Tips & Tricks

15 Tips For Effective Email Marketing & Distributing

Transition-Marketing-ServicesEmail Marketing.

Email marketing comes with a bad reputation. We have all been on the receiving end of spam. Unsolicited emails can range from a minor nuisance to an outright danger to your hardware’s integrity. Proper email marketing however, is a useful tool in the world of marketing and communications. Note that we do not endorse the use of spam lists or sending unsolicited emails. Rather these tips should be used for recipients with whom you have cultivated a relationship with or who have chosen to sign on to your distribution list.

Increasing Your Open Rate.

The first thing one needs to understand are the steps to an effective email campaign. Whether you are sending out sales notices, newsletters or thank you notes, none of it will matter if it does not a. reach the recipient and b. get opened by the recipient. Those are the first two challenges one needs to consider and learn to overcome. In this post we will discuss the means to ensuring you first make it through those spam filters and second, get read.

15 Email Marketing Tips.

1. The Subject Line Matters.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. The content of your subject line will determine how the spam filter reacts.
  2. The subject line will determine whether people are intrigued enough to open the email.

Consider your subject line carefully. It needs to avoid specific trigger words in order to get through the spam filters, but it also needs to be relevant and interesting enough to warrant the recipient opening the email.

  1. Unless it is dealing specifically with a topic you have already discussed with the recipient, it should be short. No more than 3-5 words.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but be clear and be concise.
  3. Don’t use the subject line as a sales pitch.
  4. Be relevant. The subject line needs to have relevancy to the recipient.
  5. Avoid spam trigger words.

The subject line is your battering ram. It is the first breach into the fortified walls of your recipient. It will determine if you land in the inbox and it will determine what happens from there. This is the first thing anyone sees when the email hits their mail slot. It has to be good. Think of it this way: it won’t matter how great the offer is in your email contents if no one opens it to read them.

2. Timing Your Email.

Believe it or not, there is actually a science to sending out email blasts. Timing can be everything. Remember that your open rate is crucial, it determines your overall success. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Promptness of email opens:
    1. 23.63% of all emails are opened within the first hour of receipt.
    2. 9.52% within the 2nd hour.
    3. 6.33% in the third hour
    4. 4.8% in the fourth.

It is most important then that you time your email to be opened immediately. (Source: socialmediaguerilla.com)

  • Number of messages sent by time of day:
    1. 5.9% of emails arrive between 12am – 6am.
    2. 38.7% arrive between 6am – 12pm.
    3. 25.8% arrive between 12pm – 6pm.
    4. 29.6% arrive between 6pm and 12am.

Most emails land in the inbox in the morning. Therefore it is less likely yours will be opened at that time. People are getting started, they are digging through the email pile and will disregard the less important ones. (Source: socialmediaguerilla.com)

  • Best click & open times:
    1. Top hours for “clicks”: 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, 8:00 pm.
    2. Top hours for “opens”: 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm.
  • Best days for sending:
    1. More emails are sent during the week than on weekends.
    2. Tuesday and Thursday being the highest volume days.

Changing which day you send your emails may improve your open and click rates. (Source: mailchimp.com)

Timing is indeed everything. Try sending out your blasts at different times. See for yourself which works best. Remember that every opened email could result in a sale.

3. Use Your Name & an Authentic Email Address. 

Would you open a random email from an unrecognized email address?  People are suspicious for good reason, so use your name and business and suggest your recipient add your company to their email to help you avoid an awkward visit to the junk folder.

4. Build a Reputation. Transition-Marketing-Services

Earn your recipients trust. If you are embarking on a sustained emailing campaign, such as a monthly newsletter, this trust will be crucial. As you begin to email recipients more frequently you will find yourself developing a reputation for either good content or bad. Keep the content of your emails on target relevant and interesting. Don’t send out emails for the sake of emailing. Don’t waste people’s time. Once your recipients have opened a few of your emails and benefited from them, your reputation will grow and the opens will happen more easily.

5. Keep It Short.

Your email does not need to be your entire sales catalog. Short emails can be the most effective. Interestingly enough it can be the most difficult to whittle down your emails content. It may require time and possibly a lot of it. Pick a single point and focus on it. Whether it is a sale, a new product etc. If you find yourself off topic, erase and start over.

6. A.P. Style Writing. 

Familiarize yourself with the principles of A.P. style writing (Associated Press). A.P. Style is defined in purpose as:

The content of newspapers and other mass media is typically the result of many different writers and editors working together. AP style provides consistent guidelines for such publications in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation and language usage. Some guiding principles behind AP style are:

  • Consistency
  • Clarity
  • Accuracy
  • Brevity

AP style also aims to avoid stereotypes and unintentionally offensive language. (Source)

Transition-Marketing-Services7. Do Not Send Out Spam.

First off what is spam? Spam mail is not just for male enhancement companies and Nigerian princes. Spam is any form of unsolicited email sent to unknown recipients who did not ask for it. You would think this would obvious, but even reputable companies can be tempted to spam. Do not send out spam emails.

