Small Business Tips

Marketing Post Archive
Featuring articles related to the topic of marketing including promotion, advertising, design, branding, selling, viral, strategic and operational marketing, word-of-mouth, research, trends and persuasion techniques.
Marketing with a Dash of Controversy

Heart Attack Grill — the name just makes you want to run, but which direction? It’s intriguing, to say the least.

So is the whole atmosphere of Jon Basso’s grease-filled restaurant in Tempe, Arizona, which opened just over a year ago. It’s that atmosphere and the controversy surrounding it, that has put Basso’s business on the map. Advertising isn’t even necessary for him these days.

The attention he’s getting revolves around items on the menu such as the Quadruple Bypass Burger and Flatliner Fries, some topping out at 8,000 calories each! Other items available for purchase include full-sugar sodas from Mexico (no Diet Cokes here) and even filterless cigarettes.

And, get this, the guys used to own fitness training studios! But, after hearing weight-loss motivated clients confess over and over about their diet cheats, Basso decided that everyone needed a place to dive into the grease once in awhile and indulge themselves.

The boldness doesn’t stop there. He has already faced opposition from the Arizona Board of Nursing and the Center for Nursing Advocacy because of his waitresses being scantily clad in sexy nurse uniforms. The associations claim it “degrades” the profession, but Basso claims that it helps to “glorify the job for the younger workforce.”

And Basso is eating it all up (pun intended). Afterall, he’s already obtained national recognition for his grill. And, despite the negative tone many reports may take, business is booming! Can you say viral marketing?

It don’t know that the Heart Attack Grill is on my list of places to go before I die (or maybe to die, in this case), but I commend Basso for his enthusiasm, creativity and daringness to be different.

Fries anyone?

Source:
• Entrepreneur.com: Cashing In On Controversy


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, May 26th, 2017 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Marketing |

Customer Reviews Make Business Better

The strategies of MySpace and YouTube are spreading as more and more online businesses are adopting comment pages, allowing customers to post feedback, good or bad, about the products and/or services they provide. And it’s working to their benefit.

Customers want to be heard; they want their opinions and experiences to matter, and having a forum to express those to the public often satisfies that desire. Customers also want to see what other people, someone other than the manufacturer or distributor, have to say about the product.

That’s exactly why, when we buy something defective, we run and tell anyone who will listen how horrible the experience was. Or, in contrast, when our experience with a company is great, we recommend them to everyone. It’s all about word-of-mouth, and there is much more appeal is getting the word out to the whole world in addition to those in our immediate circle.

And that’s where websites like Epinions.com come in. Epinions has been around for awhile, as a catch-all for consumers to review and rate products from toothbrushes to dog food to digital cameras, regardless of the manufacturer or retailer. This freedom of expression found its way through MySpace and YouTube, and the world noticed just how much everyone wants to be heard.

And business owners have noticed. At the end of 2006, 43% of e-commerce businesses offered a place on their site for ratings and reviews of products and services. This is up from 23% in 2005. Some sites even allow customers to post pictures or video of themselves using the product. The customers then send a link to friends, which causes more and more potential customers to click through the site.

According to BusinessWeek.com’s article Retailers Take a Tip from MySpace, “Customer feedback is opening the eyes of the industry, changing the way they market, manufacture and merchandise.” The negative feedback leads them to reexamine the products and services they provide, making sure the customer is satisfied, even if that means pulling the item from the shelves.

Negative feedback also decreases returns, as customers who read them are more likely to set aside their “imaginary expectations” for the product and realize its true function.

Positive feedback on a product results in better sales on that item and others, as customers begin to trust the retailer more. Some studies show that customers who check out the highest rated products on a business’ site are 49% more likely to buy something. The top rated items draw customers in… even if they weren’t planning to spend money.

If you’re interested in adding this new buzz to your site, but concerned that you don’t have the manpower to filter out the crazies, businesses like BazaarVoice and PowerReviews have come to the rescue. Their service focuses only on the feedback you receive and makes sure to keep out the ranting and cursing of consumers who are really displeased.

And the fact is you can’t please everyone, but it’s better to know where your product or service needs improvement, than to find yourself unaware of a problem at all. With a more internet savvy consumer comes demand for a more internet savvy business. Consider the possibilities of giving your customers a voice and the benefits that will have upon the success of your business.


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, May 20th, 2017 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Marketing |

Getting Your Product to the National Market

Most small business owners have a desire, deep down inside, to go national someday, but it’s a process that takes patience and work. Stick to these steps and you’ll be off and running.

Direct Sales
Start off by selling directly to friends and family and the people they refer to you. You can trust them to give you feedback regarding any improvements you can make in your product or packaging before you expand, and, if they’re pleased with your product, they’ll provide some word-of-mouth advertising.

Local Stores
Your next step is to sell a small bulk package to independently owned stores in your area. Call the manager or owner for an appointment to stop by and show them your product and ask if you can sell it in their store.

Clearly this involves determining who you should be selling to. For example, if you design t-shirts, then you’ll want to look into selling them at the clothing store downtown. If interested, they will either sell the shirts for you, while taking a percentage of the sale price for using their store, or buy in bulk and turn around and sell the shirts to their customers, and hopefully ask for more.

Regional Stores
Once you’ve had some success on the local level, expand to some stores in your region, including neighboring states. Be sure to have numbers on hand for your sales over the past few months. Consistent or increased demand for your product is a great way to show the regional stores that it’s worth getting involved with your business.

Mass-Market
You will need to be successful on the regional level for a decent amount of time (probably at least a year) before you attempt to go national. Depending on your product, the mass market can include everything from large chain retail stores like Wal-Mart and Target, to catalogs such as LTD Commodities or Collections, Etc.

It’s important that you determine where your product will be most successful before you approach retailers. They will know immediately whether your product belongs with their association or not, and you don’t want to waste time pushing to retailers that won’t bite.

Also, be sure that you are ready for mass production before reaching out to the mass-market. If your product is successful, but you can’t meet the demand, then you may risk losing deals with the national retailers. Have the equipment and man power ready to produce your merchandise in bulk before stepping through that door.

Source:
Entrepreneur.com: Selling Your Invention


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, May 18th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Ideas to Generate Business on Valentine’s Day

Many say Valentine’s Day is just another scam by American businesses to try and get more money out of consumers. And so what if it is? The holiday benefits businesses and reminds us to celebrate the people we love, because all too often we forget.

So, in the interest of tapping into the profits that are to be had, here are some ideas to help you lure in additional customers on this heartfelt holiday:

1. Pictures
Hire an inexpensive local photographer (maybe one that’s just getting starting so that you help his business and yours) to come to your place of business and offer pictures of couples for free or a very small fee.

Have a fun lovey-dovey background for the pictures and make sure your photograher uses a digital camera. That way, you can email the finished product to the customers, and advertise your business (and the photographer’s) a second time.

2. Contests
Advertise a greeting card, love song or poetry contest. Be sure to start things around mid-January, with a deadline the week before Valentine’s. Announce the winner on Valentine’s Day and provide them with a special prize, such as a gift certificate to your business and dinner for two at a local restaurant.

