New Year, New Goals

Always Moving Forward

Whether you are the owner or a trusted manager of your company, how are your business plans looking for the coming year? Do you continue to do what you always have done or are you keeping it fresh and exciting? And why is this even a topic of a blog post?

Always Moving Forward

For your business, who is this person and how do they do at making a great first impression. Maybe more importantly, and as important – how do you know how they are doing? This may be the first person greeting you when you walk in a store and for other businesses, it may be the person answering the phone.

I’m sure you have called on a business as a customer and had to wait for minutes after trying to get through the dreaded phone tree, and then to only be disconnected somehow. How about walking into a business and looking for someone to help you? Both are experiences which are far below customer service levels of what you see as a great first impression.

As a passionate business owner or manager who expects nothing but the best, you can see the frustration as a customer in both of the scenario’s above. How do you make sure this isn’t your business? Here are some quick tips on how to check (and if it isn’t you doing the checking, follow up with the person who should be accountable for this.)

  1. Set standards, both for people visiting your business and calling your business. What type of experience do you want your customer to have with their first impression?
  2. If you are a retail business (customers come to you,) observe, from either the inside of the building or on the outside. How are they measuring up to your standards?
  3. If you are a service business or a retail business, how is the phone etiquette? Call your business as a customer or listen to incoming calls if you have some type of call recording system in place.
  4. Secret Shoppers – enlist some family or friends to shop your business. Ask them for a written report. Ask them to be as detailed in the report as possible. After reviewing the report, ask for clarification on any details and see how this matches up to your standards.

We know how this effects your business, but can you quantify this a bit more. Of course, and let’s look at the numbers. The numbers here is an example from the service industry and could be looked at for any industry really.

Real life example – We work with many clients who have great tracking systems in place. One of them measures conversions of calls coming in from new customers. Often new potential customers, typically the best schedule and service seven of the ten (some are price shoppers or are looking for service now and that may not be possible.) If a team schedules only 3.5 of ten calls, which is half of the best, then the cost to acquire a new customer doubled. Which means we have to spend twice as much in getting calls or we get half as many calls for the same amount of money – either way, it is costing us more to acquire a new customer if we are not doing the best job in scheduling the calls we have coming in.

If you need help in evaluating your cost per lead or how to make improvements to your first impression experience, the best place to start is to see how you are doing today and to work to make improvements to this in the coming months. A little time here will pay off big time in the long run.

How do I Choose the Right Target Market?

The Right Target Audience

Marketing dog food to a family which doesn’t own dogs would be silly of course. You know your target market is important in creating an effective marketing campaign. When business owners are asked who their audience target is, many businesses may say “everyone” or “anyone interested in our services”. These targets are too general and let’s face it, you won’t be able to please everyone. Targeting a specific audience means you focus your marketing dollars on an audience who is more likely to be your customer. A good starting point is looking at your current customer base and finding similarities, characteristics, and interests between them.

Audience choices are made based on your goal, If you are looking to build brand awareness, a wider audience is best along with a media platform which can reach a wide, yet relevant audience. If the goal is to launch a new product, engaging your current client base is probably your best bet. If the goal is to get new customers to make purchases, it is important to focus on the ideal customer. However, when choosing your target market, keep in mind your audience demographics; age, gender, income, education, marital status etc. Also, consider personality characteristics, including; behavior, lifestyle, values, and attitudes.

For example, a construction company could choose to market to homeowners between the ages of 34 and 54 with incomes of $90,000 – plus in Omaha, Nebraska. To define the market even further, the company could choose to target specifically those interested in kitchen remodeling and bath remodeling, and possibly even those in older homes. This market can be broken down further but, by doing so, the market could become too narrow and exclude potential customers.

 

What is your Goal?

You may be asking yourself, “Where can I find all of this information?”  Try searching online for research others may have done on your target market. Explore magazine articles, blogs or forums. These are all excellent mediums to discover the opinions of your audience. You may even consider looking at your competitors’ target market looks like, maybe based on their marketing creative, to narrow down what you are looking for in your ideal client or how you can differentiate your target market. Not finding the information you are looking for? Conduct your own survey, ask current customers for feedback.

Once you have defined your target audience, it is easier to figure out which media choices (link to Buying Media blog) will fit best to reach your market and how they will remember your brand. Nonetheless, having a defined target market will be a greater investment for your time, energy and money.

Evaluating Media Choices

Media Choices

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the media choices available at your fingertips? How do I know which channel will be the most “effective”, will I reach the right target audience? If so, is it enough to offset the costs of the marketing campaign. The answer is maybe. There is no right or wrong answer in marketing, it is about research, trial, error and… more research.