8. Be Consistent.

Depending on the purpose of your email campaign, consistency can be key. If you are developing a newsletter campaign the stick to it. Weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually, whatever frequency you choose, stick to it. When developing the campaign, be realistic about how much you have to say and how often you want to say it. Set yourself a schedule and then stick to it. If the schedule dictates once a month, schedule your time properly to allow for it.

9. Non-Formal.

It is ok to be semi-formal and it is ok to have fun with your emails. Keep the tone professional and keep it clean but don’t shy away from having a little fun. Recipients are receiving countless formal emails a day, having a little fun on occasion can be ok. Don’t be afraid to show your human side. Be creative, by humorous, just don’t be boring. The more relational you come across, the more likely they are to follow-up with you. Be courteous and be clean though.

10. Be Fresh. Transition-Marketing-Services

Avoid old news or worn out ideas. Avoid repeating previous content – it is ok to reference it – but do not replicate it. This could (and should) put pressure on you from time to time to send your email out sooner. If yours is the first email in the inbox with new, important or timely information, you will reap the reward of being read. If you are reiterating similar info to previous emails, re-write it. Cast a new light on it, present it in a different away.

11. Engaging Content.

Daily I received about 60 – 70 emails. Most of those are formal and stuffed full of information. By the 3:30 in the afternoon I am beginning to open emails, size them up and then either mark them as unread to be dealt with the next day or dumping them after the first sentence. Try to incorporate content that will draw the viewer in. Keep that in mind when developing your emails Subject and content, and when scheduling it for send off.

12. Begin At The Beginning. 

Create your distribution list from scratch. People do not take kindly to unsolicited emails. Build trust. Ask them for permission.

  1. Provide opt-in opportunities.
  2. Offer different delivery options.
  3. Promise privacy.
  4. Provide a means for them to discontinue from the email.
  5. Provide links to connect on your website and social media profiles.
  6. Mention it when visiting them or on the phone and ask if they are interested.

13. Avoid Spam Trigger Words.

There are specific words that trigger spam filters. Familiarize yourself with them and avoid them.

1. !!!2. $$$

3. 100% free

4. Act now!

5. ALL CAPITALS

6. All natural

7. As seen on

8. Attention

9. Bad credit

10. Bargain

11. Best price

12. Billion

13. Certified

14. Cost

15. Dear friend

16. Decision

17. Discount

18. Double your income

19. E.x.t.r.a. Punctuation

20. Eliminate debt

21. Extra income

22. Fast cash

23. Fees

24. Financial freedom

25. FREE

51. Guarantee

52. Hot

53. Increase

54. Join millions

55. Lose weight

56. Lowest price

57. Make money fast

58. Marketing

59. Million dollars

60. Money

61. Money making

62. No medical exams

63. No purchase necessary

64. Online pharmacy

65. Opportunity

66. Partners

67. Performance

68. Rates

69. Satisfaction guaranteed

70. Search engine listings

71. Selling

72. Success

73. T e x t w i t h g a p s

74. Trial

75. Visit our website

26. #1

27. 4U

28. 50% off

29. Accept credit cards

30. Additional income

31. Affordable

32. All new

33. Apply now

34. Apply online

35. Be your own boss

36. Buy direct

37. Call free

38. Cancel at anytime

39. Cash bonus

40. Cheap

41. Click here

42. Congratulations

43. Direct email

44. Direct marketing

45. Don’t hesitate!

46. Drastically reduced

47. Earn $

48. Full refund

49. Get it now

50. Gift certificate

76. Great offer

77. Home based

78. Incredible deal

79. Information you requested

80. Insurance

81. Investment

82. Limited time offer

83. Message contains

84. No age restrictions

85. No experience

86. No gimmicks

87. No hidden costs

88. No questions asked

89. Offer

90. Online degree

91. Online marketing

92. Order Now

93. Passwords

94. Please read

95. Risk free

96. Save $

97. Serious cash

98. Special promotion

99. Urgent

100. Web traffic

14. First Impression

Do not make the mistake of assuming you are interesting. You have three seconds to make enough of an impression to last an entire emails length. Remember the rule of the “firm handshake” you may only have one chance to make this impression, so do it right the first time (you may not get a second handshake).

15. Format Your Email to be Readable.

Don’t make people “click-to-download”. Keep it short, focus on your one point, remove clutter and make it readable. If this sounds a little labour intensive, it is because it can be. There are many template sites and examples to be found online with a simple Google search. Coming up with even just one good subject line can be tough and is not always guaranteed to spark the rest of the emails contents. Doing it right requires massive creativity, passion and inspiration. It also requires focus.

Summary.

