6 Reasons Why You Should Blog

shutterstock Why BlogYou may have asked yourself, “Do I really need to have a company blog?” Maybe you’re concerned about the time it will take or what you will write about. While these are real concerns, the answer to the question is yes, you should have a blog, and here are six reasons why:

1. Blogging drives traffic to your website. We all want customers and prospects to be able to find us on the Web. Blogging helps your company appear higher in search results.

2. Blogging Improves SEO Performance. Search engines want to display the most relevant and up-to-date information that’s available in their search results. Blogging shows that your website is current and is one of the best ways to improve SEO performance.

3. Blogging builds a loyal following. Provide compelling information to your audience and not only will they keep coming back for more, they’ll also share your information through their own channels, resulting in higher search results for your company.

4. Blogging builds your reputation. With content that is relevant, informational and educational, you can establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Plus, when readers share your articles, it shows search engines that you’re a trusted authority.

5. Frequent posts get noticed. You will be more successful keeping your audience engaged with fresh content. Try to blog as frequently as you can. It may not be possible to post daily or weekly but try to post at least twice a month. You want to maintain your audience’s interest and search results will increase with frequency.

6. It is nice to share. It’s important to get the most social exposure you can when blogging. So be sure to share your blog posts on social media. It provides more opportunities to gain exposure with your audience and for them to share it with their friends.

Need help getting started with a blog? Give us a call. We can help.

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Creating Ideal Customer Profiles for Effective Inbound Marketing Strategies

In my last blog, I touched on the idea of creating profiles of ideal customers. It’s important to establish these profiles for your business so you can segment your audience and create stronger marketing campaigns. But how do you create profiles and what criteria should you use?

In “Five Simple Steps to Creating an Ideal Customer Profile,” The Whole Brain Group boils it down to a manageable process. By following the guide, you’ll be able to identify which types of content work best for each target group and where they’re most likely to see it.

In the next month we’ll be talking about creating content that will resonate with your ideal customers and prospects in the many avenues available to you.

Need help identifying your target audiences and creating relevant content for them? Our marketing professionals can help you provide meaningful information that will generate more sales for your business or organization. Give us a call.

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Use These Four Inbound Marketing Tools to Generate New Business

Inbound marketing strategies focus on creating quality content that attracts people to your company. But first, you must determine who you want to attract. Who is most likely to buy your products or services? Consider some of the shutterstock inbound marketingcharacteristics of your ideal customer such as age, gender, income level, education and occupation. What are their values, interests and behaviors? Then, by providing content that interests your target groups, you’ll naturally attract the right inbound traffic.

Here are four of the most important tools to attract users to your site:

Company blog. A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that is relevant to them and answers their questions.

Social media. Make sure you share pertinent content and valuable information on the social web. Interact with your prospects and put a human face on your brand. Have a presence on the networks where your ideal buyers spend their time.

SEO. Many of your customers begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. So you need to make sure you appear prominently when they search. Be sure to use keywords, optimize your pages, create content, and build links around the terms your ideal buyers are searching for.

Web Pages. Optimize your website to appeal to and speak with your ideal buyers. Make sure you provide helpful content to entice the right prospects to visit your pages.

Need help getting noticed on the Web? Give us a call. We can help.

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The Art of Cold Calling in the 21st Century

shutterstock man on office phoneCold calling has been a sales staple for decades.  But in today’s world, more and more businesses are replacing phone conversations with electronic ones.

Does that mean cold calling is a thing of the past? Not necessarily. Cold calling is actually one of the most targeted, efficient and effective ways to reach potential customers. And nothing beats having a real conversation with a prospect. But it has to be done well. Here are six tips for turning cold calls into hot leads:

1. Plan ahead. Know who and when you will be calling. Carve out an hour each day and stick with that routine.

2. Do your homework. Before starting a cold calling campaign, create a profile of the ideal prospects you’re trying to reach. Where are they located?  What challenges or issues do they have that your product or service can solve? Doing homework on the person you’re calling will make a huge difference. This can be as simple as doing a Google search on the company or looking up the prospect on LinkedIn.

3. Look for common ground. Whether through online research or during the phone call itself, try to find a personal connection with your prospects. Maybe you went to the same school or have a connection with the same company. Try to find a common interest. It changes the dynamics of the conversation.

4. Wait for it. Ask lots of questions before selling your product or service. Take time to find out about your prospect’s business needs first. Then you can more effectively tailor your pitch.

5. Name Drop. Most likely, you’ll reach voice mail rather than speaking with the prospect directly. To increase the chances of getting a call back, try to find a common connection you can mention in the message you leave. Social media sites like LinkedIn let you see the people your connections are connected to. If you know someone connected to the person you’re calling, ask if you can use his or her name. Your chances are greater for a return call if there’s a connection.

 6. Understand the goal of your call. Cold calling is not the closing of a sale. It’s the beginning of the sales process. Cold calling leads to conversations that lead to conversions.

