Ten Smart Effective Uses for Twitter

Ten Smart Effective Uses for Twitter

Twitter is one of the biggest and most popular social media platforms in this generation. People usually use it to post their thoughts and photos, share links of other websites, and to participate in certain discussions as well. We certainly aware of news being made on Twitter with the like of Donald Trump, the Kardashian’s and more.  Aside from that, as a business you can use Twitter in other smart and effective ways as well.  Finding the right angle and communication path can lead to positive exposure for your business, leads and tighter communication with existing customers.

To Create a Cause

If your business has a worthy cause, non-profit support or other efforts you want to promote Twitter can be fertile ground.  I can be affect for advocacy or promoting a campaign, and more.  You can reach out directly and retweet and connect with similar accounts which can then help to bring exposure to a wider group of followers.  The Twitter platform tends to have a lot of passionate advocates for various causes that you can tap into for exposure.

To Be in the Know

You can certainly find out what’s happening in your industry via news, trade magazines and targeted blogs.  But you can also get a more raw unfiltered view of what people are talking about by searching on twitter. This is especially true because of the hashtag. Hashtags, as we all know, is used to identify messages on a specific topic. When a user adds a hashtag to their tweets is because that is important to them, they are emphasizing that topic.  You can search and look at what is being said about specific topics to find valuable market and audience information.         

To Provide Assistance

            As a businessyou have many ways toengage with and address your customer’s concerns.  Twitter can definitely be a tool for making this happen.  One of the simplest ways is to use your Twitter feed a way to provide status updates, useful news and other information that is timely that your customers will find valuable.  Customers can also use replies, direct messages and the overall platform to engage with your customer service team.  In addition you can prospect for new customers by searching potential clients that your services can be useful and help to solve their problems.

To Advertise

            Social media is also being heavily utilized as a medium for advertising. Many of the major brands use Twitter to build campaigns to target potential audiences. The right kind of advertising can go viral and trend.  Even if you’re not a major brand by building good targeted advertising tweets and using Twitters targeting tools you can reach your business audience.  Twitter makes it easy to buy and create ads on their platform.

To Sell

There is nothing wrong with basic direct product marketing and sales.  Your twitter feed can certainly advertise products.  The medium is great for posting photos, videos and engaging content about the product.  The goal will be to link them to your site for ordering.

Clients and Build RelationshipsTo Gain Clients and Build Relationships

For your business or campaign to be effective, you need to gain followers. This one is the most important tasks if you want to be successful in social media. One way of gaining clients and building relationships with them in Twitter is by following Twitter influencers. An influencer is someone who has already established a strong network of targeted followers. You canalso participate in the discussions they post and provided added value to the conversation. This will help your target audience notice you and build connections with other followers having an interest in your products and services.

To Market Your Business

If you have a product or service that can benefit from a broad marketing approach Twitter is an excellent platform to build brand awareness through smart marketing. Just like in paid advertising, content is the key in marketing using Twitter. Visual content has a great impact and is a must to get noticed in all the tweet noise. You can try to piggy back on trending topics, controversy and other approaches to reach a broad base of Twitter users.  Through this approach you will want to convert them into followers of your twitter account and ideally have them sign up for a newsletter or other method of permission based marketing.

To Create Traffic

Once you have been able to start building a following and have an engagement strategy for Twitter now its time to convert that to traffic for your web site.  Strong call to actions in your visuals, your hashtags, videos, etc. will help to entice the Twitter user to take the next step and engage directly.  Twitter analytics can help you see how your followers engage with your tweets and can help you to determine what’s working and what’s not working.

To Be Engaged with the Public

            Aside from posting and replying to people’s Tweets, there are other ways to engage your audience.  One option is to organize a where users meet-up in person of Twitter users. This is effective when you want to work in person with your followers more because, let’s admit it, it’s also challenging to post and discuss using 140 characters only. Another great thing about this is that the people who will attend the meetup are all interested in the topic or business you have.  This works especially well for local businesses that have a targeted audience.

