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Let's face it. Developing a marketing budget for a small business is usually not a very big priority. Typically we just don't have enough money to warrant having a formal marketing budget.  Sometimes we even ignore doing one because it's depressing. After all if you don't have any money to put towards a marketing budget, what's the point of creating one? Why bother? The answer is quite simple. If you don't create a marketing budget, chances are you're being reactive with your marketing instead of proactive.  In other words you may be choosing what to spend your marketing on in the moment vs. a consistent strategic approach over the year.   Don’t be too hard on yourself if this is ringing true.  Chances are what’s stopping you is that you feel you don't have the money to do what you would like to do with your marketing.   So that's why for today's exercise I'd like you to embrace a philosophy I learned over 20 years ago. It was at a time when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. One of the thought leaders at the time talked about taking your limitations out of the picture so that you can clearly see what it is you want to achieve. He suggested that to take out the limitation of finances, you pretend you have a huge amount of money.  That way you can focus on your dreams and aspirations instead of limiting yourself by financial constraints.   It's actually this little exercise that I want you to think about applying to your marketing budget today. By doing so I believe you will arrive at three major benefits:   You will finally formalize a marketing budget for your company. You will have clarity on what it is you really want to accomplish with your marketing. You will be more proactive with your marketing instead of reactive.   Allocating Your $100,000 Budget   In order to start our exercise, the first thing you have to do is to think about where you want to apply your imaginary $100,000 (feel free to make this number higher if it makes even more sense) budget. Below I've listed the main components that should be part of any good marketing system. Have a look at the elements below, feel free to tweak it and then allocate your $100,000 in a way that would make some sense for your business over the next year.   Marketing Strategy     Campaign Development Content Creation Graphic Design Landing Pages Follow Up Steps Measurement Promotional Channels Advertising Promotions PR Writing Speaking Referral Strategies Audience Engagement Social Media Engagement Blogging Email Marketing Website Updates Credibility Elements Reviews, Testimonials,  Case Studies Award Submissions eBooks &  Books Selling Tools Proposal Development Product/Service Packaging Cross Selling/Upselling Promotions eCommerce Making Sense of the Numbers   Now I want you to notice where you weighted the money. These heavily weights areas probably hold more importance to you.  So take note of them.   Next notice where you allocate the least amount of money. It would make sense that these areas hold either the least amount of importance or you feel that you can tackle these areas on your own with little or no cost.   Finally remove the areas where you have allocated nothing because they either don’t apply or they aren’t a priority in the next year.    What’s Your REAL Number?   It should now be clear where you would focus your dollars if you had the budget.  Now let’s take our marketing budget down to reality.   To start, I want you to come up with a figure that you feel you can reasonably spend within the year.  If you're having trouble discovering what this number should be here's a few realistic (vs theoretical) ways to calculate your marketing budget.   The simplest way is to take a percentage of your net sales or net profit – a percentage you feel you can afford to put towards marketing.    Another approach is to look at what you spent last year on your marketing and determine whether or not you could afford to spend the same amount or perhaps a little bit more this year.   A third technique is to look at what your monthly sales are and then to allocate an amount that you feel you can affordably handle month to month, knowing that some months are busier than others during the year.   Finding a budget for a small business usually means some sacrifice.   It could come from nixing the cliché “daily latte,” skimming from other outgoing costs, reducing your income or borrowing.  Just make sure the sacrifice doesn’t cause you to lose sleep at night!    Remember that investing in your marketing budget is like investing in a company’s stock.  The difference is you have insight into this business.   Defining Your Real Budget   Now that you have your number. I want to go back and look at your budget.  Let’s say your annual budget is $10,000 vs $100,000.  Can you reduce each number to 10% or are some now ridiculously too small?  Are the areas that you identified as important still weighted more heavily?  Can you reduce the least important areas to gain more budget in other areas?   In reordering your budget you probably discovered some areas that you can do yourself to save money. Be very careful that these elements don't end up putting so much on your plate that there's just no way you could actually get around to doing them all without jeopardizing other elements of your business.   Review your new to-do list. Now prioritize it by importance as well as your skill level.  If they aren’t important and you don’t have skill with them, can you put them on hold for now?   You still may find you need to take some things off of your marketing budget for now.  Keep a “parking lot” budget document and review it when you have more money to spend.    It will give you new ideas to implement going forward and a budget number to strive for.   Have a look at what you've created! Do you find that you now have a clear idea on where you want to go with your marketing? Do you feel like you have created an affordable, realistic marketing budget? Are you excited about doing something a little different now with your marketing?   Having a formal marketing budget gives you an important guideline to measure your marketing activity.  It will help you grow your business and give you sound advice on where to focus your marketing activity.        
you may not be willing to pay the price!   A client I worked with for approximately 20 years called me a few weeks ago and asked me “What’s going on?” I told him just tidying up my blog for next week’s publication. His response: “Oh, you’re one of those people who want to pontificate profusely on the flavor the week?   After a little more bantering back and forth, telling him I love to share what I learn, (which may have come from one of his projects), we set our next lunch date to continue our very friendly discussion.   In reality he knows how much I love what I’m doing and he misses the business life after the sale of his firm about 10 years ago. No offense, there is only so much bad golf or Chicago baseball to put up with day to day. I need to keep moving so the moss will not grow. Thank you Mick Jagger.   I went on a different path…   I truly love writing about my many experiences in building a small business and sharing my information. I get many ideas from the discussions I interact with in LinkedIn, (I’m in over 30 groups) as well as Twitter, which is my news and sport channel of preference.   Plus, I hear what other people in my profession are doing in their professional careers and see how I can apply an idea or two to my company or for my clients.   Returning back to my retired client, he earned his money as an air freight agent and owner of a messenger service in northern Illinois. I can’t remember the last time I had a messenger drop off something at our office. My client got out of the business at the right time. His industry was in the midst of change.   I’ve got some good reasons for you…   My client was a man who never believed he needed to plan. Unfortunately, it can be a struggle for most to actually build and learn from a plan.   Fortunately, I did build a plan with the help of a college professor and a local attorney. I was very fortunate that I did write, use and change the plan when needed.   I met many business owners that did not have a plan . I met other people whose revenue from a single customer was abnormally high and downright scary (one was about 70% of total company revenue). I’m not sure how anyone can sleep nights without one (a plan) or knowing one customer was 70% of company revenue.   Here are a few recommendations to help you stay in your game without hoping.   1. Plan – Plan- Plan.   2. Learn –Learn – Learn.   3. Evaluate – Evaluate – Evaluate.   4. As soon as you think you have it made, return and start with number 1.   Got questions regarding your marketing prowess? Do you wish it could be better? Does your boss want it to be better? How about your partner?   If you’re now sure where to start, take a look at our mcg Marketing-eVal program for small businesses that want to grow! It’s a cost effective marketing evaluation with recommendations and guidelines to make your company marketing better! I’ll be happy to share with you what I have learned about marketing and a small business.   When you click on the eVal link  you’ll have an opportunity to get a copy of our latest small business report, “Our Top Ten Lists of Marketing Essentials Required for Small Business Success.” In addition, learn how you can get a free 1 hour one-on-one with the Doc.   Please share and let me know what you think.   Got a question? Get an answer. 800-251-3608   Everything marketing starts and ends with your customers… cater to them, listen to them and react to them. The results will amaze you.   Mike Deuerling
Here are 10 strategies to improve your public speaking skills, whether you are presenting at a conference, talking to potential clients or receiving an award.   Have a Message What is the one thing that you want the audience to remember from your presentation? Put it into one sentence and you have your message – the whole point.  Say it clearly and repeat it so the audience remembers it.  And make sure that every example, story and statistic relates to it.    2.  Focus on Your Audience Why should the audience care about what you are saying? Think about your message from the audience's point of view and then target your presentation to their needs.  Remember, it's not all about you – it's about them.    3.  Organize Your Material One of the easiest ways to improve your presentation skills is to organize your material clearly.  Your presentation should have an introduction, body and conclusion.  The body, or main part of your presentation, should consist of related material arranged according to some organizational principle, such as a number of points, chronology, pros and cons, etc.  Be sure to have a clear transition from one section of the body to the next.   4.  Slides May Not Be Necessary Too many presentations are full of crowded, hard-to-read slides with too much disorganized information thrown onto them.  Before you create slides, think about whether they're really necessary.  How will slides make your presentation better? You are the presentation and the slides are just the visual aid.    5.  Watch Your Time One of my clients was scheduled to speak at a retirement dinner for a colleague. The first speaker went over his allotted time limit by twenty minutes, which bored the audience and left my client with very little time to present.  Never go over your time limit.  No one will complain if you finish a few minutes early but things go downhill very fast once you go one minute beyond your time limit.    6.  Make Eye Contact When you're speaking, make eye contact with everyone in the audience – or if it’s a very large group, with all sections of the audience.  It helps you connect to the audience, engage them and gauge their reaction.  Hold eye contact for three to give seconds and then move onto another person.    7.  Use Non-Verbals Non-verbal communication includes elements such as facial expression, voice, eye contact, gestures, posture and movement.  The key is for your non-verbals to match the message you are conveying or it will confuse the audience and distract from your message. So if you want to convey a message with confidence, stand up straight with your shoulders back and your weight evenly distribute on both feet, smile, make eye contact with the audience and speak in a loud, clear voice.    8.  Smile Facial expressions fall under non-verbals but a smile deserves its own category.  Smiling can relax you, which in turn, can relax the audience and help you be more engaging.  In most public speaking situations, a smile is appropriate, but nerves or a misplaced sense of seriousness prevent speakers from smiling; instead, they look gloomy or bored.  (Exceptions to the smile-is-appropriate rule would include, for example, announcing layoffs.)   9.  Be Confident If you are nervous about public speaking, join the club – Toastmasters, that is.  Toastmasters International is an organization which helps thousands of people in clubs around the world improve their public speaking skills through regular meetings of prepared and extemporaneous speeches.  The practice and the feedback that you'll receive will help you overcome your fear.    10. Practice There is no substitute for practice.  If you're not used to public speaking, it's going to be almost impossible to be as good as you could be without practice.  How should you practice? Say the words out loud, in as close to the real environment as possible, with particular focus on your opening, closing and key points.  It's also helpful to record yourself or get feedback from trusted colleagues.   Public speaking is a skill that you can practice and improve.  Following these 10 strategies will help you learn to be a more effective speaker.