Other smaller scale contests could be the couple that has been married the longest, the couple married the shortest, who proposed in the most creative way, etc. You could even have couples registered for a make-shift newlywed game and have them compete for a prize. The couple that knows each other best, wins.

3. Giveaways
Consider conducting a drawing for a larger giveaway, sponsored by your business, for a cruise or 4 day/3 night getaway. Couples are entered when they spend a certain amount at your business (say $10-$25). That way, you don’t have the whole town trying to get in on the fun, and you make some money back from you investment.

Also, if your business provides products or services that are often used for weddings, such as photographer, catering, wedding coordination, etc., consider giving away a package to an engaged couple. This will generate interest in your product/service and, though you’ll only be giving it to one couple, will bring in potential clientele who would be willing to pay if they don’t win because they like what they see.

Regardless of how you wish to take advantage of the revenue Valentine’s Day brings in, be sure you advertise whatever special event you choose. The local newspaper is a good choice, but your best venue is usually local radio stations. Investing in some air time to advertise the special contest or giveaway, and your business, will probably reach the biggest audience.

And don’t forget to call your local TV stations to let them know what’s going on. If it’s exciting enough, they’ll want to be there to see who the big winner is, and you’ve get even more advertising for your business.

I realize today is actually Valentine’s Day, so the above ideas won’t do much good to help you this year. But these things take time and planning, so starting now will get you well on your way to bringing in that twitterpated crowd on the next Day of Love.


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Is Your Business Online Yet?

If you’re reading this, chances are you did a little websurfing, and are familiar with the vast space known as the World Wide Web (and it’s called that for a reason). So if you’re reading this and don’t yet have a website for your own business, I have to ask, what’s the hold-up?

There are many excuses as to why some businesses don’t have websites, all of which are misconceptions, such as:

Myth: A website is too expensive to start and maintain.
Fact: There are many website services online that provide everything from free webhosting with pre-established templates, to inexpensive webhosting (less than $60 a month) with a little more glam. Any of these can be put together and maintained by anyone who is familiar with the internet, but doesn’t know any of the programming jargon. Simply type free website in Google search and you’re on your way.

Myth: No one will use the website.
Fact: EVERYONE will use the website, if you let them know it’s there. Put it on your business cards, your ads, your receipts. I guarantee that everyone who visits your business will visit your website at one time or another, if for no other reason but to cure websurfing boredom. And if you have lots of exciting features and information, they will be glad they did.

Myth: A website won’t help my business sales.
Fact: Nearly everyone spends time on the Internet, and Internet sales increase on a continual basis. Even if you don’t have the capabilities available on your website for customers to purchase your service, providing as much information as possible and a means of contacting you will inevitably lead to an increase in clientele and sales.

People use the internet to “brand surf.” Most, when interested in a product or service, will turn to the internet first to see what’s available. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked up a service online, found listings for local providers, and then been disappointed because the provider I’m interested in learning more about doesn’t have a website.

A recent example was when I was buying furniture for our new home. I wanted to go online and see what the distributors carried instead of driving all over town. Even if I couldn’t buy it online, I wanted to narrow down the prospects. But many of the local businesses didn’t have a site, and I ended up wasting lots of my time going to places that had nothing I liked. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your potential customers like that.

The Internet is a valuable resource for establishing and growing your business, and every small business owner should be taking advantage of it. If you’re already online, great! I hope to come across your site sometime and see what you have to offer. If not, then you’re way behind and, to put it bluntly, it’s time you caught up to the rest of the world. So, get busy punching those keys and making your business readily available to everyone!

Related Readings:
• CNNMoney.com: 10 Web Tips for Entrepreneurs


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, May 11th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Is Viral Marketing Effective?

Turner Broadcasting created quite a stir in Boston last week with their advertising campaign for a new show on the Cartoon Network. Traffic jams and police involvement were the result of the reportedly “suspicious packages” planted throughout the city on bridges, subways and other high traffic areas.

The packages were actually magnetic lights that were placed throughout 10 cities across the nation, including New York and L.A. although Boston seemed to be the only place they caused a stir.

I don’t think that Turner execs planned to cause so many problems with their advertising campaign, but I would imagine that the resulting national news coverage was far more than they had expected from this successful ruse. Viral marketing at its best.

For those of you aren’t familiar with the term, viral marketing is a means of advertising in an off-beat manner with the intention of generating media coverage and massive word-of-mouth distribution and a minimal cost. And that’s exactly what happened for Cartoon Network. A bit on the extreme side, maybe, but effective nonetheless.

Another avenue that many companies are taking advantage of is video-viral marketing through YouTube. On average, over 100 million videos are watched and 65,000 clips uploaded a day on YouTube. Most are home videos, but many are now advertisements and movie trailers. The appeal is the low-budget, soft sell video that doesn’t shove a product down a viewer’s throat.

Some other examples of viral advertising of past and present:

The Blair Witch Project — admit it, you thought it was real home video just like the rest of us… and you went to see it because of that, didn’t you?
Burger King’s Subservient Chicken — having chicken “your way” by using this interactive website to make the guy in the chicken suit do whatever you can think of.
Borat — Did it take you awhile to figure out he wasn’t real?

So, is viral marketing effective? Absolutely! All you have to do is appeal to people’s curiosity and you’re well on your way. There are clearly some boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, but, if your business has reached an advertising plateau, viral marketing is well worth considering.

Sources/Related Readings:
• Wikipedia.com: Viral Marketing
• Inc.com: Contagious Commercials
• Fresh Inc. – Inc.com Weblog: Jan. 31 – A Viral Campaign Bombs
• CNN.com: Two held after ad campaign triggers Boston bomb scare


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing |

Effective Logo Design for Small Businesses

Effective Logo Design for Small Businesses

McDonald’s has the golden arches, Coca-Cola the scripted font, and Apple… a multicolored apple. A logo is probably one of the most important elements of marketing your business. As your business develops, your logo will become synonymous with the quality of service you provide.

Your logo also conveys information to new clientele. The style and dynamics can speak volumes. Take Coca-Cola’s logo for example. The scripted text not only gives the familiarity of hand-written words, but also provides and indication that the drink is cool and refreshing. The style of the logo makes you want to say “aaahhhhh,” and I’m sure that’s something they were going for.

Continue Reading: “Effective Logo Design for Small Businesses”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Why Your Business Isn’t Growing

As we can all probably guess, most of the growth a business will undergo occurs in the beginning. And it is much easier to grow a small business than a large one. Therefore, if your small business isn’t seeing much growth, it’s likely because you’re missing a necessary element.

Examine these areas of your business:

Continue Reading: “Why Your Business Isn’t Growing”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, May 8th, 2017 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Marketing |

6 Steps to Successful Sales

Selling is about the right ideas communicated in an effective way. The lucrative position of a marketing team is the salesperson, simply because he/she is the one who produces the actual sale. It is important, therefore, that as a salesperson, you know the essentials of being successful in your trade.