To Get Feedback

            And lastly, Twitter is not just for sharing your thoughts and advertising your business. It is also a platform that can be used to listen and understand other users. Just like any other conversation, Twitter isa two-way channel. You share what you have in mind, then you accept and understand the feedback of other people.This can help in many ways including getting new product and service ideas, getting feedback on what you’re doing currently and generating new ideas.

At times Twitter can seem like a bit of a chaotic mess of communication.  But with a well-defined plan and some focused effort you can reach a targeted audience for  your products and services.

Cloud Backup to Prevent Cyber Criminals From Stealing Your Data

cloud backups

Marketing your products and services online is one of the best ways to gain more customers to your business. People nowadays are interested to buy products online, but aside from our customers buying your products, there are also those who are interested in stealing your data. These hackers are indeed a major threat to your business. Once the damage is done, you can never undo it, but you can take precautions for it not to happen to your business. There are a few steps that you can take to protect your business data from violation or loss. When developing a data protection strategy for your business, below are a few things to keep in mind.

Cloud backup

An affordable and secure way to protect your data is to make use of existing cloud technologies. This simply means a platform that backs up your data online instead of storing it to a physical storage. Owners can access their data remotely through a secured login from the storage with encrypted connection. There are companies that offer cloud storage which you can purchase or subscribe to at a very reasonable fee. This is a great solution for small businesses.

Advantages of cloud backup

Saving your business data in the cloud comes with numerous advantages. For a start, it is an effective and affordable way to protect data since you never have to secure a physical location for this purpose. Secondly, you can access data through devices connected to the internet from any location. In the event of loss, the data can be quickly restored to your servers and computers. Data backup is done behind the scenes and it’s automatic so you never have to spend any time doing it manually. Most importantly, your business data will be safe from cyber criminals and other unauthorized access.

Factors to consider when choosing a cloud service

With numerous cloud backup service providers (such as Mozy, Carbonite and others,) you need to choose wisely the one that will offer the best solution for your business. For a start, you need to know the total data that you need to backup. Get the details of the specific type of files that need to be backed up so you can find a suitable solution. Other companies access their data through mobile phones, some cloud storage providers also offers security when accessing through mobile. If for some cases you need to access your data on mobile devices, you may want to consider choosing the provider that covers security for mobile devices. The most important factor to consider when finding the right cloud service provider is to research on their background.  Your data is the jewel of your business and you don’t want it to be on the hands of those you didn’t know. Find a provider that offers 24/7 customer support to take care of your needs.

Understand data vulnerabilities

Before you even take a step to protect your data, it is important to make changes that will protect your data internally from loss or unauthorized access. First, you need to understand that data is connected to revenue. All kinds of data in your business is at risk. With cloud backup, you get an affordable and simple form of data protection and recovery. Lastly, understand that you will only get peace of mind when the cloud service provider you choose is trustworthy and uses the latest technology to protect your data.

It’s never too late to implement a data protection strategy. Whether you are running a small business that experiences numerous power outages or a huge organization with a fully fledged IT department, cloud backup can help you mitigate risks and minimize any downtime.


Heidi Kim is a professional business consultant and legal researcher focusing on business laws. She is passionate in helping those who have any queries regarding business laws and how these may affect their respective businesses. Follow her on Twitter @gehreslawatty

6 Quick Steps to Improve Small Business Cash Flow

improve business cash flow

Eighty percent of small business owners receive late payments for services rendered, a 2011 survey by PaySimple found. When money is late coming in, it directly affects the small business owner’s cash flow and can negatively impact inventory, and the ability to pay operating expenses and make payroll. Of course, it doesn’t help the owner’s mental health either! Taking charge of your cash flow and minimizing late payments means more cash on hand to grow business. By working through these six steps, you will build up financial management skills that can help improve your cash flow and all aspects of your business.

1. Develop a Cash Flow Chart – A cash flow chart is critical to identifying how cash flows in and out of your company, finding areas that need improvement and staying in the black. List all recurring, variable and one-time expenses, then project your sales, as the SBA suggests. While you may find this challenging at first, you will get better at predicting income after a few months of practice.