According to the Japanese Scholar, Kakuzo Okakaura, “The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” This of course is not only important in our personal lives in general but in our professional lives as business owners and managers as well.   Do you feel constant stress and frustration with gaining new customers or making sales? Do you ever ask yourself, 'What was I thinking getting into self-employment?' Maybe it’s because you haven’t been willing to step outside of this idea in your head of what your business should be about, what services and products you offer and really explore a different way to grow.   When I started my business I gave it a name that made sense to me, found a need in an industry I loved and hit the ground running. I registered as a Sole Proprietorship with my state and planned to sell email marketing services to small businesses in the horse industry. Initially, I targeted this niche market and after about a month I had one client. I was excited about this one client, celebrated it, and when I got back down from cloud nine, I realized this one client wasn’t going to pay the bills. So I trudged forward and apologized to potential clients when I told them that I didn’t offer any other services.   Okay, let me stop here because you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, ‘hello! Why are you turning away potential clients?’ However, you may be doing the very same thing I did because when we start a business, we create this mental master plan of what we’re going to do in our business and we set out to do just that.   After a few more people asked if I offered help with social media and then later web development, I realized that maybe I needed to expand my business idea. Okay, so I can be stubborn. Businesses in the horse industry need more than just newsletters to communicate with their customers. Small businesses need other tools to create an online presence and email marketing is just one important piece of this puzzle.   I adapted to the needs and wants of those in my target market, expanded on my services and slowly started gaining new clients. As I experienced growth, I found the need to form a Limited Liability Company.  I then partnered with my husband so that we could offer even more services and take on more clients, we changed the name and we opened up ourselves to any business that was interested regardless of their industry. This whole process is never as fast as we want it to be and patience is key every step of the way. But seriously, who has patience when we are trying to build a business! I know I certainly don’t.   So right now, look at your business and be honest with yourself. Do you need to adapt? Do you need to change? Over the last few years I have spoken with many business owners who are mistakenly resistant to adapting to not only the needs and wants of their customers but also to how businesses successfully market themselves in a world where your customers and clients are online more than five hours every day.   If your current or potential customers are asking for services or products that you don’t offer, you have an opportunity. If you’re letting your work life disrupt your home life, you have a challenge to overcome. If you find yourself continuing with the way things are because you’ve never done it any other way, you have room for growth.   The number one thing that you should do as a business owner is listen to the needs and wants of your customers, then find ways to satisfy those needs and wants. If you allow change within yourself, within your business and within your employees you open the door for growth and opportunity. Your only limits are those that you set for yourself.   Lindsey Phipps Media Horse Marketing lindsey@mediahorsemarketing.com 720-278-3934 www.mediahorsemarketing.com
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Is "thank you" considered "old school" now?  Do you thank your clients, your employees and vendors? How often? In what format? Why? We can turn this age-old practice into a time-consuming, to-do list item or we can embrace it and put it back into the every day life of a professional.  It is so easy to get into caught up in the daily routine of work and forget about some of the simple things that we can do to really make a big impact in the relationships we have with others.  One of these is the simple "thank you".  I would like to share with you some basic thank you etiquette as well as some creative ways to show appreciation and thanks to your clients, employees and vendors.   Thank You Etiquette Handwritten or Printed? We have really come to embrace the handwritten thank you note.  In fact, we purchased a bunch of them with matching envelopes and strive to send one or two each week. When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? When we get a piece in the mail that has been handwritten it is usually the first thing we open, it stands out and it often has more value.  They do not have to be handwritten though.  They can be sent via email or LinkedIn as well.  If this is the case, be sure that the subject line includes the words "Thank you".   Address the recipient as "Dear {name}" and be sure to address with proper prefixes such as Dr, Mr., etc.  and end with a "Yours sincerely" if it is someone you do not know very well and if you do then it is acceptable to use "Best wishes" or "Many thanks" as a closing. Start off by thanking them , continue by mentioning something specific about how what they did was helpful and reference the next time you hope to see him or her.   Thanking Creatively Use social media for some public "shout-outs".  We had a local bakery, Yum Yum Bakery, drop off a King Cake treat for us.  We gave them a Facebook shout-out with a tag to their Facebook page.  In this case we thought that this type of thank you would not only serve the purpose you hope it serves but it also guided possible new clients to their Facebook Page    Write a recommendation on LinkedIn.  Forget the endorsement - actually take a moment to say thank you for a great job, excellent customer service, a wonderful partnership or product by leaving a thoughtful recommendation on their LinkedIn profile. I wrote a recommendation for Stephanie Miller Murphy with http://www.travelwithstephanie.com for her extraordinary service when planning our vacation.  She was amazing and I wanted to tell the world! Don't forget about your employees.  Write a recommendation for them for their outstanding work ethic on LinkedIn.  It makes you appealing to work for because you show appreciation and it makes your employees feel appreciated! It's a Win-Win! Consider creating a wonderful thank-you video that you can broadcast thanking your clients.  We love what Constant Contact did for their thank you video last year. Check it out here . Include a client, employee or vendor spotlight section in your email newsletter! Enter their logo or picture, a brief thank you message and a link to their website, Facebook page, etc. If you have something to add about thank you etiquette or creative ways to thank others I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below! 
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As the New Year approaches, many small business owners will be taking time to reflect on their marketing strategies for the New Year. This year their timing couldn’t be more perfect. With the changes to Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm settling in, companies need to look at a fresh new approach to their online strategies.    Gone are the days of using services that either create or provide shoddy content and link that content to substandard, irrelevant sites.    Gone are the days of just focusing on keywords.   Gone are the days to ignore the importance of content and online marketing.   This is good news to those of you that feel you are good at what you do and should be recognized in Google rankings for providing quality information to your target market. Now the key question becomes where should you focus in 2014?   After spending considerable time reviewing suggestions from today’s top though leaders, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the Top 5 Online Marketing Tactics to Focus on in 2014. These tactics to me, go beyond just the benefit of increasing your SEO Rankings in 2014.    They are solid tactics that will more importantly help to: position you and/or your company as experts in your identified niche provide valuable content to your target market, and attract more qualified prospects to your company It’s important to note before we get started, that tactics only work effectively if you can clearly answer these strategic questions: Who is my ideal client? What makes my company/products/services different and unique? What type of information is my market seeking online? What type of content can my company provide to our market that showcases our strengths, personality and values? 1. Keep Your Website Relevant   While keywords may have lost some value, both Google and your market still need to know what your site is about.  Today that means relevant rich content.  You will want to make sure your Page Title, H1 tags and content explain what your site is about, but in 2014 you want to make sure that the keywords aren’t overused (spammy), are unique and relevant to the page and that you pay more attention to other long-tail phrases your market might use.  In other words, use a more conversational tone.   Eric Enge summarized a lot of the “New School” ways to optimize your site in this great diagram.  Use it as a guideline to keep your website relevant.   2. Keep Your Website Fresh With New Content   It’s a no brainer that you need to ensure your website pages are current and up to date, but more importantly, you want to make sure you have a vehicle to continuously add great content.  This vehicle is your blog and adding engaging content to it regularly is key in 2014.  This can be a mixture between great content that you have created, along with curated content (content from other writers and sources out there on the web).   What’s interesting about the content you create is the evolution of the blog post itself.   Whereas years ago the average was around 500 words, today the average is over 1000.  In fact studies show that longer blog posts are read more and shared more.  Other elements such as engaging photos and videos also increase readers and engagement.  That doesn’t mean everything you create needs to be lengthy however.  The increase of smartphones, dictates that some posts still need to be more digestible and therefore shorter.    Long story short, the average length of your content needs to be longer (1000 words) and you should include pictures, videos and Infographics for better engagement.   3. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile & Share Friendly   If you website is not yet “responsive” or you don’t have some sort of plugin like DudaMobile that helps make it mobile and tablet friendly, then make it a priority for 2014.  I have seen this very simple change increase traffic to a website by up to 30%.  Mobile also plays nicely into Google’s new algorithm.  For example, when someone has activated their current location and searches for a “hairstylist nearby,” Google will respond with possible locations.  If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you can lose a possible customer.   Just like ensuring your site is mobile friendly, you need to also make sure it can be shared.   Part of your online credibility comes from others sharing your information.  This is hard to do if you don’t make it easy for the reader to do so.  I’m astounded how often these are missing, especially on blog posts.   This is going to be even more heavily weighted in 2014, so make sure you have this feature added to your website, if you don’t already.   4. Engage on Multiple Social Sites   Social media sites certainly have mixed reviews.  Since 2012-2013 we have definitely seen the shift from “should I be on Social media” to “which sites should I focus on.”  Generally business owners have gravitated to maybe one or two sites.  In 2014, you will want to expand your social media presence, as social engagement plays a more important role in not only Google rankings, but also how people interact online.  If you are wondering where else to focus beyond Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – take a closer look at Google+.  More specifically:   fully create your Google Profile for your business encourage people to add Google reviews look for ways to have readers +1 your content start engaging on your Google+ channels 5. Add Credible Links Last but not least, look for ways to add rich, relevant links back to your website.  This means sites like junky article submission or blog posting sites should no longer be part of your strategy.  Instead you want to look for credible guest blogging opportunities and other credible PR opportunities.    Chuck Price created a great Quick Start Guide to Guest Posting that outlines a great approach to take to start increasing your reach and relevance online.    If you are wondering if online PR submission is still worthwhile, I would say yes.  However you need to change your approach to a more conversational tone and watch your formatting.  In other words don’t jam pack your press release full of a keyword and have the anchor text go to an irrelevant link on your website.  Your press releases and links need to be newsworthy and helpful.  You should also pay more attention to the authority of the PR Site you are using.  A good rule of thumb is to look more at sites like PRWeb that require a fee to submit a release. Typically they rank better in authority and not surprisingly, could get you actual media exposure.   I’m sure as 2014 unfolds, more and more online marketing tactics will continue to present themselves.  To keep things in perspective and to not become overwhelmed, remember - Google is trying to ensure that people just like you and me get good quality results when we search solutions online.  So if you provide quality, helpful content to your audience, regularly and in an authentic conversational tone, you will continue to survive and thrive in Google’s online world.
