How Does Pinterest Fit into Your Business’s Success?


How Does Pinterest Fit into Your Business’s Success?

Is your business on Pinterest? If not, it should be. Pinterest can have a huge impact on your company’s success. Here are three ways you can use Pinterest to your best advantage to gain more customers and increase profits:

Establish Your Business as an Industry Authority

Pinterest is golden when it comes to establishing your business as an authority in your industry. Provide real value in your pins and boards, and you can quickly position yourself as the go-to expert in your field. Value is the key. Go out of your way to give as much free information as you can with your pins and boards. Your pins should tell a compelling story about who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Don’t just make one board on Pinterest. Create several, and put them into categories, such as "how to," "FAQs," "interesting uses for a product or service," "how other people are using the product or service," "tips for getting the most out of the product or service," and any other category you think would provide real value to your customers.

Make sure your boards are fun and engaging, too. The more people look at your boards, the more they’ll take your pictorial stories to heart — and the more they’ll share those images with others. If you have a YouTube channel, post videos to your Pinterest boards. These are great for a "how to" category. The more you post, the more of an industry expert you’ll seem. This will increase customer engagement with your company, as well as customer loyalty, since customers love to be associated with the best in the business.

Tap into the Power of Other Companies’ Networks

Do you want to reach potential customers you might have never found on your own? Collaborate with other business owners on Pinterest. There are a number of ways you can do this. One is to start a group board with another business in your industry. Another is to allow a business in your niche to put pins on your boards in exchange for you being able to pin to their boards.

The more followers your collaborative partner has, the more potential new customers your business will be exposed to when you post on a common board or to your partner’s board. Your partner will get the same benefit from being exposed to your followers. You can collaborate like this with as many business partners on Pinterest as you’d like. Just make sure they’re all in your niche, so you don’t confuse current or potential customers.

Vet collaborative partners thoroughly before embarking on a Pinterest business venture with them. Remember, the things other companies post on your boards reflect on your company, so choose your partners carefully. Make sure you trust each other to only pin appropriate and relevant content to each others’ boards.

Use Pinterest as a Conduit to Your Main Company Website

Is your main company website lacking the traffic it needs to thrive? Pinterest can help attract new visitors to your website. The people who use Pinterest are really passionate about it. If they like what they see on your boards, they’ll be more likely to visit your website to find out more about your company.

The key is to get people to re-pin your images to their own boards. You want people to re-pin and to share your pins with others. Getting them to do this means pinning visually entertaining, enticing, mysterious, and/or educational images to your boards. Pins that make your followers stop and look twice are more likely to motivate them to re-pin and/or share your pins with their friends and family. Try to make sure your images solve a problem, appeal to someone’s interest in a hobby, inspire them, or are just plain gorgeous.

Include a link back to your company’s website. That way, when other users re-pin your images to their own boards, their followers will see them, along with your link. If you’ve made images interesting enough for others to re-pin and share, it’s highly likely they and their followers will want to click your links, as well, to go to your website and learn more about you. That’s your chance to turn them into customers who will buy from you and tell others about you, too.

As you can see, Pinterest can be a powerful tool for increasing the success of your business. Follow these tips, and you’ll be amazed at the additional customers, followers, and profits you acquire. When it comes to boosting your bottom line, Pinterest is picture perfect.

Local Marketing: The Biggest Weapon in A Mobile and Social World


Local Marketing: The Biggest Weapon in A Mobile and Social World

Engaging with customers has always been the name of the game in marketing. Thanks to the Internet, target audiences are increasingly spread out. That isn’t to say the Internet hasn’t been a benefit to marketers. It unquestionably has. However, the Internet isn’t marketing’s final frontier. Far from it, actually. When you think about some of the biggest digital channels businesses are using today, mobile devices like smartphones and social networks like Facebook unquestionably come to mind.

When you break down those two categories into their core elements, however, what you’re left with is the same type of local marketing businesses have been using for decades. This is why traditional print marketing and — more specifically — localmarketing remain hugely valuable tools to businesses in the 21st century.

What Is Local Marketing?

Studies have long shown that most people do most of their shopping within a ten mile radius of their home. This is still true, even at a time when people can have something delivered to their home with the press of a few buttons and the click of a mouse. People are still willing to venture out of the home to pick up that hot new item or to participate in a service they truly believe in. They just need to know where to look.