2. Stay on top of receivables – As a small business owner, you may put off following up with people who owe you money because you are too busy, you dislike bothering people and you forget to think about receivables until your account balance runs low. Improve receivables by offering discounts or incentives to early-paying customers, offering an automatic bill pay option and schedule follower on your calendar. You may be able to accept payments directly within your accounting software, according to Intuit small business accounting software. This streamlines receivables with other financial management basics.

3. Automate your bills – When possible, set up online bill payments so that all of your bills are paid on time. Not only does this help you avoid late fees, it puts you in control of when bills are paid. Stagger payments out over the month to avoid a mid-month bank account drain, or pay each on the last date it is due to maximize cash in the pipeline.

4. Identify local (or fast) suppliers – Especially when starting a business, determining how much inventory to carry can be challenging. SBA.gov recommends ordering as little as possible when starting out (or when testing a new product or service). Select a supplier who is local or can deliver goods quickly over one who offers a cheaper price but requires more lead time. This way, you can retain more of your cash flow without compromising your inventory or your ability to deliver.

5. Know where to go for help before you need it – If you’re having a bad month or you need funds to fix business equipment, a small business loan can help. Before you’re in an emergency, identify nearby sources of funding including small business loans, business credit cards and lines of credit. Consider applying for a business credit card or a line of credit for “just in case” emergencies, so you do not have to use personal funds to support your business.

6. Build up your cash reserves – As your business grows, set aside cash reserves to draw on during slow months or for unforeseen expenses. As a general rule of thumb, SBA.gov advises that you set aside 3-6 months’ worth of expenses.

improve your cash flow

Sheryl Ray is a venture capitalist who has an eye for businesses with potential.

Freelancing a Path to Freedom & Happiness

freelancing ideas

Setting up a freelance business is one of the best ways to put your skills to work in an environment completely under your control. Whether you start your own business as a part-time enterprise or as the primary way to make a living, it helps to know the steps to successfully launch a new venture.

Finances & Taxes

Before you start up your business, open business banking accounts separate from your personal accounts. After you register your business with the appropriate state agency, open a business checking account and apply for a business credit card. With small business credit cards from American Express, you can select from among a dozen different cards, depending on your needs. Whether you want to earn travel rewards, have the freedom to maintain a balance interest-free for 60 days or get cash back based on your purchases, you’ll probably be able to find the card with the features your new business needs most.

Though the IRS doesn’t require separate bank accounts for individual proprietorships, you’ll benefit from taking time to create different accounts for business expenses. You’ll have tax advantages and the ability to analyze your business performance more accurately. You will also have the ability to clearly see your personal financial status, independent of your business. Keep this in mind, too; if business and family finances are linked, it’s tougher to get a business loan. Lenders are reluctant to extend credit to an enterprise that seems to be just a hobby.

Hire a good CPA who can advise you on paying estimated quarterly taxes and keep track of and explain 1099s, the equivalent of a W-2 from an employer, from your clients.

Recordkeeping

Recordkeeping is an essential function of a successful business. Keeping track of billable hours and total time spent on tasks is easier through any of a number of software programs available. Harvest is an example of a time-tracking tool that also can create online invoices. Chrometa is another time-management tool.

Marketing

The next step is generating business. The best way to attract new clients is by networking. Make the most of your social media presence —through Linkedin primarily — but also through Facebook and Twitter, along with others you regularly visit, such as Tumblr.

This isn’t the time to be shy. Let everyone connected to you online know that you’ve hung out a shingle. Face-to-face networking is critical, too. Attend every networking event you can where professionals gather who may need your services.

Don’t forget business cards. It sounds counter intuitive in the digital age, but executives actually keep business cards, especially those that pertain to their business. Also create a website and include an online portfolio of your best work.

Become a recognized leader through blogging about topics related to your expertise and try to get speaking engagements, even at small meetings, suggests Freelanceswitch.com. To further position yourself as an expert in your field, volunteer to write a guest column in your local newspaper about a subject related to your new business.

