and there are great ideas. Yet, even some of the greatest marketing ideas change over time. One of the greatest marketing ideas that has changed over time is the simple concept of color.

Color to attract wealth

In ancient cultures colors were used to identify rank and socio-economic class. The Chinese, for example, reserved the use of yellow, jade, and red were usually reserved for the emperor, while deep purple, golds, and blue were reserved for the English royalty in later times.

In recent times these color fashions still evoke a sense of richness, quality, and high standards.

Psychological effects of color

The psychology of color is convoluted at best due to the differences in the way individuals and cultures as a whole may react to color. Despite of this, there are some general trends that can be used in marketing. For example, using red and yellow in your logo can evoke feelings of boldness and enthusiasm along with optimism and warmth. Using these trends to project the feeling you want may or may not produce the feelings you want, but it is sure that your logo will be more distinctive and memorable to your loyal clients.

Jogging memory with color

When you think of Cadbury, you might think of their recent legal battle for purple. Not just any purple, but a specific shade of purple that they have been using for centuries as their part of their logo, which naturally markets itself. When Cadbury won their legal battle for the trademark rights to their specific shade of purple, they reaffirmed the importance of color used in marketing and branding. The reason is simple: it jogs our memories when we see these familiar colors along the windows.

Times change, and so do people

While color is still an important aspect of marketing and branding, times are changing along with the impressions of the public. Now, people want more freedom of expression for themselves as the new wave of entrepreneurs start making their claim in the world. Color choices used in branding and marketing area making a swift change with the cultural desires. Etsy, for instance, is well known for their shabby chic, white-washed looks as well as their pastels as well as more unusual color combinations that travel in and out of style. To keep up with these changes, start up company, Insanitek, recommends that new business owners brand according to their own heart and soul, not uncertain psychology of color.

Color truly is one of the greatest marketing ideas of all times. It’s versatile, can speak volumes about your company and brand, market your products at a glance, and evoke thoughts and feelings in people as they look your way. So how do you use color efficiently in your marketing? Get in touch and we’ll help you figure out your best color schemes to use in your marketing.


More on using color…

Using color can be a powerful tool. It engages us, helps establish brand identities, market products and it increases our memory; but what about using black and white as color? We’ve grown so accustomed to adding color to almost everything, that B&W may seem uninteresting and boring. Black and white can be just as powerful and elegant as using colors. One benefit of using black and white is less expensive print costs. Using black and white together creates very sharp contrast and eye-catching appeal. Black goes well with almost every color except for very dark values and white goes good with almost any color.

White symbolizes: cleanliness, purity and innocence. In western cultures white is the color for brides, but in eastern cultures white symbolizes death.

Black symbolizes: mystery, elegance, and sophistication. In western cultures black symbolizes mourning.

Did you know?

Black is the absence of color and is therefore not a color. Black absorbs all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflects none of them to the eyes. Black can affect the perception of size and weight of objects and designs, making things appear smaller. White is the sum of all the colors, therefore white is a color. Light appears colorless or white. Sunlight is white light that is composed of all the colors of the spectrum. You can’t see the colors of sunlight except when atmospheric conditions bend the light rays and create a rainbow.

~Idea submitted by Graphic Communications, Inc., specializing in high-profile business solutions used to create a dialog between you and your market. Our services include vehicle graphics, interior graphics, exterior graphics, promotional graphics and design services. Graphic Communications believes small businesses should have access to the same comprehensive graphic services available to large businesses. Our goal is to provide these services without the high costs associated with the graphic arts industry. For more information, visit www.graphiccom.com.

True Colors: Using Color to Build Your Brand

by William Arruda

When you hear “big blue,” what company do you think of?

Some companies, organizations and even people are so consistent and steadfast in their use of color, that they almost own that color in our minds. Think Home Depot, Breast Cancer Awareness, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

Some companies actually do own their colors. Tiffany, for example, has registered its trademark robin’s egg blue as a brand asset.

As marketers, you know that color is an important brand asset. It helps clients and prospects recognize your company or product. But color can be used to support goals way beyond just recognition. It can be used to evoke emotion and build that all-important connection with the people who surround your brand.

You can use color to further differentiate your organization from your competitors, revitalize an aging product and engage and unite your employees, partners and customers. When you go beyond the traditional use of color, you can make incredible strides in achieving your goals.

When I worked for the software company Lotus, our color was yellow. Not just yellow—our yellow was a custom color called Lotus yellow.

This unique color was so important to Lotus that our Creative Director, Vartus—a strong brand herself—went to tremendous lengths to ensure that it was being used properly on everything from brochures to signage to coffee mugs.

Every print job cost extra because we had to add our custom color to the standard four-color process. But the cost was just a small investment in an incredibly powerful brand asset. The whole organization understood the importance of yellow and worked to ensure its abundant and appropriate use.

The Lotus corporate color was originally blue. But it changed to yellow when we moved our products into retail. Yellow boxes are more likely to be taken off the shelf, so Lotus Yellow was born. But it was not through retail sales that the yellow had its most dramatic effect. It was with the larger Lotus brand community.

