bookmark_borderGet Started With Referrals

Unfortunately, that proximity to customers isn’t enough to keep you in business. To grow your business, take advantage of your great service by gaining customer referrals from existing customers.

I know. Asking for referrals feels pushy. However, do you really have a choice? Think about it. You are in business because you think your product or service will help people. Most people like to help others. They enjoy passing along a good tip about a great product or service. By asking for a referral you are actually doing them a favor. So ask your customers after you have given them great service – Who is a person you know who would benefit from having our product/service?

Other than providing great service, another way to make a personal connection with your existing customers is to send a newsletter. Instead of sending the average, boring email that most businesses send, focus on success stories of your existing customers. Explain how you solved a problem that one of your customers faced. Explain why solving that problem was important to them and explain how you solved it. Then include a testimonial from the customer.

When you look for products or services for your business or even in your personal life don’t you find it helpful if you see how someone else had a success with a service?

Lastly, ask the person who gave you a testimonial to name any people they know that are in a similar situation.

Formal referral programs seem old fashioned, however they are still effective. A formal referral program can be as simple as mailing 50 business cards to each one of your customers and explaining to them to pass them on to friends and write their names on the back of it. If a new customer walks in with a name written on the back of your business card, that person will receive a reward from you.

Strike up alliances with ancillary businesses. Have you ever had a doctor refer you to a specialist? Think about it. There are businesses that are in a similar situation as the generalist doctor. In pest control I have found small pet stores that I partner with. When one of their customers complains about flea infestations, the store owner tells them that he knows a great pest control company that can help them with their flea problems.

Here is the way I got in touch with pet store owners. I asked a current customer with a pet to recommend a pet store to me. Then I asked the customer to call the owner of the store to let the owner know that I will call. Now, when I called the owner already knew who I was and how we were connected.

Don’t ask for referrals right away. You need to build a relationship with the store owner first. Show him that you can provide value by finding him referrals first or helping him in some other way. Once you have built the relationship you can approach him with your strategy on how your company could help his customers. To make the offer appealing let him know that you are willing to provide discounts to the customers he refers.

bookmark_borderGreat Marketing Ideas

Sometimes someone comes up with a great idea and the only weakness in the idea is that it relies on the weather. In this case, a sports betting software operator decided to buy 7,000 golf size umbrellas which had in very large print their website address, telephone number and the tag line “bet on sports today”.

The idea was that instead of spending money on a national television commercial during a football game, they could get better advertisement at a fraction of the cost by using umbrellas.

The execution of the promotion would have female models at all of the entrances of a stadium giving out umbrellas to ticket holders for free. The only uncertain part was that the promotion would have to be done on a rainy day. The theory was that as the rain would start to fall, people would open their promotional umbrella and when the television crew would film the crowd, that company would get instant television advertising via the opened umbrellas!

Since hiring a crew of model and someone to manage them had to be done in advance, that company relied on the weather channel to give them the best day to run the promotion.

On game day, the weather was perfect for umbrellas as it was a cloudy day and according to the weather channel, there was an 86% chance of rain. All of the umbrellas were passed out and everyone in the company was waiting for the rain to come.

The rain never came…

Giveaways and contests are a great way to bring attention to your brand or company. People love to win and get free stuff which is why stores and businesses know that this is a good way to get to a clients’ heart. One department store in Costa Rica decided to give pressure cookers to every person that came and bought $50 worth of merchandise in their store.

Someone in marketing did the math and figured that based on the store’s daily sales, they would need around 100 pressure cookers. The store’s marketing department did everything right to promote this giveaway by letting people know about it via newspaper, internet and radio ads.

On the day of the promotion, it looked like this promotion was a winner. There was actually a line of people waiting for the store to open that day to get their free pressure cooker. Within hours, they had run out of pressure cookers and that is when things turned ugly.

Customers were demanding their pressure cookers and unfortunately, the marketing genius behind the promotion forgot to add to the promotion a disclaimer that would protect the store in case they ran out of stock. Since they did not have such a disclaimer, the store ended up having to give out vouchers to receive the pressure cooker at a later date. The total number of pressure cooker they ended up giving out was a whopping 432!

Even though they got a lot of publicity out of the promotion, it took them 2 months to get back their return on the promotion. The good news though is that it did increase brand trust for the store.