Before you know it, you’ll have more work than you think you can handle. Too much work is the best problem you can have.

freelancing

Francis Miller is a freelance writer from Washington D.C., he follows current events like it’s his full time job.

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.

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.

Marketing Idea #18: Start an Affiliate Program

marketing ideas affiliate programs

Create a referral or affiliate program. Otherwise known as making it worth other people’s time to help you reach new clients. The goal of a referral program is to create revenue or to provide some other incentive for those who help you reach more people.

Example: Dreamscape Multimedia offers a referral program with our web hosting service and makes it free to sign up using a simple one-page form. We call it our Prosperity program, as it pays a hefty 50 percent monthly commission* on web hosting accounts you refer to us.

*Giving back 50 percent of a revenue stream may not be possible for your company. Determine what a responsible return might look like, and proceed conservatively at first.

Marketing Idea #25: Always Carry Business Cards

marketing ideas business cards

Always have enough business cards with you. While this seems like it should be obvious, people are still caught off-guard without their business cards. You’ll never know when or where opportunities will arise. Also, whenever you know you’re on your way to a trade show, mixer, or other networking event, make sure you take a lot of business cards. It’s better to have too many than not enough!

Tip: Keep a number of “card caches” around you at all times. Keeping business cards in your car, at your desk, at your home office, and in your briefcase or purse can keep you from looking ill-prepared if you forget to replenish the cards in your wallet.

What NOT to do: I’ve seen people leave their business cards randomly at restaurants, in rest rooms, and on bar counters by registers. Maybe this works, but I’m doubtful. In my mind, this would be even less effective than placing your business card on a bulletin board! Do you really think the wait staff are going to keep you business cards after you leave? Nah. I think they’re going to clean the table and those expensive die-cut, embossed business cards you had to have are going to end up wearing your table scraps in the trash.

Hint: Save your cards for the people who care.

Marketing Idea #83: Tradeshow Giveaways

Marketing Ideas Tradeshow Giveaways

The best and most obvious reason for visiting some tables at trade shows is for the free giveaways. You will find that many people will make the rounds to collect the free stuff. In some cases, the booths without free giveaways may experience lower traffic as a result. It’s a cheap ploy, but the right giveaway can gain you exposure you wouldn’t have had without it. Of course, you have to question the quality of your traffic if it’s only coming over to steal another one of those great metal pens…

Tip: Have fun with your giveaways! After all, if it’s really good, it will likely end up in the hands of their kids.


 

10 ways to master the tradeshow giveaway game

by Susan Friedmann

Walk around any trade show and you will be able to collect a bag full of trade show giveaway items all designed to promote business. Everyone enjoys receiving a gift. Gift giving creates a favorable impression. It can build goodwill, be an incentive, communicate a message, and create awareness. However, how many promotional giveaways do an effective job?

Before jumping into the trade show giveaway game consider the following 10 ways to master the tradeshow giveaway game:

Define Your Audience: Having a focused objective for your trade show giveaway will also help you decide who should receive it. Consider having different gifts for various visitors. You might have different quality gifts for your key customers, prospects, and general passers by.

Set Your Goal: What do you want to achieve by giving away a premium item? Trade show giveaway items should be designed to increase your recognition, communicate a message, motivate an action, or promote your small business. It’s important not only that the message have an impact, but also the premium itself.

Find the Right Item: There is a multitude of different items you could consider as a premium giveaway. However, which one will best suit your purpose? To select the right item, decide on your objective. Do you want it to enhance a theme, convey a specific message, or educate your target audience? Set a purpose to make your selection process easier. A promotional specialist can also help you make an effective selection. Remember your company image is reflected in whatever you choose to give away.

Add Your Message: Is there an item that naturally complements your marketing message? Have the message imprinted on the item with your company name, logo, and phone number. An important aspect of any gift is to remember who it was from long after the fact.