According to a recent report released by the CMO Council, 49% of all respondents to a survey agreed that localized marketing was crucial to the overall growth and longevity of their business. More than that, one in four marketers were spending at least 50% of their total marketing budgets on localized programs, certain location-centric promotions, and more.

At its core, local marketing allows you to use these types of stats to your advantage by not just targeting as many customers as you can with your campaigns, but by targeting the right customers — namely the ones who live in the area where your business is actually located.

The Benefits of Local Print Marketing

To illustrate just how effective local marketing can be, think of one of the oldest such strategies in the book: the business card. As you meet new people or network with fellow industry professionals, you’re likely to hand out a business card to whomever you meet. Even if that particular person doesn’t have any use for the product or service you provide, they may know someone who does. Thanks to your business card, they now have something tangible they can give that person to point them in the right direction.

The whole idea is brilliant in its simplicity. You’re establishing your organization as a local leader in a way that creates increased traffic right to your doorstep. On the one hand, it really is no different than sending out mobile "push" notifications to a smartphone or making people in your area "friends" on your Facebook page. The advantage it does have over those digital channels, however, is that it’s something tangible. By tailoring your printed materials to a local market, you’re instantly increasing their relevancy in the lives of those people. The result is improved marketing effectiveness, which will ultimately build brand awareness and position your business as the type of authority you know you are.

Targeted local marketing remains one of the best ways to bring your organization to the attention of a new set of customers who may not even realize you exist. In an age where you’re competing with digital businesses that may offer the same services, it’s no longer about trying to attract the biggest possible audience. It’s about attracting the right audience. That’s the power local marketing gives you if you know how to use it.

Mailing to prospects and building up your database

Building a Prospect Database


There are many ways to build a prospect database, but none can add new prospects as quickly as buying a list. Still, these methods are worth trying since they don’t cost much and they generally result in better prospects than commercial lists. In addition, unlike buying rights to use a commercial list, leads you generate yourself belong to you completely. You can use them however you see fit.

Note: Databases are critical.

The value of your business is quantified by the quality of your customer base.

The more detailed and accurate the better.

Use these techniques to build your own prospect database:

1) The old-fashioned cold call is a surefire way to build a database of customers and potential leads. But don’t stop there. Remember that every time a person on your staff comes in contact with a prospect, their information should be added to your database

2) Join prominent community organizations: Chambers of Commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and charitable groups. Participate in community events where you can reach your target market.

3) Cross-pollinate with businesses that target similar markets. For example, a hair salon and a clothing boutique or an accounting firm and law firm. Share lists, swap brochures and promotional materials, offer discounts to each other’s customers, or co-sponsor events such as an educational seminar for clients of both businesses.

4) Provide registration cards at events and conduct periodic surveys.

5) Business card fish bowls at tradeshows and online registration forms are other ways to capture information on your prospects to build a database.

6. Collect business cards everywhere you go, with new people you meet, make sure you gather their contact information and qualify what level of a lead that they are for you.

Planning a Meal, Planning a Marketing Campaign


Planning a Meal, Planning a Marketing Campaign

Imagine planning a special meal. You start by thinking about the different dishes you want to serve and how well they’ll go together. You try to choose flavors that complement each other and fit well with the occasion. You hope to create a delicious feast people will love and remember for months to come. The same should be true of your marketing.

Understanding integrated marketing

Planning a successful integrated marketing campaign is a lot like planning a successful feast. Just as choosing various dishes that complement each other helps to create a memorable meal, using a variety of marketing platforms to create a single campaign will help to capture the story of your brand.

Too many companies try to create different marketing campaigns for each platform. The result is like a meal of random dishes that have absolutely nothing in common. Separately, each might taste good and draw compliments, but together they seem confusing and fail to provide the lasting impact you hoped to create.

The importance of audience

It’s also important to consider the desired audience for an integrated marketing campaign. When you plan a meal, you carefully think about the atmosphere and what people will expect. Similarly, when you plan the various aspects of your integrated marketing campaign, you need to consider who you want to reach. If your audience consists of largely retirees and empty nesters, focusing a large part of your campaign on Facebook might not be the best use of your time and money. The same way you think about the types of dishes people would expect and appreciate, you want to maximize the reach of your marketing campaign by thinking about where people are most likely to appreciate your message.

Planning a large meal requires careful preparation to ensure that each dish fits together well to accomplish the desired final effect. Similarly, your integrated marketing campaign must combine various marketing elements into a successful, incredible campaign that attracts the right attention.