Local businesses all over have a love hate relationship with public review site Yelp .  And if they don’t, it’s probably because they haven’t received enough reviews to see both sides of the coin.   At the center of most of the issues businesses have with Yelp is the virtual anonymity of the reviewers.  A case being considered by the Virginia Supreme Court takes issue with this: in July 2012, Hadeed (the business owner) sued the seven reviewers for defamation, and demanded that Yelp turn over their true identities.   First, let’s talk about the 4 perspectives that Yelp is attempting to balance with reviews, reviewers, and businesses, then we’ll end with 5 tips to consider.   Business Perspective   Local businesses get more customers when they have positive reviews – measurably more business.  However, businesses have two motivations that can be in conflict with one another when it comes to anonymity of the reviewer:   The easier it is for someone to review the business, the better for the business, if it’s a positive review.  So if reviewers are anonymous and that makes it easier, great.  And generally speaking, anonymity makes a difference with reviewers – more on that below from the reviewer’s perspective.  More reviews are also a win for everyone – the information creates transparency for the greater community. On the other hand, if a review is negative, the business owner is frequently personally offended (the business for many business owners is their life’s work and personal legacy – no one likes someone else expressing upset, disappointment, or negativity of any kind towards something that means so much).  The personal affront, or even the business-oriented objection to the negative review, prompts the owner to figure out who the reviewer is, how the problem happened, and how they can fix it.  Or, if that doesn’t seem to match up to records, who the person is so they know who’s creating a bad reputation for their business.  In some cases this can be a competitor or an unhappy employee or someone that’s a personal enemy – all situations that are possible with the anonymous system. To summarize – anonymity can be a bonus in getting lots of good reviews but becomes a problem when the reviews are negative – a case of ‘ you can’t have your cake and eat it too ’.     Reviewer’s Perspective   Customers are happy to give reviews if everything went well for them and it’s easy to post the review – that’s why so many reviews are 5 stars.  However, when things don’t go well, the situation gets messy.   Anonymous reviews allow someone to post exactly what they experienced and what they think of the business – without fearing any retribution by the community or the business.  This allows the truth to get out about what happened.  That truth can be good for everyone – including the business – if it raises awareness of something that wasn’t apparent and happens consistently although not constantly.  This is a big part of why Yelp is successful.  And businesses could respond negatively to a real customer posting about a real situation that was not good – the fear of retribution impacts individual reviewers, even when they can post anonymously, although less so. On the other hand, anonymity isn’t always what the reviewer really wants.  They may appreciate an acknowledgement from the community or the business for taking the time to post a thoughtful review.  On Yelp, they may choose a screen name that’s actually their name because of this.  The downside for that person is they’re less likely to post negative reviews because of #1 above – retribution.   Essentially, Yelp’s success relies on high quality positive and negative reviews.  Unfortunately, the scenarios described above make it clear that there’s potentially a lot more going on than just straightforward positive and negative reviews – all kinds of complexity, assumptions, fears, and unknown motivations.   This is, of course, true of all human activities, but we’re fooled by Yelp’s simple interface of stars and comments into thinking it’s just about transparency.   Yelp is, I believe, here to stay – or something similar to it since Google and Facebook are trying to incorporate reviews as well.  I don’t think the Virginia case is going to have a sweeping effect – and it probably shouldn’t given the problems with having reviews require positive personal identification (the retribution problem, not the technical problem).   So what is a business to do…   Yelp Tips:   Thank your reviewers for positive reviews – a simple thank you as a response to their review.  Yelp discourages a lot of commenting back by the owners, but when I see these responses on a business page, I’m impressed, what about you? When you get a negative review, reflect first.  Then wait.  Try to get someone else to write your response.  This is your ‘baby’ and you are likely to be defensive.  That’s the worst reaction you can have publicly.  Put yourself in their shoes; assume the best; take responsibility in some way; and then figure out if you really can do better.  Then post a responsive response, reflecting back that you understand what they’re saying, and your intention is such and such. And thank them for letting you know.  You may invite them to come back in, but don’t push. If the reviewer brings something up that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your business and you suspect they’re not a customer, then pause again to reflect.  Whatever you say is as if you will be saying it on a giant billboard on the busiest highway in your community.  Think what you want those words to be on that billboard.  What is the best representation of you and your business that could be up there?  You might say something to clarify your service or product or location or anything that’s obviously incorrect in the review.  Or you might write a similar type of review as suggested in #2 above – just take responsibility and soldier on.  The review isn’t going to go away and the more contentious you are, the more Yelp will feature it prominently because it has caused ‘engagement’.  So don’t engage, just respond. While you shouldn’t ask people to review you on Yelp specifically, you can let them know you are on Yelp if they have something nice to say about your business to you in person.  And that if they said that on Yelp, it would be helpful to the community as well.  Always do that – having the customers who love you posting their positive reviews creates some resiliency for when you have a negative review. Stay in the game for the long run.  You might have all 5 star reviews right now.  Make sure your business doesn’t depend on that as the major source of attracting customers.  Why? Because you’ll end up getting customers who are looking for why you’re not a 5 star place – then they’ll post a review about how disappointed they were.  It’s just human nature.  So diversify: Google reviews, website testimonials, Facebook reviews, case studies, and your own valuable content on your website and social media.  Keep your fan based engaged and you can weather any storm.  Otherwise, if you live by the sword you’ll die by the sword.   Good luck and good yelping!   Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting   Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com  
Now that I have your attention can you start to see the benefits of direct marketing? Please share any successes you have had trying any of these tips.   1). Here’s a sure trick of the trade. Select new list sources that fit the profiles of existing customers. Search for new customers armed with the profiles of your current best customers. Use your Website and create unique landing pages to grow your customer and prospect data. Always ask for data to make your database stronger. Caution: make sure there is a privacy statement on your site and other forms of communication.   2. Here’s a rather simple trick that sometimes gets overlooked. Maximize personalization of communication and offers. This is a proven method that increases response. Address your customer by name and add additional data such as their last purchase date when offering them a discount or about another product you offer that will pique their interest. Out of sight is out of mind. Provide ongoing interaction with your customers. Keep in touch with your customers using their preferred communication channels. If there is no preferred communication channel, start with direct mail or email, driving them to a Web site and collect some additional data. By doing so, you are creating an awareness that triggers consideration and start to build brand awareness and customer loyalty.   3. Here’s a tip to use with the newer communication channels. Pinpoint timing and frequency of promotions. See who responds such as what time of the year or from the last purchase. Use the results to spread offers to your customers and your prospective customers. Some larger companies with a diverse customer base use an event once or twice a year to help fill the sales pipeline. Another value of direct marketing – it’s measurable. Measure response and be responsible for results. More than any other medium, it can be evaluated for its impact on a specific goal. When results aren’t satisfactory, go back and distinguish what went wrong.   4. Ever get stuck creating a special offer? Create offers based on customer feedback. Enter customer requests and feedback into your company data fields. As you test different offers and promotions, compare the responses of each to see if some produce better results than others. Most important: Listen to customer suggestions for future offers!   5. Demonstrate that your customers are valuable assets. Use your data to create a workshop, personal presentations of new products, or a customer rewards/sales incentive program. These programs have a history of building brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Show customers you care about their opinions. Conduct a customer satisfaction survey through direct mail or email (or both). If you hear back from inactive customers, you can tailor an event or promotion to bring them back to active status.   6. Always remember that a clean CCM is a quality database. And a quality customer-contact management ( CCM ) database results in a valuable business tool that in turn is a quality asset for your business. Then, when you communicate using the correct tactical channels, you are now following a blueprint to make money and your customers happy!   A bonus tip – Do you have more benefits of your product or service that are discovered by customer use? Create a blog and encourage customers to share their ideas. Consider having a tip of the week award and promote the winning idea. This type of customer product creation is great for sharing in future marketing campaigns.   Hopefully you downloaded my segmenting charts for your customers and prospects from the last blog, “A tried and true method for direct marketing success.” If not, here is the first and second links. They are very important to help you get on the right path to data understanding.   For more tips on direct marketing please visit our website .   MarketingDoc 800-251-3608   Restaurant photo credit: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/cafemama/259530106/ ">cafemama</a> via <a href=" http://photopin.com ">photopin</a> <a href=" http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/" >cc   HELP photo credit: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/3951425343/ ">Beverly & Pack</a> via <a href=" http://photopin.com ">photopin</a> <a href=" http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc  
Everyone knows that image is everything in marketing, but we often overlook the back-end of the process: reporting to management or the client on the results of our hard work. People seem to think it’s OK for the report to look raw, crude or technical because it isn’t visible to the general audience. Don’t make that mistake!   "If the statistics are boring, then you've got the wrong numbers."  Edward Tufte   Most people place a disproportionate amount of value on the look of things. They want to be engaged. Entertained. Impressed. If you present the results of your efforts as a boring spreadsheet of numbers, they will feel let down, even if the numbers are outstanding.  Edward Tufte was arguing  that inspired design can actually cause the meaningful “right” numbers to stand out.   Your report needs to tell the reader what to look at, what to think. If you leave it up to them, they will take a least-effort path and possibly even discount the entire report as uninteresting --  and your value drops with the interest level.   So what can you do? Simple things. Decide what you want them to notice and make it stand out. Avoid raw lists of numbers – use highlighting; conditional formatting in Excel is a great feature! But don't overdo it; too much and your message is diluted. Think of the one or two things you want them to remember, and stop there.     Even better, use a chart, but not the default Excel chart. Spruce it up a little – it doesn’t take much .  A minute of your time could be all you need for  a lasting impression, a contract renewal, a budget approval, a good performance review.    Don’t let your personal brand slip at a crucial moment: when you are being measured for what you are worth. Invest the moment. Leave them impressed.
