Archive for the Tips & Tricks Category

What Politicians Can Teach Us About Audiences

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The midterm elections may have wrapped up just a few weeks ago, but many are already turning their attention to 2016 and who may or may not make a run. In living rooms across America, people are letting out a collective sigh, knowing that when the next political season begins, they’ll be bombarded once again with advertisements trying to convince them that one candidate or another has the experience and ideas necessary to take the country in the right direction.

While it’s easy to grow weary of political advertising, if you ever stop and just focus on the message, instead of the politics involved, political candidates can actually teach us all a few things about marketing.

Politicians understand their audience

Successful politicians are master marketers. They construct narratives, brand stories, and reputations, and they work to inspire loyalty and admiration. But one of their most intriguing campaign techniques is the art of tailoring their message to the audience they’re trying to reach.

Politicians must appeal to a wide variety of voter groups and constituencies. When a politician is speaking with representatives from a certain population, or is developing an advertisement most likely to reach this particular demographic, they’ll use language and cover topics that are more important to this group.

Why? Politicians understand that the best way to influence people’s loyalty is by tailoring their message to what matters most to each voter group. Generally speaking, young people know that Social Security is important, but it doesn’t typically impact their daily life. On the other hand, seniors understand the importance of education and jobs for a thriving economy, but most retirees don’t find these to be pressing concerns for them personally.

The successful politician takes these generalities and develops a message that speaks directly to each respective audience.

Taking the lesson home

If you want to grow your company, you need to do the same thing as these politicians. Take your buyer personas and carefully examine the issues and challenges that impact them the most. Discover what motivates your buyers, where they struggle, and how your products or services can meet their needs. Use this information to tailor your marketing messages, so you can reach your intended audience. Just like different voting groups, your different personas might be motivated by different things.

When you tailor your message and your voice to each potential audience, you’ll greatly enhance your odds of reaching them and converting them to your brand. Rather than tuning out the politicians during the upcoming election cycle, take a lesson and learn how to make your own message speak directly to your particular buyer personas.

Date: 9th December, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

5 Tips for Developing Content That Will Resonate With Your Audience

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When developing content for your website and marketing materials, you want to create pieces that will resonate with your audience. This will encourage them to read what you’ve produced, share it on social media and with friends, and — most importantly — remember what you said. Strong content will enhance brand loyalty and improve the success of your entire marketing campaign. Here are five tips to help you create more meaningful content.

Analyze your buyer personas

Buyer personas exist to give you insight into the people you’re trying to reach, so use them to produce the best types of content. Gather information such as:

  1. the challenges your customers are facing
  2. circumstances that prevent them from buying
  3. their budget
  4. their goals

This type of information should give you clear guidelines about the kinds of content these people will pay attention to. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, interview your existing customers and take surveys of your target population.

Look at what content gets the best responses

Take a look at your past content to see what people respond to most frequently. If you thought a topic was only mediocre but it managed to generate exceptional traffic and attention, you can feel pretty confident that it resonated with page viewers. Use past site data to plan future content on subjects that garner the most interest to keep visitors engaged. Create videos, experiment with different formats, or dive into hot topics from a completely new angle.

Examine multiple formats of content

Different formats, such as video, are increasingly catching steam. People enjoy watching videos to get up close and personal with the people they do business with at a company. Monitor your video views and see how well customers are responding to your productions. This will give you insight into how often you should work to produce this type of content.

Offer genuine value

Some companies get hesitant about producing real value for their readers. They imagine that if they give away all their ‘secrets’ no one will need to hire them. No blog, however well-written, ever made anyone a complete expert on a new industry.

Instead of worrying about revealing too much, work to offer real value to your readers so they can see the expertise you have to offer. It’s this kind of genuine value — not wishy-washy, bland content that teaches people nothing — that will turn readers into followers and followers into customers. The more value you can offer readers, the more they’ll come back to read your posts again. Don’t be afraid to take a stand, form opinions on subjects in your industry, and produce content that’s worth reading.