Hitching a Ride on the Bandwagon

#470 – Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Hitching a Ride on the Bandwagon

Have you ever wondered why most brides wear white for their weddings? The white wedding gown became common after the wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840. Before that, brides would wear a variety of different colors for their big days. Women would choose blue, yellow, black, or even brown for their wedding dresses. The primary consideration was finding the nicest dress the woman already owned.

In the mid 19th century, however, that began to change.

The queen’s wedding was well-photographed, and the image of the white wedding gown intrigued people. Other members of the higher classes began to choose white wedding gowns as well. Etiquette books and advice began to speak about the value of wearing a white wedding gown, especially as it communicated the bride’s purity. Although it became increasingly more common, it still would not become mainstream among all the social classes for another century.

After WWII, Hollywood and film became increasingly popular, and guess what color brides wore on the silver screen? You got it: white. It was the presentation of Hollywood’s brides that largely sealed the fate of the white wedding gown.

So what does any of this have to do with marketing?

Well, the white wedding gown is an excellent example of the bandwagon effect. When society’s elites throughout North America and Europe saw the Queen of England marry in a white wedding gown, they felt driven to mimic her style. The same principle applied to the rest of society mimicking Hollywood. People saw their favorite stars adorning themselves in gorgeous white gowns and wanted the opportunity to take part in the style as well. A tradition was born, and now brides that choose to select other colors are viewed with mild surprise. It only took a few generations for the concept of a white wedding gown to become that firmly entrenched in culture.

This is the bandwagon effect at work. When we see our friends or those we admire doing something or using a particular product, we want to try that product ourselves. We feel that if these other people like this product or service, it must be worth trying. Finding a way to capitalize on this effect can help you boost your sales and brand loyalty.

Using the bandwagon effect in marketing

  • Pictures are a valuable tool. Sponsor photo contests where people take pictures of themselves using your products or services.
  • Use Facebook features that let people see how many of their friends have ‘liked’ your company.
  • Offer rewards for existing customers who refer others to your company.

Like the white wedding dress, your company can benefit from the bandwagon effect. You might never make your product an inherent part of the national culture, but you will be able to increase sales and conversions by capitalizing on the ‘me, too!’ phenomenon. If you want to start developing a new marketing campaign, contact us today to help you get started.

Translating a Study Abroad Experience Into Business Success

Blog Update #468 – Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Translating a Study Abroad Experience Into Business Success

Studying abroad is a popular and honored tradition for many students as they go through college. If you had the opportunity to do so, you likely reveled in the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture. But while you were busy learning about new cultures, you were also learning some valuable insight about business. You just might not have realized it. Here are three lessons you learned about being successful in business while you were studying abroad.

Jump in with both feet

When you find yourself studying in a foreign country, you don’t have the luxury of taking it slow. You’re living in a new land, completely immersed in the new culture. You now have to completely rely on your language and culture lessons because this is no longer just practice.

When you start a new business, you need to apply the same principles. You need to jump in with both feet and completely apply yourself to your new business and new industry. If you try to cut corners or resist investing the time and energy needed for the business, it’s going to be substantially more difficult to succeed.

Be assertive about learning

When you first arrive in a foreign country, the next six months or year feels incredibly long, but it’s actually quite short. Before you know it, you’re back on a plane coming home. You have only a matter of months to absorb all you can about your temporary country. This means meeting the people, trying the food, seeing the sites, and learning the language. You need to be assertive about learning to maximize your opportunities.

When you start a new business, you need to dedicate yourself to learning as well. Once your business officially opens, you only have so much time financially before you need to start having customers. Before you open your doors, you should have a very good understanding of everything there is to know about your customers, how to market to them, and what your appeal will be to reach them.

Surround yourself with helpful people

When you arrive in a new country to study abroad, you’re likely to experience some degree of culture shock. There will be a period, however brief, when you feel overwhelmed by the differences in how things are done in the new country versus your home country. One of the best ways to cope with these problems is to surround yourself with people who can help you. In a school program, this might be fellow students going through the same emotions as you. If language becomes a struggle, professors can offer some additional tutoring to help you communicate as well. Finding these key people who want to help you is enormously beneficial.

In business, you’ll also face difficult moments. There are going to be times when you feel overwhelmed with your ambitions and will wonder if success is possible or worth the effort you’re putting into the company. You also need to surround yourself with helpful people who can support you. These people can serve as your sounding board, helping you bounce ideas around while also offering guidance when you feel like giving up.

