Online marketing is inexpensive way to build customer base | Reno Gazette-Journal | rgj.com

Online Marketing is all the craze. However most local businesses just are spending a lot of time and effort on social media that does not return the investment. Engagement in social media is crucial and until a company invests in that engagement with their consumer they will not recognize the success they are looking for in their campaigns.

Article this morning in the RGJ from Chuck McCumber at UNR discusses services that UNR offers for local business to help understand and apply a social media strategy. Give it a read.

Many companies have changed their marketing campaigns to include social media and interactive websites, taking advantage of nearly free advertising tools and focusing on the two largest referral sources — Google and your friends.The tools are available, but many businesses dont have the knowledge to build or use them effectively. That comes with practice. We found we could advise our clients on the importance of using these tools, but we didnt get sustained traction if they werent engaging in the strategies themselves.So, we developed a Digital Marketing Workshop to teach the basics and give people hands-on experience. Offered quarterly find it on the Business Training Calendar at http://www.nsbdc.org, the workshop covers the process of purchasing a domain name and hosting and building a website. We assist in integrating social media profiles and building content that will drive traffic.

via Chuck McCumber, UNR: Online marketing is inexpensive way to build customer base | Reno Gazette-Journal | rgj.com.

5 Recommendations for Facebook Contests & Competitions

I just finished reading a new report on Facebook for Business. Facebook is changing so fast but these tips for local business I thought were great reminders of how to build engagement in your Facebook strategy.  For more information Sign up for a Free report in the side bar.

5 Recommendations for Facebook Contests & Competitions

Make a Targeted Plan

1. Establish Broad Appeal

Make sure to offer prizes that many prospects would be interesting in winning.

Don’t restrict the contest by promoting an obscure item or service that might only interest a small segment of the audience.

2. Be creative

Originality, creativeness and nerve are going to help the promotion stand out. A boring promotion will probably have boring results. Put yourself in the mindset of your target market while they are using Facebook. What potential reward would get them to sit up and take notice?

3. Strive for simplicity

Keep the promotion both clean and simple. Extravagant visuals and complicated contest rules will overwhelm your audience, possibly losing you potential applicants. Entering a contest online should be easy, quick and fun. Keep this in mind throughout the implementation of your promotion.

4. Go multi channel

Cross promote your contest through other platforms available to your brand. Share it on your website, through email marketing, print ads, word of mouth, on TV, on the radio, on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other platform you deem appropriate, including Facebook ads themselves.

5. Be timely

Seasonality and timing are important aspects of Facebook

promotions. Try to anticipate what is on the minds of your

target market right now and don’t drag things out. If the

contest is too short it may never reach enough leverage among

interested audiences and fail, yet if it goes on too long fans will

lose interest and forget what they have entered. Determine a

balanced time frame for your campaign, giving it enough time

to attract buzz while also maintaining its relevance.

Transform from Dot Marketing to Dash Marketing

OK, first a little definition before I get into my point.What is your Strategy

Dot Marketing – I think I made this one up but let me give you my definition. Dot Marketing is the practice of focusing so hard on a single item, (the Dot), that you can’t see the bigger picture and miss incredible opportunity. Perhaps you are familiar with the parable of the Fly who is so fixated on the window, (insert pile of Crap here), that he continued to beat his head on the glass until he dies, however at the same time five feet away there was a door wide open that would have allowed him to reach his goal.

Dash Marketing – The process of working a marketing plan through a complete life cycle. You know the dash, you were born on this date – your were deceased at this date (1959-2011).  In business and in life the dash is all we have. We can view it as a journey that will change and adapt or we can view it as a prescribed time in the future to end what ever venture we are on. The point is that is a period of motion and does not stay in the same spot  until it ends.

I see many businesses today fully focused on the Dot marketing. They jump from one trend to the next and are always blaming to last media for their slow growth. Dot Marketing, Target Marketing, undeveloped Marketing, what ever you want to call it is just a little short sighted.  Most businesses forget to develop a marketing plan for their product or service which includes who the target audience is, and how that audience will react to certain media.  They buy the marketing package because they like the sales rep or because it is what they think everyone else is doing and forget to check if it one has the right audience and two if the audience size being offered is a good value for the investment they are about to make.

By ignoring these two simple pieces of marketing they often find results that are not up to expectations, they design marketing campaigns that don’t fit the audience and they blame the media for their lack of results. This causes a negative feeling and a very powerful mistake in marketing.  They focus on the negative results and decide that the audience or vehicle are broken and move on to the next DOT. For this reason I often recommend a Marketing consultant or coach for most small business.

