Is Your Business Sinking? Top Strategies to Stay Afloat

By Hannah Whittenly

If you’re having trouble keeping your business afloat, there are steps you can take to stay operating. By taking these steps, you can possibly eliminate the problems that are hampering your efforts. These four strategies can help you stay in business.image of marketing strategy tools

Reduce Your Expenses

Cutting some of your company’s costs is a great way to keep your business afloat. Entrepreneur.com suggests eliminating the discretionary spending such as company summer outings and holiday parties. Limiting the number of times that you travel for business should also be considered. If you lease office space and can work out an agreement with the landlord to reduce monthly payments, this may be another useful option. Reducing expenses might even involve having to lay off some of your employees or limiting their compensation.

Redirect Your Focus

Redirecting your business efforts can take your company in a more positive direction. You may have to change your business model or target customer base. Changing the type of product or service that you’re selling might also be necessary if you’re having trouble making sales. Another way to redirect your focus is to try rebranding your business to attract more widespread attention. Before making any changes, do a comprehensive analysis of your business to find out what’s working and what isn’t.

Attend Marketing Workshops

These workshops can provide you with tools to jumpstart your business efforts and leave you feeling more motivated. The Rainmaker Retreat is just one example of a marketing workshop that legal professionals have used to get ahead in their industry. While attending a workshop that is specific to your industry, you’ll receive guidance on how to increase your revenue and referrals. You’ll also learn ways to outsmart your competitors and retain a loyal customer base. Many of these workshops are held over two-day periods and cover a variety of practical topics.

Keep up with the Latest Marketing Trends

Another way to expand upon your marketing and achieve greater business success is to stay updated on the latest marketing tactics. Many companies today have turned to digital marketing to get ahead in the business world. Social media is constantly evolving, and you should have eye-catching pages on the newest sites to keep customers intrigued. Creating fresh blogs that rank high on search engines will also garner more attention. If your budget allows, getting a current celebrity to endorse your company can be a wise investment.

Saving your business and taking it to a whole new level is possible. By putting in the extra effort and making the right changes, you’re sure to yield great results.

 

Today’s Guest Post is By Hannah Whittenly, a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

What Is Closed Loop Marketing? (And Why You Need To Know)

graphic of closed loop marketing circle

 

Closing The Loop: Making Your Marketing More Efficient and Effective

graphic of closed loop marketing circle

Did you ever go on Facebook or Twitter and see a whole bunch of ads for the item you were shopping for yesterday? There is a reason for that, of course, and without getting too technical about how it happens, it involves something called remarketing. When you start shopping for something, little pieces of data called “cookies” are deposited on your computer from the website you are viewing. Then, an advertiser can target anyone who has those particular cookies. 

It is not very difficult to do if you have money to advertise online with Google, Bing or other places. But what if you don’t have a big budget?  Targeting your market is just as important for the non-profit agency as it is to the Fortune 500. And, bringing a custom message to your target audiences is not only a more effective approach, it is more cost efficient, too.

Your company’s marketing efforts can and should be targeted to the people who are most interested in your service or product. By figuring out who they are, then creating a message specifically for them, you will improve your marketing results and save money.

Closed Loop Marketing is one way to understand the marketing process. While it is often applied most to websites, I believe the basics apply to any kind of marketing and for any kind of business or non-profit marketing.

Here are the steps:

The Planning Phase

Your planning should always be based on your business goals, so I recommend clarifying those first. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there.

  • Figure out who your best customers are. This might be the people who buy your service most often – for example, a regular customer of a hair stylist. Or, it might be the people who purchase your most profitable product. It is important to understand which customers have the most impact on your business’ bottom line.
  • Create a list of customer segments. For example, you can segment customers by geographic locations, product choice, buying history, brand preference or even birthdays.
  • Decide which message to use for each customer segment. Wouldn’t you rather get an Email telling you when your favorite brand of shoes is on sale than a blast notice that everything in the store is 10% off? How about a notice from the grocery store telling you that your usual brand of laundry soap is on special this week – would that be worth something to you as a customer?

  • Learn how your customers want you to communicate with them. Do they read Email? Hint: most millennials and Generation Z’s do not. Texting and social media – especially videos – will probably work better for this group. On the other hand, if you want to find grandmothers who spoil their grandkids, get on Facebook. You can target direct mail using the postal service’s “every door direct” campaigns, which can be cost effective. But most importantly, ASK your customers how they like to communicate. It might just surprise you.
    graphic of road signs with different media l

The Execution Phase

Now that you know who you are going to talk to, and what you are going to say, now it is time to execute your strategy. 

  • Use as many communication media as possible. If your customers use both Email and Facebook, then put your message and money into both places. You will be increasing your brand awareness as well as the chances your target audience will see the message.

