BETTER MARKETING FOR BETTER BUSINESS

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

Marketing

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.

Organic Search Ranking and Credibility to the Consumer

What are your customers searching?

“Brunch restaurants nearby”

“Breakfast food near me”

“Where’s the best brunch in Portland?”

Nowadays, search engines seem to solve all life’s hardest questions. And, if your business has a website, you obviously want your website to land at the top of the first page when a potential customer searches for what you do. But oftentimes, business owners don’t fully understand search engine optimization or how to improve their rankings to give them the best chance to be on the first page.

Organic Search Ranking

Statistics show that internet users search more than 3.5 billion queries every day. For your website to be the top results, a combination of attributes need to be in your favor. Everything from page headings, loading speed, mobile optimization, html codes, and many other factors play a part in how soon a consumer will see your brand’s website in their search results. Because of this, it’s important to fully understand how best to create your website and enhance your content for optimal results, or have someone on your team who does.

Another way to improve your search ranking is to have customer reviews. A recent survey reported that 73% of consumers trust a local business more when they have positive reviews. Also, a consumer will read a minimum of 7 reviews before they trust a business. So, the more Yelp, Facebook, and Google reviews you have, the more relevant your business becomes to the specific search. You will increase your chances on being on the first page simply for having more reviews.

An example of the significance of reviews could be making a purchase on Amazon. The average consumer is more likely to buy a new bike from a business with 70 positive reviews than a business with 1 or 2 reviews total. Reviews provide credibility and depth to a business. Finding an effective way to promote your customers to leave good feedback on line is an important part of business today.

The next time you’re doing a Google search, notice what factors you consider when selecting a search result for a local business. Understanding how you (or others you know,) search and make “buying decisions” is important in understanding the importance of getting to the first page on the search engines.

Who is Your Ideal Customer?

The Right Message to the Right Customer

“How Do I Focus on Getting The Best Customers?”

As a business owner, this thought has most likely crossed your mind a time or two, regardless of how well things are going. One of the quickest ways for a business to waste money is not identifying who their target customer is when planning a marketing strategy. It would be imprudent to market a child’s toy to college students, just as it would not make sense to advertise a new cologne during Saturday morning cartoon shows.

Message in a bottle on a beach against the setting sun
Getting the Right Message to the Right Customer

In order to have a successful marketing venture it is imperative to know who your target customers are. Some key principles to help in identifying your best marketing group are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Demographics/Ethnicity
  • Status, including educational status, financial status, and family status.

Now, some people will certainly fit into many different groups, and each of these groups will use media differently. This also means that their responses will be different to the various messages in the advertisement.

“But isn’t this discrimination?”

No, it’s not. Let me explain by using an example of the Tesla automobile. If you were marketing the Tesla today, who would your target audience be, and what could change that? The original Tesla was priced over $100,000, which left you with a limited target audience. It also had a strong appeal to the younger executives, as opposed to an older audience. Therefore, you would be wise to choose to target media that focuses on this demographic. That said, this is all about to change! Tesla is releasing the new Model 3 this year, and with it is a price tag of $35,000, which will massively widen its base of potential customers. The car will be much more affordable, opening it to more of the middle-income buyers. Add to that the appeal of an electric range of 225 miles, and you’ve got another target market in the environmentally conscientious.

Just a little bit of market research can take you a long way in making sure that you target the right audience, which is critical. Having a great advertising campaign going to the wrong audience is illogical, and wasteful of time and money. By learning who your target customer is, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage and work better with your creative team to come up with great campaigns. Creative campaigns with the right message for the right customer in the right media, creating a win-win in your marketing, and increasing your sales.

Social Media Is Your Business

Is Your Business “Socially” Acceptable?

Man working on notebook, with a fresh cup of coffee.

We hear much about Social Media these days, and for many business owners, social media means different things.  The term is used vaguely and can be used to described any website, or app (an application downloaded to a mobile device), where people can connect with other people, brands, or businesses.

If we break the term up, we would define “social” as an interaction between people, much like a conversation. “Media” would be defined as a source of communication, like TV, newspapers, or in today’s more thought of usage, the internet. Social Media is a way to have a conversation or an interaction with your business through the internet. Whether we personally like or dislike social media, how can your business benefit in using social media?

