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Plates Are Steering Wheels

Plates Are Steering Wheels

Plates Are Steering Wheels

 

The Power of Creative Marketing

Our family was preparing to sit down to supper tonight. My two year old son and I had just finished setting the table and had sat down to await a big pot of spaghetti.

As we sat waiting, my son did the most curious thing. He picked up his plate and tilting it sideways, proceed to use it as a steering wheel to drive our dinner table like a truck.

The level of imagination that children have is to be admired.

I got to thinking almost immediately, how much I admired my two year olds perception of things. Where I saw a tool for serving supper, he had found entertainment.

As a self proclaimed content creator / curator for Transition Marketing Services, it was humbling to see just how lacking in imagination I can be.

That is the crux of this post. Creativity will almost always play a larger role in your marketing success, than big, flashy and pricey.

Small Businesses of all backgrounds can make a lasting impact, even on a limited budget, but to do so, we need to harness the power of creativity.

Transition Marketing

We must never be afraid to use our imagination.

Have some fun with your advertising and try something new.

Dominos Sign

Grab your consumers attention, engage them and their imagination. Give consumers a memory, a chuckle, an anecdote to share with their friends and you will have gained more than a flashy ad ever could.

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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.

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Fresh Content Matters

Image Source: Wesst.org

Image Source: Wesst.org

When trying to market your small business, it is all about putting your company in front of the consumer.

Whether it is an ad in the local newspaper, a Facebook page, or your website, there is one thing to ALWAYS remember.

“Content is King”

Fresh Content Drives Results:
We were driving to my folks place tonight. As we entered the bustling city of Enderby, we passed a number of billboards – the same billboards we pass regularly on this particular stretch of highway.

This got me thinking. I pass these billboards regularly, once a week at least, but seldom if ever even give this signage a second thought.

Why?

Because the content is stale.

The same content that was plastered across these boards in June, is still there, slightly sun bleached in December. These signs may have been effective when they first went up, but they had a lifespan.

Like any image based advertising, it’s effect and impact hinges on its ability to be seen. Stale content goes unnoticed, fresh content grabs the eye.

These highway billboards cease to get noticed after the first few passes.

The same goes for any of your marketing and advertising. Websites, Facebook, Printed ad’s – you have to be diligent in maintaining your materials. Update and post regularly.

Keep your content fresh.

Or like those billboards, be passed by.

20121208-200837.jpg 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.

How to write and distribute your press release within 24 hours.

How to write and distribute your press release within 24 hours..

NOTE: “this content was sourced from Apples & Oranges Public Relations.”

Your news lives online forever, bringing you more business and publicity over time. Also, you can share with hundreds on line via social media. Press releasesshould be written, published and distributed nationwide at least 1 – 3 times per month.

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Step 1 – Plan and choose the points of your story. (3 – 5 hours)

Make a list of your points. What are points? The what, who, when, why, where of the story to be published within your press release.

For example:

  •     What is the topic of the story?
  •    What makes this story news worthy?
  •     What do you want to communicate? 
  •    What keywords will you use to attract readers and increase SEO results?
  •   What current issues, holidays, or news topics does your story tie in to?
  •  Who is your target audience?
  • What is your goal? What do you want to happen as a result of releasing this story?
  •    When is the best time and date to release your story?
  • I  Keep your release between 450 – 700 words.

 Step 2 – Plan the small moments first. (5 – 12 hours)

Write down the topic, the beginning, the middle and the end of the story.

 For Example: this is a current press release/news story about one of our clients.

 The TopicBREAKING NEWS: THE FIRST FEMALE RABBI TOBI RUBINSTEIN SCHNEIER, ANNOUNCES HER NEW REALITY TV SHOW AND UPCOMING TELL ALL BOOK.

 The beginningTobi Rubinstein Schneier: Mother, Rabbi, Fashion Icon and an International Socialite is set to launch her first reality TV show: The House Of Faith N’ Fashion and her upcoming tell-all-book.

