Marketing: How to Break Through the Noise

The market place – any market place – is noisy and crowded. Marketing has moved towards a content, value-driven strategy where companies are competing (even more so) for market attention. Below are my recommendations on how to cut threw the noise.

  1. Build a marketing strategy

Be sure to include the following elements:

  • Strategy: Start with a business strategy that addresses your target customer, market, technology and business needs
  • Products and services: Have a quality offering that meets customer needs (both stated and unstated) better than the available alternatives
  • Target audience: Understand as much as you can about your prospects and customers – who they are, what they need and want, and how you can best provide value
  • Competitive and market analysis: Understand the market in which you compete, including as much as possible about the industry and competitors
  • Brand: Build a strong brand and reputation in the minds of all key audiences – customers, partners, employees, shareholders, the local community, and others
  • Communication: Effectively communicate the value you provide so as to generate demand
  • Sales and distribution channels: Provide the right tools to enable those who sell and recommend your product to be successful
  • Operations: Deliver, track, and analyze your marketing efforts to understand what’s working and where changes should be made
  1. Think digital

If you’re not thinking digital first, you’re already behind. Be able to develop and deliver targeted digital campaigns that will provide an increased return on investment (ROI). Measure and track your digital marketing and make executable improvements, while focusing on lead generation.

  1. Create alignment

Marketing will succeed or fail based on your planning and execution. Alignment along internal and external stakeholders will increase the performance (and results) of your marketing strategies. Even some of the most creative marketing initiatives can fall flat if you don’t have alignment.

Have consultative and collaborate conversations between marketing team members and business stakeholders to create alignment. Review to make sure you have the resources (and budget) available to execute your strategy. Great marketing initiatives fall short if they are not provided sufficient resources. Have you thought about the technology required to execute your strategy? You need to. Exploring opportunities here also aligns with executing a successful digital marketing strategy.

Marketing needs to have a strategy is you want to successfully cut through the noise and have a valuable impact in the market place.

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4 Ways to Make Social Media Marketing Easy

A few years ago businesses weren’t exactly convinced that they should be spending time on social media. In 2015 there’s no denying that social media must be considered part of your marketing strategy. Getting started on social media may seem complicated, difficult or confusing, however these 5 tips should help make it more manageable.

  1. Be Simple

Don’t sign up for every social media account. You should research and be selective on which accounts you start. This way you can focus your time and effort creating a strong social media presence on a channel that resonates with your company. The more accounts you have to manage, the more your time will be divided, and the more likely it is you’ll do a poor job across the board. You might also want to reserve your brand name on the major social networking sites, even if you don’t plan to use it. Choose 2 or 3 sites where you feel you’ll get the largest return on your investment. Be sure to select the networks where your customers spend the most time or where they engage the most.

  1. Schedule

You don’t need to spend hours everyday on social media. Be efficient and schedule content in advance. Commit to a few hours a week (actually put it in your calendar) to draft new content and source valuable content to share. Leverage tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule updates to multiple profiles in one place.

  1. Integrate

If you want to see results, then you need to integrate. Make sure you’ve integrated your social media plan with your marketing strategy. This means integrating into your brand, messaging, campaigns, cross-channel marketing, advertising, content strategy and much more. Finally, link your profiles to your website, digital properties, customer relationship management (CRM) system. You can also cross purpose content across platforms.

  1. Monitor

Monitor brand, industry and competitor mentioned. Social media provides a unique opportunity to stay connected to content and opinions that are important to your target audience. Be sure to monitor any reviews or mentioned of your business. Paying attention will provide you with opportunities to join into the conversation, provide a point of view and hopefully some value. Use monitoring tools to track any mention of your company, brand social media handles as well as keywords related to your target audience. Monitoring will also provide you with the ability to adjust your strategy and implement improvements.

If you plan out your approach to social media it will be less daunting. Stick with it and you will see results from your effort.

7 Tips to Set-Up and Optimize You Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaign

Looking for ways to make your advertising budget work? Think about running a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. These campaigns will show up in search engine search results when your potential customers search for keywords associated with your business.

You only pay for clicks on your ad and you can easily track how well your campaign is doing in attracting new customers to your company’s website. Then you can adjust your campaign to maximize your return on investment (ROI). Here are 7 tips to set up and optimize your PPC campaign.

