Inbound marketing? Outbound? Low-cost strategies to achieve the best of both!

Many businesses and organizations today are enamored with “inbound marketing.” Web-focused, it capitalizes on consumer reliance on search engines and social media to influence brand awareness and preference.shutterstock woman on phone in office

But what about “outbound marketing?” Centered on demand generation, its strategies include broadcast, email, outdoor, print, telesales, trade shows and other outreach methods.

So, inbound or outbound, which do you choose?  We recommend both. Many marketers are, in fact, successfully “marrying” the two disciplines to drive greater results.

Here are examples of outbound tactics that can “humanize” you to prospects identified through your inbound efforts. Best of all, it doesn’t take costly broadcast commercials or print ads for you to reap the rewards:

  • Pick up the phone and make a call; after all, the price is right. Before dialing, be sure to draft a script and practice reading it in a conversational tone. Call between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. or 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. when prospects may be least busy. And consider an incentive such as special offer or a contest for prizes.
  • Take advantage of cost-effective email marketing. To those that have opted in for ongoing communications via your Web or social media “inbound” efforts, email marketing remains a viable way to maintain relationships and nurture leads on a large scale.
  • Benefit by participating in trade shows. They represent a great opportunity for you to literally reach out to prospects, shake their hands, and establish face-to-face relationships not achievable online. Conversely, the events themselves play a significant role in promoting new “inbound” relationships!

For expert assistance in inbound marketing, outbound marketing or both, please give us a call.

 

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Make a Date to Succeed in Content Marketing: The Importance of Creating a Calendar

shutterstock calendarTwo key benefits of content marketing that come from sharing videos, white papers, webinars, blogs and more, is that you help keep your audience engaged and your brand “top of mind.”

What’s more, frequent posts of new content to your website and social media pages can enhance search engine optimization – making it more likely viewers will find you when searching on Bing, Google and Yahoo for keywords associated with your company or organization.

But where to begin with content marketing? And how to proceed? While most small and mid-size businesses won’t have anywhere near the resources of a Fortune 500 company, you can steal a page from their playbooks and create a content marketing calendar.

Sitting down at the beginning of the year and mapping out your strategy lets you use your resources more effectively. Some tips:

  •  Commit to making a calendar, either physical or virtual. Brainstorm topics you want to talk about, organize them in a logical manner and plug them in to a date. It’s much easier to find relevant content and share it when you have a plan.
  • Schedule your releases in manageable increments. No matter how large, no brand can do it all at one time … and no prospect or customer can possibly absorb all of your new content at once anyway. Make a realistic assessment of your resources and go from there.
  • Match your output to your audience’s interests. For example, a garden center will wish to feature fall lawn fertilization and end-of-season soil preparation in its autumn releases. Focus on the time of year your messaging will be most effective.
  • Capitalize on surrounding, special events. Most cities and regions are famous for a harvest festival, classic auto show, fall color tour, rodeo days or you name it. Don’t compete with these events; instead consider matching your releases to them in order to “piggyback” on their momentum.
  • Spread the load among your team. Each member is likely to bring different talents and perspective to the job, helping to keep content fresh. What’s more, you’ll keep your staff fresh, too, by not overloading any one person with too many content creation tasks.

One more tip to succeed in content marketing? Call us, if you’re in need of expert assistance.

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When it comes to Promotional Products, Choose Wisely

The effective use of promotional products is more than just handing out a mug or a magnet at a trade show. After all, the purpose of these items is to build awareness of your brand. So make sure the items you’re putting your company name or shutterstock_127914380logo on are a complement to your company’s image and make a positive impression.

Here are four key points to consider when purchasing your promotional products:

  1. Give them what they want. The best promotional products are the ones that have value to the recipients and ones they will use every day. Items such as sticky-notes, note pads and pens work well for most businesses. Farmers and construction workers might enjoy receiving a cap. People need them, use them daily, and they’re relatively inexpensive.
  2. Maintain the quality. Promotional products are a direct representation of your company. You want people to associate you with quality and value, not cheapness. And while that doesn’t mean you need to buy $20 items for every customer, you do need to make sure you get something that your customer wants to use that will hold up well. For example, if you’re giving out pens, make sure they’re the kind of pens people will reach for first. Pens should write well on most surfaces, be smear-proof, and feel good in the recipient’s hand.
  3. Keep good design in mind. Your brand and information on your promotional products should be organized and usable. Make sure your business name or logo is presented clearly, and be sure to include your Web address. On sticky pads and notepads, your information and logo should be on every page, but should still allow the product to be used.
  4. Hit the target. You don’t need to give out promo products to everyone. That would be a waste of money. Rather, choose your targets, the items they receive and what criteria needs to be met for them to receive it. Maybe you want to say thank you to a new client or reward repeat business from a loyal customer. Set whatever parameters make sense for your business.