Understand your customers’ current situations

When your company appears on top of the issues facing your customers and sensitive to their problems, people will naturally gravitate toward what you have to say. If you acknowledge and address news in your industry, your customers will appreciate that you’re keeping them informed. Look for ways to keep the timing of your blog posts relevant. For example, in the winter, a plumber might write blog posts about how to keep pipes from freezing, what to do if they do freeze, and similar bits of information that show an understanding of the struggles customers are facing right now.

Producing meaningful content is key to keeping your website visitors engaged and continually returning to your blog. These five ideas will give you the tools you need to produce posts and information that will resonate with your readers and inform them, which can improve your conversion rates and the success of your marketing campaigns.

Date: 5th December, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

What We Can Learn From Children Learning to Play Together

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Imagine a preschool classroom filled with three- and four-year-old kids, each eager to play with a certain toy firetruck. The disagreements over whose turn it is quickly draw the attention of the teacher, who is immediately inundated with different versions of the story. According to one student, it’s her turn because one of the little boys in the class has been playing with it “all afternoon.” The little boy counters with, “No, I haven’t! And besides, you’ll just break it anyway!”

The teacher sits down and attempts for the hundredth time to teach her students about the virtues of sharing. She explains that by sharing the toys, the children will be able to develop much more elaborate games and have a lot more fun. Playing together will give them a chance to explore new ideas, create new characters, and have all sorts of adventures with the firetruck. She is only partly successful.

In an effort to maintain the peace in the small classroom and reinforce her lesson, the teacher creates a behavior chart for playing with the favorite toy of the day. The chart describes, in preschool language, how the toy will be played with and when it needs to be passed to another student.

The students quickly learn that the teacher is right. When they share the toy together, they end up having much more fun. On those days when the students neglect their newly-found sharing skills, however, the chart provides a handy reference to help them get back on track.

How does this lesson in sharing apply to marketing?

Take the warring students and replace them with the sales and marketing departments at some companies. An estimated 87 percent of the words used by marketing and sales departments to describe each other are negative, yet when these two teams are aligned, they can accomplish so much more. Just like the more elaborate games of childhood, aligned sales and marketing teams can produce up to 20 percent more profit! When the teams are well-aligned, they maximize their lead cultivation and achieve a much higher conversion rate.

Using a written agreement to help align your teams

The teacher in our story discovered that while meetings and lessons helped to encourage the students to play together, the behavior chart gave them something to look back on as a reference when things went wrong. A similar chart (though more elaborate, of course) can help sales and marketing teams coexist more peacefully, too. Such a chart should define terms, behavior, and the steps each team will take in cultivating and contacting leads.

Clearly defining the roles and expectations of sales and marketing teams will help each understand better what role the other plays in generating leads. The teams will also stay on the same page about when a lead is sales ready and when information should be passed along. When the marketing team finds leads, they’ll do a better job of passing along lead intelligence to the sales team, so the sales professionals know what contact the company has already had with this particular person. When salespeople receive a lead, they’ll have clearly defined expectations of the type and amount of contact they should have with the lead.

Working together will enhance communication, improve understanding, and make it easier to stay on the same page. Enforcing this agreement with regular meetings to judge progress can ensure everyone remains satisfied.

Aligning sales and marketing teams can be a fantastic way to improve profits and brand representation. Just like children learning to share, showing employees the value of working together, while also having a common agreement to back up the lesson, can help improve performance for everyone.

Date: 2nd December, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

5 Metrics You Should Measure in Every Marketing Campaign

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Measuring your marketing campaigns is the best way to determine the success of your efforts. Without accurate measurements, it’s easy to be misled by regular market fluctuations or emotions. A few key areas can help you gain important insights into how your campaigns are performing and where they can be improved. Here are five metrics you should use in every marketing campaign, no matter how small it might be.

Where your traffic’s coming from

It’s important to measure your rate of traffic and know where your visitors are coming from. Identifying how many people click on your ads, follow links from other sites, or find you through search engines will make it easier to identify what aspects of your digital strategy are having the most success and which ones need more work. This data will also give you a better idea about what keywords and offers are the most attractive for customers, so you know which ones need the most attention.