Color activates your brand community

When I first joined the company, I was hit with yellow from all angles; it seemed a bit excessive. But when I went on my first qualitative brand audit, I saw first-hand how powerful color can be. Respondents in cities from San Francisco to Sao Paolo shouted “yellow” when asked, “When you think about Lotus, what first comes to mind.”

And yellow was consistent with our brand attributes: bright, positive, warm, visionary. Our yellow awareness was so powerful, that when we launched TV ads in a letterbox format (the ad was shown between two horizontal bars of yellow) people could identify that they came from Lotus without even watching them. Not bad for general brand awareness. Of course, we hoped people would watch the ads, too!

In the marketing department, we used yellow as a way to express the brand internally. We developed communications and Web-based materials that explained the Lotus brand through creative uses of yellow. Everyone in the company bought into Lotus yellow and proactively supported its liberal use. We even had a “yellow” video that was shown to all new hires during orientation.

From accounting to product development, employees considered how to include some yellow in their day-to-day activities. And business partners and alliances joined in, too. The color yellow, as strange as it seems, was a powerful and unifying force among all members of the Lotus brand community.

Color choice can’t be taken lightly

Choosing a color can be as challenging as it is important. There is a whole psychology behind color. And colors mean different things in different countries. Lotus yellow, for example, had a different formula in Japan than it did in the rest of the world. So choosing color for your organization or product is not something you do lightly.

Selecting a color to represent a person can be an even greater challenge according to Brian Wu, Partner and Design Director for Brandego, a company that builds Web portfolios for business people.

“When we build a Web site for an executive, one of the key decisions has to do with color,” he says. “What color or palette of colors will support the client’s personal brand attributes and set an appropriate emotional tone—in the way that music colors movie titles?”

Do you know what color or color palette best represents your personal brand?

The most common logo color for American corporations is blue. But blue is probably more often associated with IBM than any other brand.

And IBM takes full advantage of its unique relationship with blue. You will see blue on the corporate Web site, in all presentations, on corporate materials, on signage and in the names of many of their programs: Blue Gene, Deep Blue and Extreme Blue (just to name a few).

While IBM is associated with the most common corporate color, UPS has chosen one of the least-used colors (brown) and turned it into a tremendous brand asset. Its Valentines Delivery press release was titled “Roses are Brown.” In its latest series of ads, it replaced the corporate name with “brown” in the tag line: “What can brown do for you?”

According to color expert Jacci Howard Bear, brown represents steadfastness, simplicity, friendliness and dependability—perfect for a logistics company. These brand attributes are closely connected with the UPS brand promise. Brown is also a highly differentiated color. Can you think of another organization that uses brown?

Color supports differentiation

The ability to identify a company by its brand color is amazing. When you are standing at the bus stop at the airport waiting for your rental car shuttle, you know whether you are looking for the yellow, red or green bus. It’s more difficult to identify Budget (orange and blue) and Alamo (yellow and blue). Multiple colors seem to be harder to own—unless, of course, you’re Apple.

The rainbow colors are perfect for the Apple brand. Creative. Different. Diverse. Not an inexpensive proposition from a printing perspective, but extremely valuable from a branding angle.

Color can have a double effect

Some organizations and products have colorful names: Orange (the European telecommunications company), jetBlue, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the Red Cross, the Yellow Pages, Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They all benefit doubly from the emotion-creating power of color.

And the music industry seems to have a strong desire to connect sound with color: the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pink, Green Day, Deep Purple, Simply Red, and the Indigo Girls are just a few of the artists with colorful names.

Although blue is the most popular corporate color in the US, red seems to win out when it comes to company names that include color. Red Herring, the Red Cross, Red Envelope and Red Hat Software are just a few of the companies that chose to associate themselves with this color, which often connotes warmth, excitement and aggressiveness.

Color supports a renaissance

M&M-Mars certainly knows the value of color. It revitalized a brand that was at the end of its product life cycle by holding a contest to find the next M&M color. It turned out to be blue, and they launched an extremely successful ad campaign where the other M&Ms, who were jealous of the new blue, would hold their breath so that they too would turn blue.

That was so successful for M&Ms-Mars that it has continued to use color as a way to generate more interest in the brand. In 1992, it held another contest to choose a color. Now M&Ms have lost their color entirely. They are black and white, and so is their packaging. We as consumers can help find their colors again as part of the “Help Find Our Colors” contest.

The potential that color has to unite your organization and support your brand-building activities is tremendous. There is almost no end to the creative ways that it can be used to attain your goals. So think about whether you are getting the maximum value from your corporate color and if necessary, make a plan to color your brand.

Here are 10 ways to make the most of color

Color is powerful. It evokes emotion. It is an important brand tool, so use it wisely. To make the most of your color, ensure that it…

  1. Supports your brand attributes
  2. Is relevant to your target audience
  3. Is always the same shade and hue
  4. Is visible to all members of your brand community, inside and outside the company
  5. Is understood and appropriately used by all employees
  6. Is featured on all your communications materials and sales tools
  7. Is different from your competitors’ colors
  8. Works in all parts of the world where you plan to do business
  9. Is applied to more than just your logo
  10. Comes with guidelines on its use for partners and affiliates
William Arruda is the personal branding guru and founder of Reach, a global leader in personal branding, and coauthor of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand (www.careerdistinction.com).