1) Focus on the Customer
Whether you are a door-to-door, over the phone, or in-store salesperson, the focal aspect of your sales pitch should be to connect with the customer. It is all about them; their problems, needs, company and situation. Truth be told, they don’t care about you and whatever issues you may have with rejection. They usually won’t be afraid to tell you no. So, focus on making your customer’s life better, and you’ve got your foot in the door.

2) Be Unique
Share a unique characteristic about yourself, which could be anything from where you grew up to the fact that you are on a champion bowling league. Communicate it to your customer through a fun button on your jacket or with a small gift, such as a pen. In other words, make yourself stand out and different from the status-quo, without wearing clown shoes.

Also, listen to the customer and discover something that you have in common. Use that commonality to connect with the customer on a more personal level. Don’t share an elaborate story about how your dog knows every trick in the book, but acknowledge the fact that you too are a dog lover.

3) Be Positive
Your attitude will inevitably come in full view when you are attempting to sell a product. If you are just plain tired of coming to work every day, your enthusiasm will be low and so will your sales. But if you strive to always have a positive attitude, regardless of circumstances, your success rate will likely be much higher.

And do not let the fear of failure stop you. If you’re afraid that you may not succeed in a particular sale, then you won’t. Fear prevents you from accomplishing goals and achieving your full potential, so don’t let it win. In the famous words of Mark Twain, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.” Fear is part of life, so wake up swinging.

4) Pitch it Well
Know the business and the product like the back of your hand. It is important to be able to answer every question the customer may throw your way, and you can’t do that if you don’t know the information. Questions are important on your end as well. Ask questions that really make the customer think and that provide you with crucial information for the sales process. If you don’t know what the customer is looking for, then you can’t sell it to them.

A great exercise that will help you in developing a stronger sales pitch is the “ad reversal” process. Write an ad for the product you are trying to sell that would appear in a newspaper or magazine, and just start with the basics. Then, record yourself reading the ad out loud. Listen to the recording and make adjustments to make the “sound” of it more appealing. Repeat this process until you develop a verbal script for selling your product that you are pleased with.

5) Create a Means for Follow-up
Provide your customer with information they can look at later, whether it be a business card, a website or a brochure. It needs to be well designed and appealing. The better the design, the better impression you give the customer.

This is especially crucial if you were unable to produce a sale. If you give the customer further information to look over, you have opened an opportunity to follow-up. Ask them if they had a chance to review the material and if they thought of any questions you could answer or further information you could provide.

6) Utilize a Mentor
No one is the perfect salesperson, but everyone has quality traits in their salesmanship that you can learn from. Find someone, or even a number of people, that you respect, both in their personal and business ethics, and ask them to give you some pointers. The more you are able to learn from other people and implement, the more effective you will be as a salesperson.

Sources/Related Readings:
• Business Week: You’re Never Too Young to Sell
• EffectiveMeeting.com: Delivering an Effective Sales Pitch
• Entrepreneur.com: Ad Writing Made Easy
• Entrepreneur.com: Unlock Your Selling Potential


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, April 3rd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

How to Write an Effective Advertisement

Children are often told that thunder is the sound of God bowling in Heaven.

See what I did there? I got your attention, didn’t I? Your first reaction may have been “What does thunder have to do with writing ads?”

The answer: everything.

The first, and most crucial step to writing an effective ad is to seize the reader’s attention with a strong opener — give your ad “thunder” (See, told you). Catching you prospective consumer off guard will inevitably get him to read the entire ad, if nothing else but to see what it’s all about.

Be sure to avoid opening with a question directed at your prospective consumer, as this is highly overdone. However, rhetorical and abstract questions are okay, when used properly. An example of this could be “Why is a square always a rectangle, but a rectangle is never a square?”

Then, create interest by bridging your opening statement to the product you are offering, such as my previous use of “thunder.” Follow by creating desire for your product by stating a problem and showing your product to be the solution. Tune in to the reader’s emotions. The point of your ad is to lure the prospect to contact your business in pursuit of a purchase.

Be sure that the text of your ad is appealing to the eyes by using short sentences and smaller paragraphs. White space is always effective. If you want to use color, be consistent and only use it in one or two places, such as the opening statement and your business’ contact information.

Graphics and pictures are always a plus, as they can be very effective in drawing initial attention to the ad, especially if your ad is one among many. Consider using a font other than Times Roman or Sans, if the option is available, but make sure it is still easy to read. And always remember to continually read and re-read your ad for spelling and grammatical errors. Any such error takes away from all credibility that a brilliantly written ad may have.

Finally, create a closing that connects to your opener. Your closing also needs to state the action you want the prospect to take, whether that be “Call 1-800-THUNDER today” or “Visit our website,” etc. Get feedback from coworkers, family, friends. They resemble your market and will let you know if something isn’t working right.

Still getting writer’s block? Try writing 10-15 opening statements and walk away, leaving them to sit overnight. Come back to them in a day or two and see which one jumps out at you.

And, if you fall short on experience, a great way to practice writing ads is to grab your local paper or telephone book and pick out some bad ads. Dissect them, making notes about why you think they don’t work. Then rewrite them! Not only will this give you confidence in your ability to write a great ad, but it will help you to learn and avoid what doesn’t work.

Finally, test your ad. Give it a week or two and see what revenue it brings in. Once you create an ad that works, stick with it. Keep it in the same format, venue and media type for as long as the ad brings in new calls or visits to your website.

Ad writing is simply an effective sales script on paper with eye catchers. Ads bring prospects to your door or website, but do not seal the deal, so be sure not to rely fully on them. Have an effective sales team in place, ready to transition the prospect from intrigue to consumer. You can even reverse the ad writing process to develop a great sales pitch.

And, always remember that your ad should leave your prospective consumer “thunder-struck.”

Sources:
• Entrepreneur.com: Making your Advertising Message Stand Out
• BellaOnline – Office Site: How to Write Effective Ads
• Hartfelt Promotions: Marketing 101: Writing Ads
• Entrepreneur.com: Ad Writing Made Easy


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, April 2nd, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo

The idea was simple and logical. If an individual searches for golf clubs on the internet, it only makes sense that vendors selling golf clubs should advertise on a search engine to bring in more customers.

The recent demand for search advertising has produced serious competition between the two main internet search engines, Google and Yahoo.

Currently, search advertising is an $8 billion global industry, and its worth is expected to sky-rocket to nearly $22 billion in the next five years. No wonder the two major search engines are both still going strong. Both Google’s AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) offer search advertising by allowing advertisers to bid on space identified with keywords and adjacent to search results. The key to the development of their head-to-head lies within the differences in their network connections and business philosophies.

When Yahoo’s top executive, Terry Semel, joined the company four years ago, he brought with him a long list of Hollywood contacts, and Yahoo has recently starting building a headquarters in Hollywood. Semel is a no-nonsense businessman and doesn’t play around, implementing tough discipline in management into the company. Yahoo is beginning to lean more toward being a media company, rather than an innovator of technology. Their focus has, therefore, shifted to traditional, handholding partnerships with ad agencies.

Google, on the other hand, focuses on the individual potential of their staff. They depend on their engineers to come up with innovative ideas for the company, and therefore expect them to spend one day a week on a special interest project of their own. Google has some of the top engineers in the country under its belt, and continues to attract them. Their focus is technology and innovation, and the Google executives are well aware of the fact that they must remain innovative to stay on top.