1. Choose Your Keywords

Create a list of 20-50 keywords that relate to your company. From this list, use these keywords in your static (webpage pages that don’t change) and dynamic (e.g. blogs, videos, etc.) content so you will rank higher when prospective customers search for those terms. You do have to remember that you’re competing against other companies in your industry for these keywords so avoid generic terms and invest in terms and phrases that will differentiate yourself. You can use free keyword tools from Google to help with this as well.

2. Set Your Monthly Budget

Decide on the maximum amount you will pay each month for click-throughs to your website. Once that amount is reached, your ad will stop appearing. For example, if you pay $0.50 per word and select a budget of $500, your ad will run for 1,000 click-throughs.

3. Place A Bid

When you bid through an auction on keywords, remember that pricing is driven by supply and demand. Popular keywords cost more and that’s why you need to focus on what differentiates you from your competitors when selecting your words.

4. Align Your Landing Page With Your PPC Ads

To increase your quality score (the score Google gives your ads) and to keep the user experience consistent. Your goal is to turn website visitors into customers, so make sure your site is aligned with your PPC ad creative. The landing page should have the same offer as your ad and be clear, compelling and differentiated from your competitors.

5. Target Your Audience 

You can target your ads to potential customers in specific geographic locations. This will help you geo-target your ads around your service locations and customize your creative. Local campaigns perform best.

6. Analyze Your Results 

Major search engines provide analytics and reports that tell you how well your ads are working and how you could improve your campaign(s). Monitor how many clicks you have earned as well as data about your visitors, including their geographic location. Above all, keep a close eye on your conversion rate. A conversion is a click-through that results in an action such as a sale or a request for information. Tracking your conversion rate allows you to determine your return on investment (ROI).

7. Learn & Adjust 

As you track your results, try using different keyword combinations, starting new campaigns, changing creative, adjusting ad copy or targeting different locations, to see what works best.

4 Ways to Boost Attendee Engagement at Events

Here are 4 ways ways to increase attendee engagement at your events.

1. Be Personal

Event marketers can gather attendees’ preferences during the online registration process, which allows them to personalize the event experience for each attendee, from using their name in an email to adjusting event offerings to match topics that interest attendees most, to delivering relevant content that matches defined interests via a participant’s preferred communication method/platform.

2. Get Social

Social media has been credited with increasing brand awareness, event attendance, media coverage, and sales. Most of all, social media can create and enrich relationships between clients and prospects, leading to greater attendee engagement.

3. Build a Community

Communities take different forms, but the bottom line is that community-oriented opportunities keep attendees more strongly engaged. Event marketers can take their participants’ common interests and develop an event-dedicated Hashtag, Landing Page, LinkedIn Group, Google+ hangout, or Facebook page.

4. Think & Execute Mobile

People are engaged with their smartphone or tablet more often than not. The proliferation of mobile devices makes them a natural vehicle for increasing attendee commitment, participation, and satisfaction. Mobile-friendly event apps can deliver updates and helpful links. Attendees can become further engaged at an event by participating in real-time surveys or accessing speaker content as an event is taking place.

10 Mistakes of Social Media Marketing

Lack of planning, overextending yourself and failing to engage your audience can effect your digital marketing and social media efforts. Social media has been around for a few years, but in that time marketers and researchers have made some pretty interesting findings.

Before, sites such as MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook merely connected you with friends online. Now, businesses have taken advantage of social networks, integrating social media into their strategies. This approach has yielded impressive results, but along with those successes have come growing pains of how to best use social media for business and marketing. Here are 10 mistakes of social media marketing.

1. Not Having A Plan

Any business looking into social media must establish a plan. Determine the goals and objectives for yourself and for each site. Are you trying to get 10% more followers each month? How many people would you like to interact with each week? Having a plan is a must.

2. Not Being Active

Activity matters, size doesn’t. It’s better to have an intimate group of engaged followers who continually interact with you than having thousands of passive followers who don’t. More followers and more traffic do not equal more money; you need the right people to engage with your business. 

3. Not Dedicating Time To All Of Your Pages

Each social media account should get a fair share of your attention. If you have time for a couple social media pages then use them to the fullest extend. Don’t start accounts on social media sites if you can’t maintain them.

4. Talking About Your Business In Every Post

Vary your posts so you’re not always talking about your business. Sometimes you have to think of your business as if it were a person. Don’t be like those people who constantly talk about how awesome they are. The more you force content, the less valuable and engaging your page will be.