How to Effectively Use Twitter for Your Business

how to use twitter for business

Media Bistro says 33 percent of the 200 million Twitter users follow at least one brand, and the top reason they follow brands, which could include your small business, is because they want discounts and deals, updates, exclusive content and customer service. Yet Forbes.com reports more than 60 percent of businesses surveyed who use social media including Twitter report no return on investment. Why aren’t the sellers-of-stuff reaching the buyers-of-stuff? They’re not using the tool properly.

How Consumers Use Twitter

Twitter users connect with the world by following people, which means other Twitter users who have @ before their Twitter handles, as in @BarackObama, @cnnbrk (CNN Breaking News), @Bill Gates, etc.

They create lists of the people they follow and group them into categories, as in friends, celebrities, news organizations, funny people and so on. Those lists can be made public to the people who follow them, or they may be kept private. The advantage of sharing lists is you can filter out noise you don’t want to read, and zoom in on the people who interest you.

Users also follow conversations, which appear as hastags, as in #superbowl, #iphone, #usingmyimagination, and #breakingbad.

Bottom line: People use @ to follow people and organizations, and # to follow conversations.

How Businesses Use Twitter

As a small business, you probably already know your customers, their demographics and their buying habits. But do you know what they talk about? Do you know what problems they have? Do you know what makes them happy or really ticks them off? Find out what your customers talk about, and use a reliable connection such as InternetProviders.com to get in those conversations.

Let’s say you’re a flower shop with five locations, and you live in a large city such as Minneapolis or San Diego. You will follow your competitors, hotel chains, funeral homes, large corporations, local media and your own customers — and maybe they’ll follow you, too. What do most of your competitors Tweet? Here’s a sampling of a florist in San Diego who has posted nothing but self-promotions in the previous seven Tweets:

twitter for business thread

Here is a Minneapolis-based florist who posts Tweets that tell stories:

twitter for business thread

Take a page from Chez Bloom’s book (or petal from her flower?) While Allen’s Flowers repeatedly says “Buy stuff,” Chez Bloom tells stories. She helped stage a home, she piqued interest with the man-eating flower, and she helped promote a farmers market.

Bottom line: Get into conversations.

How Much Should I Tweet?

Three to five times a day? What?

Calm down. It’s not that difficult. First, you’ll use Twitter’s tool to allow you to see what’s trending in your local area. Get in those conversations.

Next, you’ll look into software that allows you to schedule Tweets out. SocialTimes.com lists 10 apps that will help you do that.

Lastly, you’ll hire an intern. Hire a college kid to do it for you, especially if he or she already has 10,000 followers (that’s a lot — be impressed.) The student will love to get paid to be on social media, and he or she can do your Tweeting on a flexible schedule.

how to use twitter for business

Nikki Siebel’s a native Oregonian who launched her own social media consulting business after baby No. 2 came along (baby No. 3 is on her way, and there will be no baby No. 4).

Personal to Pro: Selling Ideas Like a Motivational Speaker

public speaking

One of the most important ingredients for a successful, happy and harmonious life is the ability to communicate effectively. Life is built upon relationships, and one of the components of positive, successful connections is good communication. This applies in both your personal and professional life.

Motivational speakers are known for their skilled communication abilities, and we can learn a lot from them. Whether you work for an existing company or are an entrepreneur, the only way you’ll be able to sell your ideas is by communicating what you’re offering in an effective and compelling way. The same goes for having a satisfying personal life. Here are five of the hallmark strengths of the very best motivational speakers that you can incorporate into your own communication style:

1. Know Your Audience

Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Every customer, individual or group you will be addressing is unique. Get to know their background as well as their primary wants, needs and concerns. Focus on the individual aspirations of each person you speak to, whether it’s an employee, a customer, your child or your life partner.

2. Establish Credibility

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll likely have to work to establish credibility and earn their trust. If you’re pitching new ideas, define a proven methodology ahead of time that you can explain and help compel your audience. Whether your agenda is personal or professional, create a detailed, step-by-step, clear plan for success. Your credibility will rise exponentially if you can point to past successes based upon the same formula.

3. Learn From the Best

When choosing and refining your communication style, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Look to successful speakers and great leaders that you admire and glean ideas and inspiration from them. For example, consider Josh Shipp or Ed Young; according to inc.com, Shipp is a motivational sensei, employing both his youthful spirit and sense of humor to relate to audiences. Ed Young, the founder of Ed Young Fellowship Church, uses a creative communication style that helps to make even complex ideas easy to understand and apply, according to FellowshipChurch.com.

4. Build a Genuine Connection

While this tip will be easier to apply in your personal life, it can be invaluable in your professional life as well. No matter who the person is, no matter what their background or walk of life, you can relate to them on an authentic personal level. All you have to do is speak from the heart and have true empathy for them as a fellow human being. We all want pretty much the same things in life: security, peace of mind and to be appreciated. If you relate to every person you meet with this in mind, your relationships are likely to thrive.