The moral of the story is to always make sure to have the proper promotional terms and conditions that also include a disclaimer unless you want to end with a very low return on investment.

bookmark_borderMarketing Automation

Monitor your staffing costs:

Optimized efficiency is the key to any company, be it a start-up or any larger organization. An automation software can enhance the productivity of one employee to compete with a 50-person marketing and sales department by optimising the criteria for any given campaign. It saves time and efficiency both by creating personalised automated content for emails every day.

Return on marketing investments:

With the help of these software, you can automate your cross-sells, up-sells, and customer follow-ups. It also helps in evaluating marketing programs and their performance, based on their investments, demographics and behaviour (among other criteria). This helps in increasing the customer lifetime value too. You can also make an informed decision on where to invest, by changing the course of a program.

Alignment with marketing & sales teams for better accountability:

With this process, it is very easy to find the bottlenecks in your company and provide qualified leads at the right time. Its birds-eye view reporting helps to effectively capture leads and improve accountability of staff and departments. It also provides instant and impartial feedback to improve their nurturing campaigns.

A Personal Communication:

Everyone loves a personalised email. Using automated process, helps you get rid of impersonal, ill-timed, or just completely irrelevant emails and making it more relevant. Its behavioural filters help you target customers based on their internet behaviour and enhances its lead generation value.

Refining Marketing Processes & Campaign Management:

Automation provides you with the ability to run and manage a multi-channel campaign to communicate with audiences, simultaneously measuring its entire effort. You can also change and reconfigure your campaign to brand new landing page if in case your marketing plan changes. This tool helps you create solutions to support these real-world scenarios.

Do Away With Repetition:

These tools spare time for your staff to work on more creative tasks once they get done with manual repetitive work. It enhances staff productivity and effectiveness in a much simpler way.

Target Potential Customers And Segmentation:

Certain tools provide options other than email, postcard, text message, tweet, or a phone call with their multichannel targeting on various stages of the customer journey. It provides the ease with which you can target and segment your prospects and customers. It allows you to capture right actions of people to convert them into customers.

bookmark_borderB2B Versus B2C Marketing

Embracing your target audience
When it comes to a content marketing strategy (any content marketing strategy), you need to identify and embrace your target audience before you can put any strategy in place and before you can create goals and milestones for your business. There is actually a preliminary step that you should take before you do anything else, which is that you need to determine and create the persona for your ideal target audience member.

It is important to understand exactly what a B2B and B2C business are all about and what they need.

B2B: The B2B customer is interested in acquiring a product and/or service that will enhance what that particular business is already offering. It is critical that the choice of product and/or service is an appropriate one. After all, the reputation of that business rests on that particular decision (and similar decisions like that one).

B2C: The B2C customer is looking for products and/or services that will affect that individual positively. The potential consequences of a bad choice are not far-reaching in that case. The only person who will be affected by the choice will be the person who has bought the product and/or service.

What results are you hoping to achieve from your content marketing?
Before you develop any content marketing strategy, you should define exactly what you hope to get from your efforts. You may be hoping to get more leads based on your content marketing. If you have a B2C business, you will need to make sure that everyone is aware of your brand.

You will need to make your best effort to engage those people (or, at least, a large percentage of them). After all, you not only want those people to understand how amazing and valuable your offerings are but you also want them to tell other people about your brand so that they can also become loyal to your brand as well.

Getting into the head of your customer
If you are able to figure out not that the other person wants to buy your products and/or services but also why that person wants to buy your products and/or services, you will be one step ahead. One really effective way to achieve this is with the right keywords and key phrases. If you aren’t sure what those are, you can pinpoint them (or at least get a better sense of them) by looking at what your competitors are writing.

If you have a B2B business, identifying issues that are plaguing your target audience is critical to your success. In fact, not only is identifying the issues important but coming up with a solution to the problems is even more critical to your relationship with the other person. In a B2C situation, you will need to figure out exactly what invokes an emotional reaction in the other person (or business owner).

Identifying your unique selling proposition (USP)

Every business must have a USP. It is what makes other people choose to engage with you and to eventually do business with you and to buy what you are selling. It makes other people understand clearly why they should buy from you instead of other business people. After you have identified your USP, you will want to engage people with it.

If you have a B2B business, you will need to present your solution to the problem to demonstrate to the other person why you are who he or she should buy from. If you have a B2C business, it is important for you to keep in mind that that the other person is not merely interested in valuable, educational information. He or she is also (and probably most) interested in getting something from you that will change his or her life for the better in some way.