Running a business is a challenging proposition for anyone. If you studied abroad, however, you learned some valuable lessons about success that you might not have even realized. As you begin to prepare for the future of your business, consider the lessons you learned and see how they might be applied to moving your new enterprise forward.

How Engaging Are Your Sign-up Forms?


How Engaging Are Your Sign-up Forms?

Take a moment to think about the forms you ask your visitors to fill out and submit when they visit your website or come to your store. These forms help convert those individuals from anonymous visitors to active leads you can contact regularly. To make that happen, you want people to feel encouraged to leave you with their name and information so you can remember them.

Make the offer look enticing

Leads are the lifeblood of any organization. If you want people to provide you with their contact information, you need to give them a reason to do so. Make your sign-up forms appealing. First, make the offer something desirable. Then, make the actual screen look inviting.

Desirable offers

Developing a desirable offer means understanding the people with whom you’re speaking. Carefully analyze your buyer personas and consider the type of information and material that would appeal to them. Once you develop the information you want to put behind a sign-up wall, advertise it on the parts of your site where you know those specific buyers are likely to venture. For example, mention it at the bottom of relevant blog posts or alongside product information geared toward specific customer groups. As with all content, your primary goal should be to provide high-value information.

Appealing appearance

When visitors reach your landing page, you want to make sure the offer looks appealing on the screen. Add an image or two to help them connect with the offer. It doesn’t have to be an image of the real offer. A cartoon drawing with the name of your ebook, for example, will work just fine. Use a balanced layout and enticing language to encourage people to sign up.

Make the form itself manageable

Once you’ve attracted visitors to your sign-up page, the last thing you want to do is scare them off by making the process too drawn out or complicated. Make sure the form itself doesn’t look too intimidating. The amount of information requested should be comparable to the offer you’re providing. If it’s just a basic ebook, you should only ask for basic information. If you ask for too much, people will get turned off and click away.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to entice leads, contact us today. We’d love to help you with your marketing campaign.

Keep Your Existing Customers Around By Improving Engagement


Keep Your Existing Customers Around By Improving Engagement

If you’re like many business professionals, you know that half the battle of growing your business is getting existing customers to stick around. When you provide your customers with outstanding customer service, some incredible things happen:

  • Customers are willing to pay more, just for your service.
  • Customers are more likely to recommend you to others.
  • You end up spending less for each conversion (it costs less to retain customers than find new ones).
  • You build customer loyalty.

In our intensely competitive modern market, you can’t afford to overlook these benefits.

The key to providing this outstanding level of service is taking the time to engage your existing customers. Too many organizations focus so much energy on attracting new customers that their existing customers feel neglected and overlooked. This can lead to feelings of resentment. Fortunately, with just a little bit of extra effort, you can keep your existing customers engaged and invested in your company. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Leverage the ‘social’ part of social media

Social media was designed to give you a platform to chat and get to know your customers on a personal level. Rather than advertising blindly to large populations, you can communicate directly to individual people and meet their needs personally. Encourage your existing customers to communicate with you on social media. You can do this in a number of different ways.

  • Invite them to ask questions about using your products or services.
  • Start fun contests that involve customers telling stories about using your products or services.
  • Respond to inquiries quickly and personally.

When you use social platforms to reach out and communicate with your customers, you show them how much you care about their experience, which resonates with both existing customers and those considering your company.

Run relevant promotions that existing customers can use

We’ve all experienced times when special promotions or discounts were made available only to new customers. Such deals often leave us feeling unappreciated and annoyed. Many customers facing such restrictions look for ways to get around them, such as switching back and forth between companies just to take advantage of the promotions. This leads to poor service and frustration for customers and does no good for the company’s reputation.

Instead of rewarding only new customers, offer your longtime customers a "loyalty" discount based on their longevity with your company. Customers will feel more appreciated and more loyal to your brand. They’ll see this simple ‘thank you’ as evidence that your company truly does value them, not just the bottom line.

Develop communications relevant to your existing customers

The more personal you can make your communications and correspondence, the more likely your customers are to respond. When people buy from your company, remember what they bought and why. Initiate messages, such as emails, asking customers about how well their needs have been met and if they have any questions about using your products or services. Ask customers for reviews and feedback, and make your requests using the name of a salesperson the customer dealt with personally.

Keeping customers engaged is an important step in encouraging them to stay with your company. When you do this successfully, you can grow your customer base and your bottom line.