It is estimated the average person has five social media accounts and spends over an hour visiting these throughout the day – yes – every day. For teens, it is even higher! It has become a way to stay connected in real time with friends and family, as well as getting the daily news, including sports, weather, and general information – and connect with local businesses.

Can My Business Really Benefit From Social Media?

Business Team um Computer im BroEvery business type is different and whether your customers want to stay connected and hear more about your business probably depends on your business and what you have to say. Or are you wanting to stay better connected with your customers? As an example, Olive Garden has over six million fans and a post from this past week yielded over 12,000 likes and 784 shares (the average person on Facebook has 338 friends. With 784 shares, that may mean almost a quarter million people who may not be connected to (liked) the Olive Garden, such as this picture/post.

Developing a social media plan as a part of your marketing plan makes sense. These are already your customers, and they may want to hear from your business. Deciding which social media sites will work for your business may be the tricky part – as they all may not be right for your business. Social media takes time and the right strategy may pay off big time.

Today’s top social media sites include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. As well as a couple others, which may not seem like social media websites, but they certainly can be, for example, YouTube and Reddit. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of all of these, as history tells us these will change over time. You might remember Myspace, Friendster, or Classmates? They may be around still, but they are nothing like how they used to be. It was only eight years ago Facebook became the Internet’s largest social network (overtaking Myspace in January 2009).

What social media will look like in another eight years is unknown, but based on history, it isn’t going anywhere soon. Having a social media plan for your business may help your company stay connected to its customers for a long, long, time. Social media may be thought of as free media, but it does take time to do it, and a plan to do it well.

Getting the Most out of our Day

Prioritizing Made Easy (Easier)

As leaders, many of us wonder how some people get so much done, while we are still under a desk load of things needing to be accomplished and never seem to catch up. If any of this sounds familiar, you have either mastered the skill of time management or you are wondering if this is a skill you will ever achieve. Hey, the new year is just around the corner, so now may be a good time to look at this skill. The good news is this can always get better and a little focus could go a long ways.

Steven Covey, well known speaker and author, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” covers his even habits. Habit number three focuses on this – Put First Things First. It is so important, he even has a book specifically on this topic, “First Things First.” Time management is a skill for life, not just work, that carries a great amount of weight to it. Those with great time management skills can attest, when

The Big Rock – Little Rock concept is not necessarily new. For those visual learners, it is a great tool to help see the bigger picture in time management. Too often some may get caught up in the little things (which may or may not need to be done,) – for different reasons. As leaders, by focusing on the “Big Rocks” sometimes the “Little Rocks” will take care of themselves. If you have a team you work with, consider doing the Big Rock – Little demonstration with them to help them better understand the importance of prioritizing their day/week and the value which comes with this type of short and long term planning.

Do Business and Politics Mix?

Lessons We Have Learned (Maybe)

In the past couple of weeks, we have seen more passion for our political process than many of us can remember seeing and hearing in a long time, if not the most in our lifetime. The beauty is in the big scope of things; we are still seeing many people passionate about what they believe to be “Our America” and we are protected by the very First Amendment of the United States Constitution to express our beliefs freely and openly.

As a business owner or President of a company, you have one goal, which is in your mission statement of core values, and in the bigger scope of things, and regardless of whether you sell widgets or serve people, you must ensure your company is around to support the people who work for the company – growing professionally, getting paid, etc. A decision also must be made towards whether you talk about politics freely with your team, your customers, or your community – and if so – what could be the ramifications if this is not met with the same openness and passion which it was intended. By many accounts, there are three things which should not be talked about in the workplace – religion, sex, and politics. This, however, is for good reason.

Business and Politics Blog Cover

In the past week, just after the election, many companies have come under fire for “mixing” business and politics. Take GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney, in his post-election e-mail to his employees. In this e-mail, he ended it with asking those to reply to this e-mail with their resignation if you do not agree with his statement. The e-mail went public, and GrubHub had to spend time re-communicating this message. At a further look, they are a publicly traded company (NYSE: GRUB) and their stock went from almost $39 per share on November 10th, to a low of $34.88 on November 11th – a loss of about 10%, when the broader market was up approximately 1% for the same period.