Set a Price: The price range for trade show giveaway items is enormous. Quality, quantity, and special orders all impact the price. Establish a budget as part of your exhibit marketing plan. Consider ordering the same item for several different shows. The greater the quantity of your order, the lower the individual unit price.

Establish Qualifiers: What must visitors do to qualify for a giveaway item? There are several ways to use your trade show giveaway effectively:

  • as a reward for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation, or contest
  • as a token of your appreciation when visitors have given you qualifying information about their specific needs
  • as a thank you for stopping at the booth

Use the Pre-qualifying Secret: Trade show giveaways can be used to pre-qualify your prospects. One company uses playing cards. Prior to the show, they send “kings” to their key customers, “queens” to suppliers, and “jacks” to new or hot prospects. They request that the cards are brought to the booth in exchange for a special gift. When the cards are presented, the booth staff already knows certain information about the visitor. They can then act on their previous knowledge and use time with the visitor more productively.

Have a Sales Incentive: Will your trade show giveaway directly help future sales? Hand out a discount coupon or a gift certificate requiring future contact with your company for redemption. Consider premiums that will help generate frequent visits to customers and prospects, such as calling you for free refills.

Inform Your Target Audience: Novel trade show giveaways can actively help to draw prospects to your booth. Make sure your prospects know about it. Send a tickler invitation with details of the giveaway, or create a two-piece premium, sending one part out to key prospects prior to the show and telling them to collect the other half at your booth.

Have a Tracking Mechanism: Establish a tracking mechanism to measure the success of your trade show giveaways.

If it is a redemption item, code it so that you know it resulted from the show. Post-show follow-up could include a question about the premium: Did visitors remember receiving it, and how useful was the item? After the trade show, critique your giveaways with your exhibit team:

  • Did it draw specific prospects to the booth?
  • Was it eye-catching enough to persuade passers by to stop?
  • Did your customers find it useful?
  • Did it project the right corporate image?

There are plenty of exciting trade show giveaways for you to choose from to avoid the usual pens, pencils, and key chains. Make your premium work for you by applying the 10 ways to master your trade show giveaways and experience show success…it will be money well invested.


Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, is The Tradeshow Coach, and author of “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. For a free copy of “10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make”, e-mail article4 (at) thetradeshowcoach.com, or visit her website www.thetradeshowcoach.com.

Marketing Idea #2: What is Your Marketing Budget?

Marketing Ideas Marketing Budget

Set aside money for marketing efforts each year. Don’t use it for anything else. Often, we have a tendency to pull our marketing funds from the same pool of money as our operating funds. This habit can reduce an organization’s ability to market itself when the time is right. Be especially protective of your marketing budget; this is the investment that pays the bills.

Below, I’ve reposted a brief article by the Wall Street Journal which discusses the success of companies who remain steady in their marketing efforts, even in the face of a recession. Folks, if this can’t convince you to invest in your own marketing efforts, I don’t know what will.

In support of your efforts,

Matt

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The Basic Argument for Advertising in a 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.

Marketing Idea #4: Note Those Hot Ideas

Marketing Ideas Hot Ideas

You probably already have ideas and future plans for your company in your head. Put these ideas down in print somewhere. Include a section for collecting marketing ideas and opportunity information. You’ll be amazed at the great ideas you lose track of as you get caught up in your day-to-day efforts. Make it a point to review this file quarterly and delegate the best ideas if you can’t tackle them yourself.

Great Marketing Ideas: Be a Mom for a Moment

Marketing Example Unicef Mom

Unicef Finland wanted to raise awareness for children’s rights and raise funds with a minimum cost. They also wanted to reinforce their position as an organization dedicated specifically to children’s welfare. There are over 145 million orphaned or abandoned children all around the world.

“By supporting Unicef anyone can be a mother to them, just for a moment.”

To provoke and create discussion they started by abandoning sound-equipped (crying) baby strollers in 14 cities. Inside the stroller was a note with the message:

Thank you for caring, we hope there is more people like you.
Be a mom for a moment.
Unicef

Media and public reaction was overwhelming. They flooded all the major TV, radio and web news. Estimated media reach was over 80% of Finnish population after just two days.