Recently, as most know, Google acquired YouTube in an effort to expand its advertising market to video advertising. Now Google again expanding its borders and upping the ante. They are currently in the test phase of an online marketplace that will allow advertisers to bid on print-ad space in more than 50 major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times and Denver Post, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune.

And Google’s leaps forward are beginning to leave Yahoo in the dust. Though Yahoo had maintained an edge for some time, a Web tracking firm recently showed Google forging ahead of Yahoo as the number one search engine. Google’s stocks are currently only ten percent below their all-time high, while Yahoo’s stocks have plummeted nearly 40 percent this year.

Advertising agencies tend to lean toward Google based on the fact that Yahoo has a tendency to be a late-bloomer when it comes to innovations, such as blogs and video. For example, Yahoo’s much anticipated new search technology for advertisers, dubbed “Panama,” was due to take flight this summer, but has already been delayed with an unspecified release date.

Critics expect Google to eventually hit a rough spot as their innovations begin to dwindle. However, considering recent and upcoming developments in Google’s advertising industry, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon. If you’re seeking search advertising as a marketing option for your company, it appears that Google is currently the way to go.

What’s your experience with Google and Yahoo search advertising? Please share your experiences and comparisons.

Sources/Related Readings:
•News.com: Google vs. Yahoo: Clash of Cultures
•CNNMoney.com: Yawns for Yahoo, ga-ga for Google
•Business Week: Google’s New Frontier: Print Ads
• Forbes.com: Google vs. Yahoo!


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, April 1st, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Marketing, Operations |

How to Sell Your Services Better

Regardless of the type of service you sell, a potential client will have a certain degree of risk worry when buying. They don’t really know what will be getting until they see the final outcome (or have really good references!).

Remember that service clients are buying a promise that you will do something for them to their satisfaction.

But there’s a problem with this… services are intangible—you can’t see them, touch them, take them out of the box or demonstrate them. Yet this is exactly what you need to do to make them easier for your customers to buy them.

How do you accomplish this?

• Turn your service into a product.
Create tip sheets, templates, worksheets and supporting educational pieces that share your expertise at a fraction of the cost of having you consult directly. Websites are great for this.

• Package your different service levels.
Do your services vary based on custom needs? If so, package the most popular services together for maximum price efficiency. Think of cable and satellight companies and how they package channel options.

• Combine your services and create a new offering.
Start by listening to what your customers are asking for and paying closer attention to their buying patterns. Find the niche that needs to be filled and fill it using what you already have set up. No need to reinvent the wheel!

• Package your process.
When it seems impossible to package what you deliver, differentiate your company and increase your perceived value by packaging how you deliver. This approach shows prospective customers you follow a logical approach and that you’re established, professional and capable.

Related Resources:
• NewFangled.com – Book Report: Selling the Invisible
• Entrepreneur.com – The Basics of Selling Services
• Entrepreneur.com – Selling Services


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Elements of a Winning Brand

What people hear your company name, what words are associated with it? Some buzz words commonly associated with a brand are fast, reliable, friendly, discount, low prices, available, service, top rated and many many more.

Getting people to associate buzz words with your brand is what creating a winning brand is all about.

1) A winning brand is differentiated.
What separates your product or service from its competitors?

2) A winning brand promises value.
What does your brand bring to the table?

3) A winning brand acts like a leader.
Focus on improving customer experiences with your company.

4) A winning brand is consistent.
Your brand must be uniform across all marketing channels.


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Choosing a Business Name
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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, March 11th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

10 Interactive Marketing Tips

Interactive marketing takes the act marketing a step further by engaging the audience to gain and hold attention.

Interactive marketing is designed to keep the audience occupied while you subliminally advertise your product.

Mike Yapp of iMediaConnection.com offers us the top 10 best ways to create an interactive marketing scheme.

1) Multimedia
2) Opt-In
3) Personalization
4) Tell a Story
5) Include a Compelling Offer
6) Make it Immersive
7) Usability
8) Effective ROI
9) Reshaping the Brand
10) Send to a Friend (Viral Marketing)

10 Best Interactive Marketing Practices

Recommended Reading:

Upcoming Interactive Marketing Events 01/06
InteractiveMarketing.com – Marketing Tips
Create an Interactive Online Experience for Clients


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 6th, 2017 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Marketing |

Absolut Advertising

If you’ve looked at a magazine within the last 25 years, you’ve probably seen at least one Absolut Vodka advertisement.

It’s been named one of the 10 best campaigns of the 20th century by America’s Advertising Age Magazine. To date, it comprises 1,450 original ads, with more added each month.

“Why are ABSOLUT ads so memorable? Why do collectors crave them? Why are famous artists and writers enthusiastic about creating them? The concept is easy and the execution brilliant. First, two simple words — and the first is always the same — second, a single stunning, image that complements the headline. Like a couple in love.

It proves that advertising doesn’t have to be complicated; rather, advertising can and should respect people for their wit and intelligence. The most impressive, impfactful ads are often the simplest. This knowledge is key to the ABSOLUT brand’s success”

–Richard W. Lewis, ABSOLUT Worldwide Account Director

AbsolutAd.com


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, January 28th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Marketing with Postcards

Postcards may be one of the best kept secrets of modern marketing.

They can produce a surge of traffic to your web site or a flood of high-quality sales leads. Campaigns are easy to track and almost everyone reads post cards, even the good folks who throw out all your bulk direct mail!

How can you market effectively by using only postcards? Here are a few important tips to keep in mind:

1) Ditch the Sales Pitch.
2) Get Right to the Point.
3) Send your postcards via First Class mail.

7 Tips for Successful Postcard Marketing

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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, January 26th, 2017 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Marketing |

The Importance of a Logo

Your identity is an extension of your business that communicates visually, through appearance, and emotionally, through symbolism. Curtailing or ignoring thought, revision, and growth in the design process will hurt your finished product and corporate image.

Have a graphic artist professionally create your logo based on how you want your customers to view your company. For instance, when the GreatFX logo you see above was designed, I wanted something that would show speed, quality, and modernism. The end result was a design that only took a few revisions before we had a winner.

Having a logo created professionally may cost a bit more in the short term, but will pay off multiple times in the long run. A professional logo is one of the best investments a business owner can make!

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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

What is Branding?

Many people think branding has to do specifically with product design. While product design helps facilitate the branding process, branding is actually much more intricate.

Branding starts with your consumers brains and not with your product design. Branding is not how your product looks. Nor is it how your consumer feels and perceives your product. Nope. Branding is making your consumers think that there is no other product except yours!

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By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 16th, 2017 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Marketing |

Polish Your Company Image

In business, the image your company emanates directly influences a client’s first impression. After time, a corporate identity can become worn or dated. First, research your target market and build off what you learn. Understand what your clients want so that you can deliver it via your marketing mediums.

Freshening up your business cards, brochures, postcards, stationery and web pages will help shine a different light on your company.

Supplemental Links:
M&O Marketing Consultants – How to Improve Your Corporate Image
Stelzner Consulting – Identity Makeover Examples


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, January 14th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

What Do Your Clients Need?