Developing a complete Marketing plan and labeling your target audience is crucial to your marketing. But if you do not evaluate your marketing buys to determine how it is a match to your targets how will you ever get the results you desire. It is like being a local merchant who sells windows only to a 50 mile radius and buying PPC ads programs on Google for everyone in the United States and wondering why all the clicks you get are not buying your items.

To transition to Dash marketing practices you must develop a marketing plan that includes:

  1. Business Goal or objective
  2. Time Table for achieving
  3. Target Audience
  4. Target Market Assumptions and Facts
  5. Routine check ups and adjustments

Realize that every marketing plan has a life cycle and that every product you carry as a product life cycle.

I am a firm believer that all media works in marketing. However businesses often over pay for the audience based on target and audience size, and they do not create customized marketing for that vehicle and that audience.

Dash Marketing takes the entire life cycle into consideration. Dash Marketers understand that once a product response starts to grow and explode that they can introduce new and exciting marketing that helps it grow even faster and wider. Conversely once a product or marketing campaign slows they need to adjust the marketing campaign to see if it can recreate energy or if it is time to change marketing strategies, brands, products etc…

To move your business from a Dot marketer to a Dash marketer, start by reviewing or building your marketing goals sheet.  What do you want to accomplish. Then evaluate to tools you are currently using, do they match, does their audience really fit who you are targeting? You might consider a Marketing Consultant that will give you honest opinions on what they see in the marketplace and how your marketing is on or off course. Design a multiple messages for different audiences and evaluate response. (Remember the media works or they would not have an audience, you just need to figure out how that audience reacts to that media and customize your message to them properly.)

Last, Stop focusing on the DOT. Take a look around and look for opportunities that you may not have thought of before. With  the development of Social Media, Mobile Marketing, Localized PPC search, Local Directories etc.. there are many opportunities to get your message out to unique targeted categories of audience.

Link Building, Directories, and Ad words

a chart to describe the search engine market

Image via Wikipedia

This is not an article that is going to fix all your ills and make your website zoom to the top of your search engine. Sorry!

This is not even a how-to article, however if you are considering spending your advertising and marketing dollars on link building, directory listings, and Ad words please read on.

I have spent all of three month’s working in the social media, SEO development world, and I am amazed at the different values companies are charging for these services.  (Yes I have found after three month’s that I am already ahead of the curve in online marketing knowledge.)

The time to get your business listed is valuable, I get it, these companies know what they are doing and will save you a tremendous amount of time. But before you pay that monthly fee ask yourself this question?  What knowledge will you have learned and how have you improved your company in the process.

See I have come to realize that these services are extremely valuable in saving me time. However I have also come to realize that by doing it myself (once) I save money and I learn a valuable asset that gives me control, and knowledge to grow in the future. I spoke with an account the other day which was going to spend $695 a month to have her Web-site Optimized and placed on all the major search engines plus run an effective ad word campaign  to guarantee her traffic to her site. As I looked at this package and started to add up all the services which are Free to her if she does it herself I started to get a little baffled.

Then I started searching her company on search engines and she was already in the top three locations in four of the five local search categories most relevant to her business.  So she was basically paying someone $695 a month to manage an ad word program.  Is this a fair price? Maybe, I can’t tell you that. But I am certain this account had no idea that the services she was being sold had little to no expense involved and her company will not be moving up very far in search results that are with in her buying area.

So what do we do, capitalism and free enterprise are the life blood of America. I have no complaints about any company that is charging for these services.

But I am trying to educate small business owners about the savings that are all around them with just a little searching. You can truly capture share of marketplace with a shoestring budget if you are willing to give it a little effort.

  • Directories will take you about three to four hours. Most if not all have a Free listing you just need to claim, and many have low-budget link builders that can be purchased to help you rank higher.
  • Links can be complicated but can be done for free in many cases.  Often starting a simple business blog and setting a routine schedule of blogs will get you the desired results and give you a place to exchange links.  Want to learn check this site out, it is filled with great links that will get you the information needed.  http://www.verticalmeasures.com/link-building/top-100-link-building-resources/
  • Ad words – a Google account is free and the dashboards they have are easy to operate and manage. Just set a monthly budget and target the customers of choice.

