BETTER MARKETING FOR BETTER BUSINESS

Sharing our thoughts on the world of today's media.

Better Business

Bring Back the Phone Books

We’ll let you decide on this, but for many local businesses, the phone book used to be something they depended on to bring in new customers every year. We see in our data, there are still business types in specific markets where the phone book still brings in a substantial number of new customers and sales. To some, the phone book is dead, and to others, the phone book still brings a respectable return on the investment.

Phone Books

The quote “Give me the phonebooks back” was said by one of our clients this past month. And this opened some discussion amongst our team on the value and simplicity the phone books have or did have. The businesses which advertised heavily consistently had great tracking and could tell the value it was bringing their business. For some, it was just the fear of not being there which kept them advertising in the phone book.

When we dug deeper to understand this specific client, it was interesting to hear his thoughts. And to some degree, it encompassed the simplicity. Think about it, buy an ad in the phone book and it’s there for the year. You know what it is or is not going to do for your business, and after you signed the contract, you didn’t think much of it until the following year. You could think about it, but you couldn’t change the ad until the next publication.

The internet, on the other hand, may be the exact antithesis of the phone book. Most experts know and study the changes made by Google or other search engines/platforms on a regular basis. For business owners and marketing people, staying up on these changes requires time and there are many different opinions on the best way to win at marketing on the internet. Of course, different for each market and business type. The aforementioned client knows this, and he has his team check regularly where his business is being found online. What page and what position for different search terms are things they look at, as well as the performance of many different online advertising platforms.

No matter how many years the phone books have left in their existence, the internet is the new place people look to go when they are looking for a service or product. And who knows? Maybe our smartphones will become obsolete as well. Being replaced by the likes and/or next generation of what we know today as “Hey Siri,” “Alexa,” or “Hey Google,” and the wave of AI which is here today and growing every day. “Hey, Google – I need a plumber to come out to the house today to repair a leaky faucet,” will be followed with something like, “There are three choices near you, all with a 4.0-star rating or higher. I can connect you to the first one, XYZ plumbing company, which has been in business since 1991 if you would like.”

The future may be closer than we think.

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.

Your Customer’s First Experience

You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression.

If you think about a time when you’ve gone into a nice hotel, you might recall a very friendly and professional employee opening the door and welcoming you to their establishment. There are certainly more than a few various types of businesses which have a greeter at the door, inviting you in, and making you feel welcome.

Make a First Impression

 

These are Great First Impressions.

For you, as a business owner, who is this person for your company? How do they rate at first impressions? More importantly, how do you know how they are doing? This could be the person who greets a customer when they walk into your store, or the person who answers the phone.

Do you dread calling larger companies these days, knowing the wait time will be several minutes, likely resulting in being disconnected? Have you ever walked into a business and had to look for someone to help you? Both examples are far below the levels of what you expect to see as a great first impression in customer service.

As a passionate business owner, or manage, who expects nothing but the best, how do you make sure your customers aren’t having experiences like both scenario’s above? Here are some quick tips on how to check (and if you aren’t the one doing the checking, make sure you are following up with the person who should be accountable for this):

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

At first glance, it’s easy to see how this impacts your business. However, this can be quantified. Let’s look at the numbers. The numbers we are using are examples from the service industry.

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. Companies that perform the best typically schedule (and service) seven out of ten new potential customers. When a company isn’t performing at it’s best they might schedule only 3.5 out of ten calls, the cost to acquire a new customer doubles. This means we must spend twice as much in getting calls, OR we get half as many calls at the same amount

of money. Either way it is costing us more money to acquire a new customer if we are not doing the best job in scheduling the calls, we already have coming in.

If you’re not sure what your cost per lead is, or how to make improvements to the first impression your company is putting out there, the best place to start is checking out how you are doing today. Moving forward from your initial findings, continue making improvements, and soon enough you’ll see. A little time spent here will be a big pay off in the long run.

Programmatic Advertising. What is it?

Online Media Buying

You may have heard terms like “Programmatic Advertising” thrown around more and more recently. It has become commonplace for businesses of all sizes to include in their marketing plan. Yet many business owners don’t understand what that means. We understand people are hesitant to try something new, especially if they’re not truly grasping the concept. Let’s talk about Programmatic Advertising so we can all have a better understanding of what it is and what value it may bring to different businesses.

 

Over the past few years, display and video advertising have grown exponentially. We are seeing local businesses slowly start making an entry into this new media, as more and more companies are working with them to help get their feet in the door. Many of the opportunities for using digital and video advertising is only available through Programmatic Advertising. The understanding of the term Programmatic Advertising is not important, however with the term being thrown around so much, it is good as a marketer to understand in principle, the concept, and definition.

 

Programmatic Advertising, in a nutshell, is a computerized purchase of ads on the internet, as opposed to the traditional negotiations of ad contracts (human to human) which are typically much simpler. Programmatic Advertising uses an algorithm (a detailed step-by-step instruction, or formula, for solving a problem or completing a task) to purchase online ad space for lots of competing businesses, in real time, typically with the goal of placing each in the best spots that make the most sense for that business. It is one of the best ways to purchase digital and video advertising for local businesses, at the best cost. For many businesses, it’s the only way.

 

Let’s say you want to advertise your local business with a billboard. The buying process here is relatively easy: find the available billboards, develop your message, and complete the paperwork. This might include meeting with several billboard companies and negotiating the best value for the money.  Now, let’s say you want to show up on digital ad space. It’s more difficult to buy ads showing on specific websites or even be competitive in pricing compared to national brands.

 

Programmatic Advertising solves this problem in the digital world and actually does it better than traditional agreements could manage. It is a good way to target a much more specific market or audience, increasing accuracy and minimizing wasted money.