When starting a new business, preparation is half the battle. Arm yourself with the knowledge of what your target clients want and you will be able to deliver it to them much faster and more effectively.

Lack of research in your target market is like playing darts in the dark. You might hit the target occasionally, but more than likely, you’ll fall short and end up with a bunch of holes to fix.

When you have a clear picture of what your target market is truly looking for, you’ll be able to package your services as a solution. Design all your marketing tools – web site, brochure, telemarketing script, sales presentation – to show how your service addresses the hot buttons you identified.

Source:
HealthyWealthynWise.com


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, January 8th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Marketing |

Get People Talking About You

“DARE to be bold if you want your business to stand out from the crowd.” That was the message marketing expert Carolyn Stafford delivered at a Women in Business workshop last week.

By putting your best foot forward, your company can thrive and grow. With more and more competition joining the game, now is the time to establish your company as something different from the rest.

“People buy your personality, they buy you,”

With the dawn of the Information Age it’s important, now more than ever, to put a name and face with your company. Doing this is the first step to “humanizing” a company so that people will feel more comfortable doing business with you.

Source:
The Daily Telegraph – Australia


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, January 6th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing |

5 Affordable Marketing Tips

Think you can’t afford to implement any effective marketing tactics? Here are five ways to make a splash on a shoestring budget.

1. Talk to your clients.
2. Creatively package your marketing campaigns.
3. Get the word out with publicity.
4. Leverage existing relationships.
5. Commit to e-mail marketing.

While these methods make take some time and work, the potential returns far outweigh the costs.

Source:
Entrepreneur.com


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing |

The Importance of Branding

Branding is an integral part of the business building process. Large corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars building their brands, and there’s a reason:

  • Brands enable customers to remember your product-service.
  • Brands build customer loyalty and lead to repeat purchases.
  • Brands make it easier for current clients or customers to refer you to others.
  • Brands send a message as to what your customers can expect.
  • Brands convey an emotion.
  • Brands add value.

We use brands as shorthand to make our trips to the grocery store easier; we use brands to reassure us about our purchasing decisions; we even use brands to define ourselves in society.

Remember: a brand is a promise. With a brand, you set customer expectations. When someone buys your product or service, they count on those expectations to be fulfilled.

Source:
The News-Press


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Marketing |

Persuade Your Customers

Persuasion is often used to describe a derogatory action. Persuasion is not pushing someone to do something. Pushing creates resistance and resentment. Persuasion feels more like pulling them to a positive point.

Follow these steps to further entice your customers:

1) Understand your product by understanding what it can do for others.
2) Ask well-thought-out questions.
3) Persuade others to act by appealing to emotions.

Source:
BizJournals.com


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 2nd, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing |

Barriers to Marketing Success

As a continuation from last Tuesday’s post, Benefits of Market Research, here are three common barriers to small business marketing success.

1) No clear definition of success
At what point can you call your marketing campaign a success? Will your success be based on profits, sales, or customer satisfaction?

2) Not clarifying who your ideal clients are
Before you even start your campaign, find out who your clients are and what they want. What are the demographics and characteristics of your ideal clients?

3) Not spelling out your unique value
Can you offer your clients something that the competition cannot? What makes your product or service better than the others available? Why should people choose you to do business with?

Answering these questions will give you a strong foundation of knowledge for a successful marketing campaign. Your campaign will be leaner, meaner and more efficient. Not only will you save money but will likely increase profits.

Source:
WebProNews.com


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Sunday, January 1st, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Marketing |

Testing New Marketing Ideas

1) If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
2) Measure your results in order to determine what works best.
3) Marketing isn’t just about the numbers.
4) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
5) It’s always OK to try something new; just make sure not to discontinue the marketing you’ve been doing that gets results.
6) Wait 3 days to decide.

Including new ideas in your marketing plan is a healthy practice, just make sure you fully understand the implications and the chance for success in each plan. In other words, have a plan for the plan.

Source:
WebProNews.com


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, December 31st, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Benefits of Market Research

Researching your market prior to entering is a sound decision for any business owner. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked and ignored. The results can be loss of revenue and a slow start.

What are the benefits of market research?

1) Will help you better communicate.
Learn about your potential clients — who they are and what they want the most. Nothing improves communication skills better than a little person to person contact.

2) Will help identify opportunities.
Check the competition. Are they missing something you can capitalize on? What can you do better than they can? Are you clients in need of something nobody else is offering?

3) Will minimize risk.
Just like any situation, if you come prepared you will be less likely to loose and more likely to win.

4) Will create benchmarks to help you measure progress.
How well are you doing? By setting the standard high from the start, you will be in a better position for sustained growth.

Source:
WebProNews.com


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Friday, December 30th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

More Tips for Expo Success

Exposition organizers often start planning their shows months in advance, and smart exhibitors begin their planning shortly thereafter. By not waiting to the last minute to reserve your spot, you can put yourself in a prime location.

Once you’ve reserved the best possible location at an expo, these 9 easy steps can help make your next trade show experience a success:

1. Read your pre-show materials
2. Meet your deadlines
3. Set up early
4. Plan your booth
5. Utilize the right people to work your booth
6. Make people remember you
7. Capture qualified prospects
8. Reconnect with existing clients
9. Follow up

Source:
New Hampshire Business Review


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Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Tips for Trade Show Success

Trade shows can be a great way to showcase your products or services to a large number of people at one location. These gatherings also allow for excellent networking opportunities.

Forward planning is the key to trade show success.

1. Market prior to the show
2. Create an eye-catching booth
3. Provide promotional materials
4. Train your staff to market for you.
5. Create an appealing giveaway
6. Follow up on leads

Source:
MoreBusiness.com


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Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing

Among the ever popular forms of marketing such as TV and radio ads, billboards, fliers and business cards, e-mail is another popular way to stay connected with current and future consumers. But how do you establish an e-mail list that won’t “spam” your incoming messages? And how do you keep people on that list?

List Sign-up
The best way to establish and keep a successful e-mail marketing list is to offer a list sign-up on your website and other marketing materials. That way, people who are interested in your product and special offers, and who want to hear about them, will be the recipients of your e-mails, which will help to keep them from being marked spam.

Continue Reading: “Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Technology |

Sign Spinners Turning Heads

I first saw them on the Ellen show this summer – her picnic in the park special. She used sign spinners to introduce each guest. And, frankly, I thought they were pretty cool.

Apparently, so do a lot of other people, as the sign spinning industry is growing at a rapid pace. Still not sure what a sign spinner is? Well, basically they are folks who carry signs around, shaped like arrows, advertising local businesses. But they don’t just wear the sign, sandwiched between two billboards hanging from their necks. Instead, they dance, spin, toss the signs… all to get the attention of passers-by (Still curious? You can see some in action on YouTube).

Continue Reading: “Sign Spinners Turning Heads”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, December 11th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Ventures |

How to Issue a Press Release

A press release is a relatively inexpensive way (typically free, or close to it, depending on what you do with it) to get the word out about your business. But it is a process that many small business owners are not familiar with.