If you find yourself forcing it or are running out of time and rushing it, then you are likely better off to not do it at all. Your emails content will showcase you and your business image, for good or for evil. Make sure you are doing it right. For many companies that lack employees with either the time or the skill set it can make more sense to hire a copy-writer or a marketing firm. Get past the viewing pane. Get opened and be read. No one said this was going to be easy, but it can pay off big. Transition-Marketing-Services Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

7 Social Media Misconceptions

Transition-Marketing-ServicesSocial Media Marketing.

Social Media has quickly grown as a marketing tool. Several years ago there was a massive push by marketing consultants to bring clients of all backgrounds onto Social Media. This has dramatically changed the social media scene in both feel and usage. As corporations took to the Social Media “Airwaves” the content and type of usage has evolved.

The need to increase ad revenue has pushed the big contenders in new directions which has significantly impacted their content, the display of YOUR content and the overall reason for the average household’s usage. Not everyone has been happy with the changes, and many users have become disenchanted with the big Social Media platforms, seeing them as no more than Corporate shills. Yet usage continues to be steady.

Like it or not we will continue to see this push by Marketing & Advertising agencies for a few years yet, until the next big tech revolution occurs, or until our first big tech blackout happens. All indications are that advertising options will continue to grow as a must for many Social platforms.

This Social Media revolution has taken place over a little more than a decade. Over that time the platforms have evolved, the tools have adjusted and our methods have changed. Tips and tricks for optimal Social Media usage have come and gone like political promises.

In three previous posts we have outlined several Social Media misconceptions. Ideas, tips and information that simply are not true. These posts can be found here:

In the following post we will finish up with 7 final Social Media Misconceptions that business owners and marketers alike can (and should) ignore.

Okanagan-Marketing

7 Social Media Misconceptions.

1) Engagement Is The All Important Metric.

Let’s start by explaining. There are two key non-paying metrics involved in Social Media:

  • Number of Followers: Your number of followers or likes – essentially your Social Media audience.
  • Follower Engagement: Your engagement and individual connectivity with your followers.

Now both of these metrics are important, both will lead to potential sales and income. However neither by themselves will generate dollars. In our previous post we discussed why gaining followers is not the single key to success on Social Media. Engaging them is equally important, however one must note that “Follower Engagement” itself is considered a non-paying metric also.

Follower Engagement not only a non-paying metric, it’s also a fuzzy metric with many different interpretations. It is important of course. It establishes communication and relationships with potential leads and it provides insight into which of your content is connecting with your audience, which then impacts your future content and design decisions.

Follower Engagement however, is simply one more piece in the big-picture-puzzle. Your number of followers does not alone dictate your economic success, likewise engagement with those followers is just another in a several step process to generating sales interest.

2) Only Publish Content About Your Company.

Wrong.

I personally do not want to hear or witness a non-stop feed of propaganda about your business. If you are publishing only messages and content about your company, unless I am a stock holder, I DON’T CARE.

Ask yourself this: Would you want to sit and listen to someone you hardly know tell you all about how great they are? Probably not.

Why then would anyone voluntarily listen to you spout of a list of your awards, events, products, reviews etc? It is the exact same thing, and it is obnoxious. I will unfollow you quickly, as will the bulk of Social Media users.

Instead let your audience assist in dictating your content. The odd post about your companies recent achievement, or new product is great – but build the rest of your content based on what your audience wants. Think about it like romancing a first date. If you do all the talking, attempting to promote yourself, there likely won’t be a second date. Instead ENGAGE them. Find out about them, take an interest in their lives. Base your conversation around what THEY are saying.

Ask yourself (or rather ask them).

  • What are their concerns?
  • What are their problems?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are they talking about?

Romance your audience. Pay attention to them and engage them with your content.

3) You Should Post A Certain # Of Posts Each Day.

This is a common misconception and it is actually rooted in legitimate research. There are in fact optimal times during the day in which to post, likewise there is an optimal frequency with which to post. There has in fact been a great deal of research done on the topic including this great report by Dan Zarrella.

However, this research is not carved in stone and it does not necessarily pertain to everyone. As with any data and research, this report was based on independent results stemming from multiple test posts over a large number of accounts.

Every Social Media platform is different and has different optimal times for posts. Similarly every independent Social Media user has a different audience with different schedules, browsing habits and agendas.

We recommend that users do their own research based on their own profiles and their own audience:

  1. Test the timing for each of your posts and see when you are receiving the best level of connectivity with your followers.
  2. Test the frequency and verify the same.
  3. Test your content and see what is engaging the most.

Remember, these are YOUR followers, they are custom to you and your post scheduling should reflect that.

4) Setup Your Facebook or Twitter or Blog (etc) Profile and The Rest Is A Breeze.

Wrong again. Very wrong.

Engaging in Social Media is just like any other “Social” or Networking event. It is not enough to just be there. You need to be involved.

Think about it this way. If you set up a booth at a trades show and sat in a chair in the corner for the duration and never spoke to a soul, what would you expect for results? Social Media is much the same. It requires constant vigilance, updates and response. It is called “Social” Media for a reason. The entire premise of it is to get out and connect with other users. It is about conversing, communicating and networking.