Recently I read an article from Time magazine and a discussion on LinkedIn describing Facebook's new strategy on organic posts. Since they began, Facebook's strategy was to deliver only 16% of the organic posts. A few months ago they reduced that to 4% and soon they will further reduce it to less than 2%. What this means is that if you want your posts to be published,  chances are,  you will have to pay Facebook for more exposure. I find this to be very disturbing as it will make marketing for small businesses such as mine, and non-profits much tougher. Whether or not to continue with Facebok is an individual decision, but I think you know the issues involved. For more information,   I have on my recent blog a post from Ron Mattocks, Online Marketing Manager at Aptera Software,  entitled   1.  "Is Facebook Worth the Effort for Marketers Anymore?" http://jngassociates.com/facebook-page-posts-one-t wo-percent/   2.  Time magazine  in   http://time.com/34025/the-free-marketing-gravy-tra in-is-over-on-facebook/   Thanks and have a good day.
for your inbound marketing campaigns. Just make sure all your ducks are in a row.   I recently had a conversation with a customer regarding what value there is by sharing more of his marketing content in a variety of channels. He referred to it as multi-channel for multi-devices or as some say, cross-channel marketing. It sounds good, works good and it is in use by many companies today. So what can go wrong?   The failure of not creating enough knowledge based content is usually a kink in the marketing pipeline. Companies hoping to see good results need to be on the channel(s) customers prefer to use. This, in most cases, is more than one channel. The content must be beneficial and offer solutions that can make them look forward to your next marketing piece. Content marketing works well with B2B companies where there is a long lead time for a purchase. The use of analytics and assessing the data is critical for success. Missing even one of the above, could impact your desired results for your inbound marketing program.   Tracking and analytics support content marketing. Tracking and analytics is an important part of your content marketing that should not be neglected. There are very few people who will acknowledge reading content and even less who will give you their opinion. That is, unless they have a bone of contention about the content, but that’s another story.   But data is able to tell you what you should know. Are we on the right track? Should we post more on a customer issue we solved? Do we have sales bring them a specific report on how we resolved a similar issue? How much content should be free and what content should we lock behind a simple form to gather some information?   Today, these are questions that can be answered. When an article is posted or linked we are able to ascertain the amount of views, time on the pages, etc. Having that information can tell us the importance of the content and how many eyes viewed it. Studying analytics and data leads to better content and results.   Better business relationships start with awareness of your products and services. As an inbound marketing person it is your duty to keep nurturing the contact with the right content she appreciates receiving. Data analysis with input from the sales team will keep the right content hitting her desk in a timely fashion.   Marketing and sales must work together. Marketing sets the table and sales will get the order. Seeing results, studying the data, testing ideas and giving sales the tools they need is creating a better return on investment than ever before.   When you need to go outside to a supplier of content, studying analytics and placement is all about saving time and making money for you and your supplier.   Please give us a call, (800-251-3608) or send me an email ( marketingdoc@live.com ) comment for more information about a successful marketing content program.   Thanks for reading and please share with others.   Everything marketing starts and ends with your customers… cater to them, listen to them and react to them. The results will amaze you.   Mike Deuerling    
    Is humor an effective creative approach for your marketing messages?  It depends on who you ask.  David Ogilvy, the famed Hall of Fame ad man and founder of Ogilvy & Mather adamantly proclaimed humor forbidden fruit for marketers.  "People don't buy from clowns," he used to say.  But if you ask Bert Berdis, Dick Orkin and Joe Sedelmaier, the three legendary creators of humorous advertising interviewed for this piece, you get a completely different answer.         Dick & Bert took the advertising world by storm in the '80s with their witty, situational humor radio spots for TIME Magazine and never looked back.  "The TIME campaign opened the door for us and then the phone rang off the hook," recalls Berdis.  But Orkin remembers even then their clients were apprehensive about humor.  One of their early clients, a Chicago-based bank, requested that the duo employ "serious humor" to convey their message without upsetting upper management.  Eventually, Dick & Bert spots were ubiquitous across the radio dial, the pair won a record number of Clio awards and their clients enjoyed significant sales gains as a result.       While Dick & Bert ruled the radio, Joe Sedelmaier focused on television advertising, with his immediately recognizable brand of humor on film.   He took his early inspiration from Candid Camera, noting how ordinary people did their best to maintain stability when faced with impossible situations.         Sedelmaier recalls the episode in which a woman coasts into a gas station and asks the attendant to take a look under the hood, where he discovers the engine is missing.  "He just stood there with his mouth hanging open, looking down at the empty engine bay, then back at the woman, then back under the hood.  That's how people behave, that's what gets us to laugh."  His observations eventually translated into some of the most memorable commercials of all time, including Wendy's "Where's the beef?" and the "Fast talker" spot for FedEx, both of which are benchmarks for building brand awareness.         All three warn that humor is not easily created, especially effective humor that sells product and propels a brand to new heights.  Sedelmaier makes the point brilliantly:  "You can always pretend to be serious, but nobody can pretend to be funny."  Can humor help you be a more effective marketer?  Absolutely.  Here are five take-aways offered up by our panel of ad humor legends.     1.  Humor Must Inspire, Never Get in the Way:   "Commercials are what people see when they're watching something else," explains Sedelmaier, "so you owe it to the audience to make your message entertaining."  In the same way his commercials helped make you want to watch television and Dick & Bert's spots made you want to listen to the radio, humor can help your list members look forward to your e-mail marketing.  The danger is in producing something that's supposed to be funny but is not.  Does anyone think the gecko or Flo are funny?  And do either inspire you to pick up the phone and request an insurance quote from GEICO or Progressive?   2.  It's Not About Your Brand, It's About the Need You Serve:   I see this all the time with my clients, when they ask to somehow insert their brand into the cartoons we use to power direct response and e-mail campaigns, which my test experience shows is a big mistake.  The gecko and Flo spots illustrate the problem brilliantly, as both prattle on and on about the brands in a way that renders the message meaningless to our lives.  Their attempted humor is inward-facing; it's focused on what the advertiser thinks is important -- their brand -- rather than on what is important to the consumer, which is simply the need the company will serve in their lives.  The result is likely a lot of rolled eyes and wasted advertising dollars.   3.  What is the Truth You're Revealing?   All three legends agree humor is about truth revealed in a twist.  Orkin explains, "The truth revealed in the TIME spots is that the magazine will make you more interesting."  When you use humor, always ask yourself, "What is this revealing about our company?"  Is it that you understand the needs of your audience and you're there to help, or that you're simply pushing your brand?   4.  Great Humor is Based on Compelling Characters:   The Wendy's "Where's the beef?" commercials ran in 1984.  It's amazing to think that 30 years later, we can still see the commercial clearly in our minds.  Ditto for John Moschitta, the fast-talking actor whose performance helped launch FedEx.  I can still hear Dick Orkin's voice as he played the role of a traveler, reading his letter back to his fellow passenger with the words, "Dear Mommy, I'm up in a big airplane…"  Similarly, I know from my cartooning career how critical compelling characters are to the creation of something funny.  But as Sedelmaier reminds us, above all, these characters have to represent all of us, so they need to be like all of us.  In other words, they need to be believable, memorable and funny in the way they strive to make the best of a tough situation -- not how they wave their hands, make silly sounds or babble on and on about a given brand.   5.  Hire the Right People and Give them Room to Create:   Creating humor effectively is exceedingly difficult.  It requires a nuanced hand and a honed point of view.  Creating humor for advertising is all the more difficult, because it has to walk the fine line of being both funny and effective.  It's a skill developed over years of practice.  It is revealing to note that Berdis was a stand-up comedian before entering the world of advertising.  Orkin spent 15 years on the radio practicing his craft before teaming with Berdis to produce their first spot.  Sedelmaier had been a filmmaker and student of Candid Camera, before enlisting in the advertising ranks as an art director, prior to making his first commercials.  Once you find someone with professional experience, our panel advises giving them the room to create.  "Humor is not created by committee," explains Sedelmaier, "it's created by individuals."       Humor can be effective in your marketing, too, even if David Ogilvy remained unconvinced.  Or did he?  Berdis recalls once being summoned to New York to meet with the Ogilvy & Mather team about a new radio campaign for American Express.  "Does David know I'm here?" asked Berdis.  "Yes," the team leader replied, "our thinking has changed."   Funny how that worked out after all.     Resources   Very little of Dick & Bert's work appears on the Internet, but there is a short  video  on YouTube featuring a few of their spots.  Bert Berdis is now retired, while Dick Orkin continues to create audio productions of "Chickenman" and various radio commercials through his company, the  RadioRanch .   YouTube has a nice  retrospective  of Joe Sedelmaier's commercials, while Amazon sells an outstanding documentary DVD on his work entitled, " Point of View ."   You can also claim a  free e-book  excerpted from  Drawing Attention  by Stu Heinecke, to help you boost your open rates through the use of cartoons in your e-mail campaigns.     About Stu Heinecke   Stu Heinecke is  one of  The Wall Street Journal  cartoonists, a DMA Hall of Fame-nominated marketer and author of  Drawing Attention  and  Big Fat Beautiful Head .  He is also the President and Founder of CartoonLink, a service that brings an unfair advantage to marketers through the magic of cartoons and the benefit of 30 years and millions of dollars worth of record-breaking campaigns and utterly unduplicated test experience.  Would you like to put the CartoonLink "cartoon device" to the  test  in your e-mail campaign for  free ?