Media Choices - Beaverton Oregon

 

Media Options

Because different media are effective for different purposes, it is important to research which media form will truly target your audience market. In recent years we have seen a shift from newspaper, magazine, radio, and billboard advertising to digital ads. Now, this is not a reason to think digital advertising is the way to go. As a small business owner, it may be more beneficial to advertise in your local newspaper, magazine, or radio. For an advertising campaign to be effective, it needs to reach the right target audience, your audience could be a daily city commuter who passes by a billboard multiple times a day or someone who enjoys reading the newspaper instead of surfing the internet.  Media sources should be selected based on your audience’s preferences to maximize your marketing investment.

Nevertheless, with media buying, there will be a “waste factor.” The key is to minimize the waste factor, meaning the percentage of the marketing which is not your intended market. For example, a newspaper ad can have 20,000 impressions but not everyone reading the newspaper may be a potential customer (Maybe you have a pool company and certainly there will be some people who don’t own a pool who reads the newspaper.) If the target reach is 50%, then the real value of advertising in the newspaper is 10,000 impressions. Understanding real value is as important as knowing the full reach a specific media may tout.

 

Budget

While choosing a media outlet, keep your budget in mind. If you have a substantial advertising budget, allocating your budget across different media platforms can be beneficial. If you are a smaller business, be mindful of your budget and compare prices. Looking to advertise in a newspaper? Call and research multiple newspapers, and don’t be afraid to negotiate fair prices to display your media! This is certainly an area where we may be able to help with.

 

Media Evaluation

Whichever media outlet you select, create a plan that will measure the success of the campaign. Disappointed in the results? That’s ok! Keep researching and improving the campaign, if it isn’t yielding the results you want, try another form of media. Measuring data will tell you what can be improved and what you should continue to market. Let us know, what media form is most effective for your business?

Did I Hear Someone Say “SWOT Analysis?”

Analysis

A SWOT analysis is something which has been around a long time and is nothing really new. But what is old is new again as a new generation of leaders comes into leadership. It is a term used to help a company, a specific project, or an individual evaluate in the effort towards improvement. And of course, improvements are key to growth, both personally and professionally, regardless of size.

If you have already done a SWOT analysis sometime in your past or you are doing it on a regular basis, then you already have a pretty good idea of the benefits this may bring. Like any other goal setting, if you don’t do the follow-up, then this would be a waste of time. The benefits of the SWOT analysis are to help in planning your goals for the coming months or year to provide direction on what is most important, allowing you to prioritize what should be done first.

One way to do this with your company would be to have all key members do a SWOT Analysis individually and then bring the group together to get everyone’s input. Once everyone has contributed, then everyone can agree on the priorities and work out a plan going forward. Getting the team involved is a great way to help drive improvements along the way. It is a good idea to define what is being looked for under each topic. Here are a couple definitions which may help for clarification.

SWOT-Louvre-Media

Strengths and Weaknesses are both internal factors, one being positive and one being the opportunities (negatives.) Looking at your strengths will help keep the focus on doing more of what you do well and may define some future actions to keep these strong. Looking at the weaknesses will help define opportunities for improvement and these should be prioritized by what will get the biggest results with the lowest amount of efforts. Getting big wins from doing this out of the gate will create a winning feeling among the team.

Opportunities and Threats are both external factors, one being positive and one being the opportunities (negatives.) In looking at the opportunities, this may be new legislation which affect your business in a positive way. It could even be a product or service you offer which is well needed in the marketplace, but not enough people know about it, or it could be a competitor closing shop. Threats could be things like increased competition, pricing of competitor’s, or things you aren’t doing which your competitors are doing, and could even be something like upcoming road construction, driving the traffic pattern away from your business for a while. Your ability to minimize the threats may be a big factor in your future goals and can be turned into a positive with the right plan of action.

These definitions will help you get on the right track in doing a SWOT analysis and gaining clarity to the process, and as important, the takeaways in doing this. Making it a team process with the key members of the team will create a better environment not only in getting more ideas but in working towards the key goal of making things better for your company.

 

What is a Social Influencer?

Social Influencer

Have you ever thought about reaching out to a local celebrity or well-known figure to market your small business? Radio DJs and local sports legends are popular figures for such advertising and have traditionally been used for radio spots or TV commercials. David Robinson, the former basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs, for example, does TV commercials for several local companies in the San Antonio area these days.

Over the past few years, however, influencers on popular social media platforms have been an important marketing tool to reach young audiences around a huge variety of products and services. Endorsements by celebrities are nothing new, but more recently, sponsorships paid for by advertisers have branched out to include popular Instagram accounts, bloggers, and You-Tube stars. News anchors, local food stars, and retired athletes are some popular sources for local businesses to reach out to for influencer marketing.

 

 

How Can an Influencer Benefit My Small Business?

Depending on your business type, reaching out to a local influencer could be beneficial. For instance, if you sell garden supplies in the greater Portland-metro area, being featured on An Oregon Cottage could be a great way to put your brand in front of your ideal consumer. Your products would be exposed to a relevant customer base, coming from a personality that is a trusted resource in the Oregon gardening community.