 The MiddleTobi grew up as the girl from Queens, New York whose creative interpretation of an Orthodox Jewish girl’s wardrobe constantly got her kicked out of her “All Girls Religious Paroquial School.”

 The endThe House Of Faith N’ Fashion debuts during New York Fashion Week on ABC Livewell Network, in September 2012.Visit this link to read the entire release.

Results: The above release mentioned was picked up by numerous outlets including USA Today, Top News Today, Albany Times to name a few, and we received call backs from local newspapers such as NY Post. This news story has received approximately 1,583 reads and 736 people shared this release in the last 10 days.

 Step 3 – Edit & Review (3 – 5 hours)

 Edit, edit and revise. Have your colleagues or business partner read the story and get their opinions.

Step 4 – Distribution & Setup (3 – 5 hours setup, SEO, keyword analysis, adding related photos and media)

 The most important step is to get your release to the masses and in front of your target audience.  On average, distribution costs range from $89 – $500+. For best results, we recommend using a combination of paid and free onlinepress release distribution services.

 Step 5 – Measure results & repeat

After your release is published, check the results from 2 – 30 business days. Repeat the process.  Do not expect the flood gates to open after 1 or 2 releases.  You will see maximum results overtime, by publishing your releases on a consistent schedule.

 Finally, thanks for utilizing this free information. Please open a word document and start to write your release.

  This wills certainly contribute to the success of your business overtime.

 Have additional questions? Please send us an email toinfo@applesandorangespr.com or call us to request release samples.

 For your convenience, this post is also featured on our Facebook page and in our notes on Facebook.

Please share this. You are free to reuse this content, as long as you mention:“this content was sourced from Apples & Oranges Public Relations.”

The Delicate Art Of Engaging Customers

Branding is all powerful, in an ever changing world the ability to brand is hinging more and more on the ability to engage customers. Social Media is one primary means of doing this, but what do you do when a customer engages you with tough questions or questionable attitude?

FIRST: The Foreshadowing.

My wife and I had a wonderful Mother’s Day Sunday this past weekend. I muddled through making her breakfast, we attempted a hike up Rose Swanson Mountain here in Armstrong and more or less enjoyed the bright Okanagan sunshine. Nearing the end of the day we were feeling relaxed and more than a little lethargic. The thing with Armstrong is that it is tiny and tiny towns often lack many of the amenities of big cities – including family restaurants open past five o’clock. There are a few nice pubs, but they frown on bringing in an 18 month old so we decided we would simply order some take-out and eat on the patio at home. We placed our order at the local pub and then went to the park to chill until it was ready. I ordered the biggest sloppiest burger available, while my wife settled on the Greek Wrap (carefully described in the menu as being loaded with Greek vegetables). When we got our food home, we discovered that, aside from the normal tomato, lettuce and black olives, the “Greek” wrap was made up of shredded carrots, radishes and purple cabbage. We are not culinary snobs by any stretch, but we were a little dumbfounded by their definition of “Greek” Vegetables. A quick search of vegetable origins found the following information:

  • Radishes – Originate in China.
  • Carrots – Originate in Afhganistan (along with Parsnips).
  • Cabbage – Originate in either Sweden & Poland (or both).

Now yes, I get that the Greeks we a singular golden culture, and that their empire did indeed stretch across europe under the reign of Alexander the Great. I was not, however, aware that carrots and radishes were considered “Greek”. I laughed a little as I thought of a couple of quips I could post to their Facebook page (if they had a Facebook page). That lead me to think about how they might respond, which in turn lead me to think about how I would respond if I were them. One thing lead to another and now we have this blog.

Second: The Crux – Customer Engagement

Actual customer engagement tests your brand promises.