Similarly, with mobile devices representing an ever increasing percentage of the e-commerce market, determining how many of your customers are arriving from mobile devices will help you know how you’re doing in reaching this important segment.

Your conversion rate

Once visitors arrive at your site, you should be measuring how many are converting and where they’re doing so. Track their engagement with the site, including how many pages they visit before they find themselves on a page that encourages conversion. Knowing which pages and types of offers have the most success with your customers will give you valuable information about how to refine your campaigns to better reach your customers.

Your cost per lead

As you measure your conversion rate, you should also calculate your cost per lead. How much are you spending on average for every lead you acquire through your marketing efforts? Just divide the total cost of each marketing campaign over the course of a particular timeframe by the number of people who converted in that period. Armed with this statistic, you’ll be able to see how one marketing campaign compares to another in terms of success.

Your number of return visitors

Page popularity and customer engagement are measured not only by the number of people who find your site, but also by the number of people who return more than once. This will give you insight into the number of people who view you as an authority worth remembering. The more engaged your page visitors are and the more memorable your brand is, the higher your conversion rate will be.

Your cost per customer

You should also carefully monitor the final cost for every customer you gain. This, combined with your other metrics, will let you see how well your campaigns are performing and how many new customers you’re pulling in for every dollar you spend. These statistics can be particularly helpful when convincing others in the company to maintain or increase the marketing budget.

Marketing metrics can be valuable tools for improving your campaigns and learning how well they’re performing. Metrics take the guesswork out of determining if something was a success. When you pay attention to these five key areas, you’ll have a very good idea how your marketing is doing.

Date: 30th November, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How Much Personality Should You Add to Your Company Blog?

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Many businesses struggle with the value of adding personality to their professional blogs. You might have heard that customers like to get to know the people behind the company brand to help build those crucial relationships, but you’ve also heard that blogs are supposed to be centered around building value for your customers. How are you supposed to reconcile these two seemingly opposing ideas?

Balancing your blog

Your blog should really be doing both. The key is learning to balance the blog. The primary focus of your blog should always be providing value to your visitors. These are the posts that are most likely to bring new visitors to your site, answer their questions, and convince them that you’re an authority worth their attention. In general, you want about 75 percent of your blog posts to fall into this category.

There are some visitors, however, who read your blog because they’ve gotten to know your company. They already know they can trust your judgment, so they turn to you for regular industry updates or when they’re looking for information. These are the visitors who will likely be most interested in learning more about your company on a personal level. Since you want to develop content for your visitors on every stage of their journey, you also need to develop some content for this type of reader. Set aside about 15 to 20 percent of your content as more self promotional. These posts can include case studies, product information, and ideas about how to maximize your company’s products and services. Then reserve about 5 percent to 10 percent of your posts for more personal information.

What to include in your personal posts

Your personal posts can include a variety of different types of information that will give your potential customers insight into your company and the people who work there. Here are some ideas about the kinds of things to include in this section:

  • posts about company gatherings (such as your holiday party), including some pictures of the celebration
  • employee spotlights, where you highlight the employee of the month and give a fun interview that helps the reader relate to this person on an individual level
  • announcements about new hires
  • video walk-through tours of your offices and production facilities, so visitors can see ‘where the magic happens’

Including occasional posts like these on your company blog will help customers place a face with the name. When they receive an email from your company or a response to an inquiry, they’ll no longer be dealing with an anonymous person, but an individual they feel as though they know.

The hidden benefit of personal blog posts

As an added bonus, speaking about your employees and highlighting their accomplishments can help make your workers feel more appreciated. They’ll feel as though their work is noticed and valued by everyone at the organization. This helps create a happier workplace and can help reduce employee turnover. When your employees are happy, they project that happiness to your customers, which helps improve customer satisfaction.