Advertising Agency: Taivas, Helsinki, Finland
Art Directors: Jyri Niemi, Anna-Mia Alanko
Copywriter: Adele Enersen
Account Supervisors: Heini Häyrinen, Joanna Kokonmäki
Production company: ADDlife Finland

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References

I Believe in Advertising. Unicef Finland: Mom. March 31, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.ibelieveinadv.com/2009/03/unicef-finland-mom/.

Marketing Idea #44: Showcase Local Artists

Marketing Ideas Local Artists

Display artwork for sale from local artists. In doing so, you support the local artist community, gain word-of-mouth through the artists, and bring more interest to your walls. This can be done by writing up an offer and presenting it to a local art gallery. You may want to bring focus to the display either by centering on a specific artist or by having the showing coincide with a particular (and appropriate) event.

Marketing Idea #79: Can’t You Read The Sign?

Marketing Ideas Signage

Consider the signage at your office or facility. Can a visitor find you easily? Can he find his way around your facility easily? Large buildings such as hospitals, office buildings, and malls often suffer from poor signage, creating a sense of unease and annoyance in their patrons. You know that even grocery stores can benefit from clear signage if you’ve ever had the misfortune of searching for way too long to locate a certain item on your grocery list.

Marketing Ideas Signs

Marketing Idea #95: Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

Marketing Ideas Retail Sign Road Sign

When your business is the first one that comes to mind as a place to find a product or service, you have achieved what is called top-of-mind awareness. Top-of-mind awareness is built and reinforced through repetition.

If you hold a retail store, 85 percent of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. When driving to and from work, school, and shopping, they pass your location some fifty to sixty times a month. Your sign should be designed so that it commands their attention every time they pass.

That’s how signs help build top-of-mind awareness and brand your business. To further this effort, make sure your sign is included as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Marketing Idea #82: Business Card Brochures

Marketing Ideas Business Card Brochures

A great rule for a brochure is, “If you can’t say it all on a business card, you shouldn’t say it at all.”

(Okay, so it’s not really a rule, but it should be.)

Distill what you want to say about your product or service and fit it on a business card.  Instead only offering your contact information, place a few bullet points and add some nice, simple graphics to the back of the card. By doing this, you are able to leave those you meet with a message that they can carry with them or organize into their Rolodex. (This presumes you made a great enough impact to compel them to keep your card.)

Example: Feeling clever? Leave off your contact information to complete the “brochure card” effect. Place the logo and tagline on the front of the card, and the content on the back, for a playing card–type feel. Also, by utilizing both front and back in your design, you can leave two cards on a bulletin board or elsewhere, flipping one over to create a small, two-piece brochure/billboard effect.

Marketing Ideas Business Card Brochure

Marketing Idea #84: Using Billboards as Brochures

Marketing Ideas Billboards as Brochures

Why is it you occasionally see billboards that attempt to be brochures? Is their message so important that it couldn’t possibly be distilled down into a couple brief phrases? Is their key message so complex? When you get ready to make your billboard investment, don’t insist your billboard become more than a billboard. A message received from a billboard is geared toward the audience on the go—and they’re usually going over 70 miles per hour. Keep it eye-catching, short, and simple for greatest impact.

Marketing Idea #7: Start Joking Around

Marketing Ideas Use Humor

Use humor in regard to your product or service. Poke fun at yourself and get your message across at the same time. Humor relaxes us. It invites us to let down our guard and have fun. If you associate your brand with a Jester brand archetype (also known as the Fool or Joker archetype,) you are likely already doing this.

Example: Dental offices are famous for providing dental floss during Halloween trick-or-treating fun. Instead, why not send your clients fake hillbilly teeth as a reminder to maintain good dental hygiene during sweet holidays? For promotional thrust, have your office’s logo and contact info printed on any giveaways.