Need help with your sales and marketing strategies? Give us a call. We can help.

 

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Go with Text Message Marketing to Connect with Today’s Mobile Consumers

As many businesses have discovered, text or SMS (short message service) marketing can be a great way to deliver messages to those who – through previous contact with you – have opted-in for continued communications.shutterstock man and woman grocery shopping looking at phone

But as many marketers have also learned, texting carries the risk of irritating recipients, which is hardly the way to win sales.

Making your text message marketing effective and not annoying. Some tips on getting it right:

Don’t overdo it. Send from two to four texts a month and no more.

Time it right. If sending business-related texts, confine them to office hours. On the other hand, SMS messages related to home chores or recreation activities may be appropriate for early evenings and weekends.

Make a right-now offer. Most recipients read texts right away with the expectation of receiving news. So be sure to make a real-time offer supported by a message that highlights the benefit of acting without delay. Text messaging is not the forum to preview next month’s sale or special event.

Reach readers when they’re most receptive. For example, if your hardware store is having a special on grass seed, a Saturday morning promotional text would probably work best.

Identify your brand or business. With text message marketing, unrecognizable messages are often deleted immediately. Avoid the spam treatment by letting recipients know their texts are arriving from a trusted – and welcomed – source.

Add an element of exclusivity. Don’t overload your prospects’ inboxes with offers they can easily obtain on your website or at your store. By making your promotion exclusive to mobile users, you’ll increase the perceived value of your text messages and decrease the likelihood of opt-outs.

Keep it short, simple and respectful. Make your messages brief and focused on one offer rather than several. Also, avoid the hype, slang and abbreviations that can cheapen the perception of a brand.

Need expert assistance with your text message marketing campaign? Call us today.
we can help.

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Read all about it: Using Public Relations to Build Brand Awareness

shutterstock  newsMarketers have long relied on public relations to build brand awareness, increase brand preference and ultimately drive sales. But as the old saying goes, just about the only “constant” in PR these days is change!

While continuing to rely on traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and radio, today’ marketers are also embracing online publications, blogs and social media channels as effective – and often low-cost – ways in which to spread the word on their products and services.

So how can you best leverage the power of these ever-evolving tools? Here are five fast tips on brand building with traditional and new media:

1. Dive right in! If new to PR, go online and search for a press release template. Then add to it your “news” of a product or service introduction, upcoming special event or recent hire.

2. Spread the word. Send your completed press release by email to all local media outlets and, if applicable, attach a photo or two. Be sure to post your news on your website and social media pages.

3. Establish yourself as an expert. Reporters often like to augment their stories by quoting or interviewing a local source. So why not become their go-to authority on lawn care or winter tires or whatever it is you’re selling? Contact local media outlets to offer your services or try an online service such as Help a Reporter Out (www.helpareporter.com) that connects local experts with reporters and editors.

4. Do a good deed! Supporting a local charity or devoting a portion of your profits to a neighborhood cause is not only a good way to support your community, it’s also a great way to generate some goodwill. Of course, it’s also a great topic for your next press release (see tip #1!).

5. Stay on top of your social media pages. While almost always a “plus,” posting your news on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere has a potential drawback; critics can post negative comments. So monitor your pages regularly and be prepared to quickly counter with a positive response.

One more tip? Count on us if you need expert assistance with your public relations initiatives.

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Smile! Trade Shows Represent a Great Face-to-Face Sales Opportunity

shutterstock people in meetingMany find event marketing and its personal selling opportunities the ideal complement to impersonal – albeit often impressive – measures such as digital marketing, direct mail and mass media.

Shoppers, too, relish the chance to evaluate potential purchases first-hand. An eye-opening 96% of consumers said attending an event made them more inclined to buy, assuming the product or services promoted at the event were relevant to them, per Event Track.

Make the most of your efforts with these simple, low- or no-cost suggestions:

Connect before, during and after the event: Employ high-impact direct mail, permission-based email and social media pages in a multi-channel effort to invite, alert and follow-up.

YouTube it or stream it to your website: Give everyone the opportunity to see your presentation, even if unable to attend. Stream live or recorded footage to your YouTube channel, a specialty created event website, or to a well-publicized area on your regular site.

Keep it simple. Short, too. Exhibitor Online reports that the average trade show visitor spends but five to 15 minutes per stop. So develop a precise set of key sales points and practice delivering them concisely.

Sign them up for more. Offer those who attend your display an opportunity to enter a contest, register for a free e-newsletter, or sign up for emails notifying them of sales, special events and more. By prompting them to opt-in for ongoing communications, you gain an opportunity to nurture the prospect and eventually convert them to a sale.

Don’t let them leave empty handed! After you’ve shaken their hand by way of introduction, fill it with a sale flyer or tri-fold. In addition, hand them a branded promotional item. Per the Advertising Specialty Institute, logo apparel (94%) and bags (90%) enjoy the highest brand recall.