5. Expect the Best of People

A positive attitude and outlook can go a long way toward success in every area of your life. Try and enter into every human interaction with an expectation of the highest and best outcome from the exchange. Visualize your ideal scenario with that person before the meeting begins. Expect the very best from people, and you’ll likely be amazed at what transpires.

public speaking

Sean Patterson is an English instructor and is working on his first screenplay.

Brand Conversations: Not Just On Your Twitter Feed

social media marketing

Are you in charge of running a company’s social media campaign? If so, you know that your brand receives all kinds of feedback from followers on social media.

In day-to-day monitoring and community management, social media managers are faced with both positive and negative mentions about their brands. From complimentary praise to harmful attack, social media feeds reflect what people think, feel and write about brands and products.

For marketers, this is of top concern. They should be aware of how their brand is being perceived. The three Cs for marketing teams are Content, Conversations and Community. How is the brand developing content? How are marketing teams leading and responding to brand conversations? What’s the community vibe of a particular product and brand?

Dedicated Twitter feeds, like the Twitter stream of iAcquire NYC, are growing in practice; Facebook pages are optimizing the use of social opt-ins and digital marketing firms are selling social services to clients across the entire online spectrum.

But it’s not the only thing. Where’s the conversation about your company happening? It isn’t just on your social media stream. It’s happening in forums, online webinars, LinkedIn chains, street level marketing events and brand-sponsored tours. How can brands utilize these areas to drive partnerships, bring in new customers and offer up new branding opportunities? Let’s take a look:

Buzz Marketing (aka Word of Mouth Marketing)

As Forbes rightly points out, word of mouth marketing just keeps getting better. Why? It’s a sign that a company is doing something right, and many people are driven to want its product or service. Brands can use teaser and buzz marketing campaigns to build conversations around some of their customers’ best testimonials. For years TV ad campaigns have used customer testimonials. More recently, there are buzzworthy tee-shirt campaigns in urban centers, delivering messages (and sometime free swag) to passers-by.

Street Marketing

Consumer brands should look to street marketing activities for many of their offline campaigns. They can set up booths at city festivals, sponsor local industry functions, and align themselves with local non-profits or worthy causes to boost their community partnership standing.

Marketing Forums

Marketing leaders on all fronts should follow industry insights to benefit their daily roles. LinkedIn hosts a number of industry forums to follow, as do local professional associations. Global and international associations have forums worth following, too.

TV Advertising

A great TV campaign can spark online and offline conversations about your brand. A great product, along with a great message, good timing and a link to the current cultural zeitgeist will help any TV ad campaign. From “Where’s the Beef’ years ago to the best TV ads of 2013, great TV ads can capture a brand’s audience and get them talking about and engaging with the brand. TV ain’t dead yet.

Industry Webinars

Marketers can learn a lot from hosting, sponsoring and participating in online webinars. Direct feedback from customers, competitors, and potential new business partners is invaluable to marketing teams. The key to making a webinar valuable is understanding essential industry topics that need further discussion. If your timing is right, then your webinar can have long-lasting benefits. Set it up with a provocative title, invite the best marketers, and host it with one of these top webinar platforms.

Once marketers spend some time off Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, they may find there is another, sometime deeper, discussion taking place. Online and off, it’s time to manage the discussion of your brand, with the audience that suits your company best.

big data

Guest post by Lucy Kim. Lucy is a mom and avid environmentalist who runs a social media company from her home.

Marketing Idea #127: Silent Auctions

silent auction

Not only do silent auctions bring in money for your cause, they can also be a great marketing idea for nonprofits seeking new donors. Because you’ll need to do a little pavement-pounding to collect the items up for bid, you’ll have the opportunity to forge new relationships within the local retail community, leading to future revenue.

Get Organized

Putting together a silent auction is a lot of work, but it isn’t as hard as you may think. The first steps are to organize your mission statement, write a letter to potential donors, and create a form through which they can submit donations of merchandise or gift certificates. Set up deadlines on when the items need to be collected and when the auction will begin and end. All this information should be in the cover letter handed out to local business owners and managers.

Recruit Sponsors

Next, you’ll need to take a walk. Have two or three of your employees canvas several retail strips within your community. Make sure they can speak intelligently and passionately about your cause. Widen your search for items by advertising the auction on social media and Craig’s List. In your online advertisement, you’ll have the opportunity to reach out to potential bidders, too. As donations roll in, take a photo of each and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or your nonprofit’s website to further entice the bargain-hunters and philanthropists you aim to reach.

Select the Venue

An essential part of a successful silent auction is finding one high-traffic venue willing to host a board of items for a few days to a couple weeks. Small, locally-owned coffee shops and organic grocery stores are both excellent options. Typically charitable, they’ll also be hungrier for cross-promotion.

Promote, Promote, Promote

Once you have a bevy of items, a venue, and a schedule, continue to promote via print and social media. Customers can register online, receiving a bidding identification number in the process. Set up your auction board with attached photographs and space for bidders to write their I.D. number and bid amount. Don’t forget to supply pencils.