There’s nothing better than walking into a crowd, locating a familiar face and being greeted with instant warmth and recognition. Remember the TV show, Cheers and their theme song lyrics, "where everybody knows your name”? And so it is the same with email:  imagine your inbox as the crowd and a well-designed, attractive and friendly email as the welcoming, recognizable face.  Just as it can be daunting to navigate an unfamiliar crowd, so too do we often feel overwhelmed with email communication.    Consistent branding is what will help your message stand out in the crowd!  Rather than choosing a template that suits your mood or the particular message you are trying to relay, consider a more consistent look and feel that readers will immediately associate with you, one that does not require them to even look at the name in the “from” field.  In other words, be the face and the name that will always stand out in the crowd by establishing an identity that your readers will come to reliably associate with you.   The Kent Memorial Library is a wonderful illustration of the effectiveness of consistent branded email marketing, and it has recently received a Connecticut Library Association Award in the Print Media category for the third time.  Lucy Pierpont, the library’s Marketing and Special Events Director, uses Constant Contact as an integral part of her marketing strategy.  When Lucy began her employment at the library, the building’s architecture inspired her to use the facility’s dental-style molding in her branding efforts:  “It works perfectly at the top of every poster, flyer, email, etc.,” including the library’s Constant Contact messages.  Lucy states, “The Library depends greatly on Constant Contact as our most dependable way to get the information to our contacts.”   Consider these benefits of consistent branding:   Dependable look and feel Effective, effortless recognition Consistent connection with customers Clients know who you are and what to expect Efficient use of a consistent platform on which to build your message   If you want to really connect with your audience, you want them to know who you are.  Consistent branding in your email marketing eliminates the need for you to reintroduce yourself repeatedly and allows you to put your best face forward every time!    http://www.mynewsgirl.com
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Facebook announced a couple of interesting new features last week.  First they are beginning to test Video Ads on Facebook.  This is definitely in the very early stages so stay tuned.   The second announcement affects those with existing business pages on Facebook.  If you haven’t already seen some changes to your Facebook business page, a new format will be rolling out in the next few weeks.   Facebook made the changes to streamline the look, making the desktop version more user friendly for followers and admins alike. It may make you rethink a few things, like apps, your business category, photos and competitors pages.   Here’s why.   Page Posts Move to Right Hand One Column Format     Pro’s: Page posts will move from their old two column format to a cleaner looking one column display. This new style is going to lend itself even more to a more photo-friendly style of posting. So if you aren’t already, make sure to capture more attention and engagement by including an eye catching, relevant visual.    This look is definitely cleaner and allows your followers to view most recent posts.   Con’s:   Fewer posts are getting more exposure and there appears to be no way to search an older post if you wanted to come back and revisit it. While this is definitely not a “deal breaker,” it does seriously reduce the longevity of older posts.   Business Feature Area Expanded     This is my favorite part of the new look. The left hand column allows you to highlight everything you want about your company. But you may want to re-think now what “category of business you are in.”   If you’re a business with a brick-and-mortar location (i.e. category “local business”) the left side column will show a map, phone number, hours of business, likes and visits, information about your business, apps (if relevant), photos, videos, reviews, posts to your Page, and the Pages Your Page likes.     For businesses that operate primarily online (i.e most other categories), the left-side column will not  show: a map, phone number, hours of business, or reviews.  If any of these features are important to you, consider editing  your category accordingly.   I do like the addition of the apps on the left hand column. Old apps will still appear along the top under the “more” button as well. In the old version, you were limited as to how many of your apps actually were visible. With the new left hand column, the apps have way more real estate, though it’s hard to tell if there will still be limits to the number of apps visible here.   I don’t see many cons to the left hand column….yet. What I do see is a ton of opportunity to elevate different elements of your company and again – much, much more visual appeal.   Easier Access to Admin Tools     Key statistics will now show up for admins no matter where you are on the page and the new navigation along the top means the Admin Panel no longer takes up ½ the page.   Pages to Watch Some of you may already have had access to this cool little feature. It’s one I highly recommend you pay attention to. You can add other pages that you would like to compare performance with. This is a great way to keep your eye on competitors or on pages that you would like to emulate. When you click on the new Overview tab as an admin it will share key stats of the page you are watching. Under the post tab you can see their most engaging posts for the past week.   On the flip side of this, you will also be notified if your page is added to someone else’s page to watch list, though the name of the Page that has added you is not disclosed.     I’m finding mixed reactions to these changes. Some are finding it frustrating to have to update their business pages yet again. Others are already looking for ways to leverage the new look. I’m interested to hear what your experiences are – good and bad  
Marketing Automation Enables Consistent Best Practices   You know what you'd like to do but manual efforts are totally inefficient, so you've decided not to leverage marketing principles for business advantage.  It's time for you to figure a way to change that inertia so you can make your company the best that it can be.  Otherwise, your company will need to follow a more challenging path in order to reach the next level.  Don't overlook the basics.   Wouldn't it be great if you could automate the mundane processes for customer and partner retention?  How about recruiting new ones?  If you could survey at different steps in the cycle, wouldn't you better understand how you're doing?  How many opportunities slip away due to weak processes for lead generation and nurturing?   MA enables you to deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time with a singular purpose in mind. This trumps broad brush email blasts and social network posts that are of no interest to 80% of their recipients, most of whom will unsubscribe after receiving a few of these uninteresting messages.   MA enables content marketing to be the theme for campaigns or surgically injected as 1to1 next logical steps such as surveys, or efforts to create, nurture or convert leads.  Use your CRM database to segment a persona defined target audience or filter your CRM system for the right demographics, psychographics, behavioral traits and firmographics.  Email and social networks can work together as your messaging media.   You don't need to be a large company to afford the benefits of marketing automation.  There are CRM and MA tools that fit within the budget of any size company.  If you first take the time to create the processes that are right for your business, you can then search for the right tools to make them happen.   By John Bernardi
At the end of 2011, the U.S. alone was home to more than 100 million smart phone users. By the end of 2014 , 90 million   people will have used a tablet in the U.S., which will represent 36% of the overall Internet population .   Why is this important to your business? Regardless of size, the state of mobile now insists that you think through a dedicated experience for customer engagement and commerce alike. -Brian Solis Not sure how you should devise an effective Mobile Marketing Strategy?  Here are five "musts" of mobile marketing for small businesses!
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I frequently have conversations with small business owners about Yelp. These chats are sometimes joyful, but more often they are filled with some confusion, frustration and hope. It all comes down to reviews: how many are there, how high’s the star count, and are they filtered or not.   For established consumer-facing businesses with lots of positive reviews, Yelp is just about their best friend. This is because Yelp can drive massive traffic. Yelp is now the 29th most visited site in the US according to Alexa.com   If a business doesn’t have enough reviews though – like mine with one, Yelp’s doing just about nothing. I’m not too worried about it because my business is more of a B2B and even Yelp admits they’re not nearly as strong at helping B2B’s drive serious leads.   What if you’re a B2C and you want more reviews from your satisfied customers who regularly tell you to your face how much they like your business? Shouldn’t you ask them to write a review for you on Yelp? Maybe you could make it easy by having a laptop connected to Yelp right in your lobby?   Why it’s not a good idea to ask for Yelp reviews   This is hard for me to recommend you pull back from asking for Yelp reviews because it seems like such a natural idea. In fact, I’ve done it! But not just for Yelp. I’ve asked for LinkedIn Recommendations and Google reviews, too. I think the only thing I haven’t asked for is a Facebook recommendation. Does anyone really look at those? I digress. So, why shouldn’t you ask for Yelp reviews? The #1 reason is because the overwhelming majority of people using the internet aren’t Yelpers, that is, the people writing Yelp reviews. According to Yelp’s blog only 1% of the Yelp community actually write reviews. Another 9% will engage with them. The rest, some 90%, will read them.   If this is true, and it’s probably pretty darn close since much of the social community works this way, what are the chances the customer you ask is going to be a Yelper? Slim at best.   But what if your customer likes you so much that they want to do this for you as a favor to help your business? You encourage them to set up an account and write their first Yelp review for you. Guess what happens next? Their review is filtered because Yelp finds something fishy about the review or reviewer. That is the review just might gush too much or have too little detail about their engagement with your business or because they’re brand new to Yelp with no friends or prior reviews Yelp just decides that they were put up to the review by the business owner.   The Filter     Whoops, Yelp’s right! This is why they have the filter. If you’re not sure about what the filter is you can watch the  short video  referenced above about it.   You see, Yelp figured out a long time ago that small business owners wouldn’t be able to resist putting their customers up to reviewing them. Thus, they created the filter. Incidentally, they also want to prevent disgruntled employees or competitors from having an artificial means of damaging a business by writing malicious reviews filled with lies. The filter works to block those reviews, too.   The more I think about the more I realize that the filter’s a pretty smart idea. You could say it keeps us honest. If we know the odds of us getting a 5-star review just by asking are slim, it leaves us to just focus on doing the best we can to create so many happy customers that eventually we’ll please a Yelper.   Just last week I was speaking to a speech therapist who had ¾ of her reviews filtered. What a shame I said. Her response was that she thinks that some of those reviews were written for her as something like a going away present when she chose to leave Southern California for the Bay Area. Interesting.   By the way don’t believe even for a second that you can get Yelp to unfilter your reviews by paying them to advertise on the network. Yelp is so scrutinized for improper behavior after being in court more than a few times that they just aren’t going to do anything like that. Maybe there was a time, but those days are over. Yelp is clear to point out that plenty of advertising businesses have filtered reviews while those who don’t advertise have plenty of exposed reviews and are getting monthly leads. It’s true.   What Can You Do?   To get more Yelp reviews I fully recommend you do two things: 1. Have an outrageously great business; and 2. Set up your Yelp page and let customers know you have one. Put the Yelp logo on your website, in your newsletter, in your ads and so forth. By pointing people to your page you’ll naturally get reviews over time since you’re providing outstanding service paired with great products.   This is exactly how Yelp wants you to do it. Play by their rules and you’re more likely to win. Have questions about Yelp? Please post them below in the Comments.    
1. You have a personal life and telling people that care about you what is going on for you leads to their having a greater understanding of your life, hopes and dreams.  Once friends and family know more about what you're up to - they can get behind any efforts you're making.  For instance, I had an idea a couple years ago called Farm My Yard . It's an effort to match up homeowners and urban farmers who live nearby. I've been mentioning this idea and dreaming it into existence for the past couple years, and now that it's starting to take off (I got word from a woman in Australia yesterday, Houston, we have lift off!) the people I've told about it are some of the effort's greatest boosters.  And, of course, Farm My Yard has a newsletter sign up form on the website   2. The feedback. We all want to know how we're doing. When I send my newsletter out, I always ask for feedback and over the years it almost feels like people are taking turns and writing back with their thoughts, suggestions and mentions of how they might be facing the same challenges and their solutions for making their way through.  Sometimes it's just an "atta boy", but some friends have deepened our relationship by sharing their thinking and real offers of help. For example, I have considered running for Portland City Council and used Constant Contact's survey tool to ask my personal list who would be willing to support me and how. The response was fantastic - offers of money, time, and other types of support filled in my survey and has encouraged me to keep this idea milling rather than forgetting about it.     3. Referrals.  By telling my friends and family some of what I'm up to in my business life, they then know something of how I spend my time making money - teaching email marketing, social media and helping small businesses boost their marketing efforts. I have become known in my personal world as THE guy who does that. This has led to friends introducing me to their friends who need business support. I generally don't ask my friends and family directly for support, but their knowledge of my business helps me in various ways. For instance, when we come together for various gatherings, the conversations often start at a greater depth because they've been following my life and are somewhat caught up with my progress. Instead of " what's new ", the conversations more often start with " hey, I remember you mentioning that you lead street tree planting efforts " - any idea of how we can get that going in my neck of the woods ?"   As with any email newsletter, you want to follow the basic rules of thumb - keeping the newsletter brief; having a great subject line; putting the call to action towards the top (if there is one); and using graphics and links sparingly.  If you invite your friends and family to write back about what has moved them about what you've written, they sometimes will - and, I promise, this feedback will often tickle you.     If you ever need encouragement on trying this out, feel free to get in touch and I'll give you some encouragement. If you'd like to receive my friends & family monthly email (The Eleven), you can sign up for it @ http://albertideation.com     You can do this, and I truly believe it will lead to great things!