First, find a newsworthy angle for your press release that, in a round-about way, is related to the product/services you provide. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a topic, check your company’s online forum posts (or set one up if you don’t have one), which will typically lend some good ideas.

Your topic needs to be something that the public would be interested in reading about irrespective of your business’ involvement. Editors and reports are not at all interested in helping your business obtain new clients and increase sales, so don’t try and sell anything. They are simply interested in providing news to the public. If your press release doesn’t provide a newsworthy angle, they won’t release it – end of story.

Continue Reading: “How to Issue a Press Release”


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Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Remembering Your Customers

Working on that Christmas Card list? Well, don’t stop at just friends and family. Be sure that you get some cards to send on behalf of your business to your customers. Yes, it may be a bit of added expense, but it’s well worth giving clients the reminder that you’re still available to provide them with quality products and services.

Before you do anything else, figure out how much you have available in your budget to send cards and gifts to clients. Just like with your personal Christmas shopping, it’s important to establish a budget and keep yourself on track.

Continue Reading: “Remembering Your Customers”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, November 18th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Customer Service, Marketing |

The Beneficial Chaos of Black Friday

Ah, the holiday season. Were you crazy enough to go out into the world and shop at the crack of dawn this past Friday? I did so for the first time. I wouldn’t exactly call it a joyful experience, but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. Okay, it was close.

I already had in mind that I wasn’t going to spend the entire day pursuing every store in town for great bargains. After all, I’m seven months pregnant right now, and didn’t think that would be the best idea for me, especially by myself. So, I compared ads and found one location were I could get multiple items at a great price. Most of the items I bought were for my photography business, actually.

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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, November 17th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Marketing, Operations |

Knowing Your Customers

There have been many occasions when I have discussed knowing who the target market for your product/service should be, what they’re looking for, etc. But the research and data shouldn’t stop at a marketing demographic. You need to get to know your customers individually as well.

A great way to do that is to develop a customer profile for each of your devote customers. You may be asking how you could get information on your customer without seeming nosy to them. Fortunately, most people are prone to talk to anyone that may listen, so it can really be easier than you might expect.

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Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Customer Service, Marketing |

Ways to Promote Yourself

When it comes to starting a new business, there is one thing that takes up the majority of your concern, stress and time. One thing that will really make or break you. The success of your business depends on getting the word out that your business actually exists. If no one knows that you’re out there, then you won’t have any clients, won’t make any money and the business will flop. It’s constantly in the back of your mind with regard everything you do and every business decision you make.

Therefore, promoting your business, especially in the beginning, should be your number one priority. And I’m not necessarily talking about in a marketing sense, because, let’s face it, you typically don’t have a lot of room in the budget when you’re just getting started to get a television ad going right from the start. You need to bring in a few clients first, and you’ve got to find inexpensive ways to do it.

Continue Reading: “Ways to Promote Yourself”


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Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

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How Accessible are You?

Customer service is a key element in the success of your business. That’s not news to anyone. But a crucial element of customer service, that business owners often overlook, is being readily accessible to your clientele. That can be a challenge, but technology lends a hand in making it possible.

Continue Reading: “How Accessible are You?”


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Sunday, November 13th, 2016 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Customer Service, Marketing, Ownership |

Marketing Strategies for Halloween

Holidays… aren’t they great. Not only are the holidays themselves enjoyable, but they can often be very beneficial for marketing your business. Halloween is no exception, especially if your business caters to children or parents in some regard.

Here are some ways your can take advantage of this ghoulish holiday:

Adapt Your Product
There are a lot of ways to show your product off for this or any other holiday. Add a Halloween twist to the packaging or, if you have some flexibility in your product, produce it in Halloween shapes and themes. Especially if you sell a food or candy product (gross out themes are very popular during this holiday), you want to take advantage of the holiday and be sure your customers know about your adaptations.

Continue Reading: “Marketing Strategies for Halloween”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Marketing |

Establishing Your Brand

With the success of a company comes the success of a brand which can stand on its own. For example, the Coca-Cola brand is worth about $65 billion, McDonald’s is worth $29 billion and BMW, $21 billion. Those number are for the brand alone – that does not include the actual product, the patents or any other part of the business.

While most businesses will likely never reach the billion dollar range for the worth of their brand, there are some things you can do to make your brand better known and more strongly associated with the product/services your provide.

The Logo
This is where is all begins. Your logo will become the number one association with your product/service. When designing it, you need to consider the perception of the product you want the logo to convey. This can be done through colors, fonts, graphics . . . every aspect of your logo reveals part of what your product/service is. It should be something that is so closely associated with your product, that people can pick it out on store shelves, even if they couldn’t read the product name.

Continue Reading: “Establishing Your Brand”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Taking Business Ques from Nintendo

By now most everyone has had an opportunity to at least try our Nintendo’s latest great invention, the Wii. As a female, I am not much of a gamer. I have one computer game that I play maybe three or four times a year, and only a couple of games on our GameCube that I played either when I was excruciatingly board, or we had company and played together (Mario Cart).

But that has changed quite a bit since we purchased a Wii at the end of August. Before, my husband would have to persuade me to play a game with him, so we could spend quality time together doing what he enjoyed. But he has to do little persuading when it comes to the Wii. Even the goofy games, like those on Wii Play, are enjoyable. Between that and Wii Sports, the whole thing is absolutely fabulous for when we have company over.

You may be wondering, at this point, what any of that has to do with business practices. Well, frankly, I think that those behind the Wii at Nintendo are business geniuses. Let’s examine what they have done with the Wii franchise and what the Wii has done for their business:

Continue Reading: “Taking Business Ques from Nintendo”


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Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Marketing, Technology |

Advertising Your Product on Stage

These days we’ve grown accustom to product placement in the movie theater. What used to be flashes of popcorn and fountain drinks as subliminal messages in the days of old has become an obvious flaunting of a Pepsi trucks driving down the highway next to the movie’s hero, who happens to be in the latest convertible to be released by Mercedes.

Product placement is expanding its borders. No longer something just for the movies, many companies are landing product placements on the stage as well. Broadway musicals are now incorporating products such as Red Bull energy drink and UPS express delivery in Stewart Lane’s latest hit, Legally Blonde.

Think having a product placed on the Broadway stage is way out of your league? Never fear, the theatrical product placement movement is really beginning to sweep the nation and many small local theaters are adopting the idea to help raise money in order to support their productions.

Continue Reading: “Advertising Your Product on Stage”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 23rd, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?

Yesterday I discussed hiring an advertising agency for your business. Today, however, I’m going to touch on when it might be time to fire your current ad agency and hire a new one. If you’re considering this possibility, first you will need to accept the fact that every business relationship hits rough places in the road to success. These are things you need to work through, and to determine if that is even worth doing, there is one all important question:

Is my advertising agency still challenging me/my business?

An ad agency that agrees with everything you say and doesn’t seem to develop their own ideas is not presenting a challenge, nor do they have your business in their best interest. Challenge involves risk. As a business owner, you know that you cannot be successful at anything without taking some risks to get there. A good ad agency will be willing to disagree with your ideas (in a professional manner, of course) and will present ideas that challenge your way of thinking.