Personal blog posts can be a fantastic asset for your organization. They can help build customer relationships and make your employees happy. Using them wisely can help grow your company and improve your marketing. If you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, let us know! We’ll be happy to help you get started.

Date: 21st November, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How to Fix Your Call To Action

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Your call to action, or CTA, is easily one of the most important parts of your website. It’s where you find new leads and convince your audience you offer something worth exploring. Whether your CTA invites people to sign up for a newsletter or download your latest ebook, all CTAs are not created the same. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when developing this critical part of the website.

The words

The words on your CTA are critical. Most people will be skimming it, so it’s important to make your offer’s potential value obvious to everyone who sees it. Use precise, clear language that explains what customers are going to receive. Bullet points are fantastic because they’re particularly easy to skim and tell the audience exactly what they’re going to receive.

The words you use in your CTA should also line up with the text around it. For example, if you offer home cleaning services and are offering a free download on the safest cleaners to use around children, your CTA will probably best fit at the end of blog posts and articles that discuss the dangers of certain cleaners or how to safely secure cleaners away from children. Try to create a tangible link between the content and the CTA. This will help ensure your offer reaches those who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.

The appearance

While what you say is certainly important, so is the overall appearance of your CTA. Choose contrasting colors to help the CTA pop from the page and attract viewers’ attention. A CTA that just blends in at the bottom of a blog post will be overlooked and have a poor conversion rate. Similarly, make sure the CTA is big and bold, so no one can miss it. Don’t hide the CTA in the corner, using the same font size as the rest of the page. It will be too easy to ignore.

In the same way, use images and other visuals to help consumers get a concrete look at what they’ll be receiving. If that’s an ebook, for example, use a picture of an actual book with the title of your ebook printed on the front. Using images helps people develop a strong association with the product you’re offering and makes it look more appealing.

The importance of testing

When planning your campaign, develop more than one CTA, then test them to see which one resonates more with customers. You might be surprised how much difference a particular word choice or color can make on your conversion rates. Run basic A/B tests on the CTA, and get concrete answers about which offer is getting more conversions.

An A/B test is simple. Say you have one CTA and then develop an alternate page. The A/B test will randomly show some visitors the original and some the alternate page. It will then track how many people convert from each page. You can use this information to see which has a higher conversion rate, so you get the best page on your site.

Developing an efficient CTA will bring you leads and potential customers. Take the time to follow the steps above, and create a CTA that will maximize your potential.

Date: 18th November, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Finding Your Crowd… On Social Media

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Imagine you just moved to a new area. It’s a small city with a bustling population. The local college attracts many young adults to the city, especially on the weekends, while local businesses ensure the professional crowd is also well represented.

Being new to the area, you want to find a place to go for dinner where you can meet some locals and start to get to know your new neighbors. Friday afternoon, you head into the first restaurant. It’s bustling with activity and has great music, but at a volume so loud you can barely hear yourself think. You look around and realize that the crowd is mostly college kids. Surely, some of them are great people, but this isn’t really the crowd you’re looking to get to know. You might make a connection or two, but it will likely be significantly harder to form meaningful relationships.

So, you head out to the second restaurant. As you walk in, hardly anyone looks up. Most people seem to already be finishing their dinner, and the average age in the place seems to be older than your father. Sure, there are probably some fantastic people here, too, but again, this really isn’t the crowd you’re looking for.

You try the next place. You see some people in your age range, but it seems to be a much more family-oriented scene. Most people in the restaurant have young children seated with them. While you love your nieces and nephews, you don’t have children yourself yet, so you wonder how well you’d fit in. You decide to wander on.

Finally, you head into the fourth place. You look around and breathe a sigh of relief. This establishment is filled with other professionals in your age range. This will be a great place for you to start to meet people in your new town and hopefully form some meaningful connections that can help you both socially and professionally.

So what does all of this have to do with marketing your company?