What is an Endorsement?

Conversely, influencer endorsements affect a very particular audience and are sometimes seen as more trustworthy in the eyes of their followers. Influencers are a part of a niche community and are looked to often as experts that have open dialogues with their followers. Social influencers are usually approachable (they are generally more responsive to comments and messages than celebrities who are sponsored for a campaign) and are considered more authentic compared to celebrity-driven marketing campaigns. Here’s an example of the top social influencer on Instagram for 2018, so far (according to CBS News): Huda Kattan.

Using social influencers responsibly could be a creative way to reach new customers, both on a national and local scale. What are your thoughts on this new, socially-oriented trend?

The 411 on Digital Display Advertising

Digital Display Advertising for Your Business

Search network advertising is something most of us can wrap our heads around – it’s what you do when you go to Google, Bing, or Yahoo and do a search for anything that comes to mind, like saying “electrician Portland” or “personal trainer near me.” Google AdWords dominates the world of online advertising, and many businesses stick with it to hopefully reach the most consumers and meet their business goals. But, over time, businesses may gradually include display advertising in their marketing strategy, often to create brand awareness and remarket to consumers they have interacted with in the past.

 

What is Display Advertising?

Display ads are integrated into the background of specific websites where they are visible to users while they play games, read the news, or shop their favorite brands. Have you ever noticed that the moment you think about making a purchase or doing an activity, you start seeing ads for it everywhere? Display ads can be rich media ads such as banner ads, video, and responsive ads. The targeting of display ads continues to improve to help businesses target their most ideal customer. It also gives many local businesses an opportunity to reach potential customers where television advertising may be outside of the current budget.

 

Is Digital Display Marketing for Me?

Display marketing allows you to build custom audiences by targeting users who have shown an interest in brands, websites, or services like yours. You can also target users based on their demographics or online patterns (like marketing to visitors who have already been to your website). Display marketing works to create brand awareness by simply being in the background on sites targeting relevant users.

Retargeting previous customers or shoppers who never completed an online purchase is something you can do with display advertising. Website visitors who are exposed to your ads through the display network tend to spend more time on your site and are more likely to return. Here are some statistics about the importance of retargeting consumers, specifically using display advertising:

  • 86% of shoppers engage in ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline)
  • 72% of users online are likely to leave their shopping carts before checking out
  • Only 8% of those users will return to complete their purchase
  • With retargeting campaigns, 26% of users will return to complete their purchases (or take the next step in the sales cycle, such as calling a mainline to set up an appointment)

Each business and business type have different needs and marketing goals that must be considered when choosing an appropriate digital marketing strategy. How do you think digital advertising could help your business?

How Much Money Should I Spend on My Advertising?

Is There a Magic Formula?

We’ve now entered the world of Marketing Budgeting, 2.0 as so many things have changed in the past few years. The internet and social media have changed the landscaping of media, but the basics remain the same. Having a budget for your marketing makes sticking to the marketing plan a bit easier.

If you Google “How Much Money Do I Spend On My Advertising,” maybe this blog will come up number one, but there are many articles on this topic. This also depends on what type of business you have. The marketing of a restaurant is very different than the marketing of a manufacturing plant. If you have outside sales people responsible for generating sales, your marketing budget may be a little less. The goal of any marketing plan is to maintain and/or grow the business.

Ways a business grows –

  • New Customers
  • Existing customers spend more money on visit
  • Existing customers come in more often
  • Existing customers tell their friends who become customers (referral)
  • Add product or service line to help with all the above

Do a Google search for this topic and you will find businesses will budget between 3-10% of their sales on marketing. A pretty big variance. That’s the challenge – what is the right advertising budget for your business. We work with many local businesses and we look to gain agreement on what the marketing budget is to start out with. If your growth is more aggressive, it may be towards the higher end of the spectrum. If your growth is steady growth, we look for middle ground here, using 5-6% as our target budget in the planning process. Marketing is to help you grow your business so the investment into marketing is an important one. This is very different than the planning of your media buying or the evaluating of your media choices. If you feel the advertising is not working, then think about what needs to be changed up to make it work better. It wouldn’t make sense to stop advertising just because you haven’t found the “magic” formula…..yet.

As your company grows, your marketing budget dollars will grow, even though the marketing percentage will remain the same. The number may seem high, but so are your total sales. As one of our clients was looking hard at their P & L to see how they were doing, they asked everyone to really watch their numbers – except marketing – this went untouched – as they had learned the lessons of keeping consistent with the marketing budget means consistency with future sales and growth.

One last message here – if you are too busy and getting too many calls/customers where you can’t take on any business for the next month – shift the marketing dollars. Either change up your marketing mix to improve your brand or use the dollars later in the year. Marketing can be for many things, including customer appreciation activities and/or customer gifts or promotional items. Keep steady on the marketing budget, plan the work and work the plan, and you will start to feel better about the investment you are making for the long-term success of your company.