Archive | August, 2015

The Quest for Quality Content in the Marketing World: Why the Need Isn’t Going Away and is Only Getting Bigger

28 Aug

If you have any type of Internet presence for your business at all, the chances are high you’re always searching for relevant, high-quality content to put out into the world on a regular basis. Quality content accomplishes a number of different goals. It allows you to maintain an active presence on the Web, to engage with your target audience, and to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. It also happens to be incredibly important for reasons that go above and beyond those — and will only get more and more integral to your strategy as time goes on.

The Google of it All

One of the major reasons why high-quality content is so important to your website, your blog, or your social media presence has to do with Google. Google is essentially the “be all, end all” way of getting recognized by your target audience in the digital age. If your blog appears near the top of the search results for relevant keywords, you can expect a huge boost in visitors (and ultimately revenue) as a result. Because of all this, quality content is important for one simple reason: Google thinks it is.

How High Quality Content Ultimately Benefits You

Even going above and beyond website traffic, the quest for quality content is one that ultimately benefits your business in a wide range of different ways. For starters, it forces you to stop thinking of your website visitors as users and to start thinking of them as real people. This is a great approach to have, as it puts you in a better position to connect with them in a meaningful way and to form a meaningful, loyal bond in return.

Secondly, striving to generate high-quality content online can be a great mentality to take with you into the offline world, too. If you use the same practices when generating offline content that you do for your online content — an emphasis on readable, relevant, and interesting materials — you can form the same meaningful connection with those you’re targeting via direct mail and other materials as you do with Internet users.

Ultimately, however, the quest for high-quality content means one thing: everybody wins. You aren’t “faking your way” into the position of a thought leader in your industry. You aren’t “tricking” your customers into thinking you know more than you really do.

You ARE a thought leader in the industry and you ARE a voice to be listened to. Google and similar companies that emphasize high-quality content are essentially performing the biggest magic trick of all — they’re slowly forcing businesses in all industries to become better at what they do on a daily basis. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s a position that’s certainly hard to argue with.

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Creating In-Store Signs Your Customers Can’t Help But Notice

27 Aug

When people set out to create compelling print marketing materials for their business, they normally (and appropriately) devote a lot of attention to the types of elements that will attract new customers. Obviously, the design of that print direct mail brochure is key because it will always be someone’s first exposure to the brand. However, many people fail to pay enough attention to another area that is equally important: in-store signage. Remember, just because someone is already in your store doesn’t mean the marketing machine can take the afternoon off. When it comes to designing the types of in-store signs your customers can’t help but notice, there are a few key things you’ll need to keep in mind.

Keep It Simple

If you’re designing print marketing materials to send out into the world, one of your instincts may be to try to pack as much helpful information into those materials as possible. After all, you can only have one first impression, so you need to make it a good one. When it comes to in-store signage, however, you’ll have better results if you dial back your instincts a bit and keep things as short and as sweet as possible.

Think about the language you’re using on in-store signs the same way you would the headline in a newspaper. The brochures and other documents you’re sending out into the world are like the newspaper articles themselves — they contain all of the information required to answer any questions the customer may have and guide them further down the sales funnel. In-store signs are the headlines — they give you just enough information to help you in that moment, but they don’t try to tell the whole story.

It’s All About the Focus

Because so much of your marketing focuses on selling yourself, it’s natural for that instinct to carry over into the world of in-store signage, too. It’s easy to forget you already have the customer right where you want them. Now it’s up to the products (or, more specifically, the way you’re showcasing those products) to finish the job.

Your in-store signage needs to showcase not only what a product might do, but why someone might need it. Your signs should sell people on the benefits of what you’re offering, not necessarily on your brand. For maximum effectiveness, use your signs to provide quick answers to questions like “What can product X do for me?” and “Why will product Y make my day easier?”

Above all else, there’s one key term you always need to keep in mind when designing in-store signs: compelling. If the types of signs you’re creating are always compelling and are always created with the best interest of your customers in mind, they will succeed on multiple levels. Not only will they immediately attract the attention of anyone who looks at them, but they will also add to the overall value of the experience customers are having in your store. Good signage can help turn first time customers into repeat customers in the long run

Do You Want to Drive James Bond’s Car?