We have access to thousands of promo products. Give us a call. We’re here to help.

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Promo Products Make a Lasting Impression

shutterstock_187237550Using promotional products as part of your marketing strategy is a proven method to increase brand awareness for your company.  Promotional merchandise is popular at trade shows but can also be effective for sponsorships and events, customer loyalty programs, business referrals, holiday gifts and employee recognition.

Here are five benefits of having promotional products as part of your marketing mix:

  1. Brand recognition: Studies show that nine out of ten people say they remember the company name on a promotional product they received. By customizing an item with your logo, that a customer or prospect can use in his or her everyday life, you’re able to keep your business top of mind.
  2. Longevity: When customers receive promotional products, they tend to keep them for a long period of time. In fact, it’s estimated that the average time a promotional item is kept in a business or household is seven months. This increases the brand awareness of not only the person using the promotional item, but also those who are in contact with the recipient or see them using the product.
  3. More likely to buy: Recipients become more and more familiar with your company name and the products or services you offer when they are constantly reminded about it when using the promotional gift. In the U.S., 36% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company after receiving a promotional item from them.
  4. Economical form of advertising: Promotional products can cost considerably less per impression, than other forms of advertisement. Items being kept and used for some time can also be passed onto or seen by other potential customers. Plus, when someone sees a promotional gift being used by their friend or family member, it can be construed as an endorsement of your brand and helps get the word out to multiple people other than the one recipient.
  5. Large selection available: Writing instruments, branded apparel and mugs are among some of the most popular promotional items given away. But there are literally thousands of different promotional products to choose from. You can choose products that represent your company and are relevant to your brand. Different themes or company cultures can be promoted through promotional products. For example, a travel company might give out a beach or travel related promotional product. Environmentally committed companies may give out recycled promotional gifts or even ones that reduce the carbon footprint left on the Earth.

Looking for the perfect promo product to boost your brand? Contact us. We can help.

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More than Just a Discount: Coupons Build Business and Brand Awareness

Coupon campaigns can be an inexpensive means of marketing. Many small businesses use coupons to build awareness and bring new business to their doors.  Other reasons to use coupons include:coupons

  • To increase sales of a specific products
  • To reward current customers for their loyalty
  • To entice former customers to return
  • To create cross-sell opportunities

How to Use Coupons in Promotions

A well-designed coupon offer can generate a short-term boost in traffic, but establishing brand awareness is one of the long-lasting effects of a coupon promotion.

Before starting a coupon promotion, be sure the offer is right for your market. Coupons aren’t for everyone and in some cases, may actually lower the value of a brand.

If you determine that a coupon promotion works for you, there are a variety of coupon delivery channels available to reach your target audience. Some of the more popular coupon distribution methods include electronic delivery such as Groupon or LivingSocial, free-standing inserts in publications and direct mail.

Elements of Effective Coupons

Like any promotional advertisement, coupons should be designed to inspire the consumer to act. Here are some specific elements to keep in mind when creating a coupon:

  • Use clear, concise language to detail the offer and its terms.
  • Be sure to include the product image. Pictures speak a thousand words.
  • Include any necessary disclaimers or legal copy.
  • Designate an expiration date.
  • Provide your company name and address.
  • Incorporate an offer or tracking code to measure the campaign.

Evaluating a Coupon Campaign

Want to know if your coupons are working? Don’t forget to build testing mechanisms into your campaign.  The use of tracking codes printed directly on the coupon, or coded in electronic delivery, allow you to see which customers redeemed the coupons and where they were found. Evaluating the delivery method and response can help determine which promotion or coupon works best with your audience.

Interested in adding a coupon campaign to your marketing plan? Let us know. We can help.

 

 

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The Power of Promotional Products

promo productsApparel. Flash drives. Ball caps. Pens. Mugs. Promotional products are a valuable communication tool for building your brand, recognizing employees, boosting sales and marketing company events. As part of an overall marketing or
communications program, they grab attention, generate goodwill and reinforce messages.