Today most businesses use some type of a customer-contact management system. I would bet you’d even find a few in the cloud. And even here on Constant Contact.   The biggest problem I continue to see has nothing to do with the actual program. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Garbage In-Garbage out?” Of course you have. Well, what are you going to do about it?   It’s a jungle out there… A considerable amount of B2B organizations have what I call a jungle of leads. If a contact is considered a lead in a customer-contact management system then maybe there is something skeptical about the lead.   For example, I met with a company preparing to launch a new product. I and the marketing manager looked at some of the data and saw quite a few “most recent contact dates” from 2011. That was the first red flag.   Further examination disclosed missing information, such as what product the contact bought and when. Yes, that was the second red flag.   Now a double red flag was thrown across our brow. Some of the contacts were not segmented and worse yet, contacts were missing email addresses.   If you are the marketing manager would you use this contact list? Don’t laugh. In the past someone within a company recommended buying a new list of contacts for the new product launch. He recommended merging this new data with the contacts already in their customer-contact management system. Now, we're being pelted with red flags!   Stop yourself. Don’t even think of doing that! Guess what happens next? Sometime after this merger of contacts, usually within two to three months, the bloom is off the rose. You guessed correctly. It was a red rose. The enthusiasm of creating a top-notch contact management system  slips day-by-day.   The truth is the jungle of leads has been re-seeded. The only growth a company will see is in the weed garden and the customer-contact management system value slowly decreasing to zero.   An organization must have a process to determine what must be done to eliminate the spreading jungle. Today, finding the right lead that becomes an eventual customer requires a process. And the process must be easy, affordable, and profitable. The process needs a hero.   When a company does clean and update their list, they should also categorize and segment their list . Then the list becomes valuable. It now becomes an asset that grows with each and every update toward a very high positive number!   Is a customer-contact management system really an asset? YES and here’s how. Organizations that harness the power of client information improve their customer service performance and increase their chance for long-term profitability. Organizations that also segment their list into clients (those who spend the most), customers, and prospects proportionately increase the likelihood of a sale . High quality, usable data fuels the success of targeted customer relationship management and direct marketing campaigns. Find your hero. Someone in your company must be in charge. It is the first step you need to take that will eliminate the weed growth and the red flags. Effective targeting enables you to increase sales by first identifying, then targeting smaller, more profitable customer groups within the total market. Start weeding your lead jungle today . Keep breaking the contacts into smaller segments and use relevant messages. Relevant message with a touch of personlity keep your customers happy and even tell others.   Contact me if you need a few ideas. I use an exclusive system call PROSPECTATION . Just send me an email (marketingdoc@live.com)with PROSPECTATION in the subject line and I’ll send my three-step process. It will  lead you to lead generation success with any CCM.   Let me know what you think and thanks for sharing.   Got a question? Get an answer. 815-496-9900 Mike Deuerling    
Marketing Campaign Sweet Spot
Are you wondering how social media can do anything for your business? Are you tired of learning about the tactics of using social media without any idea how to put them together for a campaign?  One that works for YOUR business?   Let’s talk about the most important factors to putting a social media campaign together that can: Increase the calls you're getting Bring more people to an event or your business Broaden your market to a younger audience Grow your business First, a reminder of what a campaign is.   People live mostly in routines around their life activities.  Generally, they deviate from routines when an outside event occurs: if they get sick, they go to the doctor; if they’re invited to a party, they may go; if they need more clothes, they’ll go shopping.  A campaign is driven by a business to get people to operate outside this pattern: to come to your business because YOU want them to.  Maybe you want to bring them in for the first time, maybe you want to increase the frequency they do business with you or decrease the time between sales, maybe you want them to buy more from you.  In summary, you’re creating an external event to attract your customers into your business.  You’re essentially trying to interrupt the flow of their lives to do something different – and spend money with you.   The central pieces to all this – the first, second, and third factors to your success – are to: Know yourself or your business or your organization, Know your customer, and Thoroughly understand why they buy from you. That means you need to understand how buying from you relates to the rest of their life.  How does your product or service make a positive difference in how their life works? In how they feel – both generally and about themselves?  What is the emotional hook for them in buying your product or service?  And in buying it from YOU?   Once you understand in depth the relationship and investment your customers have in you and your product or service, then you’re in a position to understand what the sweet spot would be in creating a campaign that will bring more revenue into your business.   The sweet spot is the intersection of: Fun Value Relevance Fun If what you’re offering doesn’t move the needle of your customer’s life in a positive direction, then you’ve got an uphill battle.  That means whatever special offer you have or event you’ve created, or invitation you’ve make or request – any call to action that you’re building the campaign around – must either alleviate a pain point or create lots of entertainment or someplace along that continuum that’s important.  Otherwise they’re not going to be interested in deviating from the flow of their lives.   The fun element is the trigger for them to be aware of you in the midst of whatever they’re currently doing that doesn’t involve thinking about you.   Relevance Once you have a clear understanding of the role you play in your current customers’ lives, you can translate that into the role for new customers as well as leverage it in communicating to existing customers.   For example, if you’re a personal trainer and it’s March then you can guess that there will be people out there interested in gearing up for outdoor sports for the summer time.  If those are your ideal customers (the kind of people who are active in the summer, not so much in the winter, and actually are interested in preparing in advance), then you can have calls to action that remind them it’s time to start training.  That’s context and when you use that you’re relevant to them in their lives.   Another example, if you sell dresses, you can remind your customers or potential customers it’s time to start looking for the dress you’ll need for prom, or for your friend’s wedding, or for your graduation celebration – that’s all part of being relevant.   Another part to being relevant is to understand the larger picture of what’s happening in the community, in the region, in the nation, and in the world.  You don’t want to make light of people’s real challenges or tragedies, like American Apparel’s campaign during Hurricane Sandy.   Value This is the bottom line, the value that’s exchanged when someone takes the time to engage with you, comes to your business or finds it online or makes an appointment, goes through the process of discovering what they want, and then pays you for it.  That’s all accumulated value – time and money and good will – they’re will to offer in exchange for the value you deliver.   Your campaign also has an element of value in it – the intrinsic value of participating in something fun as well as the extrinsic value of whatever you’re offering.  This is the closing element of the equation – if the value is clear and worth the customer’s time and energy, then they’ll participate.   Note: creating intrinsic value in your campaign does not require offering a discount.  Discounts are problematic in many ways.  The value of your campaign can be the care you show, the tip you’re offering as part of the campaign, the gentle reminder that you’re available and it’s time for them to take care of the problem, or just the value you always deliver.  If you’re offering fun as part of participating in the campaign (like in a sharing contest of some kind), then that could be value (or if it’s not fun, then it's a cost to your customer).   Marketing Campaigns Summary Campaigns live or die on this equation:  Trigger someone with fun or the solution to the problem, demonstrate relevance by being within the context of their lives, and deliver value at every stage.   Campaigns have all kinds of other success factors: goals, metrics, building your audience, specific focal points, partners, budget, and consistent execution.  But fun, relevance, and value are the heart and soul of the campaign.   Do you agree?