Take a minute to keep score. Aim to do even better next time by tracking a few key metrics. For example, you might measure the amount of traffic, number of qualified leads, and sales increases attributable to event participation.

Bonus tip? Rely on us if you’re in need of expert assistance with your event marketing initiatives!

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Seven Tips for Generating Sales from Email Marketing

shutterstock woman reading tabletSmart marketers know that to stay top of mind you have to stay in touch! Email marketing presents a relatively low-cost opportunity for you to do so. And no, we’re not talking about broadcasting “spam” or unwanted communications that go straight to delete if they make it through the recipient’s email filter in the first place.

Instead, we’re addressing the emails you’ll send to selected targets who – through previous contact with you – have “opted in” for continued communications. But how to make the most of this opportunity to drive increased sales? Some tips:

1. Shorten up those email subject lines! In their study of 200 million emails, MailChimp reports that a count of 28-39 characters achieved the highest click rate.

2. Personalize your communications. Assure readers the message is from a familiar – and welcome source – by identifying your company (or yourself) by name in the email “from” line.

3. Keep it simple. Email software provider Litmus notes that more than 43% of email is now opened on a mobile device, making short, simple and mobile-friendly versions of your emails a must!

4. Give your targets a reason to read. Create email messages that are newsworthy. Provide a special offer, announce a sneak preview or extend an exclusive invitation. By giving email recipients a genuine reason to read your content, it’s not only more likely they’ll act today, but also remain receptive to your messages tomorrow.

5. Make it easy for readers to respond. Embed a link to a landing page where recipients can download a coupon, enter a contest or make a purchase.

6. Put it to the test! Take advantage of the flexibility of email by testing subject lines, offers and more to see which ones earn the highest open and/or response rates.

7. Track your progress … or lack thereof. Most email providers can help you monitor all sorts of performance metrics. Increases or decreases in open rates, click-through rates, spam percentages and other data can help you fine-tune your future efforts.

A final tip if considering email marketing? Go for it! The Direct Marketing Association reports that 66% of online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email message.

Need help getting started or improving your current efforts? Give us a call.

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Direct Mail: Make it Easier and Make it Personal to Make it More Effective

shutterstock different people

Use GURLS and PURLS to increase response rates. Email marketers have discovered one truism over the years, “The easier you make it for your targets to respond, the more likely it is they will do so.” And with the advent of variable data printing and its ability to customize your mailers and landing pages, you can now add another, “The more personal you make your appeal, the better your chance to achieve success.” You can accomplish the first objective with a GURL … and both with a PURL.

Go GURL, and make responding easier. When making your appeal, offer your mail targets multiple ways to respond. Include a postage-paid business reply card. Provide a toll-free phone number. And be sure to include a GURL, or generic URL such as www.cablecompany.com/SignupBonusOffer. Why? According to the Direct Marketing Association, 42% of direct mail recipients prefer to respond online!

Get personal by employing a PURL. A PURL or personalized URL is a unique Web address or landing page you create specifically by target. A mailer addressed to John Q. Smith, for example, would direct send him to a PURL such as www.cablecompany.com/JohnQSmithBonusOffer. Employing variable data fields and taking advantage of the information in your database, you can tailor the images, messages and offers on your PURL to each recipient, based on what you know about them. If John Q. Smith is an avid outdoorsman, for instance, his PURL could feature camping images and include messaging highlighting the hunting and fishing programming available to him on your cable network. Is it worth the extra effort? The Direct Marketing Association believes so. They report that personalizing your direct mail can lift your response rates by 30-50%.

Want to know more on how your business, organization or nonprofit can win with direct mail – including GURLs and PURLS? Please give us a call.

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It Pays to Get Personal! Boost Your Mail Response Rates with Variable Data Printing

shutterstock mailboxesVariable data printing – or VDP – enables you to create unique mailing pieces based on your target’s interests, buying habits and other factors. Responses to such highly personalized campaigns average more than four times that of generic, same-to-all messages, reports Caslon, a digital print consulting and research firm, in their 2012 response rate report.

With VDP – a form of on-demand printing – you’re able to customize text, images and offers from one mailing piece to the next. In fact, you’re limited only by how much information is in your database. Some examples:

  • Do your records distinguish between those who have never ordered vs. those who are frequent purchasers? With VDP, one mailer may feature a First-Time Special Offer whereas your next could include a Special Repeat Purchaser Discount.
  • Alternately, do you know which customers of your sporting goods store are hikers as opposed to canoeists? Mountain trail or meandering river, VDP lets you print the photo that’s most likely to attract the eye of the individual prospect.
  • Have multiple store locations, or do you distribute through selected outlets? Variable maps are another VDP-enabled option. By including them in your mailer, you can drive your targets to your nearest location or to a close-by retail partner who carries your products

Variable data printing’s personalization advantages are clear, but what of its costs? They vary, of course, but many marketers find that while the price per piece of VDP direct mail is higher, the cost per response is lower – thereby increasing your return on investment.

Looking for ways to increase your direct mail response? Give us a call. We can help.

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