Customer Service, for many businesses, is the front line for brand image. It is where Brand promises are put to the test and in many cases it is the first “real” engagement that customers are going to have with any business brand. This can be where many large businesses lose out, but where small business can excel. The larger the company, the more people represent it and the more difficult it can be to maintain a consistent Brand message. Disconnects can occur between employees of the same department (IE Customer Service Reps answering differently to the same question) They can also occur between departments (IE Sales making promised that After Sales cannot deliver on). Larger companies tend to source out their service departments. As such there is less of a personal stake in the response and care offered. The service reps are often underpaid, understaffed, under trained and under the gun to respond according to pre-scripted operating procedures. Lack of knowledge and lack of flexibility in your service department is a big problem. Answers need to be quick, thorough and above all RELEVANT. When I call in I do not want to hold for twenty minutes listening to commercials promoting your outstanding service – that makes me bitter and sarcastic. I do not want to speak to a rep who knows less about the product than I do and I want to be able to understand what the rep is saying. Lastly I do not need a blanket response, or corporate run-around… I want an answer to my problem, my SPECIFIC problem. If you want to build a strong brand, build a strong service department. This is where small business has some advantages – there is a personal stake and a more direct line with the people to whom the business (and customers) matter. It is more consistent and more urgent. I call to a local small business and I am likely to get a response from someone who believes I matter. I am not just a drop in the bucket for those who can count their clients on their hands, and often know them by name. Engage me and I will be a customer for life. I still send my business to the little guys for that reason. I have relationships with these people, with their businesses – relationships built on previous service, honesty and faith, relationships that surpass the bottom dollar. Engaged customers are willing to overlook the occasional blunder or hiccup. They are willing to work WITH you and once engaged they will follow your brand the distance – and that is what branding is all about.

Third: Customer Engagement 2.0

Social Media acts as a magnifying glass for this engagement. For many customers it is easier to post to Facebook or Twitter then to call in. It is also quicker than the traditional means of email or snail mail, which means more emotion is included in the message and less time can be taken in structuring a response. Let’s go back to the story of the Greek wrap that wasn’t Greek. Hypothetically, let’s say that I posted to their Facebook page “Hey _____ Pub, I ordered a Greek wrap, not a Inter-European/Asian wrap – Carrots & Radishes are not Greek!” How would you respond? How would you expect a business to respond? Am I kidding around with this statement?, am I being belligerent?, am I being a troll? and how can you be sure? How do you engage the customer in a situation like this? Do it wrong and it will cost you. Do it correctly and it will promote you. Social Media requires fun, amiable, personable, creative, quick and professional direction. Those representing your business need to love people and dance on coals. The term “Social Media Ninja” is about as cliche as “Social Media Guru”, but Ninja fits the bill – keep watch, be quick, adapt and engage. Social Media is not just for big business, many small businesses are beginning to utilize it and the I’ll leave you with this nifty example of someone trolling Taco Bell, and Taco Bell’s subsequent response.

How you engage customer via Social Media Channels can drastically impact your brand.

Notice that they engaged not only the sender, but their entire audience, by not only going along with the joke, but coming out on top. They even utilized hash tags to further both the joke and their commanding statement. In this case context was made evident by the name of the sender (Men’s Humor) and the hashtag. It is not always so clear, and misinterpreting it can be costly. But, as this example shows, doing it right can have amazing results.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.

Creating Creative, Fresh, Email & Blog Content

CAUTION: FRESH CONTENTS ENCLOSED

Preparing your email send out? Posting your next blog? Having troubles?

We have all felt it. The gnawing frustration that comes with writers (or designers) block. Creative content can be elusive, but is invaluable. Keeping your content fresh is imperative. Here are some quick ideas to help!

"It's a thing" - Barney Stinson Image courtesy of Brocrastinator (http://brocrastinator.com/barney-stinson-bro-code)

Shake it up, Include something random. We once quoted Barney Stinson in an article on Small Business.

