marketing tips

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.

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns

Recently Yodle released a report on the top list of worries for small business owners. The report was titled the First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey and run last quarter of 2013, meaning the data was taken from owners as they prepared for the new year. Yodle drew samples for 306 Small Business Owners from throughout the U.S.

Here is a breakdown of the sampling (for more in-depth detail, please visit Yodle’s official report).

Small-Business-Marketing

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

As you can see the samples were taken from a reasonably wide variety of owners. Most were the sole proprietors of the business and the largest number of respondents had only 1-5 employees. What was surprising was the age demographic for those polled, with over 70% over the age of 50.

Despite some common concerns, most small business owners polled seemed to be genuinely happy with their careers:

“More than nine in 10 of respondents (91%) are happy that they became SMB owners including over half (55%) who are “extremely happy.”  A majority of SMB owners (59%) also shared that they would likely not consider selling their business over the next few years, indicating optimism and satisfaction.” – Yodle.com

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

On top of that, over 50% reported being satisfied with their work to personal life balance:

“52% of SMB owners work 40 hours or less and almost three in four (72%) take at least two weeks of vacation per year.  More than one in four (27%) SMB owners actually take four or more weeks of vacation per year.  However, almost four in 10 (39%) SMB owners work 41-60 hours per week and almost one in 10 (9%) work over 60 hours a week.  Additionally, just 11% of small business owners don’t take any vacation.”

However it wasn’t all positive and many owners reported growing concerns related to both personal and professional strain.

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns.

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Each of the concerns listed above is very real and entirely valid to the small business community. Let’s look at each one independently for a moment.

1. Finding New Customers.

It makes sense that this would top the list. For any business to succeed and to grow, they need to increase their clientele. For many small businesses the question is just “how to do that?”. The obvious “boxed” answer is through marketing and advertising, but with so many options out there, how do they know which is best and how do they maximize the bang for their buck?

There are as many different options as there are businesses. Specific business types can profit from specific marketing tools. However there are a few tools in the marketing tool box that apply for every business, regardless of industry and market.

  • Websites: First are foremost. Every business needs a website. This is in-arguable. Everything is online and that is where the bulk of consumers find thins now.
  • Social Media: It creates dialogue. It generates exposure. It breeds loyalty. It builds brands. Oh and it’s free.
  • Signage / Outdoor Advertising: This can range from sandwich boards to vehicle decals, billboards to bumper stickers.
  • Radio: An often overlooked avenue, local radio is still very much a player in the advertising world.
  • Trade Shows: Great place to network, to pass on literature and to establish yourself as a professional voice within your industry.
  • Email: E-marketing can get a bad wrap (often for good reason). However establishing lines of communication with current customs or leads via email newsletters or other materials, can generate sales and customer loyalty.
  • Printed Advertising: (including brochures, sales catalogs, posters, business cards etc.). Print advertising is, and will remain a leading tool for small business marketing. It is everywhere you look. Consumers still use and rely on it for much of their info. It is a necessary component for a well-rounded marketing strategy.

2. Affording Employee Healthcare & Benefits.

More of an issue in the United States where this poll took place (and in light of the Affordable Care Act). This is still a very real concern for Canadian business owners. I have spoken with many owners who struggle to understand and properly facilitate these items. It can range from not understanding the proper deductions and methods to simply not knowing whether or not they have to offer them.

Understanding your obligations to your workers and how best to facilitate them is a necessary step to building a strong team of employees – and a strong team of employees is a necessary step towards business success.

Small Business owners can profit greatly by hiring a knowledgeable accountant with experience in these areas. Of course there are online resources as well to assist in understanding the processes. The Canadian Government provides several pages on their site relating to small business including:

That said, we do also recommend speaking with an accountant to ensure you fully understand business obligations.

3. Keeping Current Customers.

Customer loyalty is a tough one and directly relates to competition. Why should customers be loyal to your business? Why should they choose you over the guy across the road or the big box stores? What will breed loyalty?

There are a slew of different answers and some will vary based on the type of business:

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

There are many ways to win your customers hearts, but you have to make the effort. Woo them. Treat them like a hot first date that you want to see again. Treat em right (more on “wooing” customers here).

4. Paying Business Bills.

Of course this is directly related to income, which is reliant on sales, which is reliant on customers, which goes back to 1. and 3.

Paying bills is on everyone’s mind but no one more so then the small business owner. Lease (or rent) payments, utility bills, telephone, internet, wages, stock, delivery…. it seems like a nearly non-stop flow of money leaving the coffers.

Knowing how to manage your expenses verses your income is crucial. It is about far more than keeping up to utilities. Small business owners need to plan and prepare at all times. Learning how to maintain and balance a budget on a ever-changing income is not easy (and does require a certain level of “sticking ones neck out”).