Continue Reading: “Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?”


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Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business

It’s not something that every small business can afford, but those who can should give an advertising agency a chance. However, you may feel overwhelmed by the process of hiring an ad agency to market your product/service, because it’s not a eni-meni-mini-mo type of decision.

Here are some tips for finding the right ad agency for your business:

Avoid Putting Limitations on Prospects

Don’t restrict your search to agencies who are only in your area. Then you’re limiting the possibility of finding the right ad agency for you. Many agencies are more than willing to communicate over long distances, and with today’s available technology, not everything will have to be done in a person-to-person meeting. Overnight mailings, telephones, meetings over broadband… there are a number of options available for getting the job done just as well as if your businesses were neighbors.

Continue Reading: “Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business”


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Friday, October 21st, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

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An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients

You have a potential client that you know would be a great time investment for your business, but, no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to win them over. I’ve come across an interesting suggestion that just might work. However, this strategy works best for businesses in the service industry.

First, let’s take into consideration that most potential clients who are hunting for someone to provide them with a service have probably already been disappointed by another provider. They’re looking because they need someone who can meet their expectations and get the job done to their own standards. And, once they’ve been disappointed, proving that you’re the business they can count on can be a doozy of a task.

So, here’s the challenge: find out what the one issue they can’t seem to get solved is and offer to work at a resolution for them. That’s right, take on their number one frustration, the question that stumped the rest of them, see if you can’t find a way to make it happen.

Continue Reading: “An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Advertising Quality in Your Product

The number one rule for advertising quality in your product or service is to not use the word “quality.” Because this word is overused by the general business public, consumers ignore it. In fact, using the word “quality” can often invoke suspicion, much like when a business uses the phrase “you can trust me.”

Here are some tips for effectively conveying quality to potential customers:

Alternative Descriptions
The word “quality” in general is a limiting term, despite the negative connotations that it’s overuse has produced. It’s hard to do (I just caught myself using the term in my own advertising for my photography services), but instead you should go with alternatives like these:

premium, unparalleled, superior, impeccable, exceptional, unmatched, excellence, distinguished

Continue Reading: “Advertising Quality in Your Product”


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Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research

As small business owners, we typically don’t have the resources to spend tons of money on marketing research tactics like corporate American uses, such as focus groups or national surveys, which cost a lot of money to conduct. However, we do have an advantage over big companies – we are closer to the customer. Which means we have more inexpensive, and relatively easy, options available to us.

Before conducting any sort of marketing research as a small business owner, you first need to make sure your client list is up to date with current addresses, telephone numbers and, most importantly, e-mail addresses.

E-mail is one of the best, quickest, and budget efficient ways to communicate with your clientele. It’s also an inexpensive way to do some marketing research, by offering current clients an incentive to take an online survey, such a coupon for 15% off their next purchase. You could also offer an additional 10% off for referring your survey to friends or family who are not current customers. That way you have a chance to get an expanding survey base.

Continue Reading: “Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research”


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Tuesday, October 4th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Marketing Your Website

Now that your website is up and running, you need to get potential clients to visit it. After all, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, these days a website is a crucial part of a successful business. But you can’t just expect people to find your site through online searches or happenstance. You have to advertise your website just as diligently as you advertise your actual business.

The following are some tips to get you started:

Communication
All forms of communication need to include your website address. Make sure it is on all letterhead, fax cover sheets, business cards, envelopes, fliers, brochures, newsletters, etc. Additionally, make sure that you/your staff mention your website to any potential clients that may call your office. Always guide them that direction because a majority of the information about your business should be contained on your site. Another great idea is to have your website mentioned on your hold message (like many customer service lines now do). This will help to decrease call volume for a busy business if clients can get the answers to their questions on your site.

Continue Reading: “Marketing Your Website”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, September 29th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Startup |

New Advertisement Placement Ideas

Everywhere we look, advertisements surround us. And because we’ve grown accustom to it all, many of us ignore the billboards, vehicles and bulletin boards that bombard our everyday lives. But lately there have been some new found advertising venues that will help to make your ad stand out and get noticed above the rest.

Shirts
Okay, so the idea of advertising on shirts is not new, but these two concepts are. Eye Level Marketing out of LA has come up with interchangeable shirt panels to be worn on employees uniforms. Some of their target markets include theme parks, stadiums, shopping centers and retail stores. For example, the hot dog vendor at the ball park could where panels for a specific brand of beer or soft drink, making those hot dog loving fans salivate for something to wash it down.

Additionally, a New Jersey company called Telme Clothing recognized the fact that most company t-shirts give very limited information about the business. As a means of provided that much needed information (such as a moto or complete contact information), Telme provides a paragraph or two of text on the inside, bottom back panel of the t-shirt. That way, you can hand out your t-shirts to potential clients and they will find all the information they need to contact your business.

Continue Reading: “New Advertisement Placement Ideas”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Marketing, Ventures |

Common Advertising Mistakes

Advertising is the key component to bringing in clientele. Though word-of-mouth is the most effective, it won’t happen until you get those first few people in the doors, and to do that you must advertise. There are a lot of great ways to market your business to the public, but there are definitely some tactics you should avoid if you want to see the most success.

When brainstorming your advertising campaign, be mindful of the following common advertising mistakes:

Continue Reading: “Common Advertising Mistakes”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Rules for Networking on MySpace

Within the vast array of the MySpace community, you will not only find individuals and music groups, but many businesses have also joined the online social network and the numbers continue to grow. If you’re thinking of using MySpace to plug your business, however, there are some rules you need to abide by in order to be successful.

1) Be a part of the community.
Spend some time as a user, keeping a low profile, and learning the rules and culture of the online community you’ve joined, whether it be MySpace, YouTube or one of the many others available. If you don’t keep to the cultural regulations of that community, you will be branded an outsider immediately and few will respond.

2) Focus on giving, not receiving.
If you join MySpace with the unmoving goal of getting new contacts and creating new business, and make little effort to provide anything to your contacts in exchange, no one is going to want to be your MySpace “friend.” Give people a reason to like you. A good place to start would be providing something of value to those who visit your page, such as downloads (screensavers or video).

Continue Reading: “Rules for Networking on MySpace”


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Saturday, August 13th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Direct Mail Marketing Tips (2 of 2)

Okay, so you’ve decided to use an advertising letter to reach out to the community and get them to use your product/service. Yesterday we covered the basics on the appeal of the envelope and letter itself in order to get your mail opened and read. Today, we’ll talk about what the letter should say to stir an interest in what you have to offer.

1. Background Information
Typically, most potential customers that will receive your advertising letter will not have heard of your company. So, give a little background information about your business – when you got started, why you got started and the goals you have.

2. Your Market
You may want to consider briefly stating who your market is. If everyone can use your product or service, say so. If you’re specifically targeting stay-at-home moms, then say so. If your market is specific, this will help to narrow the field a bit. Also, you may want to encourage those that don’t fit into the specified market to pass the information on to someone they know who does.

3. The Product/Service
The most important element of your advertising letter is, of course, the description of the product or service your business provides. And though you definitely want to mention the features your product/service provides, be sure that you mention the benefits of those features – the desired outcome that using your product/service will produce.