5. Making Grammar & Spelling Mistakes

There is nothing engaging or attractive about spelling and grammar mistakes. Double-check and proofread your material before you send it out onto the Internet. Not only will errors make you look unprofessional, but they could also harm your credibility.

6. Not Analyzing & Tracking Analytics (Or Stats) 

Statistics are important in every marketing campaign. All social media networks offer analytics and reports to track page views, post reads, shares, activities, and more. Through these valuable data you can see which posts draw the best audience response so you can offer more value to them.

7. Having No Personality 

Social media gives your business the opportunity have a strong, unique, personable voice. Be open, insightful, witty – whatever your business brand should embody and deliver it.

8. Not Engaging Your Audience

Ask questions. Get feedback. Start discussions. Social media gives you something no other marketing channel offers: the opportunity to connect directly with your audience. Not only does this strengthen customer relationships, but it also brings more activity to your business.

9. Being Defensive Or Negative With Comments

The Internet includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, not everyone online is going to be nice or agree with your business. Be calm, professional and handle negative comments graciously. Remember, everything said online is public.

10. Giving Up

Building your social media presence takes time. Don’t give up. Stay active. Be patient. Your efforts will pay off; just give them time.

5 Ways To Be Engaging Leaders On LinkedIn

Most professionals do not have a LinkedIn marketing or social-selling strategy, let alone an online sales strategy that’s aligned to revenue objectives. If you want to be a sales and marketing leader you need to create a plan that will activate your LinkedIn connections. Think of LinkedIn as a professional social media network that you can use to connect, engage, drive demand and create lead opportunities.

Yet, strategy is the biggest difference between a sales or marketing team that drives demand and enjoys consistent revenue opportunities and one that just has a presence and lots of connections it does not engage with.

How you thought about these tactics?

  • After you make a connection, how do you follow up or build on that connection? Your goal should be to develop them into a lead.
  • Do you think about the content you are sharing or posting? The content should position and differentiate yourself.
  • What discussions are you creating? Will these discussions or conversations nurture your connection (or prospect) and provide value for to your business relationship? They should.
  • Have you thought about how to introduce your company and their content to your connection and move them from LinkedIn to your website?

Here are 5 strategies that sales and marketing leaders need to think about to be engaging on LinkedIn.

  1. Social Media Presence

First, review your LinkedIn profile. Did you consider your LinkedIn profile as a strategic tool? Your profile shouldn’t be a cover letter and a resume. You should be considering how to position yourselves as an expert in your field. The information on your profile should be interesting to your target connections, market and industries.

To convey your worth, find out what kind of value your prospects are looking for and optimize your LinkedIn profile to provide value to them. Your profile should be piquing interest and starting conversations with key decision-makers that lead to revenue opportunities.

  1. Thought Leadership

Don’t just use LinkedIn as a publishing platform. It is a good medium to push out content, but the content you are posting should be pulling your prospects in. You need to plan out what type of content you can provide that will convince decision-makers to contact you. The best way is to figure out the pain points that your target connections (and their companies) may be facing and what content you can provide that would position you as a thought leader. The goal is to have your connections take action.

  1. Targeted Connection Prospecting

Review your LinkedIn connections to see how many of them are “long-shots” or who could provide introductions or recommendations. Your connection prospecting strategy should define who your main and secondary prospects and influencers are, and it should include a plan to get them to respond to your communications. The goal should be to retain their attention, so you can provide value, develop the lead (or referral) and convert the lead into a client.

  1. Engagement

It’s not about how many connections you make or followers you have on LinkedIn or any other social media platforms. More accurately, it’s about how many people you reach and engage with. Engagement and providing value should be at the forefront of your LinkedIn strategy.

The best way to engage in social media is to create a community. In LinkedIn, you can create actual groups that you manage. Remember buyers are looking for quick access to trusted experts and relevant content that helps them with their business issues. Your custom, niche LinkedIn community is an effective way to give your buyers what they are looking for.

  1. Lead Generation and Engagement

Most of the prospects you connect with on social media (and LinkedIn) platforms don’t realize what value you could provide or why they need you. It’s best to develop a lead nurturing strategy for move your connections through a defined lead generation process. Nurturing these connections will provide them with value and will encourage them to reach out for additional information.