As the restaurants in our story demonstrate, different places tend to cater to different crowds. They aren’t all interchangeable. The same is true of social media. If you want to increase your odds of connecting with your audience, you have to know what types of social media they like and where they will be found. To accomplish this, you need to know the following:

A precise definition of your audience

Before planning a social strategy, you need to know who you’re trying to reach. This isn’t just a general idea of “people who need XYZ.” Instead, you need a more precise profile, including age, education, position, challenges, responsibilities, and what your prospects are looking for.

Who uses each social media platform

B2B companies tend to put a considerable amount of effort into LinkedIn, because this is the platform for networking professionals and those who are thinking about business. Facebook is dominated by people in a variety of age ranges looking to joke around and chat with friends. Twitter is a continuous conversation. Google+ has the biggest asset for local businesses looking to boost their SEO and odds of being found by local patrons.

Take these two sources of information and combine them to make a social media marketing plan that will help grow your company in ways you never thought possible. When you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, contact us. We’re here to help you get started and find success.

Date: 14th November, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Keeping the Ship Afloat . . . In Business

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We’ve all heard the expression “keeping the ship afloat.” Anyone who has ever spent time on an actual ship knows that keeping a boat afloat and getting it to the intended destination is no easy task. Ships of all sizes require a considerable amount of work from everyone on board, and we in business can learn a great deal from these professionals when it comes to keeping our own companies running and moving in the right direction.

The importance of clear leadership

Ships are not democracies. A captain always leads the ship’s crew and directs activities on board. Captains have considerable experience sailing ships and know what needs to be done to make the trip a success. Their ability to see the larger picture lets them direct their subordinates. They don’t waffle in making decisions and have confidence in their abilities.

Like any good leader, however, a captain also willingly listen. Captains will take advice from their advisers in certain situations, and then balance the advice against their own experience. A good captain is able to take all of these sources of information and synthesize them to come up with the best possible solution.

As a business leader, you must be willing to do the same. Strong leaders unabashedly listen to those around them while also using their own experience and wisdom to make decisions for the benefit of the company. They don’t shy away from making firm decisions, nor are they so concerned for their own power that they neglect to listen to what others have to offer.

Dedicated workers

Ships have always required dedicated crews to keep them afloat. The ships of old required crews of men who would paddle the ship or control the sails to keep the boat moving. Crews today might man the sails or the engine rooms. No matter where the crew is working, however, they have to be prepared to give the boat 100 percent.

The employees you select for your business must also be fully dedicated to your company. You should be able to trust that their skills and experience will help them move the organization forward. Running an efficient business means not having to look over everyone’s shoulders, but instead establishing goals and having your employees work to meet you there.

Choosing a direction and sticking with it

When sailing a ship, the boat has a concrete destination. The captain and crew might have to adjust their route slightly if a storm comes up or another obstacle crosses their path, but they always know where they’re going and how they plan to get there.

Your business must have the same foresight. Successful organizations don’t set vague goals for success. Instead, they lay out concrete, measurable goals they want to achieve. When the goals of the organization are clearly laid out in front of everyone, it’s much easier for each person to know exactly what they’re supposed to do and how that fits in the broader picture.

Keeping a ship — or business — afloat requires strong leadership, a dedicated staff, and concrete goals. When you manage to keep these three ingredients in mind for your company, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Date: 17th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Business Lessons From the Wizard of Oz

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The Wizard of Oz is an exciting tale that has delighted people for several generations. When young Dorothy is magically transported from her home to the magical land of Oz, she and her companions must outsmart witches and other dangers in an effort to find the famed Wizard of Oz, who they believe can help her find her way home and grant her companions gifts of their own. Upon finally finding the wizard, however, they learn that he is not some great and powerful wizard after all. Instead, he’s just an ordinary man behind a curtain, projecting his voice and image to appear to be a magical being. Still, in the end, Dorothy does learn how to get back home.

The Wizard of Oz and Business

There are two key lessons we as business leaders can learn from the wizard. In one situation, he’s an excellent example of what we should do. In the other, he does the exact opposite of what would be appropriate in the business world.