Social Media requires time and effort. It requires consistent maintenance and updates.

5) You Can Just Wing It On Social Media.Small-Business-Plan

There is a misconception that Social Media requires little planning, that one can just post to it as they see fit.

In fairness, Social Media does require a flexible and adaptable controller and the posts can be spur of the moment. When operating a Social Media profile the controller must be prepared for anything, you are engaging people over the anonymity of the internet after all, and that can result in some bizarre interactions.

However, while flexibility is a must, so is an overall strategy. A few things to consider when developing a Social Media strategy:

  1. Why are you on Social Media?
  2. What are you goals?
    • How will you achieve them?
  3. Who are you targeting?
    • How will you find them?
    • How will you approach them?
  4. What content will you need to develop and post?
    • Do you have the means to do so?
    • Who will be in charge of doing so?

Figure our you goals, then determine who you want to connect with to achieve them; how you want to connect with them and what you need to do so? Who in your company is responsible for what? Have a plan to ensure success.

6) Every Division Of Your Company Needs An Individual Account.

They don’t.

You don’t.

Big corporations often go this route. Many large corporate companies (Kohler, Apple, Coca-Cola etc) have multiple accounts. In fact a report by Altimeter indicates that the average corporation has 178 corporate controlled Social Media accounts. That is an overkill even for companies of monolithic proportions.

The fact is that for every additional Social Media account, you are incurring added costs, added drain on resources and another avenue that can jeopardize the consistency of your brand’s communications. For the small to mid-size business especially, this makes zero sense. In addition, adding multiple accounts divides your efforts, provides far more information to analyze and reduces your overall Social Media reach.

The best plan is to create and build up a single account on whichever platforms you have deemed pertinent. If you have multiple target markets, don’t create multiple accounts, rather diversify the content on a single account, to reach the different targets from one place.

7) Don’t Ask Followers To “Follow, Like or RT” You.

This is a bit of a fair presumption actually. It seems quite forward and rude almost to just come out and ask someone to “Like” you. Yet the truth is that it works. There won’t be any terrible fallout or heckling as a result. You are simply putting it forward to someone – already engaged with your content – to share it. It is a  polite call to action and it is in fact a recommended thing to do.

Don’t abuse it of course, if you are constantly badgering everyone to RT every post… well that may indeed get a little stale.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Christmas Marketing Ideas For Small Business

 

Christmas is a magical time of the year.

Christmas is a magical time of the year.

Christmas is incredible. Arguably our favorite time of the year. There is a feel in the air, an ineffable spirit that surrounds the holiday season.

Christmas is more than just presents. It is a full-out event. A holiday affair with all the fixings and it presents opportunities to those businesses savvy enough to notice.

A Regular Pine Tree Becomes Magical When It Is Dressed Up For Christmas.

Consider that for a moment. It is the perfect metaphor for Christmas marketing. A regular business can dress itself and its marketing up for the Christmas season and suddenly it is playing a part in something bigger than itself. It has entered the world of “Holiday Festivities” and it has tapped into the buzz that goes along with it.

The Christmas season does that. Whether referred to as “Christmas” or just the “Happy Holidays” the fact is that this time of year draws everyone in. It generates a fervor and an excitement. In fact research shows that our human nature actually justifies spending cash when it is for others and in the spirit of “holiday giving”.

Got that?

That is why we are so much more willing with pull out the Visa or Master Card between the months of November and January. We can justify taking on the extra costs and the interest rates, because it is Christmas.

The lowly pine tree becomes magical this time of year.

The lowly pine tree becomes magical this time of year.

Why else would anyone knowingly attempt to navigate their local mall during the Christmas rush? It is absolute madness when you consider it, yet we do it and often enjoy it, because it is Christmas.

So how does a small business go about taking part in this enormous consumer rush? Here are a few ideas.

Keep It Christmas.

Here is the big fat disclaimer on everything you will read below. Marketing Christmas can be done tastefully, or it can be done tactlessly. There is a reason that so many people are jaded by the holiday season. They do not want to be marketed to in a cheesy, used-car salesman way. The entire point of “Christmas Marketing” is to broadcast the Christmas Spirit while explaining what your business has to offer.

The moment you make the sale more important than the season, you are crossing a line that should not be crossed. We encourage small businesses to take part in the holiday season, to play a role in it and within their community. By doing so you are engaging in the spirit of Christmas and will benefit as such. Should you forget the reason for your sales, should the almighty dollars become more important than the reason people are spending them, you will burn yourself out and alienate many consumers.

Basically, remember Christmas and keep things light.

Starbucks gets it. Decorate and celebrate Christmas WITH consumers.

Starbucks gets it. Decorate and celebrate Christmas WITH consumers.

Dress Your Shop For The Occasion.

My son is three. He LOVES Christmas lights. He LOVES Christmas trees. He LOVES “Ho Ho Ho” (his term for Santa Claus). He is not alone.