What you need:

  • A strategy to use your content (blogs, social media posts, case studies, whitepapers, third-party research, etc.) to support your business objectives.
  • Content that will engage and provide value. Think about the pain points that will address your target audience and connections’ needs.
  • A plan for how you will nurture your connections, prospects, leads and clients. How will you move them into your pipeline and get them to engage with you?

By developing an integrated marketing strategy you will be able to create a funnel that will provide value and lead opportunities in the future.

Going Global? Consider These 5 Things Before Launching Internationally

Thinking about expanding internationally? You should develop an international and localized marketing strategy. A foundational component of this will be international market research. Below are 5 international business and localization considerations that can have an impact on your international business objectives.

  1. Localize currency

While localizing currency may seem like an obvious task, it can be overlooked, which will impact profit margins and revenue. Customers also want to see prices in their currency.

  1. Set prices

Pricing is critical. Are you going to simply apply an exchange rate to prices from your domestic market? You should research the target market to align your pricing strategy and align this with your operating margins. You may be able to increase your rates in international markets, but you may also have to reduce rates to be competitive. This is why market research is important.

You also need to decide whether you’re going to set international prices with an annual price list or an Open Exchange Rate API. An annual price list can be risky to your margins and therefore your bottom line. An Exchange Rate API will reflect the change in exchange rates ensuring that your margin and price is fixed to your business plan.

  1. Translate and localize content

Please don’t rely on Google Translate for this. You will need to describe, present, comment, discuss, sell and respond in the native language. Being fluent means that you take into consideration local jargon and cultural reference points. Poor marketing copy adds a barrier to purchase.

Editing content for new markets is not merely a matter of translation. Localized content will also be required if you’re exporting to countries that speak the same language as the domestic market.

  1. Localize payment, delivery and returns policies

Make sure you select payment options that are suited to your target international market. You will need a specific payment and delivery policy for each international market. Research your markets and understand more about your consumer expectations and their cultural behaviours. You also need to research operating and consumer protection laws, which can differ from market to market.

  1. Service and support

How are you going to deal with after-sales support for a new market, and potentially new language? Do you have anyone in the team capable of reading and returning emails or social media messages in the target language? What about phone calls?

For a successful launch of an international venture, you need to have a plan in place to engage with your local, international markets and customers.

You Chose That Name? Avoid These 5 Naming Mistakes

Naming your company, product or service, either new or old, is a great opportunity. If you get it right it could put it on the “map”, increase awareness, and spark buzz from the marketplace. However, if you get it wrong it may make you invisible, mis-represented or non-existent. Naming is a mix between an art and a substance but these 5 tips should help.

  1. Don’t be (or want to be) like everyone else

Avoid this curse of human nature. While you may see something successful in the marketplace, such as a well-known brand/product, I would encourage you to be inventive and avoid the need to duplicate. Strong names and brands have been built, which is how you should approach your naming process. This is an opportunity to establish and build a strong name/brand while differentiating you from your competition.

  1. Remember what’s important to your target audience

Before you start naming, make sure you’ve reviewed and refined your brand positioning so you know exactly what your target audience is looking for and wanting (even if they might not know it yet). As discussed in tip 1, you should also position yourself as distinctive. Avoid how you want to be positioned or perceived rather position yourself as what your target market is expected.

  1. Be simple

Basically, don’t say everything. A good name (or brand) is an entry point. You create interest by intriguing your audience not by telling them everything. You can capture their attention and then provide information after, through packaging, advertising, website, social media etc.

  1. Avoid trends

Create a name or brand that will last longer than the recent trend, such as dropped letters, juxtaposed concepts, slang or “trendy” acronyms. Select a name that you’ll be able to present with pride for longer than a few years (or trend).

  1. Check your grammar

Don’t lose perspective and be mindful of spelling, grammatical and pronunciation issues. Also, consider how your name is interpreted in the media as well as in other countries, languages, etc. Be sure to take your time and review your choices.

A brand, product or service name is extremely important to creating awareness and engaging your target audience. This is an opportunity – don’t waste it.

7 Tips to Create (or Optimize) a Great LinkedIn Business Page

Simply put, LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that has been steadily growing in popularity and use, especially for search, business networking, hiring, referrals, leads and even financing. If you haven’t made a business LinkedIn business page, you’re missing out. If you have already have a business LinkedIn page for your business you should review it and optimize it.