27 Aug

From the famous Aston Martin to the Bentley of Casino Royale, the cars of James Bond are famous enough to warrant their own Wikipedia page. Many fans who flock to the James Bond movies love salivating over these gorgeous cars and the incredible gadgets they are often outfitted with to make them even more spectacular. Like everything else about James Bond, people love the cars for their association with class, bravery, heroism, and the mysterious yet luxurious life of the world’s most famous (fictional) MI6 agent.

Of course, as anyone familiar with advertising knows, the cars chosen for the James Bond movies, just like the conveniently placed Coca-Cola, Subway sandwich, or Apple computer in your favorite movies and shows, were not chosen by accident. It’s all a part of something called product placement, and brands will pay a considerable amount of money to get their products featured in popular television and movie time slots.

Why Does Product Placement Matter?

It’s all a part of tapping into the consumer’s head in a process known as the bandwagon effect. According to the bandwagon effect, when we see people we admire or members of a group we’re a part of (or want to be a part of) using a particular product, we want to use it, too. In other words, when we see people on our favorite sitcom sitting down to enjoy a Subway sandwich with an ice cold Coke, we think that sounds like a fantastic meal option the next time we want to find something easy and fast for lunch.

Tapping into this powerful phenomenon isn’t reserved just for major brands with seemingly limitless marketing budgets. Even smaller companies can implement and reap the benefits of the bandwagon effect in their advertising. Here are some great ways to get started:

Use Images and Quotes from Real Customers

People enjoy feeling like part of a group. When you use images of real customers using your products, along with some reviews that use names (instead of just being anonymous), you help to build this type of group.

Build a Strong Social Network

People use social media to connect with their friends and family members as well as the brands they enjoy. Building a strong social network around a particular brand can help attract more people to your business. As people participate in your conversations and ‘like’ your products on Facebook, for instance, those activities will start to show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, introducing them to your brand. Similarly, if people retweet you on Twitter or otherwise interact with your brand, they’ll be spreading your company’s message. With the bandwagon effect, people will be naturally drawn to the brands and interests of their friends.

Encourage Others to Share Their Experiences with Your Brand

Encourage people to share their experiences with your brand, particularly through social media. Hold contests, and invite people to submit pictures of themselves using your products or telling stories about their use of a service you provide. Such interactions naturally help to promote positive experiences with your brand and show the number of people who appreciate your company.

Movies and television are excellent platforms for brands looking to take advantage of the bandwagon effect through product placement. If you want to see how well this psychological phenomenon can work for you, consider using some of the above techniques. Building a strong following around your brand is an excellent way to grow any business.

The Unseen Lessons Our Teachers Taught Us

27 Aug

When first exploring the power of buyer personas, it’s natural to worry about the extra work and effort needed to complete the process. Fortunately, these fears are not unjustified. While it’s true you’ll need to have an intimate understanding of potential customers and what they seek from brands like yours, the investment is completely worth it and can lead to tremendous growth for your company. Here’s why…

Consider for a moment your high school history teacher. In schools across the country, history teachers teach multiple classes with students at all different levels. One class might be filled with students who are ready to break down the information at a very high level. These students are capable of exploring difficult themes. Learning about the American Revolutionary War requires covering more than dates and names, and they will dive into motivations and outside influences.

Another class might be at a more introductory level of history. Rather than covering motivations, they might need to learn more about the major people who influenced the events of the day and focus on learning the timeline.

Both classes are covering the same topic, but if the teacher is going to effectively teach both groups, he or she will have to develop separate lesson plans for each class. If the teacher tried to create a common lesson plan for each group of students, neither group would receive the instruction they needed to succeed. It does require more work for the teacher to create separate lesson plans, but the teacher knows it’s worth the effort. A teacher who keeps their eyes on the end goal — to ensure that both classes walk away feeling challenged and with new knowledge about the founding of the United States — will know their extra work helped them reach their students effectively.

The Takeaway for Marketers

The same concept applies to marketers. It does take a little more work to create separate content for each of your buyer personas, but if you want to effectively reach your potential customers, you have to be willing to go that extra mile.