Dress your business up for the festivities. Go overboard. Hang the wreathes and lights, put up a tree, present your business as a holiday experience. This is one time of the year that garish displays are not only acceptable but encouraged. The extra labour and cost will be quickly offset by the increased traffic and sales.

Keep it classy and professional. Provide Joe Customer with a reason to come and “experience” the holidays with your business.

Don’t underestimate the draw that Christmas decorations can have on all of us.

Decorate Online.

Your shop is not the only place that customers can view your business. If you are online (and you should be) make sure to update your website, social media and any other online mediums.

Don’t shy away, by going “Full-Christmas” you are going to drive customers to your business. All instances of your brand / business image should be updated to represent the holiday season. You will not regret it. Spread the cheer!

A nice customized Christmas card is always a nice touch.

A nice customized Christmas card is always a nice touch.

Christmas Cards.

By Christmas cards we really mean more of a postcard. Create a 4 x 6 JPG and you can print it out at any local photo shop for just pennies a piece. Print out a few hundred and then distribute them to the local community.

The card itself should be tasteful and professional. It should display Christmas first and foremost and your business second. Why? People do not need another flier, however a nice photo titled “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” wishing them all the best is perfect. Simply include your business logo, name and brief contact info somewhere on it so they know from whom it came.

Don’t use it to try to sell, instead use it to spread the holiday cheer and they will repay the favour.

Christmas-SalesChristmas Sales.

This goes without saying. Every business offers sales during the Christmas season. It is what you do with those sales that makes the difference. Up the ante, push the envelope a little and get creative.

One idea that we saw was a “12 Days Of Christmas” sale. It offered special “Super-Sales” on specific items for each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

There is a certain amount of prep work to be done for Christmas sales in order to capitalize on them.

  • Stocking up on specific merchandise in advance is key. Have a good stock ready for the influx of shoppers that come with Christmas sales.
  • Stock up well in advance. Consider approaching your vendors as early as summer to negotiate bulk prices and stock on items for your Christmas sales.
  • Know your margins and pick your percentages wisely. Choose items to put on sale that have good solid price margins that allow you to turn a profit even on a sale.
  • Go through inventory and take the opportunity to push overstocked items or other items that need to go prior to the new year.

When putting on the sales, you will find more success in offering specific items at a greatly reduced discount as opposed offering smaller discounts on multiple items. In other words consider offering 50% or more on just one or two items as opposed to 10-25% on all of your items. This can be a great way to drive traffic into your store.

Go at it with the thought of “assisting consumers” in finding the gifts for their loved ones.

Displays, Displays, Displays.

Put up and maintain a regular rotation of product displays throughout the holiday season. They should be decorative and festive. This plays into your Christmas Sales as items that are on sale that day should be prominently displayed and accessible.

Invite Santa.Small-Business

Consider having jolly old St. Nick visit your store. Advertise it and invite families and their kids to partake. Create a festive event around it and by extension, around your store. Show yourself to be a community minded business that is anxious to take part in everyone’s holiday cheer.

Give Away Christmas Cheer.

It may be as simple as handing out free hot chocolate to customers, or perhaps candy canes. The more Christmas buzz you can create around your place of business, the more traffic it will generate. How many of your competitors are standing on the curb outside giving passerby’s something to warm themselves?

Be Properly Staffed.

The Christmas season can (and should) mean increased traffic and sales within your store. Nothing will put customers off more than having to wait in line while one person attempts to ring in a dozen customers.

Don’t be caught off guard. Make sure you have enough staff to give your customers a positive experience.

Worried that you will wind up paying someone to stand around during the lulls?

  • Put them outside to hand out hot chocolate to customers.
  • Get them gift wrapping purchases for customers.
  • Have them update your Christmas decor throughout the day.
  • Put them to use maintaining your inventory levels.

All of this brings us to our next tip…

Ensure Staff Is Trained For Success.Small-Business-Training

Do not leave your hiring to the last-minute. Hire and train your employees to know what they are talking about. They should be an extension of you the owner.

  • They should be able to offer great service and process customer needs quickly.
  • They should have enough info to answer basic questions, and be equipped to get the info for more difficult ones.
  • They should be trained on how to make the sale.

This last one is important. Equip your employees to make the sale when you are unavailable. They need to know it is part of their job to sell your great products and services. Equip them with what they need to do that.

Make sure your staff is trained to sell in a way that provides each customer with an outstanding in-store experience. They should know how to assist customers in finding what they need and the various options or add-ons available.

Christmas Advertising.

Offering great sales is one thing but you need to get the word out there. Take to every avenue available to get the word out. Email, newspapers, magazines, fliers, posters, radio, television, social media, website updates. The options for broadcasting your info are endless. Choose the ones that make the most sense and then go hard.

It will cost you in the short-term, but the increased sales will more than pay those bills.