  • Communicate regularly. The old “one and done” is a waste of your time and money. It takes repetition to get your message across. There is something called “the marketing rule of 7” that says you must see a message 7 times before it really begins to sink in. That’s true of everything from billboards to phone numbers and TV commercials. Think about it this way – when you hear a song you like, you probably can’t sing along the first time or two. But after hearing it a few times, you will remember most of the words. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself when you are marketing.

The Conversion Phase

This is the step where you develop leads and customers.

  • For some companies, getting a warm or hot lead is the goal, while for others it may be the actual sale of a service or product.

  • The important thing is to know how those leads or sales were generated and, in the case of leads, how many ultimately became customers.

The Analysis Phase

Measuring and analyzing your results is, to me, the most important part of the cycle. You will want to know:

  • How many sales or leads you generated for each message.

  • Which kinds of communication worked best and which did not work well.

  • How much you spent for each lead/sale by communication type. For example, did you spend $1.50 per customer on direct mail and $1.20 per customer on Facebook ads? Knowing your “cost per acquisition” will help you determine how best to invest your money next time.

  • Did you get the results you expected? Did you make the kinds of sales you predicted, or was another product or service more popular? These answers can help you with future cross-marketing efforts.

In the end, marketing at its best is a circular effort – you launch a campaign, measure it, analyze it, make changes, then launch it again. It might take a little effort to understand your customers and their preferences and buying history. You might have to do a little more record-keeping, but in the end you will be establishing a closer, more personal relationship with your customer.

Interested in knowing more about small business marketing? Call me to discuss your needs at 904.524-0170 or Email Kim@DeppeCommunications.com

 

 

Failing at Facebook? 4 Steps to Vamp up Your Business’s FB Marketing Game (& Target The Right People)

image of fuzzy facebook logo

By Hannah Whittenly

image of fuzzy facebook logo

Since Facebook took off as a major social media platform, it has gradually become one of the most important modern marketing tools for businesses as well. Some businesses, though, have yet to learn how to use Facebook to its fullest when it comes to marketing. Some even have Facebook pages set up, but aren’t really sure how to use them. Here are four steps your business can take to improve its Facebook marketing, build a larger audience and generate more sales.

Link To Real Content

One of the biggest mistakes many businesses make in using Facebook is creating what amount to traditional ads only. Though normal ads can do fairly well on the Facebook platform, today’s internet users prefer content to small ads that just tell them to buy something. Mix links to blog posts on your website in with your purely promotional Facebook posts, and you’ll start to see more engagement with your page. For a good example of this strategy of mixing valuable content with more promotional posts, take a look at the Nu Skin Facebook page.

Define Your Target Audience

One of the massive strengths of Facebook as a marketing platform is the fact that it can be used to specifically target people based on demographics and interests. That power, however, is only as useful as your target customer profile allows it to be. If your business knows exactly who its ideal customer is, you’ll have no problem using the basic characteristics you look for to target a Facebook campaign to your most likely buyers. If your marketing is too broad, though, you lose the ability to increase your conversions and ROI with targeted ads. Before you launch another Facebook campaign, be sure to define your target audience. If your business sells many different products and services, you may have to define a slightly different target audience for each one.

When You Make Ads, Use Video

As stated above, creating valuable content is key to getting audience engagement on your page. There’s also a great middle ground between traditional ads and pure content, which is video-based advertising. Video ads can be entertaining and informative, but still promote specific products or services in the way a traditional ad does. Video ads also tend to encourage engagement and even sharing, widening the reach of the campaign you pay for. Best of all, once a video is made, it can be used in your marketing campaigns over and over again.

Post Regularly

Many small businesses make the critical mistake of only creating new Facebook posts once a week or even once a month. In order to build and keep an engaged audience, your Facebook page needs to turn out new posts on a much more frequent basis. There is considerable debate as to what constitutes the optimal number of Facebook posts per day. Many marketers argue for two posts a day being the best number, though some are more convinced by the argument for one post per day or a post every two days. Regardless of the exact number you settle on, remember to post fairly often to keep your audience engaged.

With these four simple tips, you’ll be able to improve your Facebook marketing and build a larger, more engaged audience for your brand. Most importantly, that audience will eventually begin to convert into paying customers, helping your business become more successful and profitable. Keep in mind that all of these strategies will require you to devote time and resources to your social media marketing efforts on a regular basis. If you want to succeed in Facebook marketing, be prepared to actively work toward that success every day.

Today’s Guest Post is By Hannah Whittenly, a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

Take the Lead: 4 Ways Marketing Prowess Defines Success for CEO’s

As a CEO, marketing may be just one of numerous aspects of business operations that you may be focused on. Marketing is important because it defines your brand image in the marketplace, and it drives sales. It also can nurture brand loyalty, differentiate your business from the competition and more. However, on a more personal level, marketing can also play a major role in your career success as well as in your ability to find a new job with other top companies later. In fact, marketing can impact your personal career in each of these important ways.