4. Testimonials
If you have them, use them. The best way to do this is as an insert. This draws more attention to the individual review, showing that it’s important. And, if available, consider adding a picture of the client who provided the review. A real face always makes what is said more trustworthy.

5. A Special Offer
Give the potential customer an incentive to respond quickly by provided a special offer with a deadline. Otherwise, they will set your advertising letter aside to “think about it” and might actually end up forgetting about it. Give a discount if they contact you within a certain amount of time, provide a smaller product or service free with the purchase of another, etc.

6. Keep it Short
Try to keep the advertising letter as short as possible. One page is best, even if you make the font a bit smaller than usual to accomplish it. Anything more than that could seem overwhelming and a waste of time to the potential customer. I can attest to the fact that I never read the advertising letters that are more than one page… it is not appealing at all.

Remember that not every person you send a letter to will respond. In fact, the response rate for direct mailing is usually less than 20%. But, if done effectively, more business than you had before, no matter how small the number, is always a good thing.

Direct Mail Marketing Tips Part 1

Relevant Material:
• CNNMoney.com: 7 smart ways to find new customers


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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Direct Mail Marketing Tips (1 of 2)

These days, mailboxes contain more junk mail (also known as direct mail) than anything else. Clearly this marketing strategy works to some degree, otherwise businesses wouldn’t keep doing it. As a small business owner who is just starting out myself, I am able to combine the need for marketing with a still apparent consumer perspective. And, if you plan on marketing through the US postal service, here are some things to keep in mind:

Letters
Letters are the most effective way to personalize your advertising enough that the consumer at least looks at what you have to offer. Postcards get glances before they hit the wastebasket, and catalogs usually just get set aside for a time to thumb through that may never come along. Advertising letters are the happy medium that may mean increased success.

Though the body of your letter will obviously need to be typed in order to mass produce and insure ease of reading, there are still great ways to add a personal touch. Take the time to chose letterhead that is appealing. Stick with earth tones for the color of the paper, staying away from plain white and colors found in the crayon box, especially bright ones. Basically, you need something classy, yet trendy and modest, yet attention grabbing. And of course, a great logo and your business’ contact information.

Hand-written touches are the most important element. First, hand-write the addressee’s name. That way the consumer knows you thought of her personally and thought she would enjoy hearing about the product/service or special deal you are offering (even if she has no idea who you are).

Next, sign your name personally (with the typed version underneath, of course). Don’t use a stamp or an electronic signature, but actually take the time to sign each letter your business sends. Not only does it add a personal touch, but it aids the consumer in believing that you personally stand behind the product or service described above your name.

If you’re sending the letter as a special office for previous customers, write a “P.S.” at the bottom of the letter, in your own hand-writing, asking him how the cordless drill he bought last month is helping him with the new deck he’s building. Let the customer know he’s important to you by remembering him and aspects of his life specifically.

When adding these personal touches, do so in blue ink so that it jumps out at the customer and emphasizes that you actually wrote it. Many larger companies will use a script font for these personal touches and simply change the text color to blue… in an attempt to add the appeal of a personal touch without the actual effort to do so… and potential customers can see right through it (I always do). So I would recommend you don’t do that, if it can be avoided.

Envelopes
When sending advertising letters, your envelope makes the first impression. It will make or break whether the potential customer actually opens your letter. First, make sure the envelope matches your letterhead. Avoid simple No.10 white envelopes or window envelopes (which are synonymous with credit card offers), but take the extra expense to have the return address pre-printed just like your logo and use the same color paper.

One way to practically guarantee that your advertising letter will be opened is to keep the envelope free of clutter. Just stick to the mailing address, return address and a stamp/postage mark. The extra phrases some businesses put all over the envelope, such as “Act now!” or “Open immediately for a great offer!” are a dead giveaway that what’s inside is advertising, which means many of them will likely end up in the trash without the seal even being broken.

If possible, hand-write each mailing address on each envelope. A tedious task indeed, but this provides an added personal touch that piques the curiosity of the consumer about what may be contained inside. And if you get them to open the envelope, you’ve won half the battle.

Now that you know what may help you to get that “junk mail” actually opened, what should you do with the text of the letter that turns it from “junk mail” to quality advertising? Tomorrow I’ll cover some tips for getting the potential clients to consider buying what you have to offer.

Direct Mail Marketing Tips Part 2


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Monday, August 1st, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

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Business Tips from Presidential Campaigns

Well, it has begun. The race for the White House in 2008 has started nearly two years in advance. But things are a bit different on the campaign trail this time around. The biggest difference: the candidates reliance upon the internet to develop their following. And business owners need to pay attention, because the strategy works.

Blogs
Nearly every candidates website has some sort of blog post in which the candidate expresses his/her thoughts on a certain issue. John Edwards announced his participation in the race on his website one day before the press conference where he did the same. This gave his followers a feel of somewhat “privileged information,” not to mention brought in a little extra press coverage.

The candidates that keep a blog going throughout the campaign trail have caught on to the fact that the largest benefit of a blog is making your supporters/clientele feel like a part of the team. Keeping them informed with the daily issues at hand, whether that be how a candidate’s visit to a factory went that day or the new product that your company is releasing, help them feel like a part of your company, or in this case, campaign.

Video
Leave it to Hillary. Senator Clinton launched her campaign for the presidency in a webcast on January 20th. Talk about tech savy. She continues to have weekly “HillCasts” in which she addresses various aspects of her campaign and her position on various matters. The idea is to appeal to the younger generation of voters out whose resource for news and information is the internet.

As a business owner, consider using video to announce the launch of a new product or a promotion. Posting such videos to YouTube as well as you’re own website can definitely generate some response. And let’s not forget that a video of someone like the CEO helps the customer to feel like there is actual person behind the business. It helps provide a sense of comfort and security.

Social Networks
Senator John McCain has invited supporters to sign up for their own “McCainSpace” site, to help them feel more involved in the campaign. Now even those supporters who may have little to no experience or knowledge base for helping on the campaign trail can feel like they are making a difference for the candidate they believe in.

Gov. Bill Richardson invites his supporters to join what is deemed his “grassroots campaigns” on sites like MySpace, Facebook and Flickr. Supporters can link their sites to Gov. Richardson’s as well as post their own blogs on the candidate and his issues.

Businesses can follow suit by developing social networks centered in their company’s ideals and benefits. Allowing customers to post their own reviews or blogs through your website allows them to feel involved. The loyal customers become part of the marketing concept for your company.

In all of this it’s important to remember to stick to the truth. Falsehoods will find you out, especially when you are inaccurately promoting a product or service you provide, or the statistics about your company.

Also, keep in mind that, along with the good comes the bad. If you open yourself up to the community, there will be people out there who are not pleased with your company, whether it be the service/product, the customer service department, or the charity you donate to. You can’t please everyone, and those that you don’t will definitely make themselves known. This is a risk you take when opening yourself up to the public, so be careful and stay on guard.

Source:
• Entrepreneur.com: Business Trick from Presidential Campaigns


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, July 30th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking, Operations |