Include photos of the items, include photos of your decorated store, include photos of everything. Photos grab the eye, once you have the eye you have the attention and they will seek to learn more. Keep the verbiage brief and clear. Keep it simple. A photo, a price and the sales discount will speak volumes.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Understanding Successful Advertising.

We continue our look at “advertising for dummies” by taking a look at how quickly careless advertising can backfire.

Argentina VS Brazil… Fails To Perform.

Anyone who follows World Cup Football (Soccer) knows that tensions run high and rivalries are deeply ingrained. These rivalries almost always spill over and out of the arena and are often reflected in the various advertising campaigns.

Past rivalries have seen some very “interesting” ad campaigns between rivals. Consider this little exchange between Argentina and Brazil. The top ad was Argentina’s opening shot, the bottom was Brazil’s response after Argentina “failed to perform” in such a way as to “stick it to” Brazil.

Oops, looks like Brazil had some performance issues.

Oops, looks like Brazil had some performance issues.

France Throws A Few Stones At Ukraine, Forget They Live In A Glass House…

For the upcoming Ukraine VS France Football match French fans were creating various posters of their chicken mascot showing dominance over other teams (in France the Rooster is one of France’s national animals… yes we know the irony and humour in France being represented by a chicken). Needless to say the campaign chucked a few stones towards the Ukraine who responded quite quickly with their own little ad.

The left is one of the French ad’s the right was the Ukraine’s response.

France VS Ukraine... Oh and they are playing a football match also!

France VS Ukraine… Oh and they are playing a football match also!

We have one word: “Owned”.

Consider The Backfire.

When advertising, one needs to always consider the various angles and possibilities of a backfire.

Consider it like this. When a parent is choosing names for their newborn, they often consider the many nicknames that can go along with it. “Ben” for example will 99% of the time result in such nicknames as: “Bendover, Benjamin Franklin, Bent, Bender, Bendy etc” (no none are very original). Guarding against nasty nicknames is a very common thought process for new parents.

Any instance of communication with the public (advertising, PR etc) must ponder things in much the same way. Angles need to be considered, public perception of events and materials need to be understood and the overall message being communicated must be honed appropriately. What could go wrong? What leverage may it provide your rivals?

History is riddled with ad campaigns that have backfired violently, damaging the brand they are meant to build up. This is only amplified by the wide-spread use of Social Media to share and spread the failure.

A campaign can start with good intentions but spiral quickly out of control if not properly researched and planned. Try as we may however, we cannot always plan for every possible outcome. To illustrate this, let’s return back to the metaphor of naming your child. I knew a young man whose parents named him Michael Hawk. Not so bad right? Until you start calling him Mike…. and then say his full name out loud, Mike Hawk. Go ahead and say that (quietly) to yourself.

Not exactly the name you want called out when stepping out onto the field for the first time or during role-call in a small high school. Let’s just say the rest of his first year was very good for “character development”.

The point we are trying to make is that one can only do their very best to plan for every possible outcome of an advertising / marketing campaign. You can only do your very best but YOU MUST DO your very best. Careless advertising can quickly backfire (as we see in the Football ad’s above). Consider your audience, consider what is appropriate and what is taboo, consider your wording and then polish your message.

Then fire away.

Just don’t use a chicken as your mascot.

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Successful Advertising Explained

Cashing in on one of the biggest successes of 2013.

Cashing in on one of the biggest successes of 2013.

Funny stuff. We came across this on Reddit. We sure do love a funny sign.

That is indeed what it is, a funny sign and we LOVE sharing funny signs. However every once in a while someone asks the question, why?

Why share it? How is this useful? what good is it? Sure they had a sign with their name on it. Sure they put something funny on it. But so what? Did it land a sale?

How is this beneficial to business? Where is the ROI? Isn’t this just a random sign? Is this a part of a larger business plan?

The truth is no it isn’t a part of some larger, elaborate business plan. It is simply a sign that was concocted by a small business owner on the fly to promote their business. There likely was no large meeting, no discussion with Public Relations, no mock-ups, no approvals sent off.

It is simply a chalkboard sign on a sidewalk. Simple. Basic. No strings attached.

Yet it is the simple little gems like this one that best illustrate the big picture behind effective advertising. There are three key elements for effective advertising:

  1. “Content”,
  2. “Relevance”,
  3. “Call to action”.

(Hint: This particular ad encompasses two of three of them). Let’s examine for a moment.

CONTENT:

For an advertisement (or any marketing venture) to be effective it must engage the consumer. It must grab their attention long enough to communicate the bare essentials required to generate a “sales lead”. It must create an interest in the viewer to know more about the product or service. This “Engagement” is the first step to landing a sale. If you can engage (IE interest) the consumer, you are getting them on the proverbial “hook” and working towards reeling them in.