Defining Your Brand’s Reputation  photo of man writing on white board

You may be aware that marketing is essential in developing your brand’s image. This can foster loyalty, help you to win business over the competition when the buyer is making a critical decision and more. You may not realize, however, that your brand’s reputation is also associated with your personal professional success. As a CEO, the reputation of your company and brand are inherently linked to you. You are ultimately responsible for defining the brand, leading the company and more. Because marketing plays such a key role in these and other factors, you understandably want to keep a close eye on the development of your marketing campaign.

Bolstering Sales Numbers

CEOs, like Dallin Larsen for example, are also judged by their ability to bolster sales numbers. In many cases, investors expect to see a year-on-year increase in sales and profits. When you look for another position or when you are being recruited by the competition, your sales numbers will be scrutinized heavily. Because your company’s marketing campaign is directly responsible for sales numbers, you can see that marketing is not an area that you want to take a backseat position on. When you are going to be judged on the results, you need to at least monitor or oversee the development and execution of the campaign carefully.

Managing Overhead

While it is important to have sales numbers as high as possible, you also need to contain overhead. After all, profitability is calculated by subtracting expenses from your sales figures. Marketing expenses can be a major component in your overhead expenses. Therefore, you need guide your team into making the most cost-effective decisions when designing and executing a marketing campaign. Thorough analytical research and a careful analysis of the marketing options available will help you and your team to design and affordable and effective campaign.

Overcoming Public Relations Issues

While marketing may be used to drive sales, establish loyalty and develop your brand image, it can also be used to overcome public relations issues. Many companies will face public relations issues over the years that can be damaging or even devastating for the company. As the CEO, you will be judged on how well you lead the company through its current crisis and build the brand back up. Marketing can be used to communicate directly with your target about beneficial steps your company is taking to deal with the issue or even to simply adjust your customers’ mindset about your company or its products and services after a negative event happens.

Some CEOs are inclined to take a backseat in the area of marketing and let the skilled professionals they hired to handle this important task. While it may not be reasonable for busy CEOs to be fully hands-on with all aspects of marketing because of a busy workload, you should remain in close contact with the department and steer the department in different ways that are in the best interest of the company. When you focus on making decisions that are right for the company, your own reputation may be enhanced as well.


Today’s guest blogger is Brooke Chaplan,  a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Web Woes: 3 Ways Your Company’s Website Might Be Losing You Customers

Having a website is a necessity in today’s market. Unfortunately, too many people create websites that drive customers away instead of bringing them in. If you are losing customers before your website, it might be because of one of the three reasons listed below. 

photo of laptop open on desk

You Have a Bad Domain Name

Your website’s domain name is both its address and its signage. If you have the wrong kind of domain name, you’re going to turn customers away before they even arrive. If you’ve got a long, elaborate domain name, there’s a good chance that your customers aren’t going to remember it when they need something from you. If your domain name is hard to remember at all, it’s going to slip through the cracks. Instead of having something elaborate, shoot for something memorable. If you have an auto dealership, for example, you can go through a company like Dominion Domains to eschew a commonplace .com address for a more memorable .auto address. The more memorable the address, the better. 

It’s Too Slow

Your average internet shopper won’t spend much time waiting for a website to load. In fact, most customers start to get impatient if your site takes more than a fraction of a second to load. A slow loading time can be due to a number of culprits, from a bad hosting solution to a poorly optimized website. If your customers can’t get to your website quickly, they aren’t going to come at all – so do what you can to make the experience faster for them.

It’s Too Complicated

Website visitors tend to go to websites for very particular reasons. They might be looking for information about your business or they might want to make a purchase. If you make this process harder than necessary, they’re going to go somewhere else. Don’t put important information behind several pages worth of text and certainly don’t make it hard for people to spend money with you. While you may be very proud of your website and the content that you have put on it, never make it harder than it needs to be for someone to spend money. Doing so will only hurt your business in the long run.

Your website should serve your business – so make sure that your users are comfortable with everything you do. Get a good domain name, make the site fast, and make the site very easy to use. If you can accomplish those three easy goals, you’ll find that more customers are willing to use your site.

 

Today’s guest post is by Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

What is Marketing?

What is the Definition of Marketing?

That is a question that has more than one answer and it depends upon who you ask. But, since you asked, here is my definition of Marketing:

Marketing is learning what your customers need and want and then providing it to them. 

Did you notice that it does not say anything about sales or advertising? That’s because marketing is really about understanding your  image of words related to Marketingcustomer first, and that is why so many marketers focus on research before doing anything else. When advertising was young (and I was, too), it focused on promoting a product or service using mass media – the “if you build it, they will come” approach. And it worked pretty well for a long time. A new cereal or dish soap would be developed, the advertising gurus would develop a great TV commercial and pretty soon people were buying it. 