Let Them Know Who Won

Once the auction has ended, collect the bids, and notify all winners by the contact information required for registration. Appoint a time and place to pick up and pay–perhaps your non-profit headquarters over the course of a week. After that week, if a winner has not collected his item, default to the next highest bidder. This part of the process usually takes a while, with winners floating in and out over the course of several days.

Now Go Launch Your Silent Auction

A successful silent auction can bring in hundreds, even thousands of dollars depending on what type of items you receive and how many you collect. While a fair amount of hard work, it’s an excellent way to spread awareness of your cause and pull in revenue at the same time.

Contact us for more advice on how to make your small business or nonprofit a success.

A Review of ‘Killing Us Softly’

killing us softly

Have you ever noticed how an actress or model looks seems to play a more vital role in an advertisement than the message they deliver? In her presentation, Killing Us Softly, Jean Kilbourne elaborates how an ad sells better than the product itself. Why? An ad can convey esoteric concepts, as well as simple product value. Concepts such as love, sexuality, dreams of success or normalcy are underpinning currents carried by most of today’s advertisements.

Advertisements tell us who we are and who we want to be. They define a person in ways that even their own heritage cannot. With every other woman on the television or in the magazines looking fair and beautiful, girls in their teens assume this is the norm by which to conform. The kind of clothes, the shoes, the makeup, the must have handbags and even minor accessories like headbands and gloves attract these young minds easily with their color and glamor.

As Kilbourne points out, lured into believing the airbrushed world of advertising by a young age, it becomes easy for girls to lose track of their identities, growing uncomfortable in their own skins. This has been the case with majority of the models in the past decade. Too many stories tell of models and starlets falling into hospitals or rehab centers, where the worst cases face traumatic disorders—sometimes leading to death.

According to Jean, advertisements carry only one main message these days for women and that is to look good. She illustrates examples where women celebrities have admitted to the high degree of photo retouching in their own advertisements. Quoting supermodel Cindy Crawford, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

sexy peta ad

Most women in cinema and fashion have fallen prey to the post-production effort to make them appear slimmer, taller, bustier or fairer. Kilbourne gives various examples of entertainers and models (Kiera Knightley, Jessica Alba and Kelly Clarkson, to name a few) who have been Photoshopped to achieve magazine-worthy looks. Not all actresses have gone along with this quietly, Kilbourne says. Titanic star Kate Winslet has publicly announced she looks nothing like her image on the cover of the British GQ magazine.

Kilbourne feels this treatment of women is equivalent to an act of indirect violence. To live up to this airbrushed ideal, many women resort to dieting and other fast and dangerous methods to reduce their weight. Prime examples here, she says, are the models who grow thinner and thinner, year after year. A dire example, Ana Carolina Reston died of anorexia after being called ‘too fat’ by a modeling agency. Kilbourne asserts such cases have now become an all too common occurrence in the fashion industry.

Continuing her argument, Kilbourne points to the growing objectification of the female form. Many of today’s advertisements are more focused on certain physical attributes of women, further contributing to the not-so-subliminal emphasis given to an unhealthy, unrealistic ideal. The direct impact this has on a woman’s self-esteem is often neglected. This objectification of women has evolved into a form of social violence, Kilbourne says. It has become a public health issue that threatens every female around us and it places upon us the responsibility to hedge our daughters against it.

In today’s world advertisements market the women and not the product. You see nudity in everything. From a simple CD cover to a beer advertisement, women are portrayed in varying levels of nudity. What once was a crime is now a trend. So the most important question asked here is, what is being marketed to women? What does she think when she goes to an agency and is asked to strip off her clothing along with her dignity? In the age where money is paid for any kind of service, most women do not really understand the repercussions of their actions. Either they are too desperate and in need or they simply are not educated enough to look for a better job.

sex in advertising

Jean Kilbourne has done a marvelous job hitting the right points to convey the depth and seriousness of the issue at hand. Her inspired determination to enlighten us about the imagery we are allowing at the newsstands is a wake up call.

As a father of two daughters (and two sons—not to overlook them in the whole self-image crisis,) I have a keen interest in sheltering my children for as long as possible from the damaging effects of “news-stand beauty.” Jean’s message in Killing Us Softly is loud and clear. I pray it takes us by the throat and gives us the good rattle we need to wake up and break out of our dive.

Matt

big data

Update: August 8, 2013

Dove has done it again. This time, they’ve taken their argument for natural, untouched portrayal of beauty straight to the creatives holding the smoking gun. This time, it’s in the form of an Easter egg–a hidden message or feature in software. When the guilty, image-enhancing creative attempts to apply the skin glow effect advertised by a free Photoshop plugin, they get a message meant just for them. Brilliant.

Enjoy!

Big Data and the Future of Digital Marketing

marketing big data

It’s no secret that the world of marketing has become increasingly sophisticated in the ever-evolving world of digital media. This new complexity is derived from marketing data becoming exponentially more massive and fueled by today’s discerning, fluctuating consumer base. Big data is here, and it’s changing everything.