One can also look at New Balance. They have had some backlash with their support and people have been burning their shoes and vowing to never buy from them again. As a private company, they don’t have shares “in the market” but they do have people who buy their shoes and I am sure they don’t want to lose sales. This challenge exists for all businesses and how “politically active” should they be, if at all.

Of course, if legislation is preventing your company to some degree, of course one can’t remain silent. But in seeing what has been happening the past election, we may need to “think and plan a bit more” in deciding what and how we communicate when a company decides to jump in to the political arena. There is good reason to avoid the big three – religion, sex, and politics – in the workplace – and this past week has made it clear the potential challenges businesses face when mixing in one, of these three.

Be the Ball (Setting Realistic Objectives)

Measuring Marketing

Sure, it’s a great idea. The artwork is great, the media chosen is perfect, the sales person who signed us up was a great person and said it worked for everyone else they work with. Sound familiar? And then you wonder after a few months if this was good money spent. This is not an uncommon thought, no matter the size of the business.

Where to start

Agreed, all those things are perfect BUT results need to be measured. Should we do more? Should we do less? Should we keep it the same? The starting line begins with defining the objective as clearly as possible. What do you expect to happen three months after the advertising begins? Are you looking for direct sales or improved brand awareness? Increased repeat business or increased spend?

Close up hourglass on wooden background,vintage color tone

Direct marketing is easy to measure, like a Google ad (PPC) or a phone book ad. Use a tracking phone line to help easily identify the results of these types of campaigns. When at all possible, use a tracking line where the calls are recorded and you own the phone number. If you stop a campaign you may still need access to that tracking number for a while afterwards. For example in a phone book which may be lying around potential customers homes for sometime.

Magazines are a bit tougher. Do you expect direct calls, a bit of branding or both? Direct Mail can be the same, people seeing your message over and over may remember you when it is time for your product or service and not reference the media they have seen you in.

Unless you are a multi-million dollar company with a huge marketing budget, you probably won’t be able to afford a marketing study to see your brand’s awareness in the marketplace. You might not even have enough marketing to improve brand awareness. So the question is “How do you measure?”

Answer sheet

We always look at where the media is being advertised, as well as a target testing area where results can be measured. If you use direct mail in a specific city or zip code and other marketing in that zip code, you can see the results from this area compared to other areas you service. If the targeted city has 10% of your customer base and it grows to 15% after your ad campaign you’ve succeeded, well maybe. There are other factors which can influence the results that may be determined before, or upon review of the campaign.

This sounds like it could be a bit complicated. However, if you start with clear objectives, have some measurements in place, and take time to review the results, possibly even half way in to the campaign, you will be ahead of the game. It may not always give you the answer you want but it will be better than nothing at all.

Last note, when a campaign doesn’t seem to be working it may not be the media. There are many factors to consider and you should not discount the media on its own accord. It could be the message or offer, the time of year, or some event which effected the results. If you ran a campaign and there was a road closing you didn’t know about, a national/world event which changed people’s buying habits, or possibly a competitor jumping in to the same media/campaign outspending you, then your results could be better or worse for it.

Marketing & Advertising

Is There a Difference?

The real answer is yes. There is a difference between marketing and advertising even though these two terms get intertwined in their use. For many, they are used interchangeably without any problem in context to the conversation.

Our tag line: “Better Marketing for Better Business” is a part of our mission statement, and then we further identify ourselves as an advertising agency. This is because we do both – marketing as well as advertising. On a high level, marketing is the overall process – the strategy for growth for the coming year(s), identifying the target customer, as well as market research. Advertising is about the campaigns and decisions about which media to purchase (media planning), as well as the purchasing of the media, and the creative, which includes the words and graphics to be used.

Below you will find a definition of both, if this interests you. Keep in mind, people may use these marketing and advertising synonymously.

Bright idea for business growth
Marketing & Advertising – What’s the Difference?

Marketing is……

Marketing is the big umbrella, which everything else falls under. It is the overall process and involves first identifying the objectives of the business, and then planning the strategy to meet those objectives. Marketing then will establish metrics, when possible, on how to measure the results to see if the actual plan is accomplishing what it is intended to do. Is it driving the desired/anticipated results? Specific functions in the marketing arena may include market research, content marketing (what is the message), and then working to purchase the media – which may be done in house or through an advertising agency.