 

It’s understood with a billboard, approximately half of the people seeing the billboard may be a potential client. So, if you’re selling flooring then your target audience would be homeowners. In 2018 only 64% of the population owned homes, which means your billboard may be targeting up to 36% of people who are not your potential customer. This would be a great example of wasted money. With Programmatic Advertising, you can have your ads targeted to people who own homes at a much higher level by focusing on data which is available about each user (on their computer or phone), such as their search habits or website usage.

 

Though you could purchase digital and video ads from your local newspaper or television station, this is typically less targeted to your desired demographic, and the price (in our own findings) is often higher than general Programmatic Advertising costs. This may differ by region or if bundled with other products/advertising. Print newspaper and digital ads may confuse the price conversation, making it unclear as to the real value of the product on its own. They may sell you space only in their online newspaper or television station, but as soon as they start showing ads in other places, they too are buying into the concept of Programmatic Advertising.

What I Learned from Watching Television

What I Learned from Watching TV About Business

Reality TV shows are everywhere, and many people are addicted to watching them. This is an interesting phenomenon in our culture that cannot be ignored when it comes to marketing. While this may not be something you enjoy watching, there are a few reality shows which can add value to the business world.

These shows have the same main goal as all television shows. To sell ads to generate revenue in online and offline products. A couple of the shows that may have some business value are Shark Tank, The Profit, and the Billion Dollar Buyer. Each of these television shows highlight real-life businesses looking to fix, or grow, their business.

Entertainment value aside, each of these shows offer business concepts which can be helpful to any business owner. The value in these shows is learning about the process and concepts of the show hosts, who are also successful business owners. They offer guidance and help for their guests, who are usually business owners in need of extra help.

The main thing to gain from watching these television shows is growth. For many local businesses there isn’t a boss they can go to for advice, or development, and instead are left to find their own ways of increasing growth. It’s possible a good “self-help” book could help. However, seeing and hearing extremely successful business people, inspiring other struggling business owners to do better, may also give you some great tips to use, which would improve your own game.

Shark Tank – Business owners pitch their products to the “Sharks” in the hope of receiving an investment from one of the Sharks. Concepts learned from watching this show includes: knowing your valuation and knowing your numbers (cost per acquisition, sales trajectory, target customer, and the market you are in.) There are lessons to be learned on what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. In addition, the pitch itself has some strong lessons to be learned, including the level of preparation in a great pitch.

The Profit – This show has been on six years now and has Marcus Lemonis as the host and businessman. The show’s concept is he goes into a business to make an offer for partial ownership of the prospective company. One of his main thoughts to business owners is to know your numbers. During each episode, the show takes a detailed look at his (and his teams,) working with a business, not only in coming up with the initial offer but in his making improvements to the business for future growth and profitability. He spends a good amount of time talking about three things in the initial evaluation – people, product, and process. Lots of detail on these three throughout the episodes.

Additional Business Reality Shows include the Billion Dollar Buyer, Undercover Boss, Girl Starter, and The Apprentice to name a few. In addition to these, there are various bloggers and vloggers who may also have some value. We are not endorsing any of these shows or people on these shows, but rather presenting them as an opportunity to expand your current business knowledge.

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.

 

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.

Buying Decisions

Running a business comes with lots of buying decisions and even more options.

From office supplies and software packages, to insurance companies, and so much more. Choosing the best option can be exhausting. It’d be easy to say yes to the first sales pitch from the first company you approach, but history has shown us that the best sales pitch isn’t always the best choice. Knowledge is power and having knowledge of the product which is being sold to you gives you power in a sales presentation to ask the right questions, evaluate its value to your company’s specific needs, and make an informed decision. Let’s think about what it takes to become an informed decision maker.

2018-02 Buying Decisions

Where do you seek information on the product you are looking to buy, or the other person is looking to sell to you? Energized, eager salespeople are more than excited to tell you everything you want or need to hear to purchase their product. The goal of the salesperson is to make the sale of the product, not necessarily to ensure that the product fulfills its purpose or provides the most return on investment (ROI) for your business. You need to be able to make an informed decision on whether a product and its price will provide value for your business. Making decisions based on quick statistics or a sales presentation has the potential to be a quick fix, not a sustainable fix, and consequently a waste of your time and/or money.

As a rule of thumb, you should know your specific need before you make a purchase. For example, if you are looking for a new billing software for your accountant, but don’t know exactly which features your accountant uses or needs, how will you pick the right product? You could hear a sales pitch on a very high-end accounting software which provides lots of bells and whistles and sounds great, but its much more complicated and will require training for your accountant to even use it. Or, you could approach multiple companies and find the cheapest software, and it end up being worse quality than what you currently have. In this case, you’ve found the cheapest option, but you’ve wasted money because you still do not have the proper software.

In some scenarios, you’re not even looking for a new product or service, and instead, you are approached by a salesperson via phone or email. Let’s revisit the accounting software example. This time, you already have software, therefore your immediate reaction is to politely decline the phone call almost as soon as you answer. However, what if this software is a much better value or can increase efficiency in your office? Perhaps the product offers features which your current software does not. It might not, but if we are not making informed decisions across the board, we are doing ourselves and our wallets a disservice. The solution to this is to ask questions or even ask for a follow-up meeting in a week. This allows you some time to look into whether or not you need an updated accounting software. If you do, you can research which features this new product would need to offer for it to be better than the software you currently use.

When it comes down to it, knowing is key. Whether you are learning your specific needs before you buy a product or you are taking time to ask questions about a product you’ve been approached with, a little extra legwork and background research will help you see that it’s possible to save money by spending money, and you’ll feel confident in your buying decisions.