What is Big Data?

We produce and consume roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, and 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years alone, according to IBM. Whether we like it or not, all of the data we’re dealing with and managing in the web marketing space is big data. In a nutshell, big data is information that is gathered from social media, GPS, photo sites and general Internet browsing — pretty much anywhere that thousands of users congregate to post and download information produces massive data sets referred to as big data.

Big Data: The Future of Marketing

Five years ago, the idea of web marketers leveraging big data to deepen their understanding of potential customers was laughable. The cost alone of backing up terabytes upon terabytes of marketing data on a daily basis was almost overwhelming. But now with the advances of storage, managing big data in the marketing environment is easier than ever. Many companies are taking advantage of online backup comparison sites that help ensure realistic and affordable prices for online data storage.

Beyond the lowered cost of managing big data, big data-centric social businesses have received a lot of interest from investors over the past few years. Many of these social businesses — Facebook, LinkedIn, Vitrue, Buddy Media, etc — are all resources that marketers use on a daily basis. This is all outstanding news for the marketing community. Never before in advertising and marketing have millions upon millions of users all congregated in the same place. But the big problem with this social business trend, according to Business Insider, is a lack of effective measurement.

This is where big data analytics come into play. It allows marketers to gain sophisticated data on millions of users and social impressions in a single, unified big data analytics dashboard.

Big Data in Healthcare

One of the major industries benefiting from big data technology is healthcare. Big data technologies are making it easier for healthcare professionals to manage data that both helps increase the efficiency of mission-critical healthcare processes and makes it easier to help patients of all kinds. With the right systems in place, healthcare facilities can easily understand and deliver data to patients and other professionals throughout the facility. Big data streamlines these healthcare processes through a combination of virtual administrative assistants (not unlike Apple’s Siri), data mining and analysis, data collection and market analysis, as TechTarget notes.

Big Data in the Entertainment Industry

Big data is even reaching its way into the marketing sector of the entertainment industry. Take the film industry for instance. The film industry needs to embrace this new era of big data to keep up with the growing demands of tomorrow’s moviegoers, opines Steve Canepa on Business Insider. This idea of big data and entertainment industry marketing even trickles down to the video game industry. As more games become social and rely on sophisticated user data, the only way to keep up is through the use of big data technologies.

big data

Guest post by Sarah Phelan, everyone’s favorite IT gal. She does tech reviews on the latest in virus protection software and web hosting.

11 Ways to Market Your Fundraiser Offline

ways to market your fundraiser

If you are intending to raise funds through a charity event, there are marketing techniques that can help greatly both online and offline. Depending on your desire and budget, you can try a number of promotional activities for your charity event. If you have taken care of online marketing and are now looking for offline marketing ideas, then read ahead for tips to keep your momentum building. There are many offline ways to market your fundraiser effectively and without spending much money. The best advice is to be creative, enthusiastic and passionate towards your goal of raising funds for your charity. However, if you are still stuck on how to market your fundraiser through offline techniques, then you can include any or all below given offline marketing ideas to promote your fundraiser in the most effective way.