Alright I know I have done nothing but add to your already busy schedule. Do yourself a favor, before your next purchase talk to some one who has done this and get an evaluation of your goals and where you are at first. You might just save yourself a ton of expense and still reach your desired goals.

I offer local businesses a one hour FREE consultation to discuss Media Goals and options. Give me a call . http://www.1to1valet.com

 

 

Where does Social Media fit in the marketing funnel?

Social Media Landscape

The past two years I have had an internal conversation going on about the choices business people are making in regards to social media, mobile media, newspapers, direct mail ect.

As our economy started the slide I saw businesses start to blame their media outlets for the lack of response they were receiving and decide to jump to newer and trendier media selections. Unfortunately I also saw a rise in businesses which lost brand value and often found themselves in that place where going out of business would be more delightful than staying in business.

Let me try to clear up where I believe Social Media Fits today in the Marketing Funnel. I am big believed that Audience size does matter. Those elements such as timing and buying cycles in your industry must be used to increase the effectiveness of your marketing ROI. If you are just beginning your social media experience, you know all to well that your Audience is very small at this point. So making a marketing decision that represents this as a base marketing program at this time is reckless and will be damaging to the momentum of your company.

Before I share my ranking of sort let me tell you a little story I once heard to illustrate a point.

This story takes place back near the Great Depression. Mr. Wrigley, Wrigley Spearmint Gum, was on a train heading West with several of his trust business executives, they were discussing the decreasing revenues and profit statements of the company, A young accountant speaks up and tells Mr. Wrigley that he has a wonderful idea on how to reestablish a positive bottom line for the company. He suggests that they cut the marketing campaign budget until things improve. It is at this point that Mr. Wrigley displays great leadership and ponders this thought for just a moment. Then he asks this question of the young man. “Son how fast do you think our train is moving?”

The Young man says “35-40 MPH?” Mr. Wrigley Walks him to the front of the car and then asks, ” So if I pulled that pin out at the front of the car that attaches us to the main engine how long what do you think will happen?” “Well Mr. Wrigley we would coast to a stop” said the young man.

Mr. Wrigley then turns to the entire staff and exclaims, ” that is precisely what will happen if we cut our marketing efforts, we lose all momentum and come to a stop, Marketing is the engine that creates our movement!”

I tell this story because I think many businesses today are facing this same question, not only because of finances but because media and Audience has become fragmented and is responding differently than in the past.  See the Media that is out there still works, but the audience is smaller and the Audience has changed the expectations for responding.

So how do we design a marketing funnel for today’s audience?

Basic Marketing Funnel principles can still apply.

  1. Broad Based Marketing – The use of large audience impressions to place any possible customer in the funnel and building them to a potential customer.
    • Newspapers – Still have some of the largest Audiences in every Metro Marketplace
    • Television – Very Large Audience in a Region or Nationally if you have the budget.
    • Facebook Ads – non-targeted, you ever looked at the size of audience if you set out your message to all users? Pay per click options make this very attractive.
    • Google, Yahoo Ad Words – Similar to Face Book you can capture a global audience.
    • Direct Mail – Saturation Mailing has become easy and more affordable with the USPS new simplified mailing programs.
  2. Target MarketingAfter filling the funnel with potential clients it is much easier and more cost effective to target market to groups of customers or potential clients. Many businesses think they can just jump to targeting and skip the first step, however I would argue that they do it at the expense of future growth and will eventually spend much more trying to find that additional market share. Target Markets tend to move or dry up and then leave businesses in want for their attention.
    • Social Media Ads – Facebook etc., now allow you to zone in geographically, demographically etc.
    • Google and Yahoo Ad programs you can target very effectively, with these programs and again the pay per click model allows even small budget firms to take advantage of practice.
    • Radio – Demographic profiles of stations make this more of a targeting vehicle.
    • Cable TV – Same as radio
    • Direct Mail – Not as cost effective as Saturation, but lists today will allow you to slice and dice a zip code in various ways to get the right target.
    • Zip Code Insert Programs – Newspaper, Still one of the cheapest ways to reach a Zip Code and have a good client demographic reading your material.
    • Web Ads – Pick your site
  3. 1 to 1 Marketing – Any marketing channel where you have the ability to personally talk with your customers and or clients.  Social Media has now made this Marketing level very affordable and is now changing the workforce in many large companies around the world.  This step does take Data, and Audience and is not effective till you have both.  The secret is in accumulating Data on your customers from the first two stages and then building relationships with an audience, which trusts you and will share their love for you with all that they know.