Luckily you can probably use these recommendations on your other social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) as well. Here are 7 tips to help you create (or optimize) a great LinkedIn business page.

  1. Branding

Make sure your branding is aligned with your company and overall marketing strategy. If someone is discovering you first through your LinkedIn page, they should be able to know and understand what your company is about. Make sure your images are sized correctly, not distorted and speak to your target audience. Also, include links to your company website.

  1. Showcase your products & services

On the Products & Services page, testimonials and recommendations are highlighted prominently. This will have a direct impact on the number of Linked members who’ll end up visiting your website. Encourage customers to recommend your products and services here as well.

  1. Make your page engaging

Optimize your LinkedIn company page content so it speaks not only about what you company does, but also what your customers will be searching for. Include keywords or buzzwords and make sure that the content provides value to readers.

If your business operation spans multiple locations, you may want to list all of them. LinkedIn allows visitors’ location as a search criterion to narrow down results. You can add up to five different locations to your page. Also, consider including a short video (30 seconds) summarizing your company and it’s offerings. A well-made and appropriately branded video can encourage many to “follow” or engage with your company.

  1. Use advertisements to drive traffic (and page views)

The advertising options provided by LinkedIn are definitely worth checking out. InMail, Display Advertising and Sponsored Posts will help you build a large follower base effectively and affordably. The advertisement can be targeted by job title, location, and many other options.

  1. Use and measure analytics (a.k.a. Insights)

LinkedIn Insights will help you track the success of your page and improve it This includes impressions per post, user engagement, follower demographics, audience insights, etc. It also connects to promoting your page (#4) and will help you optimize your targeted posts and determine return-on-investment (ROI).

  1. Add LinkedIn buttons to your site and collateral

Social plugins are a great way to quickly share your content on various social media platforms. In addition to getting your content shared, you could also drive visitors from your website toward your LinkedIn business page. You can select recommend, follow, endorse, or share buttons on your site to drive traffic to your business page. Think about where you will place them on your website and choose the best one to achieve your objective. You should also place your LinkedIn logo (vector image) on your digital assets (website) as well as your marketing collateral (brochures, PowerPoints, business cards, etc.). That being said you should do this for all of your social networks.

  1. Update regularly and be social

Your objective is (or should be) to engage you audience and give your brand as much positive awareness as you can. Keep your page and audience updated regularly. Post information, comments, and tips on a regular basis. When you share information, keep in mind the professional demographic. You can even consider creating a LinkedIn group for your company (internal and/or external).

5 Metrics You Should Be Tracking To Help Increase Sales

Are you tracking and accessing metrics to improve you business? Here are 4 important metrics you should track to improve your business.

1. Total sales by time period

You should be tracking your sales by a time period that is relevant to your business (monthly, weekly, quarterly, annually). By tracking sales by time period, you know exactly how well you’re performing. You know if your sales are up or down versus the prior period, be it the prior day, week, month, quarter or year.

2. Sales by product or service

This metric tells you exactly what is performing (a.k.a. selling) and what’s not. This will help you to focus your business and marketing strategy. Declines in the sales of certain products might mean new product versions are required where as increases in sales means you need to support that product or service and make sure the capacity is there.

3. Revenue per sale

The easiest way to increase sales and profits for most companies is to increase the average revenue per sale. Tracking this metric will help you devise strategies to increase your revenue per sale and track the success.

4. Sales by lead source and activity

This metric will help you focus your marketing and advertising spend. The key here is to spend more on the advertising or “lead sources” that produce the most sales, and to stop wasting money on sources of leads that don’t. By tracking the lead sources for your sales, you can optimize your lead generation.

I also recommend trying to track sales by activity as well. This can include sales per click or impression (for digital marketing), sales per lead or phone call and networking or events. Most sales people say that sales is a numbers game. If you go to more events, speak to more prospects, and issue more proposals you’ll close more sales. It’s true. You need to track the results and effectiveness of each of these efforts to see what is working so you can do more of it. You also identify what’s not working, and can fix it right away.

5. Revenue per sale

The easiest way to increase sales and profits for most companies is to increase the average revenue per sale. Tracking this metric will help you devise strategies to increase your revenue per sale and track the success.

The goal of tracking metrics is to provide you with the information and ability to alter business and marketing strategies to increase your revenue.