  1. Build a team: A team — i.e. your battery of friends, some volunteers from your fundraising campaign and family members — can contribute towards promoting your fundraiser. A big team like this can create a good buzz about your charity event. Marketing of your fundraising event can be done by knocking door-to-door and telling them about your cause and campaign as well as by word of mouth publicity. The more number of people know about your charity event, the higher are the chances of increasing funds for the cause.
  2. Posters: Posters have always been a very effective offline marketing idea. Get your poster done from a person who will charge you nominal or do it for free. Keep the posters attractive with the message written in bold. People looking at the poster will get the message clearly and instantly. Also try and stick your posters at strategic locations, i.e. where people are more likely to see. Posters can be stuck near schools and churches. You can also ask your local shopkeepers and medical stores to stick it in their premises. People coming to buy groceries and medicines can definitely have a look.
  3. Flyers: Just like posters, leaflets or flyers can also help a great deal. You can either give flyers door-to-door (which requires efforts and time from you and your team), or ask your local newspaper vendor to include your leaflet with every newspaper they drop. This can help promote your fundraiser quickly and to a lot of people at once.
  4. Announcements at other events: Official and unofficial functions and events keep happening every now and then. You can take advantage of such events to promote about your fundraising event. School sports days and annual day function, church meetings or congregation, an event organized at your local club, etc. can all serve this purpose. You can talk about your fundraising campaign to event organizers and include a short announcement about your charity event and your intention to raise funds to a large group of people present there, at the end of the event. This way you have a great chance of marketing your fundraiser to a group of distinct people in a straightforward and easy manner.
  5. Phone calls and direct speaking: If you feel that your offline marketing efforts like distributing flyers and sticking posters are not being seen by people, then you can make a direct call. Get a list of all previous donors and make them a phone call. You can also stand in front of a school or church and tell passersby about your intentions to raise fund for a noble cause. This is a direct way of spreading message about your fundraising event. While speaking to people, use emotional, strong and persuasive words. It works best.
  6. Public Service Announcements (PSAs): PSAs are a good way to market your fundraising event. Radios, magazines and even newspapers are effective in putting your message across to a large section of people. You can speak to local radios and get yourself included as a guest. You can discuss about your intentions and persuade listeners to donate generously. Similarly you can have a small section in a magazine or newspaper where you can advertise about your charity event.
  7. Hold contests: A wonderful way of marketing your event and get people interested is by holding contests. You can hold quiz contests, kite -flying contest or any other contest that involves minimal spending on your part. You can keep a sponsored prize for the winner to make the contest more engaging and competitive. This is also another good way of promoting your fundraising event.
  8. Get in touch with associate groups and clubs: As an independent volunteer and as a frequent fundraiser, you can get in touch with other affiliate clubs and groups that are known to make generous contributions or considerably help fundraisers through their unique ways of promotion. Find out about them and get in touch.
  9. T-shirt fundraisers: This is another very popular charity event marketing technique. If you have a social cause and want to seek funds then you can first get your and some of your friends t-shirts printed with the cause of your charity. Leave an e-mail ID beneath. T-shirt fundraisers are not only a popular idea, but also help you communicate your thoughts to a number of people, without actually conversing with them.
  10. Contact local businesses: There are many local businesses who would love to contribute to a charity. If they donate funds, then it would not only help them save money in tax but also showcase their responsibility towards the community. You can first try contacting established businesses, as they have a wider reach and can promote your cause effectively. If the business is very keen on helping, without donating funds, then you can move a step higher in promotion by including your message in their product. You can then try contacting lesser-known local businesses. Tell them it is not necessary that they donate funds, but they can be of great help if they promote the fundraising event through any ideas that are feasible for them.
  11. Try to convey your message through public speakers: There are many orators who know how to weave magic through words. If you feel that your persuasion powers are not that effective, then you can definitely seek help from a public speaker. Get in touch with someone who often visits schools, clubs and other events to speak on a given topic. Talk to them and ask them to make a message supporting your charitable cause and the need to collect funds to sustain good work in the community. This will help immensely.

These are just 11 offline marketing ideas to promote about your fundraising event. Now you know ‘how to market your fundraiser’ through offline techniques. With creativity and a bit of elbow-grease, you can certainly come up with more unique marketing ideas to promote your charity event and make it a success.

SEO Case Study: Content is NOT King

content is not king

The prospect wanted to go after the key phrase “corporate wellness Michigan”.

They had their heart set on this term. Now, this was not really based in any kind of keyword research they had done. They were in the corporate wellness business and, by golly, they wanted to dominate the search results for corporate wellness in Michigan. Their logic was sound.

They said they had been trying to rank for this term for about 6-7 months, and they were stuck at page 3. They had all sorts of content in their website. The term “corporate wellness” was woven throughout. Yet for some reason they just were not able to get pass the top of page 3.

So we conducted a little experiment!

The prospect contacted us on a Thursday and by Friday we had decided we were going to try this experiment, so we bought a domain. The domain we purchased was not even an exact match domain (EMD). We went with “corporate wellness”, then put the little “MI” in front of it so it read “micorporatewellness.com”.

Next, we stood a few things on the page. Not a lot of content, mind you; a page title, a sentence or two, an image and a link.  “Corporate Wellness Michigan” is the title for this particular page. We placed it in the title and meta tags. We were even bold enough here in this case to say, “Dear Prospect, you want to rank for this? Please click here.” After that, we pointed a couple links (literally, two) back at this very fresh domain.

Ranking Corporate Wellness Michigan

Turns out, we were able to rank this site by day six.

corporate wellness michigan day 6

All we did is buy a domain, stand up a barebones site, put a couple backlinks facing it, and by day six we had this brand new website on the first page of Google. Not too shabby.

And two weeks later? We were at the top of the search results!

corporate wellness michigan week 2

Keep in mind, nothing changed at this page since the day we built it. We never added any more links going back to it. Yet there it was, on the top of the rankings for those statewide state results. The same search this prospect could not attain on their own, even after six months of trying.

Want to see the page? (You probably want to see the page.) Here it is.

corporate wellness michigan page

This single page is the whole site. That’s it.

So, you know the whole notion that content is king? And how, in order to build up an authority site, you must produce reams and reams of blog posts, each thousands of words long, and they have to be so captivating that people will link to you naturally and (blah, blah, blah)—all the junk we been hearing ever since the Panda and Penguin updates from back in 2012?

It’s junk.

Content is NOT king, folks.

Content helps, especially on the long game (this experiment was a very short game we played) where it’s important to keep people at your site. You eventually want to show that people are staying on your page. Google likes pages that are sticky. With good content, people tend to stay at a website longer and when they linger longer, your bounce rate decreases and your page views increase. Google uses these metrics as social proof by which to weigh the value of your website, so—at some point—you’ll want high quality content on your website.

Again, if we wanted to keep this domain and really turn it into authority-ranked site, we would want to do something more to the site to build it out, but this was just an experiment. Do we have any desire to keep it and build it into authority-ranked site? No, not really. Not unless something happens along the way; maybe the prospect wants to buy this?  For now, it’s just an experiment to boast about and to use as a lesson.