Good “Relevant” “Content” dictates an advertisement’s effectiveness. The better and more relevant the content, the higher the ROI (IE the more leads are generated). When an advertisement is developed there are numerous facets considered in order to determine the best “Content” for the job. Among them one considers:

  1. The target market and the type of consumers that one is trying to attract. This can include age, gender, geography, race, sexual preference, social background and numerous other traits.
  2. The current zeitgeist (spirit) of the target market. In other words, what is relevant in the news, what is new, what is popular, what are the trends. What is resonating with people?
  3. What is presently taboo? What is off-limits? How close can you skirt the edge?

The term “Content is King” is not a new one. In fact is has been the general governing principle behind marketing and advertising for decades. Content will ALWAYS determine your success.

RELEVANCE.

Relevance is directly linked to content. Content relies on being relevant. Non-relevant content will fail. For content (and by extension, the advertisement) to be successful it MUST. BE. RELEVANT. As described above, it must resonate with the consumer. It must connect with them. It must reach out and grab them.

One may find relevance with the target market by:

  1. Tapping into a trend (the image above is an example, tapping into the enormity of Breaking Bad’s success).
  2. By taking sides in a debate (Starbucks made it very clear what side they were on in the ongoing same-sex marriage debates in the U.S.A).
  3. By showing their passion for an interest they share with their consumers.
This small business used their love of Pokemon to engage specific consumers.

This small business used their love of Pokemon to engage specific consumers with the same interest.

Relevant content is key, however one must never try so hard to be relevant that they overstep. The history of marketing and advertising is riddled with embarrassing and “brand-breaking” stories of campaigns that over-stepped. They attempted to connect into a relevant news topic or social opinion and offended the masses or demonstrated ignorance on a topic *Cough-Kenneth-Cole-cough*.

There will be times when relevance is a double-edged sword and one must consider whether there is enough benefit to off set potential consequences. Consider the ongoing feud over same-sex marriage in the U.S. On one side you had Chick-Fil-A taking a hardened stance against it. On the other side you had Starbucks taking a stance FOR it. Both had reasons for their choice and by all accounts they seemed to be highly personal reasons.

From a purely business stance, taking a side one way or the other on a topic as explosive as this was bound to have massive impact on their consumer base. To take a stance on this purely to gain business would be a questionable move. It is a RELEVANT topic, but that does not mean it was profitable to explore. Regardless of their reasons, both won certain target markets and lost certain target markets. The fallout was double-edged.

Note: We are not saying that a business taking a stand for issues like this is always a business decision. Nor are we arguing that business cannot or should not take a moral stance. This example is meant only to argue that two large businesses taking opposite stances on an issue demonstrates the fickle and ambiguous nature of “relevance”.

Relevant Content is the key to your consumers hearts. Win their interest and you may win their sale.

Hows this for a call to action? FREE BACON!

Hows this for a call to action? FREE BACON!

CALL TO ACTION

If we were to fault the “Hey Meatball” sign above for one thing, it could perhaps be the lack of a “Call to action” (not saying we would, just that we COULD). This is the one thing the sign does not directly broadcast.

A Call to action is basically the motivation that a business gives to the consumer to follow through with the sale. A good example of a Call to action may be providing a limited time offer, or a bonus of some sorts for making a purchase immediately.

A Call to action is an excellent way to compounding on good relevant content. Think of it this way, you just grabbed your consumers attention, they have read your advertisement and their interest is piqued. Now, do they walk away with that, or is there a reason for them to immediately act upon what they have seen? If they walk away, there is still chance of a sale, however if there is a Call to action than that sale may happen sooner (and is more likely a sure thing).

A good Call to action for “Hey Meatball” may have been to offer one-time “Breaking Bad Shades” to anyone ordering their special spaghetti that day (that is only a kind of a joke). They could have offered a discount on a meal for anyone citing a Heisenberg quote, or for anyone with a shaved head and goatee (again, only kind of a joke).

Call your customers to action. Provide them with a reason to make a move immediately.

“JUST” A FUNNY SIGN

You see, it is more than just a funny sign. It is an illustration and a lesson. One to remind us to always raise the bar for content (even if it is via the simplest medium).

This funny little sign did not necessarily play into a larger scale marketing plan.  However it generated engagement. It generated Interest. It created a conversation piece for consumers who, as we see, found it interesting enough to share online. It did what it was supposed to do as an ad.

It spread the word and created a conversation centred around the brand. That is the power of “relevant” “content”.

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Five Social Media Misconceptions

Social-Media-Marketing

Social media policies can be crippling.

1) Social Media Requires Policing And A Policy.

Ok let’s cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy because Social media policies wind up wasting time and stalling out efforts. Attempting to police every single thing published within a single channel is nearly impossible and one stands to lose more trying to get approval to reply, then just replying promptly.

It’s impossible to prepare for every possible scenario on social media. What is more, with social media speed is of the essence. One must respond quickly at every opportunity. If one has to run every reply through a chain of command, or get approval via policy, then they risk losing out. Social media is lightening quick and dialogue on it must reflect that.

The best bet is to put simple guidelines for social media publication in place, rather than a full fledged policy. Make sure that those representing your brand on social media have good judgement and then entrust them to represent you properly.