Figuring out exactly where you are going to share your content marketing materials
Determining exactly where you are going to post your content marketing materials is as important as the quality of your content. If you have a B2B business, your content will be most effective in the form of blogs on your website, as well as syndicating the content to social media channels such as LinkedIn, SlideShare, and YouTube. If you have a B2C business, the popular social networks will probably work most effectively.

bookmark_borderSecret Digital Marketing Weapon for Your Business

It seems paradoxical the more you give away, the more people are willing to pay for your services but it’s true. This exact approach has worked quickly and effectively for me for years. The key is that it’s got to be good and of high relevance to your target audience. This builds people’s confidence that you consistently know your stuff and that you can be counted on for long-term value. People soon realize that if you’re willing to give away such valuable expertise, think how great the solutions they pay for will be!

So how do you share your expertise with your target audience? Through writing and speaking. And it starts with being able to get your core ideas down on paper in a way that catches your audience’s attention and compels them to action.

If the idea of writing an article or giving a speech feels overwhelming, stay with me. I’m going to show you how easy it can be if you follow a basic formula that works every time.

Brainstorm a short list of things that your clients struggle with. What problems drive them to you? Why are they willing to pay good money for your services? Remember, it’s not about you it’s about them, their pain, and their needs. This is now your list of topics for articles and talks.

Pick one topic and answer the following questions:

  • What’s the problem?
  • What’s the lost opportunity?
  • Why is this important to address?
  • What will happen if it’s ignored?
  • What’s your solution?
  • What tips do you have for implementing your solution?
  • What example can you use to illustrate your point?

Formula for Digital Marketing Success:

Attitude: Be enthusiastic and passionate about your value proposition to the marketplace. You know that what you offer can make a difference and have an impact on your clients. When it comes to your own marketing, if you feel good about yourself and you have self-confidence because you are doing everything for the benefit of your clients, you’ll become more attractive to prospective clients.

Belief: You don’t have to have a degree in marketing to get great marketing results. But you do have to believe in yourself and your actions. I call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that can’t do something, you’re right – you won’t do it. On the other hand, if you believe that you can learn what it takes to get better marketing results you will.

If you’re persistent in pursuing your business and your small business marketing with a positive attitude and belief that you can, sooner or later you’ll find what works for you. You’ll discover the marketing strategies and tactics that allow you to begin attracting attention and bringing in new clients consistently! I know because it’s happening for me.

bookmark_borderContent Marketing

Enter the experts

The short answer is, if you’ve done something successfully a number of times, you can claim the title of expert. However, there is also the axiom “Those who can do and those who can’t, teach.” There are many so-called experts who generate lots of content, but they’ve not had a project assignment in quite some time.

Noise makers

Everybody with access to a keyboard or a camera is doing some level of content marketing, even if it’s only for themselves and their Twitter friends. Everybody’s pulling out a cell phone to snap pictures of something—the first snowfall, the first crocuses, their dog grabbing a burger off the kitchen table.

Those photos become content posted to social media and join the digital noise that competes with content that Solopreneur consultants and other business leaders upload and post with the goal of appealing to potential customers. Launching and sustaining a content marketing campaign is an uphill battle for small operators with limited budgets.

Branding is not personal

A certain group of raven-haired sisters (and their mother) in L.A. County have done remarkably well with the personal branding concept, but that doesn’t hold for the rest of us. Unless you were lucky enough to have held a job that allowed you to publicly build a reputation amongst prospective customers, or you descend from a prominent or celebrity family, the differences that you (and I) emphasize to prospective customers are often perceived as minor and not distinctive competitive advantages. We are all the same, only different.

bookmark_borderAnalytics Marketing

Google Analytics is one of the best tools you can utilise and keeps track of many things for you and even supplies live reports and traffic intake whenever you need. You simply cannot be successful without measuring your market data, as you risk only guessing the habits of your audience, and not knowing exactly what they’re looking for. In this article, we will be going through a number of ways you can boost your analytical expertise, improving your content marketing by margins.