Each of your customers comes to your site looking for different information. One customer might be concerned about finding an affordable solution to their problem. They feel as though they’ve spent too much money in the past, and their primary concern is budget. Another customer might focus primarily on utility. They trust that when they find a well-created solution to their problem, their return on investment will justify their cost. Each of these customers will respond better to different types of content and offers. Creating just one type of content will make it harder for you to reach all of your intended target audiences. It may have been less work upfront, but it will end up costing you more when you fail to bring in the profits and returns you had desired.

In a world where time is money, it makes sense to avoid spending unnecessary time and money whenever possible. What you need to remember, though, is that while efficiency is important, it cannot replace doing something correctly. Sit down with your team, outline your buyer personas, and draft a plan for reaching each one. You’ll be amazed at what these additional steps can do to help you close more business.

If you’re ready to start building a new marketing strategy, reach out and speak with us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Ways to Increase Your Foot Traffic at Your Convention Booth

26 Aug

Conventions are and always will be one of the best ways to grow your brand, build your reputation, and generate new leads and opportunities moving forward. Regardless of the type of industry you currently operate in, you won’t have to look hard to find a convention that fits your needs. Conventions aren’t only excellent networking opportunities — they’re also a great way to attract the attention of potential new customers on a massive scale as everyone in attendance is already interested in products or services like the ones you offer. It’s always important to remember, however, that simply showing up to a convention won’t be enough. If you want to generate the maximum amount of foot traffic to your booth, you’ll need to keep a few key things in mind.

Make Sure People Can Find You

When you sign up for a booth at a convention, you’ll likely be given a location by the people organizing the event. This will not only be your own little corner of the event to carve out and do with what you please, but will also be the main way people will find you during the show. The booth number you’re given by the convention organizers will be printed in the program that’s handed out when people file through the door.

One of the keys to generating foot traffic involves making sure people can find you in the first place. Remember that you’ll likely be packed in a section with potentially dozens of other businesses, all fighting for the attention of the people walking by. Things can quickly feel overwhelming for convention attendees with so much going on, so sometimes finding a vendor based on booth number alone is a lot easier said than done. The layout of the convention itself may also make this difficult, especially if sections aren’t numbered in any type of logical way.

As a result, you’ll want to make sure you have at least one element (like an oversized banner or large poster) that clearly displays your company’s name so people can find you, even if they’ve already gotten lost along the way. Make sure you place it as high above your booth as possible, so people can see it from several aisles away if necessary. Many times, you’ll find that just making yourself visible makes a big difference in improving foot traffic to your booth.

Make Sure Your Staff Is Friendly and Approachable

Once people do find you, one of the easiest ways to scare them away is to have people behind your booth who seem like they don’t actually want to be there. Conventions are tough on everybody, but can especially be tough on vendors. You’re constantly under the gun to set up your booth, deal with your neighbors, make sure all your materials are in order and more. Your staff will definitely be stressed out, but the key is to make sure they never come off that way. Everyone who walks up to your booth should always be greeted with a friendly smile and a sunny disposition. If they’re greeted with a negative attitude, rest assured your booth WILL develop a negative reputation that will spread around the convention center as the event goes on.

Conventions are excellent opportunities to grow your business — provided you’re approaching things from the right perspective. Remember, reputation alone will never guarantee convention success. Your reputation will only take you so far. You need to go out of your way to be as warm and inviting as possible to unlock the full business potential of these types of events.

What Mom and Pop Shops Can Teach Us About Customers and Relationships

25 Aug

Before the age of major chain stores, most towns and cities across the country were served by small “mom and pop” shops. These stores are nothing like the enormous stores found in many places today. Instead, they tended to have a more specialized purpose. These small businesses served people for generations, and many of them were excellent at building relationships with their customers.

The importance of building relationships with customers remains incredibly important, no matter what your company’s size may be. To help you successfully accomplish this, let’s take a look back at what helped those old mom and pop shops stay in business and thrive.

They put the “service” in customer service.

Successful mom-and-pop shop operators really knew how to serve their customers. They paid attention to the people, asked questions about what they sought, and helped them find what they were looking for.