What the wizard gets right

In Oz, the wizard regularly projects his voice and opinions for all the kingdom to see. He providers personalized information for each person who visits him.

In social media, we’re often asked to be like the man behind the curtain. We must project our voice and opinions in a variety of media, communicating a sense of authority and wisdom. With all the demands of the modern business world, it can be tempting to resort to automation. There are a number of ‘tricks and cheats’ available in the social media world. From programming social responses to buying followers to automating tweets, it’s very easy for those who desire it to completely remove themselves from the actual social media process.

If we’re to learn anything from the mysterious wizard, however, it’s important to remember to always have an actual person ‘behind the curtain.’ This will allow us to engage potential leads when they arise and avoid missing opportunities to bring in new customers, which can easily happen if all our responses happen automatically and we aren’t actually monitoring the conversation.

What the wizard gets wrong

Although it’s important to remain actually present behind all our social media campaigns, we also need to be authentic. The wizard made the devastating mistake of casting himself as something he wasn’t: a powerful wizard. When those who actually needed his help (like Dorothy and her companions) turned to him, he was virtually powerless to help. If we cast ourselves as something we’re not, nothing will destroy our reputation faster than our customers realizing it. We must always be realistic about our capabilities and strengths. Play up what you can do for customers and be confident in your abilities, but don’t ever let yourself get caught in a web of lies.

What to take away

Social marketing is an important part of branding and finding new customers. It requires authenticity. That means broadcasting a solid message based on what you can do for customers and always keeping a person involved with every stage of the campaign to communicate with customers. When you stick to these two rules, you’ll have a great chance of success.

Are you ready to get a new campaign started? Come talk to us! We’d be happy to help you get started.

Date: 10th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Are You Using Keywords Correctly

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When it comes to search engine optimization, few topics are as popular as the use of keywords. To hear some people describe it, keywords are the secret to success; if you just use specific keywords in your text enough, people will flock to your website. But think about the last time you read something that was clearly “keyword stuffed.” It probably sounded awkward, unnatural, and a bit forced, didn’t it? You probably didn’t take the information or the website too seriously. Fortunately, it is possible to use keywords effectively to entice visitors, give them confidence they’ve found a good source of information, and still sound completely natural.

Selecting the keywords

When choosing keywords, think about the words customers are commonly searching for online. Monitor the number of searches that are done for different keywords, and then choose a few you’d like to target. These should be keywords directly related to your business, so you can use them naturally throughout your website and blog.

When selecting keywords, make the subtle distinction between keywords you and other professionals in your industry are likely to use and those your customers are likely to use. Your keywords won’t do you any good if your site ends up just attracting competitors. They’re not looking to buy from you! You want to use language and keywords that reflect your customers’ priorities and their language. This will ensure you bring the right people to your site. This is also helpful for selecting vocabulary words to use on all your marketing materials, including your outbound direct mail and newspaper advertisements.

Using the keywords appropriately

Make sure you use the keywords a few times in content. This will let your visitor know they’ve found a page with the information they were looking for. If done naturally, using the keywords in the opening paragraph can be a good practice for this reason.

Don’t use your keywords excessively, though. Generally, aim to keep the keywords in mind when you write, and use them whenever the opportunity naturally arises rather than assigning yourself the task of fitting them in as often as possible. Using this system will help you improve the flow of your writing and make it sound much more compelling and natural, rather than a trap designed to bring visitors to your website.

The reason blogging and keeping your website up-to-date are so fantastic for marketing is that both of these practices allow you to naturally incorporate keywords into your content. Keywords should be thought of as subjects that you want to write about. They’re terms your potential customers are searching for because they’re interested in learning more. Be the source of information for them, so they will turn to you as a source of authority.

Keywords can be very helpful in developing websites to attract and retain visitors. Capitalizing on their value, however, requires understanding what customers and search engines are and aren’t looking for. Keeping these guidelines in mind should help you use your keywords to your advantage. If you’re ready to take your marketing campaign to the next level, let us know. We’d be happy to help get you started!

Date: 8th October, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments


 

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