  1. Keep track habitually – Make it your top priority to check your analytics every single day. This includes checking your reports daily. Doing this ensures you are easily keeping track of what your audience is interested in, as these reports show all your top pages and numbers them into a top ten. Listing these pages allows you to see what number of traffic is leading where, and if you do this multiple times throughout the day, you can market accordingly to where your traffic is entering.
  2. Understand your audience – One of the main, and best reasons, to invest in a data driven marketing strategy is to keep track of exactly who is interested in what. A well-thought marketing campaign can solidify your company or product and bring your audience closer to your brand. Using an analytical program can help you understand a number of things, such as how your audience reacts to your existing content, their favourite types of content, and their preferred method of receiving said content.
  3. Aim towards non-targeted audience – This entry may seem odd, but you will understand exactly what I’m getting at if you’ve been reading thus far. We’ve stated that it’s important to understand the customer, but it is also important to understand those who aren’t interested in your product. By understanding those who aren’t interested in your product, you can tweak your campaigns to include them in your demographic, further increasing your traffic and customers.
  4. Test outside of analytics – Despite this tip going against the article itself, it is still a useful and helpful method that even major companies use today. Statistics and facts can give an abundance of information on any subject, which is exactly where analytics programs come into play. But utilising other methods can be just as helpful. It can pay off to conduct surveys, or group testing towards an audience due to the fact that there can be more information put in by them. In turn, this can result in an emotional response, giving you more information than a simple analytical report could.
  5. Link social engagements – Using social media can be an extremely helpful tool to use to your advantage. Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest social platforms in the industry, and if you use these to your best advantage, then your traffic will boost by massive margins. Linking the social engagements to your analytics program will allow you to keep track of all your social media posts, giving you traffic information for them as well. Using this tool to your leisure will allow you to see what is popular with your social media audience, giving you an even bigger opportunity to market to an entire different audience.

bookmark_borderDouble Down on Marketing

Make marketing an investment

The first step to growing your marketing budget is thinking about it differently. People used to think of their marketing budget as a line item expense that they wrote checks for throughout the year. It was almost like rent – a normal cost of doing business. The mistake these startups made was that they treated marketing like an expense. It’s time to start thinking of your marketing as an investment that you expect to yield a return.

Like any investment you would make in the stock market, your marketing investment should generate a specific monetary return in an expected period of time. For our purposes, we’re looking for short term investments that will produce enough working capital to re-invest quickly to grow our marketing.

Grow marketing, grow customers

We all know that marketing attracts the customers we need to generate more sales. For this reason, if we want to grow our position in the market we’re going to need to grow our marketing budget as fast as possible to grow our customer base. The key to growing the budget lies in generating cash flow from the returns on our marketing investment.

Short Term Returns

People used to take the long view of their marketing budgets – planning them a year out. This “set it and forget it” approach may work well for Ron Popeil, but smart marketers throw that line of thinking out the window. Instead, we budget our marketing based on months, or quarters at the longest. By looking for marketing opportunities that provide short term returns we create opportunities to increase our marketing budget rapidly with the additional capital we’ve generated.

The faster we can provide a return on our marketing the faster we can put that money to work in the next cycle. The faster we put that money to work, the more money we generate from additional customers. The math is straightforward, but getting there can be a little tricky.

Finding the winning hand

It would be easy if we already knew what marketing strategies returned quickly and could just double up our bets on those efforts. Unfortunately we don’t know what works until we try it, which costs money and time. Finding this winning hand to double down on can become a job unto itself.

A popular way to test different messages and reach your target population quickly is Internet advertising. Unlike TV, radio or print, Internet-based campaigns are relatively cheap and highly trackable. Use the Internet to test out different messages, advertise on different Web sites, and gather feedback quickly from customers about what works. You can then apply your findings toward riskier (and more expensive) media.

Your goal here is to find the campaigns that will give you the opportunity to invest significantly more dollars with a nice short term return. If it’s the right campaign, you will be able to spend incrementally more every month, constantly rolling last month’s proceeds into next month’s increased marketing budget.

Don’t shotgun

The last thing you want to do is try a “shotgun” approach toward marketing where you try everything at once and wait to see what happens. This can get very confusing because you often don’t know what’s working and what isn’t. Instead, focus on a few strategies at once, measure them completely, and then try a few more.

Double down

Once you’ve found some strategies that work now it’s time to put your money down. Invest heavily in those campaigns and keep plowing the returns back into the same winning hand. This is how you scale your marketing to create the types of campaigns that move markets and win customers.

Fast growth companies are always looking for ways to exponentially increase their marketing spend, but only on campaigns that have a demonstrated track record for success. Next time when you come to the table with the big boys, look for that winning hand, double down on your bet and clear out the competition!

bookmark_borderHow an Outside Event Planner Can Save Business Money

First, let’s assume your marketing team is like every other marketing team on the planet. They’re busy managing multiple complex projects with competing timelines. If you task them with coordinating an event, they’ll be handling the details in between fielding sales team emails, writing a script for the radio ad, and setting up a content calendar for the next three months.