But that method doesn’t work any longer – at least not as well as it used to. Consumers don’t consume mass media very much. We like to view TV on our own schedule and we like to skip the commercials. We listen to satellite radio, streaming music or play music on our mobile devices – all so we can customize our own media consumption without interruption. So mass marketing doesn’t really reach the masses any more.

That is why it is so important to understand the needs and wants of your customers, and then provide it to them. Customers want individualized messages tailored to their own habits. They want to care about what you have to offer, too. Putting together a few ads and sending them out into the cosmos probably won’t meet those needs.

What is it that your customer wants or needs – and why are you the right person to provide it? That’s the question to ask, and that’s the very beginning or marketing. Let’s talk about it and put together a marketing plan individualized for your company goals and your specific customers. Call 904.524.0170 or email now for a free consultation.

 

Small Business Branding – Is It Really Necessary?

Should You Be Branding Your Small Business?

Virtually every small business owner has heard the word “branding” and been told he or she needs to be doing it. But there can be confusion  image of words Who are youabout what, exactly, is meant by the term and how it is different from marketing, planning, operations and all of the other things that a business owner is responsible for doing every day. So let’s break it down. First, a definition of branding.

What is a brand? 

A brand is a promise. It is not a logo or a tagline. It is not package design or spiffy uniforms. It is an emotional connection between the company and its customers that creates an image or understanding of the company at a “gut level.” Let me give you an example. There are multiple brands of baby shampoo that you can buy, but I’ll bet you immediately thought of one – Johnson’s Baby Shampoo*. With that thought came an image or understanding about the product – perhaps it was “no more tears” or the image of a smiling baby with shampoo in its hair and a loving mom bathing the child.

Both of those things, along with other images that may have come to mind from your own childhood, are part of the company’s brand for that product. Johnson & Johnson has worked diligently over the years to build that brand identity and they have done a great job.

photo of baby in bath with shampoo on head

You Already Have A Brand

So, what does that mean for a small business? The truth is that your company already has a brand in the minds of your customers. They already know something about the company, your services or products based on their experience with the firm. The question is whether it is the image you want them to have.

Your branding activity should be deliberate and thoughtful so that you can be sure your customers – and future customers – know who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. By specifically managing your brand to align with your company’s core values and its business goals, it will be easier to do the right kind of marketing that increases sales.

In the next few blog entries, we will review specific steps that small businesses can take to build, and manage, their brands. Stay tuned – and email me if you have any questions or issues you would like to have included.

 

*Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson.

Tips For Ending 2016 & Starting Your 2017 Marketing Strategies The Right Way

The end is near….2016, that is. For many business owners, it is a great time to look back at their marketing activities for the prior year and begin making plans for 2017. Here’s a brief video I’ve posted that will give you some things to think about as you begin this process for your business or non-profit agency.

Getting Those Promotional Items In The Right Hands!

Are Your Giveaways Going To The Right People?

Most business owners today understand that they need more than traditional offline ads and static online ads to attract members of their target markets. Consumer disinterest in advertising, along with increased competition caused by global selling have made promotional items labeled with the name, logo, tagline, and other brand identity details of a business more necessary than ever before. Commonly-used items, such as office supplies, clothing and accessories, sports items, and home products, remind consumers every day of the availability and expertise offered by a business. But how do you get these items into the hands of your audience? 

Ask the Experts
Hire a marketing firm to provide you with information about the offline and online activities of your customers. Experienced marketers reveal important details that can help you understand and target your shoppers. You can utilize things like the types of places and websites they frequent, academic backgrounds, personal hobbies, and professional interests.

Deck Out Your Employees
Make certain that your employees are promoting your business through branded gear. Supply them with branded work clothing, totes, and tools. If they do not have branded name tags, seek out a corporate name tag supplier like Naag Tag Name Tags that can get you Company Name Tags in bulk. 

Offer Samples and Freebies

Order employees to give customers, guests, vendors, and other business leaders branded items such as pens, note pads, key chains, or swag bags containing these items whenever possible. If you sell products, offer branded samples and other branded freebies through your website blog or a separate dedicated page. Giving away these items as part of a bigger purchase can also go a long way in getting your name out there.

Arrange Social Media Contests

Use the information provided by a marketing firm to target your audience through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest with contests that have branded prizes. To double your promotional activities during a contest, tell your followers that they need to share one of your posts to enter.

Partner with Other Businesses
Businesses outside of your industry that members of your audience use are a fantastic resource. Create promotional partnerships where you give your customers promotional items from these businesses and those partners share your promotional items with their customers.

High quality products and services lead to repeat business and word of mouth advertising, but promotional items in the hands of the right people reminds members of your target market that your business is the right one to meet their needs. Follow this advice as soon as possible to increase traffic, sales, and revenues.