Blogging Can Be a Fantastic Promotion Tool Across Platforms


Blogging Can Be a Fantastic Promotion Tool Across Platforms

Building a successful blog is an excellent way to integrate your marketing campaigns across several platforms. Here are a few ways to use your blog to promote your business regardless of medium.

With direct mail

When you send direct mail, mention your blog to let people know it’s there for them to read and comment on. Highlight some of the recent topics you’ve covered to entice them even further.

Direct mail is a wonderful way to advertise deals and upcoming sales. Market your blog as another way to stay updated about specials and events. Promote it as a way to learn more about your industry, so customers can get the most from your products and services.

On social media

Social media is an excellent tool for promoting a blog and connecting with page visitors. Use your social media accounts to promote your blog posts among your followers. Invite conversations on social media about subjects you’ve covered in your blog as a way of keeping your social channels active and engaged.

Promoting your posts on social media makes it much easier for people to share your content. People can read and post your content to their own social media pages without much effort. The more people share your content, the greater your reach, which can help spread your brand name and reputation.

With community events

Becoming active in your local community is a fantastic way to promote your brand. Customers enjoy working with local businesses they see as interested and supportive of the local community. Sponsor various charity events or host a table at community picnics and other neighborhood gatherings. This will allow you to get your organization in front of others in the community, so your company becomes a familiar entity. Use these opportunities to begin conversations about your industry and products with interested parties to further boost your reputation as an industry leader.

Use your blog to promote the events you participate in and to speak about your involvement with the organizations holding them. Encourage people to participate and get involved. After the event, post some pictures and write a post with highlights from the day. These types of posts can help advertise the event and encourage people to participate, while also demonstrating your involvement in the community even for those who are unable to attend.

A successful marketing campaign means reaching out to prospective buyers on a variety of platforms so they get to know your brand and how you can serve them. Your blog can be a fantastic tool for accomplishing this goal. If you’re still debating the merits of starting a company blog, consider the benefits it will bring to your integrated campaigns. If you’d like assistance getting a campaign off the ground, let us know. We’d be happy to help you with your marketing.

Instilling School Spirit at Your Company


Instilling School Spirit at Your Company

Many factors go into the decision about where to attend college. While majors, location, and ranking undoubtedly hold a high place, the experience of other students and the school’s reputation also play a crucial role.

Schools must strike a careful balance between providing a rigorous academic environment, while at the same time offering an enjoyable experience that will make students talk about their school in a positive way to other prospective students.

Satisfied students can be the best brand ambassadors an institution can find. When students love their school, it emanates from everything they do.

  • The students root for the home team during sports matches.
  • School tour guides who speak about the university to groups of prospective students are enthusiastic and insightful.
  • Successful professionals who have ‘made it’ in their respective fields eagerly voice their support for their alma mater.

Such enthusiasm builds a positive culture around the school and encourages new students to come and try it out. Building a strong brand around any organization entices people to want to belong to that particular select group and culture.

What colleges can teach us about building a winning culture

Most professionals realize that employees are important for keeping the company running smoothly. They know that turnover is bad because it wastes time and resources. They also know that high turnover can damage their reputation among potential hires.

What they don’t realize, though, is the importance of employee satisfaction when it comes to the customer experience.

Just like the college student who loves their school so much they broadcast it to anyone who asks their opinion, employees who feel respected and appreciated help to broadcast a positive image of the company and can increase customer satisfaction rates.

Think about it.

Employees are the face of your company. When they feel valued, they take the time to invest their energy into the company and their interactions with customers. They also strive to embrace a culture of success, which can help inspire their peers to improve their interactions with customers, too.

Employees and brand advertising

Employees can be wonderful sources for building up your brand. Just as happy college students take the love for their school to every facet of their life, satisfied employees tend to bring their jobs with them wherever they go.

Think about the last time you heard someone complain about the company where they work. How did those complaints impact your perception of the company? Chances are, that negative feedback made you feel worse about the brand in question — and less likely to turn to them when you need products or services in their industry.

An entirely different experience, however, comes when an employee is positive and upbeat about their employer. When they tell you enthusiastically that they can help you solve your problem, you become inclined to trust them.

Treating your employees well can help boost their satisfaction and improve how they represent your company to the general public. Remember that your employees are the face of your brand. That means you need to select them — and treat them — with that goal in mind. Cultivating a great employee culture is a wonderful way to improve your brand’s reputation from the inside out.

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