Meanwhile, an outside event manager is focused on your event. She takes the detail work off the shoulders of the marketing team but still collaborates with them on the big picture marketing goals.

While your in-house marketers are generalists, your event manager is a specialist. All of her energy and talent goes into a meticulously planned event that surpasses your goals.

Everyone has heard the axiom, practice makes perfect. While your in-house team might organize one or two events a year, an event planning professional has dozens or even hundreds of successful events under her belt. She knows what works and what doesn’t and brings you the benefit of her expertise.

Experienced event planners know where costs can be cut without skimping on quality. They use their expertise to make sure every dollar you spend gives you the highest possible return on investment.

In addition to her expert knowledge, she comes prepared with a roster of vendors, venues, caterers and other service providers who can make sure your event goes off without a hitch. She knows the best in the business and will bring them in where they can be most effective for your event. Sometimes she can even turn those preexisting relationships into discounts or special deals for you.

Sure, your marketing team might know all about the latest trends in inbound marketing or how to use big data, but do they have their finger on the pulse of the event industry? Do they know what the next hot trend is and how to best capitalize on it for your business? Probably not.

A professional event planner makes it her job to know where the industry is going and what is likely to work in the future. She’ll make sure that your event exceeds attendee expectations by delivering the latest and greatest the industry has to offer.

That translates to a better overall attendee experience. Attendees walk away more engaged, better informed, and more likely to buy.

bookmark_borderMarketing Communications

The CEO may have had brilliant counsel to share, but I was so distracted by the scatological remarks and gratuitous profanities that peppered his remarks that I can’t even remember the subject of the article, or the name of his company.

Now, I’m not a prude or someone who lives in a sheltered world. I can swear with more vigor and variety than most people I know. I’d also wager that I have mastery of profanities you’ve never heard, including delightful epithets from other languages. Writers tend to gorge themselves on obscure vocabulary.

But I don’t understand why a presumably respected leader of a business found it necessary to publicly spew the kind of language most of us would never utter in polite company while promoting his business. Were the terms he used a critical component of the message he was trying to convey? Sure didn’t seem like it. Instead, he reminded me of a middle-schooler who couldn’t wait to share the dirty words he learned that day. His company may be phenomenal, but I’ll always see it as a club of potty-mouthed youngsters.

Perhaps it’s just another symptom of an era in which crass has become the new normal. We have entertainers who spit out profanity with the enthusiasm of a tent preacher. We have professional athletes who can’t be interviewed without a ready hand on the bleep button. And we even have a president who brushes aside his use of what he dismisses as locker-room talk.

There’s nothing new about crass or profane language. It’s long been an argot used within specific groups. Take comments such as “he swears like a drunken sailor” or the casual profanity long associated with factory workers. What does appear to be new is a willingness to take that language out of the private settings and spew it publicly. I once worked in an ad agency where f-bombs were the lingua franca among the staff, but even the filthiest mouths among us knew to use restraint when clients were visiting.

The simple fact is that profanity and vulgarity are lazy substitutes for real emotion. Writers who use them the way I sprinkle parmesan cheese on pasta are taking the easy way out. Being crass offers no real benefit to the speaker or her audience. It doesn’t improve communication, sharpen meaning, or enhance anyone’s image.

I’m sure some readers are dismissing my concerns as a generational thing, writing me off as some kind of ancient fogey. Yet I firmly believe that there are far more people who find such language offensive than those who accept it. Granted, the offended may have averaged more birthdays, but they probably make up the vast majority of your target audience. Why run the risk of turning them away just so you can flaunt your fluidity with f-bombs?

In my college years, a favorite philosophy professor realized he could catch the attention of sleepy undergrads by swearing the proverbial blue streak. A reply to a question about Plutarch quickly devolved into an f-bomb-laden rant, Lewis Black-style. He kept everyone awake and chuckling, but they remembered him for the coarseness of his words instead of the brilliance of his scholarship. Our post-class conversations revealed a thoughtful scholar that my classmates never got to see, because they couldn’t get past his language. Instead of creating connections, his approach put distance between him and those who might have benefited from his knowledge.

Face it: the world is already full of tastelessness and vulgarity. Why would anyone feel the need to drag us down any deeper? If you want to bandy obscenities and vulgarities around the locker room, the golf course, or the bar, have at it. But please don’t weave them into your conversations or writings about your business. It may be a little more challenging to stay on the high road, but it’s well worth the effort.