In modern commerce, this translates to establishing your website and business practices to make things as easy as possible for your customers. People shouldn’t have to struggle to find products or contact information on your website. When they call you, they should be put in touch with someone who can actually help them right away.

They knew their customers.

Shops of old knew those who patronized their establishment. They knew them by name and knew their regular purchases.

While this might not be possible (depending on your company’s size), focus on personalizing the experience whenever possible. Create marketing materials that use the customer’s name and company and segment email lists to reflect customer behavior. People are more likely to pay attention and take advantage of offers when they can see how the offer applies to them.

They understood their customers’ needs.

The business leaders of old understood what customers wanted when they came into their establishment. They lived in the community and knew the people. They understood trends and needs. This allowed them to create a business that met those needs and was an important part of the town.

With the advent of online commerce, the communities served by a business (even a small one) might easily stretch across several states, if not across the country or around the world. Even so, it’s still important to speak with your customers whenever possible, and use data and market research to learn what your customers want. Surveys and conversations with regular customers can offer tremendous insight. Track the spending habits of your customers and see how different customer personas are leveraging your products and services. Market research about your industry can also add much needed information to the equation. Combining these different tactics can create a very good picture of what your customers seek, allowing you and your business to meet those needs and exceed customers’ expectations.

Creating a successful business today means building relationships with customers and meeting their needs. In years past, it was the mom and pop shops who had mastered this skill. To learn how to improve your relationship with your customers, you can look to these examples for a few lessons.

What a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign Looks Like Today

25 Aug

For small business owners, guerrilla marketing tactics have long been one of the best ways to get noticed in a crowded marketplace without breaking the proverbial piggy bank. The term “guerrilla,” in this instance, refers to a small team of professionals who are using unconventional or irregular tactics in their marketing campaigns, especially when compared to what larger organizations are doing.

At its core, guerrilla marketing is a way for businesses to promote themselves in a way that’s both unique and cost effective. These campaigns aren’t focused on shouting a marketing message from the highest rooftop. Instead, they’re designed to boldly attract the attention of customers in a way that’s hard to ignore.

The Definition of “Unconventional” is Constantly Changing

While guerrilla marketing, in general, has been around almost as long as traditional marketing, the form these campaigns take changes every so often. In the early days of the Internet, when most of the homes in the United States still had painfully slow dial-up connections, even just putting a video online would have been practically unheard of. Businesses that were able to get in on the viral video craze from the ground floor, however, experienced a tremendous amount of success. Of course, putting out a video on YouTube and hoping your audience discovers it is hardly grounds for a guerrilla campaign today. To truly stay in line with the spirit of the unconventional nature of these promotions, you now have to think bigger and more unique.

The Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns of Today

Modern guerrilla marketing campaigns are every bit as unconventional as their predecessors, but they generally take bigger and bolder risks when it comes to being noticed. Perhaps one of the most successful guerrilla campaigns of the last several years came during the promotion for the filmCloverfield. Directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Drew Goddard, the film featured a mysterious monster of unknown origin ravaging New York City in the style of Godzilla movies from decades past.

What made this guerrilla campaign so notable, though, was its seeming lack of promotion at all. The film was ushered into theaters with an incredibly simple teaser trailer that didn’t even feature the title of the film. It only contained the release date – 11/18/08. Beside the fact that it starred a cast of unknown actors and featured a monster doing something in a city that had yet to be identified, almost nothing was known about the film prior to its release in theaters. Beyond the title, it initially wasn’t even clear if Abrams himself was even the director or if he was just attached in some way as a producer.

In many ways, the complete lack of marketing for Cloverfieldactually BECAME the campaign. People were so desperate for answers that the only solution became, “you have to see the movie to find out.” Suddenly, a cheaply produced fake documentary with almost no marketing dollars spent became one of the most talked about (and successful) movies of its age, at least as far as total revenue is concerned.

The spirit of guerrilla marketing will always be one of the biggest weapons small businesses have in their quest to get noticed and spread brand awareness. By remembering that “unconventional” is key, and that you don’t have to spend a war chest filled with cash in order to attract the attention of both new and existing customers, you’ll find that guerrilla campaigns can provide exceptional value for your marketing dollars – regardless of the type of business you happen to run.