Planning is critical to the successful use of promotional products. Here are some helpful guidelines for developing an effective program:

  1. Define a specific objective. The first step is to clarify your purpose. Is the goal is to build excitement for a new program, recognize employee achievements at an annual meeting, or increase traffic at a trade show?
  2. Determine your target audience. Consider who you are trying to reach with your promotional items. Make sure the item is useful or meaningful to its intended recipients.
  3. Create a central theme. An event or marketing promotion will be most effective with a central theme. The theme and the promotional product should tie in with the objectives of the program or event.
  4. Select a product that bears a natural relationship to your profession or theme. A good example is a company that developed a magic motif for its conference at Disney World. Attendees received magic-related products to tie in with the theme “Experience the magic at Disney.”
  5. Don’t pick an item based solely on uniqueness, price or perceived value. Don’t fall prey to the latest trends or fads. And remember that audience perceptions of a gift are not exclusively cost-related. According to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), the leading three categories of promotional products chosen for use are: wearables such as shirts, jackets and hats; writing instruments like pens and highlighters; and calendars including wall and wallet size, desk diaries and more.

 
No matter your purpose, select promotional products worth keeping. From pens to t-shirts to coffee mugs, these effective marketing tools are a tangible representation of your company or organization. Make sure they send the right message. Need help finding just the right promotional product? Call us. We can help.

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Brand vs. Business: What’s the Difference?

We’ve been blogging about branding issues quite a bit in the past few months. After all, branding is the current marketing buzz. So where exactly does the “company” begin and the “brand” end? Technically, company refers to the organization that produces products or services; brand refers to the image and “personality” a company applies to its products.

In his article, The Difference between a Business and a Brand,” Chris Kocek, founder and CEO of strategy and design studio, Gallant, discusses some of the differences between a business and a brand, and provides links to some insightful articles on branding as well as case studies of successful brands.

Interested in taking a look at your brand? Download your FREE assessment guide, “Your Brand: Unrivaled or Unraveled,” and contact us. We can help.

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Using Google+ to Help Build Your Brand

google+Many companies have embraced a social media strategy that includes Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Google+ should also be considered as part of the mix, and here’s four reasons why:

1. Boost your search engine rankings – Because Google wants more people to use Google+ they actually reward businesses that are active on the site. By creating a page, linking it to your website, including a badge on your homepage that links back to Google+, and posting regularly, you will enjoy an SEO boost.

2. Benefit from seamless integration – Google+ integrates with other Google products such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps and YouTube. Creating a page and syncing everything having to do with your business to this page will streamline your web presence and boost the performance and visibility of each.

3. Be a stand-out in the community – Google+ communities are great forums for discussions. Entering or even starting discussions in different communities can help build brand awareness and establish your company as an expert on various subjects.

4. Reach customers through Google Hangouts. With Google Hangouts, free live video conferencing can take place for as many as 10 people. Small businesses are able to reach out to customers, prospects, dealers and vendors at no cost. You can also participate in Hangouts initiated by others and communicate with thought leaders in your industry.

To get started using Google+, visit the Google+ Brands website. Or contact us. We can help.

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Tips for Getting Email Marketing to Work for Your Brand

Email is an effective way of communicating directly to your customers and prospects. Email marketing campaigns are generally developed to serve a specific audience, and encourage them to take action on an offer. This may take the basic formEmail marketing of a newsletter that drives traffic to your website.
According to a study by ExactTarget, 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. Some of the benefits of email marketing include:

  • Strengthens the relationship between your business and its current customers
  • Produces an easily calculable ROI so you know exactly how well your campaign is working
  • Quicker and more inexpensive than traditional direct mail marketing

In his article, “3 Counterintuitive Tips to Boost Your Email Marketing,” Eddie Howard, senior product manager at marketing software company Vocus, provides insights to making your email marketing strategies work for you.

Need help coming up with a plan? Ask us. We can help.

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3 Reasons to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices

Social Lady on PhoneAccording to mobile e-commerce platform company, Mobify, 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience. And yet many businesses and nonprofits still haven’t optimized their websites for mobile use. When a person visits these sites from a mobile device, they look exactly the same as the do on a desktop. But what looks great on a 15-inch monitor may look jumbled and unreadable on a 4-inch smartphone screen.

With the growing popularity of mobile device access to the Web, companies need to move towards a mobile-optimized website. Here are three ways optimization can benefit your business:

1. Visitors will stay on your website longer.

With all the information available on traditional websites, it may be difficult to load them on a mobile device. Mobile-optimized websites feature a simplified design that allow them to load much quicker, preventing visitor drop-offs.

2. Your content has a better chance of getting read.

Reading the content from a traditional website on a mobile device, can be a hard work. In fact, most people won’t do it. A mobile-optimized website enlarges and simplifies the text so that it is easier to read.

3. Your branding will get noticed.

With the size of the screens on mobile devices, especially smartphones, traditional websites are extremely difficult to view. So not only is the navigation and content more challenging, your brand identity may get lost. With a mobile-optimized website, you’re logo, visuals and message will be more dominant and it will help readers to remember you.

Not sure where to start with your website optimization? Contact us. We can help.

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