    I'm constantly touting cartoons as a way to  double  open rates.  The way they engage an audience truly is magical, which produces an unfair advantage for marketers bold enough to use them (and use them properly).         Still, a discussion of open rates requires a proper frame of reference, which is what this article is about; what open rates are, why they're important and what you can do to improve them.  After all, the people on your list are critical to your success.  They're the ones who sought you out, responded to your offers, signed up for your e-mails.  They know you and trust your brand.  In many ways, they are the ones who are most likely to buy from you.  You should think of your open rates as a barometer of how effectively you're engaging your audience with your message.         Open rates aren't as simple to understand as they might seem, as I discovered when discussing the topic recently with a client.  He was upset that only 25% of his audience was opening his e-mails when sent through his Constant Contact account, but when he sends e-mails from his private account, all of his e-mails were being received and read.  In his mind, open rates should always be 100%.  Anything less must mean there must be something wrong with the delivery platform.         So what's the truth about open rates and what can you do to improve yours?       1.  Know What You Don't Know:     From time to time, my teenaged sons provide a vivid example of not having a clue about how much they don't know about the world around them.   But when you're a teenager, you have an excuse.  We don't.  So with our own open rates, it's important to acknowledge what we don't actually know.  My client thought he knew his personal e-mails were being opened 100% of the time, but that can't possibly be true.  Okay, it might be true if he is corresponding with the same twenty or so people, because they're likely to have a direct relationship and some level of on-going conversation.  But if he broadened the scope of his personal correspondence to, say, a thousand people, his expected 100% open rate would quickly disappear -- that is, if he could physically manage to pump that many e-mails out by hand.  Which he can't possibly do.  Platforms like Constant Contact extend our reach exponentially and provide an unprecedented window to allow us to see how our campaigns are performing.  What my client hadn't realized is that he has no idea how many of his personal e-mails are read, how many fall into spam filters or the like.  More importantly, he's not recognizing what he doesn't know, which is a lot if he's guessing at metrics from his personal account and mapping the resulting expectation onto his Constant Contact account.   2.  Delivery Rate vs. Open Rate:     Another mistaken assumption is that, if an e-mail doesn't bounce, it counts as a read message.  Not so.  But certainly, if an e-mail doesn't bounce we can assume it was delivered, can't we?  Not quite.  Non-bounced e-mails might find their way into in-boxes, but they can also find their way into spam folders or a holding queue, or simply deleted by internal spam filters, without notice to the sender.  Even open rates, as displayed within your dashboard reports don't represent the entire picture.  Open rates are calculated by counting the number of times a tracking pixel is displayed.  But several e-mail clients have settings and defaults that don't allow any graphics to be displayed.  Outlook is a good example; if the preference isn't set to allow image display, the user may open an e-mail and not register as part of the open rate metric.     3.  The Evolving Meaning of "White Listed":     Constant Contact is a white-listed e-mail delivery platform.  But what does that mean?  The simplest explanation is that the major ISPs around the world recognize the standards Constant Contact demands of its members.  They know spammers are not tolerated within the platform, so they put Constant Contact on a "white list" of approved e-mail sources.  Still, even that is subject to an evolving standard, thanks to more and more sophisticated spam filtering at end destinations for the e-mails.  It helps that your e-mail is coming from Constant Contact servers, but now other factors are becoming important, including content, recent history and your "IP reputation."     4.  How to Repair Your IP Reputation:     Your IP reputation is essentially a score, computed by each spam filter, based on whether it is listed on any black lists and its direct experience with the e-mails you've been sending.  If your IP is on a black list, you've got a problem.  Some black lists are operated by reputable folks, while others are compiled with no concern for due process or facts.  Let's say, for instance, a spammer spoofed your domain in one of their spams, resulting in thousands of complaints to black list operators.  Some will talk to you and allow you to explain why your IP doesn't belong on their list.  Others ignore any attempts to reach them and should themselves be dropped into a black hole.  But there are steps you can take to bolster your IP reputation.  Start by checking to see if your domain is listed on any black lists by visiting  mxtoolbox.com  or  blacklistalert.org .  If you find your domain has been listed, these sites give you links to request removal.  It's a good place to start.  Next, take a good, hard look at your e-mail list.  Constant Contact allows you to view a list of contacts that have repeatedly bounced as undeliverable addresses.  The spam filters track these repeated attempts to send e-mail to nonexistent addresses, which eventually results in damage to your IP reputation.  Constant Contact recommends removal any addresses that bounce more than six times as undeliverable.  Put those on another list if you must, but taking them out of your active mail list will improve deliverability to the valid addresses on your list.   5.  The Secret to High Open Rates:     There's only one way to get open rates to increase and to remain high -- which is to consistently provide content your audience feels is worthy of their time.  In other words, it needs to be fascinating, or at least useful.  Anything less and you will see open rates fall off a cliff.  The magazine industry defines this trait as "wantedness," the degree to which readers find the magazine worth their time to read and their money to subscribe.  We're not asking people to pay money to receive our e-mails, but we are asking them to engage with our message.  So it makes sense to hold ourselves to the highest possible standard when it comes to our content.  It needs to be wanted, every time its delivered, or it's not going to produce the results we want as marketers.  Consistently compelling and usable content is the secret to high open rates.  Your e-mails must be  wanted  to succeed as part of your marketing mission.         Fortunately, we don't have to hold our e-mail campaigns to the same standard magazine publishers do, but there is still a lot we can do to push our open rates higher and higher.  Even though open-rate metrics aren't entirely precise, they tell us everything we need to know about how engaged our list members are with our message.          Would you like to double your open rates immediately?  Put my "cartoon device" to the test in your campaign for  free .     About Stu Heinecke   Stu Heinecke is a DMA Hall of Fame-nominated marketer, a  The Wall Street Journal  cartoonist, author of  Drawing Attention  and  Big Fat Beautiful Head , and Founder and President of CartoonLink, a marketing service dedicated to bringing an unfair advantage to marketers through the magic of cartoons.
segmentation search results
You’ve probably seen a few articles about the benefits of list segmentation and some guidance on how to do it. In fact, Constant Contact alone has 100 articles on the topic, with plenty of valuable insight and guidance. With that much information, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Lots of stories about what others have done, but what is right for you? How much do you need to read before you find the article that ‘talks to you’ and fits your unique situation? Do you have the time and patience? Will it be worth it? Information overload; too much information, not enough time to absorb even a fraction of it.   Start With A Simple Decision   There are plenty of studies that show that making emails more relevant for the reader increases engagement, and that leads to all kinds of good stuff like lower unsubscribe rates, increased open and click rates, and even higher sales. You need to go hide in a closet somewhere*, take a strategic moment, and think about your readers. If you think segmentation could improve the effectiveness of your efforts, then make the decision to start – a simple yes or no ; go or no-go . It might  make a difference for me. You aren't making a huge commitment, just opening the door for a little experimentation. The fact that you even read this far means the answer is yes...   * Extraverts can hold an off-site strategic brainstorming session with friends at the local pub.   Pick from the low hanging branches   Now for the not-as-hard-as-I-thought part: picking segments to use. If something is not immediately obvious to you based on your own knowledge of your readers, use this list of popular segmenting practices to tease out an idea or two: By geography (would local, regional, remote readers respond differently) By demographics (would age, gender or income matter) By purchase/download history (if they have done business with you before) By open/click rates (can you offer more of the same topic) By industry/job role (would people with specific backgrounds react differently to your offering)   Don’t spend a lot of time here; don’t get stuck in analysis-paralysis. Pick the easy-to-reach fruit on the low hanging branches. Accept that you will not get it perfect the first time, and that is OK. While you do want to get something from the investment of your time and effort, unless you spark a million-dollar idea, your initial improvements will be modest at best.   Try an experiment   Again, do something easy. Create lists for your segments and experiment with them. Some common testing techniques include: Vary the subject line Vary the content or messaging Create unique offers (links) Vary the timing (particularly useful for geographic segments) Vary the design template (more mobile friendly?)   Play with it. You don’t have to send different emails to each group – you could just see if one segment responds differently than another. You could include multiple links, each of which should appeal to a different segment, and see if they ‘take the bait’. Think about what might work, try something, measure the results, and decide whether it worked or not. Think about what might work better. Repeat. Plan, do, check, act. Invest more effort where you see the potential for better results.   Building structure for the future   As you consider segments that hold promise, think about how you will maintain the list over time. Keep your time commitment to a minimum or the system will likely fail if the results aren't outstanding.   You could add a field to the sign-up form , letting readers self-select their topics of interest, identify demographics or provide other information. Since the subscribers do all the work for you, this is the ideal. Just make sure they can update their selections easily when their interests change; it is better to keep them on your list that to lose them because you are sending them material they no longer feel is relevant to them.   Alternatively, you can use a link that appeals to a specific segment in each of your emails and use click data to categorize them. Just be careful that you don’t over-commit people to a specific list based on what might have been a click-in-error or curiosity; don’t exclude them from other topic links that they may also be interested in. You may find you have a small group of people that read everything, some for personal interest and some professional or family-related.   Also think about point-in-time segments ; they downloaded an ebook in the past month, or registered for a course last week. People might want a chance to upgrade or to learn more about their purchase for a sort while, or you might want to notify them annually of a refresher course or updated offering. These lists need to be date stamped and may even expire after a period of time.   Summary   If you were thinking that segmentation is a big scary topic, and the volume of information about it has you afraid to dive in, then it’s time to take that first little step. Make that simple yes-no decision . And if you decide to give it a try: Start small, with something easy to implement Learn from your results and keep testing to improve them Keep an eye to the future; don’t build something you can’t maintain  
  Email marketing leads can be generated by using an often overlooked feature in email marketing  - the ability to track links.   That is to say, determining the exact subscriber who clicked on a particular link.   If, for example, there are 3 links in an email newsletter and 2 people clicked on the first link, 10 people the second and 6 people the third,  th e reports section of the email will list the email addresses of the subscribers that clicked on each link . Bingo!  A lead!  You will know who clicked on which link and what the interest is.  You can customize your follow-up and thereby increase the likelihood of making a sale.   From marketing perspective, this tells you what is the hot topic and what topic is of low interest.   You can take this feedback and modify your marketing plans accordingly.  This is the type of information that companies pay tons of money to marketing agencies to find out and it comes as part of your email marketing program at no additional cost. Take full advantage of it! It is a powerful feature!     Interested in getting more leads?  Go to  Contact Us  and download "Free Report: 11 Ways To Combine Email Marketing and Social Media To Get More Customers"
Here are three techniques that I know which can cause good luck.   It’s lucky I was listening. This is what I find in a business that focuses on what their customers are saying and takes the time to learn their changing needs. A profile of an excellent customer today can change tomorrow. Luck is what you make out of it. Good preparation of your business model and strategies open the door for luck to enter. It's what you do with luck to make it a winner. Unmitigated luck only happens in lottery dreams. Or when you take a walk and just happen to find $10 million in gold coins. Stop dreaming, start doing. If you think potential customers are going to wait for you, then stay dreaming.   We’re lucky we’re just creative. Creativity does increase ideas. I continually remind myself in marketing there are so many variables, especially the mind of my client’s customers. What works today may never work again. Analytics, other measurements and testing has made me a better marketer, providing more effective marketing solutions. Analyzing results gives me more ideas and better creativity to make marketing work. Not on such a grand scale as for AT&T for example, but still better results for my clients. Not every customer profile of your target you built is always correct. It would take luck to do that. The human mind is a complicated mass of gray matter. To tackle that mass of matter may take you down many paths. We live in a world of fierce competition. People are starting to think in “milliseconds” thanks to the internet. The noise gets louder every day making us raise our voices to be heard. This is a good time to switch to a channel experiencing less noise and shouting. Think mailbox. You just may get lucky.   It takes a lot of luck when using social media. Not if you look at social media in this mindset - Social media is a PR (Public Relations) opportunity not an advertising vehicle. That may be an opinion of lucky marketers. Social media is a great channel to learn more about your customers. When you write for social media, the copywriting must attract the attention of the reader, arouse interest in your product or service, and help to convert that reader into a customer. But your job is far from over. Analyzing results leads to more ideas and better creativity to make marketing work. Social media can generate a lot of interest and gets people to stop by. The rest is up to you. People fail at this step more than you can imagine. Maybe they ran out of luck or failed to start doing.   Please share and let me know what you think. Got a question - get an answer. Marketingdoc@live.com   Everything marketing starts and ends with your customers… cater to them, listen to them and react to them. The results will amaze you.   MD Marketing Communications Group, Inc.