The small business owner must be continually considering:

  • Next Months Inventory: Do you have enough? what will be a big item next month? how many should you stock? how much can you afford?
  • Existing Inventory: What of the old items? Do you discount them? hold onto them? liquidate them? how much have you invested into them? will you sell them at a loss?
  • Necessary Expenditures VS Non-necessary: Gas bill and rent are important but do you need someone cleaning in the evening? Do you need that land line or is a cell phone good enough?
  • How Many Employees: Goes back to #2 understanding all of the expenditures related to having employees. Do you hire one? two? one and a half?
  • Planning In Advance: Last month you bought a new til but sales dropped this month and oops rent and utilities took it all. Now how will you pay for this months inventory?
  • The Unexpected: It happens. Water main breaks, laptop goes down, delivery van needs a new transmission, swarm of amazon moths eat your inventory. What then?

5. Hiring Good Employees.

Your employees can make or break your business. Consider the Pizza Hut manager who was recently caught on security tape urinating into the main sink in the kitchen. He obviously lost his job, but not before the video went viral online and did damage to the brand.

Your employees can work for you or against you. They can drive customer loyalty up… or into the ground. It is fair to say this is a real concern for small business owners. Hiring good employees is a challenge and when doing so one needs to consider:

  • Wages: Are they in line with what others are offering? are they fair? why or why not?
  • Benefits: Are you in a position to offer benefits or other bonuses to employees (discounts on products, flexible work schedule etc).
  • Getting The Word Out: How are you letting them know that you are hiring? Where are you putting the word out to? Who is seeing the job offer?
  • What Are You Looking For: And what type of people do you expect to apply?
  • What Is Your Business Rep: How is your business perceived in the community? Do people want to work for you?
  • Do You Know How To Hire: You may not immediately know what the tell tale signs are for a good or bad employee, learn how to filter them out.
  • Don’t Rush: Are you in a hurry to hire? How badly do you need someone? Is it worth hiring that guy with that insisted on wearing rubber gloves throughout the interview? Know when to say no.

We cover more on Employer / Employee relations in a post here.

6. Competition.

Surprisingly number six in the list, competition directly impacts almost every other concern listed her. The competition can steal your customers, your sales even your employees! 

But remember you are someone else’s competition and it goes both ways.

Competition will always exist… at least until such a time as you have enough money to pull a Time-Warner / Comcast deal to basically eliminate the concept of competition altogether. For now however competition is real.

Your ability to out-maneuver the competition is crucial and it hinges on a great number of things. You’ll notice that this list is very similar (ok it is identical) to the list we have for #3 “Keeping Current Customers”. At the end of the day, keeping customers and facing down the competition are mostly the same thing.

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

The edge you can get, is by knowing your competition. As Sun Tzu said “know your enemy and you will win 100 battles”. Understand what they offer, how they offer it and why. Reach out to those customers with better deals – with more value for their dollar – and with better service and they will give you their business.

It’s simple really. Give customers a reason to choose you. You will find it easier to do so if you know what others are offering them.

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.

Facebook Ad’s For Small Business

Facebook Ads: Not really worth the money.

Facebook Ads: Not really worth the money.

Chances are if you are a small business owner, you have taken your business to Facebook… and why not? It is free, it is online and it has over 1.11 billion registered users (more than the population of Canada).

And chances are, if you are on Facebook with your business, you have either used, or contemplated using the “Facebook Ads” tool, their built-in targeted advertising tool. The question is, how effective was this advertising option. The tools are simple to use, they can be set to target specific ages, demographics and geographic regions and you only pay for the # of “Likes” you get. Seems like a good deal right?

We recently came across some startling information about the Facebook Ads option. Information that may change the way you look at it as a resource. Veritasium recently published this short, engaging and highly informative video that takes a close and scrutinizing look at Facebook Ads and the legitimacy of what they claim to do.

We at Transition Marketing have run similar tests on the Facebook Advertising options and come to similar if not identical conclusions. Facebook Ad’s are probably not the best fit for small business owners. Why? YOU MUST View Veritasium‘s video:

As you can see, it is not necessarily that Facebook is intentionally “screwing” its users. Rather it is that the system behind Facebook Ads is broken and Facebook seems to either be oblivious, or blatantly ignoring the issues at hand. The crime here is that they are publicizing their ads as a profitable option for businesses on Facebook and many of these businesses are small time owners like you and I who cannot afford to waste even a single advertising dollar.

We actually really like Mark Zuckerberg, his companies advertising options just aren't very good.

We actually really like Mark Zuckerberg, his companies advertising options just aren’t very good.

The way we see it? Facebook Ads are presently a dead-end proposition – specifically for small business owners who net zero profit from the audience they tend to gain. If you are a small business on Facebook and are looking to increase your audience, don’t risk what advertising budget you have. We recommend alternative tools and options:

Facebook Contests: Run monthly or even weekly contests that include draws once you reach a certain # of “Likes”. For instance, draw for your next prize at 200 “Likes” This encourages your current audience to get others on board in order to facilitate the next draw. (Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Facebook Terms & Conditions for contests).
In Store Advertising: Make sure the customers coming through your actual place of business know that you are on Facebook. Post it up on your signage, have a decal on you window and put a link on your website. You want to engage consumers at every turn so help them find you.
Encourage “Shares”: In a recent post we described how asking your audience to “Like” and “Share” your posts is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. When you post something on your page do not be afraid to ask your audience to spread the word.