1. Turn On The Blender Baby!
Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Try new things. Mess around a little bit. Include a quote from something random like the Big Bang Theory. I just read a blog that quoted “Babylon Five” (thanks Angelo Barovier!). I have quoted Barney Stinson before (How I met your mother) – so go ahead and shake it up! It displays your “humanness” which makes you and your content easier to relate to.

2. Let Video Do The Work!
Try including a video occasionally. Don’t have one of your own? Don’t have the means to make one? Then find one and either embed it or include a link. Keep it appropriate, and related to your content. Be aware that many people will not follow your link if they do not already have a relationship with you.

3. Events – Upcoming or Past. Inform people of events coming to their town or related to their industries. Share your background and experience with various events and activities, highlight pros and cons, share what you learned and who you met. This can be an interesting way to create a dialogue with others in the industry.

4. Tips & Tricks Related To Your Field. Blogging lists of tips is extremely lame and we do not recommend such activity within this list of tips on our blog.

Clearly we are being facetious. If you are in an industry and have insight to share, it can help to build relationships and increase viewership and engagement with others within similar industries. It will also increase your image and associate your name with expertise.

We are a highly visual society, try including a relevant photo in your content (incidentally this photo is of Beirut - but we are not in it).

5. …“and Here We Are In Beirut” It may be cliché, but a picture will indeed speak a thousand words. Throw in a photo or image that coincides with the ideas you are conveying. There are many sites that provide free photos, or you can use one from another online source, just make sure to check for copyrights and credit the source – it’s only polite!

Our society is highly visual, and a photo or image is a guaranteed method to increase viewership and engagement. Make sure you keep the image size small, don’t want to bog up the load time!

6. Interviews With Industry Related People.
Whether others in the industry, your employees or your customers this is an excellent opportunity to build relationships. It provides unique perspectives from people who know – or are subject to – the business. It can also provide you with ideas and inspiration for future content.

7. News.
Update with stories and news of interest. Provide your own unique perspective on current stories, and share your ideas. Stay non-offensive and remember that your audience may already have an opinion contrary to yours – create content with that in mind.

8. Review Products.
Share your insights, your likes and your concerns with various industry related products. This again will help associate your name with expertise. It also provides another opportunity to begin a dialogue and to build relationships with other end users. Ask your readers for their input and experience. Always be professional and not inflammatory.

9. Presentation Content.
Presentations can be a great way to re-position content from presentations. It can re-emphasize products, philosophies, brand stances and so forth. It also helps echo what your sales and service people will already be conveying – since they have likely already taken in the presentations. It will build a consistency and continuity into your brand.

10. FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)
Do you have a question that keeps cropping up? Are you noticing a trend in your customer service communications? If it is being asked it should be answered. Imagine how many may have the same question but simply have not asked it yet. Creating content to deal with FAQ’s will give you the opportunity to provide a consistent answer that is easily passed along. It will also help you head off comments and concerns at the pass.

Resources exist to help you capitalize on current trends.

11. Target Trending Topics.
This can take some time and some research, but there are numerous resourced available and the value of becoming a part of trending discussions it huge. It shows you are up to date with your industry and you are informed enough to speak about it.

Trending topics are trending for a reason – because they are interesting. By keying in on trends you are positioning yourself for success. Keep in mind it is about timing; don’t be the last one to the table on trending topics or the potential gains can quickly be reversed.

It sounds like a lot doesn’t it? In some cases it is. For many small business owners, their passion is in their industry and products, and not necessarily in developing content for emails, newsletters and blogs.

This is where a good consultant or copywriter can help. It is worth it to contract out content development if that means the freshest concepts. A good consultant will be able to glean your passions and insights and translate it to intelligible and interesting content for your consumers.

Don’t force it, but keep at it. It can take time to develop good fresh content, but over time it will pay off. In this day and age communication and branding has become vital to keeping and gaining market share. If you find you lack the interest, the skill set or simply do not have the time then it is likely in your best interests to explore contracting it out. Ask around, do some investigating you may be surprised at what is out there for you.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services – Contact us for a free consultation.