What does your electronic “John Hancock” say about you?  You know, your email signature. Does it say anything at all?  It’s a small marketing tool that is not to be overlooked! We send numerous emails a day, often conversing back and forth with prospects, clients, family and friends.  Increasing brand awareness is paramount in a world full of clutter and constant noise.  So how can this little tool help?   Having a professional email signature leaves a brand impression every time it is seen, thus increasing recognition of your company. For example, a client of ours in the building industry uses the same image in their email signature that can be seen in their advertising, website and newsletter. The owner states that “Using a professional email signature with contact information, a website link and image of our work has prompted dozens of people to click through to our website and then reach out to us. Currently, it is the catalyst that sparked interest from two different leads. Our ad runs in a regional interest club that I am in active in and when two members recently communicated with me via email, they saw the image in my signature, connected the dots and scheduled appointments regarding their own potential construction projects for high end garages.”   Email signatures also allow people to quickly and easily pass your information on without having to stop and look it up in their Rolodex. (Does anyone still use those?!!) We are accustomed to doing things quickly, on the fly. So, if forwarding an email response that contains your contact information is easy, it may get passed on more often.   Connecting with people in ways other than email extends our reach as well. For example, inlcuding linked social media icons in your signature allows people to follow you with the click of the mouse instead of searching for you on social sites.    There are many tools available that can help lead customers and prospects right to you. If you haven’t considered the impact of your email signature, it might be time to create one that can help build your business.  Using a web based email client?  Try wisestamp.com, a great tool to help you project that professional image!    www.mynewsgirl.com
Do You Nurture Raving Fans As A Key Member Of Your Marketing Team?   Your fan base should be a key member of your marketing team because of its power to influence referrals from its communities.  The health of your raving fan base proves your customer experience competency.   Hopefully, you have a large fan base that continuously injects high quality referrals into your marketing funnel. Fans are very powerful influencers within their community. Recognize their differences and nurture each type accordingly.  Mavens know a lot about what's going on. Connectors know the key people.   Unlike your sales reps, fans don't have to invest any time learning about your company, so you need to be creative in how you train and motivate them. Drip marketing campaigns teach fans about your company in bite size lessons. Fun learning activities make it rewarding for fans to connect with your business.  Games enable fans to sample configurations and to test different uses before buying them.   Leads generated by your raving fans are the highest quality leads you can receive.  These leads will have the highest batting average with respect to converting to sales opportunities to be managed through your sales funnel. The only way to insure a consistent flow of high quality leads from raving fans is to continually aspire to providing the highest customer experience levels - and to never be satisfied with the status quo.   What is the trend for the number of leads that enter your marketing funnel through your fan base?     By John Bernardi
                                                                                      I am blogging today about changes in the JNG Associates marketing plan that have  come about mainly due to advances in technology.  These changes have had  a beneficial effect on my marketing and I strongly suggest that you consider them for your marketing plans as well.   I now have a mobile website in addition to my regular website and  I will be  changing  the  email  template that  is used for my newsletters to a template that is mobile friendly.  Constant Contact has recently released a mobile editor and it is very easy to have a mobile friendly email.    The reason for going mobile is simply that mobile phone use is exploding and that 40 % of searches are done from a mobile phone.   The other change is that I will be including videos in my newsletters, blogs, and eventually on my website.   The reason for this is that videos have been proven to convey a more effective message than just text.   I have discovered that my Cannon camera can produce videos of sufficient quality that they have a professional look about them and can be done fairly easily.   As marketers we should be constantly striving to improve our marketing efforts.   If we don’t, then our competitors will be improving their  efforts and we will lose market share.   If you have any questions or if I may help you please drop me a note at jgrillo@jngassocites.com.   Thanks for your time and have a great day!      
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In the webinar I talked about how to get started with email marketing (using  Constant Contact  as an example). Here are some things I would do differently next time!    Make sure that nothing on my desktop was open that I didn't want open! Make sure all programs that I wanted to use (Hello, LinkedIn, Facebook) were already logged into and ready to go. Make sure that all of the props I wanted to use (example of Text to Join) were handier - I ended up having to leave my chair to fetch something! Perhaps consider hiring someone to field questions and be a bit more able to answer them on the fly.  Though, I did respond to each question and that was probably a great way to connect with webinar attendees. Send out a survey for feedback afterwards. I neglected to do this and I only heard from a few people that they loved it.  It would have been good to really get a wider response back in some way so that I could learn more from this experience.  So, if you watch the webinar, please feel free to provide feedback  albertkaufman@gmail.com What was great about doing a webinar?  I didn't have to leave my house. No parking for me, or anyone else - or commuting.  What was missing, and perhaps something I could work on, is that I love it when people get to mingle and network after talks I give.  There was no chance for anyone to do this. Though some people probably did meet and greet on the Facebook event page..    Will I do another webinar?  For sure! And, I'm open to topic suggestions. I know Facebook very very well, so it's likely I'll do one of my beginning/intermediate talks about Facebook soon.  Please join my email list if that's something you'd like to learn more about.    Thanks for reading and perhaps watching.    Albert Kaufman Albertideation http://albertideation.com The picture is from the Oregon Coast last weekend.  I took a small vacation and got to stay in a magical house there! 
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Last week I was attending the Cult Gathering at the stunning Fairmount Banff Springs in the Rocky Mountains that I’m so very proud to call my backyard.  Cult brought together some of North America’s top brands to talk about what has made them so successful.  From an energy drink that broke 3 world records with their space diving project, to a tourist and convention bureau that had their ad go viral when it was banned from playing during the Superbowl, story after story unveiled one common thread they felt lead to their success …….  Read more   Let’s start by looking at a couple of success stories.    Red Bull Gives You Wings One of my favourite companies to watch is Red Bull. I remember drinking Red Bull over 25 years ago in Austria and was shocked when it became an international sensation and created what was then a new beverage category known as Energy Drinks. Today, not only does it dominate in its market with over 40 Billion cans sold in 166+ countries (5.3 Billion in 2013 alone), but it has expanded so much into content marketing that it has its own publishing house.  While many people are aware that Red Bull supports extreme sports most don’t know that they also own their own Music Academy. Why? Because the company’s  mission is to “give wings to people and ideas.” They want to inspire the body and the mind and it shows in all their marketing.   One of their most incredible marketing feats was the Red Bull Stratos project when Felix Baumgartner sky dived from the edge of space. If you have never seen the entire video, I highly recommend it (though I find it hard to believe there’s anyone out there who hasn’t seen it). Here’s the short intro to give you a taste of what they accomplished.   In fact if you want some entertainment some time, check out any of Red Bull’s ads online. Not only are they fun and adrenalin pumping, but they remain consistent to their slogan – Red Bull Gives You Wings. What you will NEVER see is a product dump. They won’t talk about its taste and they certainly won’t justify why you should buy it? What they will accomplish is their mission – to inspire the body and mind.   Over 40 Million Served Per Year Back in 2003, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority was launching a new campaign that the Super Bowl refused to air. The Super Bowl had a policy not to air any commercial with inferences to sports betting and with Las Vegas being a gambling mecca, it felt it needed to reject their ad.  There is nothing like forbidden fruit to raise curiosity so when the ad played shortly after the event, viewership went through the roof and the LVCVA successfully launched a campaign that has made “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” a common household phrase. Here’s the irony. The ad the Superbowl rejected had no references to gambling.   If you want to get a sense of some of the LVCVA ad campaigns here are snippets from the very success What Happens In Vegas Stays in Vegas campaign and their current campaign called “ Vegas Enablers .”    Again, what you won’t see is emphasis on the product or on gambling and casinos yet they attract over 40 million visitors a year. Cathy Tull, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority explained that they know that Vegas isn’t for everyone and they aren’t trying to justify it to the non-Vegas fans. Their mandate is to stay true to their audience and to continue to provide  the ultimate experience to the loyal die hard Vegas visitor.   Of course, it’s easy to justify successes like these when you have a huge marketing budget. It’s important to remember though that companies like Red Bull weren’t always big. What they did was stay true to their mission and their target market no matter what!   So my challenge to you smaller companies out there is this:   Are you spending your marketing dollars justifying your product or connecting with your audience?  In other words, if your promotional material is “we” or “I” focused, it’s time to change it to “you” focused and make it about your target market. It’s also time to take a stand for what you believe in. You do what you do for a reason. There is something that truly matters to you. Are you getting that across to your audience every chance you get? If not, give it a try. You might just be that next marketing success story.
Then quit jamming me in my white space! How much white space should I leave in my direct mail piece? Is there a written rule on the amount of white space in a direct email promoting a new product to existing customers? How much white space shall one leave in a solicitation letter for our charity?   There has never been a right or wrong answer to the age-old question. Some experts say that crowded, busy direct marketing mail turns people off, and a clean, uncluttered approach appeals the best. Others argue that the more crowded a direct marketing piece, the more appeal it holds for the reader who is searching for a bargain, who has the free-time, or who has an affinity for your particular product or service.   If white space was sold on a cost-per-square-inch basis, it might be more valuable, and people might respect it more. They might even want to use more of it.   For those of you who prefer using white space as a design element, the trend is heading upward in your favor. Some say this trend started with websites. The large gaps between images and blocks of text whether the background color is white or not, are appearing more frequently.   Just presenting the important facts is moving to other direct marketing techniques as well. Just as Twitter allows only 140 characters per Tweet, it compels the writer to get the point across quickly. The added benefit of white space means that the all-important information is right there for a person to scan and react.   E-mail is another channel starting to see less is more. Communicate what’s important in the email and save the frill for a later serving. If you think people want to read more, send them to a separate web page. When designing the web page, leave blocks of white space between the text and other elements. Keep the use of photos to a minimum unless they help to accentuate the points within the copy.   The tablet and mobile crowd is another reason for the changes using white space. People are using them more and their desktop computers less. Even laptops are being left at home or at the office as they rely more on mobile devices.   Remember mobile devices are much smaller and one benefit of white space is it helps the reader to focus. White space sets ideas off and is friendlier toward your reader’s eyes.   Another advantage of white space is to be kind to the fingers and thumbs of your readers. Size does make a difference so make your links uncluttered from the rest of the copy.   No matter what your opinion is about white space, let your product or service, offer, and audience dictate whether or not you have enough white space.   Whoops, got to stop now before the white space police confiscate my keyboard.   Thanks for reading and please share.   Everything marketing starts and ends with your customers… cater to them, listen to them and react to them. The results will amaze you.   MarketingDoc Marketing Communications Group, Inc. marketingdoc@live.com