There are many other tools for increasing your audience on Social Media. It is our professional opinion however that the Facebook Ads tool requires a great deal of further tweaking before it becomes the tool that small businesses turn to.

What about you? What have your experiences been with Facebook Ads? Good? Bad? Ugly? Comment here and share your story!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

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.

What Is Your Brand Promise? (Google VS Bing)

What Is A Brand?

A Brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” [Source]

A Brand is more than just aesthetic however and it is impacted by several key things. To start out let’s quickly define three key terms. BrandingBrand Promise & Brand Reputation

  • “Branding” Defined as: The [aesthetic] marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. [Source].
  • “Brand Promise” Defined as: The primary, valued promise made by the larger institution. Also called a positioning statement or USP. The natural association or expectation (of service, product and/or quality) for a given business.
  • “Brand Reputation” Defined as: The position a company brand occupies (within the minds of consumers). How a brand is acknowledged and perceived by customers.

It is understood that any successful brand is built on these key principles. Each one is important in its own right and will impact the Brands success. Crucial to the building and success of any Brand is the “Brand Promise”. This promise is the commitment by which consumers grade the brand.

For example: At Transition Marketing our Brand Promise is to educate, equip, support and maintain the branding and marketing resources for small businesses.

The concept of the Brand Promise, is essentially a company’s commitment. It is their “philosophy” and the direction of their company. It is their promise to the consumer and their Brand Reputation is linked directly to this promise.

A brand’s reputation is just like any other reputation. It is like yours and it is like mine. It is developed slowly through the various experiences others have with us. The more we keep our word, the better our reputation is right?

Likewise it is a businesses ability to keep to their Brand Promise and to fulfill the consumers expectations, that determines how solid their Brand Reputation is. It gives the consumer the ability to “expect”.

To further use the example above: if at Transition Marketing our Brand Promise is to educate, equip, support and maintain the branding and marketing resources for small business, then it is our ability to fulfill these things, that will determine the word that goes out about us and the reputation that we develop.

Every product or service you purchase is purchased for a reason and that reason is almost always linked to the Brand Reputation & Brand Promise being made:

  • Purchasing no-name toilet paper? that is because it is less expensive, that is the brand reputation of the no-name brand. That is what is expected when the purchase is made.
  • Purchasing “Charmin” brand toilet paper? That’s because it promises a “softer experience”. It may be more expensive, but a lower price was never part of the promise. A quality “cleaning” experience, however, was.

Both brands in the purchases above will be graded on their ability to keep to their promise. That is the Brand Reputation and it will be reflected in your choice the next time you go to make that purchase.

Brand Reputation Illustrated: Google VS Bing

While recently browsing one of our favorite social sites, Reddit, we came across the image below (credit to user: /r/engineeringguy) . At first it made us chuckle, then we gave our heads a shake and realized just how serious what we were looking at truly was.

In the instance below, a user attempted to find the name of a movie based on the description: “spy movie with little girl”. The search results below speak for themselves.

Google VS Bing. The Search results tell a compelling story.

Google VS Bing. The Search results tell a compelling story.

The difference between the two search engines is night and day. I for one know which search engine I would want my children using. 

Google has long-held the title as the king of Search Engines. Other brands (Yahoo, Bing, Ask, Alta Vista) are more or less just a joke. However this is not about that. What is important to note here is the stark contrast in these companies ability to fulfill their Brand Promise. Let’s compare.

  • Googles Brand Promise: Search the world’s information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Fulfillment: A+. Google clearly fulfills their promise, providing clear (clean) and accurate search results that provide the user with the exact information being sought.
  • Brand Reputation: Google is well-known as the go to engine for search results. Few if any users use other engines as a primary search tool. As the go to for almost all internet user’s their “AdWords” business generate massive revenue.
  • Bings Brand Promise: Bing is a search engine that brings together the best of search and people in your social networks to help you spend less time searching and more time doing.
  • Fulfillment: F. Bing fails so miserably in the example above that summer school won’t even do it any good. I would not trust Bing’s services and would never recommend them to anyone.
  • Brand Reputation: Bing is joked about widely. It is the Search Engine equivalent of the Google+ social network and likely only used by Bing employees while being watched by their Bing employers. As such Bing generates a fraction of the revenue Google generates.

The example above is not to lambaste Bing (although it does a pretty good job). There are MANY variables to play into search engines and their ability to provide the answers we are looking for. However the example above is the perfect illustration of Brands making Brand Promises and the eventual Brand Reputation that occurs.

Your business will develop a Brand Reputation whether you like it or not. Customers will talk about your business. It may be positive, it may be negative and that is almost entirely up to you the business owner. You must take control of your business, its image and its reputation.

Every business requires a Brand plan. Business owners must take time to develop their brand and take control of their Brand Image. By carefully developing the brand, a business can go from simply surviving to succeeding.

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.