For Your Entertainment

Marketing Idea #20: Donate to Charity

Marketing Ideas Donate to Charity

Donate your products or services to a charity auction. In doing so, you add value to the fundraiser while promoting yourself. Furthermore, the fact you’re willing to offer your time for a good cause can only help your own cause, and you just might be helping someone who wouldn’t have been able to afford your services otherwise.

Tip: Get started by contacting your local radio stations, libraries, or newspapers. You might also do a search online for charity auctions in your area.

Perspiration Precipitates Performance and Other Marketing Lessons Learned

Marketing Ideas Douglas Criticism Quote

The following is a letter I received from a dear client, John Douglas, who also happens to be a talented local photographer. Over the past year, John has undergone the rigors of becoming an SEO-savvy entrepreneur. John is a model student; eager to learn, invested in his own success and quick to pick up the strategies required to build success, both online and offline.

I asked John if I could share his letter with you. I feel his experience may resonate and help normalize others who may feel as he did as they attempt to break into their local marketplace.

As I mentioned to John, it is wonderful to see yourself progress toward self-confidence as a business person and professional. Yes, it’s hard to teach such things without the frustrating mechanism of time and the roller-coaster of the success/failure continuum. Take pleasure in recognizing your inner growth. Lessons like these are learned not just intellectually, but also at a cellular level, through life discovery. This means such valuable lessons become truly yours, adding onto the wisdom you already possess. You are richer today–both in the spirit and in the material–as a result.

In support of your efforts,

Matt Schoenherr

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Hey Matt:
It’s been close to a year since we started working together. I thought I would share some observations with you. I have been seeing increasing activity and interest in my work as manifest by the number of requests I am getting now. Am I as busy as I’d like to be? Absolutely not, but I’ve learned to be patient. Some random thoughts:

  • Success is measured incrementally, and doesn’t happen according to your prescribed schedule. I have learned be comfortable with even modest gains. As you are well aware the last year has seen some frustrations on my part, largely because I was focusing on the success of others and not on my personal successes. I have learned to focus on myself and my abilities and not be concerned with the success or failure of others.
  • Don’t evaluate your success on the short term. It has taken me a while to assimilate this, and I’m sure you’ve told me this a number of times. Being an engineer, I plotted a linear regression of where I expected to be in a year with regard to web traffic. Am I going to reach my goal? I don’t know. Do I care? No.
  • “P cubed”. Perspiration precipitates performance. Gains are not achieved without some hard work and drudgery. I never imagined it would be so difficult to to get top ranking, and to hold on to decent ranking.
  • Web design is fun, but web maintenance is boring and mundane. The website design looks fantastic, and I am still happy with it today after nearly a year.
  • Word of mouth is the best advertising. I firmly believe that reputation trumps any search engine rankings or website designs. SEO is a way of getting your foot in the door and establishing yourself as a credible resource.
  • Does top ranking mean you are the best? Absolutely not. I have learned that you have to have faith in people and recognize that they will make decisions to hire me based on their criteria, and not my criteria.
  • Learn to see the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. Appreciate the constructive, ignore the destructive.
  • Has it been worth the time, effort, and money? Absolutely! I would not be seeing the interest I am seeing without decent ranking on keyword searches. Thank you for your efforts.

Lastly, thank you for being patient with me in the last year. You have been my technical advisor, mentor, and (at times) my spiritual and psychological counselor.  =)

I am very appreciative of all of your efforts and assistance in the past year.

John Douglas
Photographer

Marketing Idea #19: Perfect Your Powers of Persuasion

Marketing Ideas Public Speaking

Hone your public-speaking skills. Join Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org). As you move onward and upward into the business community, you will be called upon to give presentations before groups (one of the best ways to be perceived as an authority on your topic). Being proficient and persuasive in communicating ideas and stories before an audience is a huge asset. If you’re petrified by the thought of public-speaking, take solace: The point isn’t to get rid of the butterflies, it’s to get them flying in formation.