Advertising is…..

To put it simply, advertising is to get the end user (consumers) to purchase the product or service. To get them to buy something, or buy something more often. It facilitates the brand awareness, and depending on the company, will either purchase the advertising within the company or utilize an advertising agency to make the purchases on their behalf. Media planning, media buying, and artwork creation may fall under the responsibilities, as well as finding ways to creatively get the message out to consumers. This could be television, radio, newspaper, or the internet.

Promotional Materials – How Can They Work for Your Business?

This piece of advertising is often overlooked by businesses today and the benefits are not thought of as much as in years past. It isn’t the effectiveness, as much as it may be just not budgeting for it or for promotional material being more of an afterthought.

Promotional Material is a great way for a business to promote itself for the following reasons:

  • A nice way to say thank you to an existing client
  • A great way to show appreciation to some of your better/best clients
  • Keeps your name in front of your existing clients after they purchased from you
  • Helps drive name/brand recognition
  • Sticks around for a long time

Today’s studies show businesses who use promotional material grow their business more than those who do not. This may be the chicken or the egg question, but certainly something to consider.

Promotional Materials have seen price decreases with the increase of a more global economy. There is fierce competition driving the prices of promotional items down, which has brought prices down for the local promotional companies, who are basically middlemen for these larger, sometimes international companies.

Corporate identity template set. Vector

Be Creative and Have Fun

Promotional Items can be effective with some of the basic things people think about when they think of promotional advertising. Things like pens, magnets, stickers and note-pads.

How about car air fresheners or chip clips, or toys with your brand on it? A little more creative possibly and less likely a chance of getting lost in the shuffle.

Find a way to make your give-away sticky. Make it something someone would use or have around for a while, keeping your name in front of them.

Who can’t afford to give a loyal customer something with your business name on it that costs less than a dollar? That dollar will, or should, give you a solid return on your investment and promote good will for your customers.

How to Make Your Customers Your Biggest Cheerleaders

In today’s fast world of communication bad customer service will spread like a wildfire. AND, so will great customer service. Repeat customers, and customers who refer you, are the epitome of a successful business.

In working with our clients, we often find our conversations turning to customer service. As someone who runs a business, either as the owner, manager, or both; you know how important great customer service is to your business. The questions we have to ask ourselves are:

  • How do we know we’re giving great customer service?
  • Are we asking our customers?
  • How is our referral and repeat business growing?

If you were to ask ten of your customers how they would they rate your business, what would they say? And how likely are they to recommend your company to a friend, family member, or neighbor? Lots of questions and yet no answers.

How to make your customers your biggest cheerleaders blog

What you can you start doing today (or in the near future):

  • Define excellent customer service. What does this mean for every employee/team member in your office?
  • Measure it! Ask your customers, create a questionnaire to see if you are giving the type of service you want to be giving.
  • Set expectations and provide any necessary training.
  • Reward improved performance by team members. Recognize improvements as they happen along the way. All positive reinforcement.
  • See if you can reward your current customers in a way which wows them. Maybe this is better service, maybe this is a gift (think outside the box), and if you need ideas, ask your team and your customers. They may have some great ideas you haven’t thought about.

If we invest in advertising our business, then we need to invest the time in checking on our customer service to answer these important questions. Our customers should be our biggest cheerleaders! Think about this: If your receptionist, cashier, sales person, service tech, etc., is not giving service to cheer about, how much more do you have to invest in advertising to hit your business goals for the year? It all starts with the person greeting your customer for the first time, whether on the phone or in person. Either way, this is the first impression your customer gets of your business. Is the impression your customers are getting a WOW or is it a dud? (P.S if it isn’t a WOW, then maybe it is a dud!) In many businesses, this first interaction with the customer may be the deciding factor towards making the decision to do business with you. Could the first impression improve? And if it can improve, what could this mean for your business?

An effective marketing plan will help your business and its goals. Even more importantly, an incredible customer experience from your team will really help your goals. The money spent in training and in rewarding your current customers will provide a solid return on investment, immediately and in the future.