A few examples of good guidelines are as follows:

  • Use your common sense.
  • Beware of privacy issues.
  • Play nice, and be honest.
  • Allow publications to fun, while still relevant & respectful.
  • Encourage conversation & discourse.
  • Consider asking your representatives to add their initials to posts.
  • Maintain a distinction between posts for your brand and personal posts by your reps.

 2) Social Media Is 100% Free.

Marketing-Content

Image Source: techpost.ug

This can be a common misconception. Yes there is almost never a cost to sign up to a social network however the natural evolution of your social media profiles will require time & resources, which as we know requires “moola moola”. True social media marketing success requires an investment of time. It requires consistent updates and posts, content creation, publication, searching and dialogue with other users.

Do not make the mistake of assuming social media is quick and easy. If you want any real success via these channels, then you need to maintain, update and use them properly. All of these things take time and time requires money.

It doesn’t end there either. Once you have a social media plan in place and the cogs are turning, the next step is marketing analytics. The only way to see if you are truly making any progress on social media is to measure the ROI. This as well, requires time, people and software.

There is no question that social media pays however it must be looked at as an investment and not simply a free ride.

Small-Business-Marketing

Social media is the fishing line and your website is the boat.

3) Social Media Alone Is Enough.

FALSE! False, false, false! Social media is a wonderful tool but it DOES NOT REPLACE other marketing strategies. Social media is simply an additional channel. It complements other parts of your strategy but it cannot stand alone.

If marketing is “fishing for leads”. Then consider social media to be the fishing line. It works great to hook potential customers, but you still need somewhere to reel them in to. A “boat” as it were. You must have a landing page, somewhere for those followers to go to find the information they need. You cannot convert social media followers to potential sales leads without a landing page(s).

Simply put you cannot attract followers in social media without good content. That content must come from somewhere, a blog, a website etc. You cannot convert followers into sales leads without landing pages (blog, website etc.) that provide necessary information and “can’t-refuse” offers.

Long story short: Get a website or other form of landing page (no Facebook does not count).

4. Social Media Cannot Be Measured.Marketing-Analytics

Everything can be measured. In fact one of the founding principles within every successful industry segment is “measurement”. Whether dealing with marketing, production, distribution or other, without measurement there is no way to determine the success of an endeavor and no way to determine whether to continue or not.

Social media is the same. As with every other marketing tool, social media can be measured.

So how do you measure? There are many ways, the first and primary step should be to set a goal and gauge your progress.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Seek to engage existing consumers and gauge the number of successful conversations.
  2. Create an offer only available on social media, then measure how many people attempt to cash it in within your business.
  3. Seek to gain new leads & set a quantity to reach by a specific date.
  4. Seek to increase the reach overall of your content. Measure using software and analytics tools built into that specific social media platform.
  5. Seek to support Customer Service by reducing the need for support calls. Measure how many calls are coming in and then compare as your social media profiles begin to take flight. Monitor to see if the average number of calls per month decrease over time.

Whatever you determine to be your goal, there is a way to measure it and that measurement is crucial.

social-media-followers

500 or 5000 followers. It doesn’t matter if none of them convert into leads.

5) Your Number of Followers Is The Most Important Metric.

A high number of followers can certainly be indication of doing something right. However followers don’t generate income. They are not sales, they do not pay your bills and they will not guarantee your business survival.

Also to be considered, is that every social media platform has a high number of “spam” profiles, essentially dummy profiles that follow you simply to be followed back. There is zero value in these profiles as they cannot be converted to leads.

Instead what you must consider, is what is most important to your business. Generating massive numbers of followers should not be a top priority. Rather you should focus on thoroughly engaging a smaller number of followers in order to transform them into leads and eventually into sales.

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Creating Experiences That Customers Share – Brand Advocates

20130731-110522.jpg

We found this online. It was titled: “Why I love Virgin airlines”.

This little bit of fun on the part of a business resonated so well with a consumer, that he shared it online with millions. He instantly became an advocate for this brand by providing a direct “word-of-mouth” referral for Virgin.

“Word-of-mouth-marketing” is in fact a “thing” (it even has a lame acronym: WOMM). Although it works in a very similar fashion to “Referral Marketing” it is not identical and is arguably more effective. Why? for one the party making the referral is doing so without any profit to self.

And it is the selfless referral of a brand or business that resonates most with consumers. To see, hear, read or otherwise digest another consumer’s positive experiences speaks more deeply than thousands of dollar in advertising ever will. Consumers tend to trust their peers first and businesses second. When a fellow consumer provides a positive referral, they are taken at their word.

So how do you create these referrals? By providing experiences.

Good experiences.

Funny experiences.

Experiences that make good stories.

It’s the little things that we as businesses do. The little things that show our human side and tells customers: “Hey we’re just like you!”. Provide experiences that customers will want to share.

Just remember that it swings both ways and bad experiences are just as easily shared.