Marketing Idea #24: Volunteer for Local Nonprofit or Charity

Marketing Ideas Volunteer

Volunteer for a local nonprofit group or charity. Maybe you have something to offer by volunteering on an advisory board. Maybe you want to climb into the trenches and help on the front lines. Whatever direction you choose, be sure your efforts are a reflection of the values you hold close to your heart. The cause you support must inspire you on a deep, personal level. Otherwise, you will tire quickly and may end up abandoning the effort before you’ve even begun—and that is not the way to build a reputation for quality and service.

Marketing Ideas #59-66: Event-Goers Love Attention to Detail

Marketing Ideas Event Attention to Detail

Don’t skimp on the small stuff when you’re producing an event. People will always expect certain things, and if they’ve paid to be there, they have a right to expect those things.

#59: If you have an event or seminar, provide beverages, a coat rack or coat check, and snacks.

#60: Validate parking if free parking isn’t available. If you can’t validate parking, work out an arrangement with your venue to include parking in the price of admission.

#61: If parking is still an issue, offer a shuttle service to and from the event.

#62: Make it easy for people to register; offer online registration from your website. This method should collect their contact information, accept and process credit cards, and send attendees their confirmation automatically. (There are services available for accomplishing this if you’re not sure how to do it yourself.)

#63: Make sure the bathrooms are clean and tended to regularly.

#64: Ensure there are enough trash receptacles and that they are emptied periodically (before they’re overflowing).

#65: Work with your local chamber of commerce, business associations, and networking organizations to promote your event to their members.

#66: Offer meals during an all-day event. This serves two purposes. First, you’ll have less stragglers wandering back in from lunch after the event has picked back up. Second, by giving attendees a reason to sit at their table, they network with each other over lunch, bonding with each other (and your brand) in the process.

Marketing Idea #46: Throw a Party

Marketing Ideas Throw a Party

Whether a holiday or a “client appreciation” party, getting your clients together in the same room and collectively thanking them for their loyal patronage can help you make clients (and friends) for life. Depending on the nature of the organization you operate, you may also have key staff members available to assist with mingling and mixing.

Variation: If you have a large organization, you may separate the employee party from the client party, but certainly both are worth having. Employee parties offer the opportunity for internal marketing; client parties, external.

Marketing Idea #67: Sponsor Local Programming

Marketing Ideas Sponsor Local Programming

A great way to get your organization’s name into the local community is to sponsor or underwrite a local news program, whether television or radio. Make sure the media station (and format) you select is appropriate for your target market. For instance, if you’re looking to reach an older crowd, maybe you want to advertise on an “oldies” radio station, which plays songs that were hits in the past. If you want to reach the younger generation, you might look at a Top 40 or hip-hop radio station. If you’re looking for a sports-oriented crowd, you’ll want to place your ad in front of the folks sitting at home, watching the sports channels.

Tip: An ideal place to advertise is with talk-radio programs. National Public Radio (NPR) and similar “talk-based” formats offer an audience that is already tuned into the discussion, rather than an audience that will be annoyed by another ad that separates them from their music. Underwriting these programs on a local level will also provide you with the opportunity to support a wonderful service in your own community.

Marketing Idea #71: Offer Editorial Comment

Marketing Ideas Offer Editorial Comment

Often, radio stations will set aside time in their news schedules for taking public comment on important issues. Begin by calling the news directors of your local radio stations and asking for the chance to offer your editorial comment. (Make sure you have a good sense as to whether they cater to the audience you want to reach.) Focus on local concerns related to your work.

Marketing Idea #43: Tips to Make Your Grand Opening Successful

Marketing Ideas Grand Opening

To make your grand opening successful:

  • schedule it during high-traffic times (if your location allows for it),
  • throw a big grand opening sale,
  • offer food (make this appropriate to the clientele you are seeking),
  • provide a tent for seating outside,
  • send a direct or email mailing the local market,
  • offer demonstrations of products or services, and
  • invite all local business owners, press, and the local chamber of commerce for the ribbon-cutting.

Variation: Already been in business a while? Find anything to celebrate! Maybe you throw a party over being in business so many years. Or maybe you had a recent birth in the family. Or maybe you want to celebrate a key vendor or client. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate. Pick one and show people a great time.