Note: In this case, in this niche, competition was not terribly strong.  We saw things like indeed.com showing on the top of this search results. Usually when you see job sites coming up at the top for search results (when you weren’t searching for jobs,) what you’re seeing is Google not knowing what else to put up there, so it begins filling in the blanks.

P.S.- “Corporate wellness Michigan” was not a well-loved search term to begin with, so the notion that the prospect could not rank for this within six months? They simply did not know what to do. This is why they came to us.

So you there you have it, folks. I hope you enjoyed this presentation! Have questions? Leave them in the comments.

Want more leads through your website? Fill out our SEO questionnaire.

Harmonizing Your 2013 Marketing Strategy is Simple, Really

2013 marketing ideas

Harmonize your marketing channels by “seamlessly coordinating messages and offers across all offline and digital channels that include: point of sale, direct mail, call center, social, mobile, web and email,” suggests Chief Marketer Network. Email campaigns alone will not get you noticed. With the Information Age comes easier accessibility to any businesses that are active online. With that comes the challenge to get recognized and stand out from the rest. It’s now more important than ever to align your message/brand across all platforms in order to reach a diverse demographic.

Streamline Your Marketing Strategy

What exactly are the best marketing tactics to gain recognition for your brand? It’s actually simpler than you might think. Mix your campaigns by sending quality, focused direct marketing through the mail, followed by a smart email campaign and then an astute social platform. By tapping into physical mail as well as email methods and social media, you’re maximizing the potential of your marketing campaigns. And, if you need an advertising revolution, the unconventional is becoming the norm with guerrilla marketing. While it may seem simple, don’t miss a step.

Direct Mail

Small businesses are now coordinating and streamlining marketing messages across different advertising platforms. In-house organization systems such as Pitney Bowes mail services give easy access to marketing and communications tools that help small businesses do this. Don’t send direct mail to just anyone. Study demographics and target market your print collateral. You can gather this information from InfoUSA and USA Data to gather specific leads more likely to benefit you with this method of advertising. Small business consultant Evan Carmichael suggest you keep these things in mind when creating your direct mail:

  • Set an objective
  • Include an incentive to take action
  • Proofread, edit, proofread and edit again
  • Write a captivating headline
  • Do a test run

Phone

What happened to picking up the phone and calling someone? It’s not dead—personal communication, you know. Be sure to target this type of marketing specific to geo- and demographics. Don’t call a household in Florida and offer them a Jack-in-the-box coupon. The closest location is two states away in either direction. However, you could call a household in Miami and ask them to take a quick survey on their most recent experience with your new Miami business-finder app.

Web

Getting active on the web is imperative in the 21st century. Create a unique website and coordinating landing pages. All of these forms of contact can lead customers to your landing page, which captures their information and helps you convert them into legitimate leads. People need prompts. They need to be directed through the magical maze of the web. You don’t want to run the risk of getting them lost in your site and eventually directing themselves away.

Social

Become active on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Add sharing buttons to your email newsletters and your web content for social media integration. You have to be a part of the game. Crowd-sourcing is the new word-of-mouth. Once you are placing yourself on several social platforms, you will have people sharing your valuable content and traffic will increase. If you’re not social, you might be left out of the game.

Mobile

SoLoMo marketing — social, local, mobile. By activating a mobile device at any onsite location, one can instantly be connected to his social graph. Utilize smart phones in your small business marketing plan by incorporating QR codes in your direct mail, email and web materials in order to entice current and potential customers to your site by offering them reasonable offers and rewards.

Email

Don’t promise something you can’t deliver. (Rule No. 1: If you say “Free!” it better be free.) Email is a powerful tool if you know how to use it, especially if you have a small company with a smaller marketing budget. Getting crafty with your headline can lure current and potential customers in just as easily as a bad subject line can get your efforts deleted in one click of a button. Forbes reports that adding personalization in the subject line increased open rates by an average of 40 percent. Consider making an offer the customer can’t refuse in the subject line like, “Private Invite: Respond before Friday at five.”

Guerrilla Marketing

When all else remains stagnate, implement the outrageous … release the beast. Small-scale stunts offer a low-cost solution to your marketing woes. Remember 2002, when Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins sported a goldenpalace.com henna body tattoo on his back during a middleweight boxing match? A measly $100,000 helped that company become a household name. Guerrilla marketing intercepts public spaces and engages the consumer to have a memorable brand experience.

POS (Point of Sale)

While having an inventory system may seem not to have anything to do with marketing, it has everything to do with keeping your business running seamlessly. This in turn gives you an advantage because your processes are smooth, allowing you time to focus on your marketing. Having point-of-sale system software is fundamental in centralizing your business. Organizing your brand and inventory can help determine what type of marketing is working and what is not. Inventory control is essential in maintaining the efficiency of your operations, allowing you to make better use of your staff.

nonprofit affiliate network

Stephanie Cole is a freelance writer from North Carolina.