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.

Advertisements

5 Things to Consider Before You Start Marketing (or Advertising)

Marketing and advertising isn’t easy and it usually isn’t cheap. While you can find cost effective tactics you there are 5 things to consider before you start marketing.

  1. Set Objectives & Benchmarks

You need to know what your objectives are and what benchmarks (if reached) will make your marketing tactics or campaigns successful. This can include impressions, visitors, clicks, leads, conversions, cost per lead/conversion, etc. Knowing the specific results you want from each campaign will allow you to take the guesswork or emotion out of your decisions and invest in what marketing tactics perform.

  1. Align Marketing with Sales 

Before you start advertising, think about who, what, where, when and how you generate a sale. This will determine when and where you want to advertise. Without alignment, you won’t generate any revenue or return on your marketing investment. You should also think about capacity and inventory. You don’t want to advertise unless you can deliver.

Consider these questions and they will help you determine the appropriate marketing medium mix:

  • How many calls, leads and emails can me (or my team) effectively handle in a day/week/month?
  • How do you handle each incoming lead?
  • Do you make outbound phone calls?
  • Have you conducted sales training?
  • When do you receive the most leads or sales?
  • Is there seasonality to be considered?
  • What marketing mediums generate the highest quality of leads?
  • Who converts the most leads and where do they come from?
  1. Plan Your Messaging & Creative

Marketing performs best when you provide value and are focused around solving an issue or a need. Your creative and messaging should focus around your customers. Don’t hard sell or only talk about yourself. Create benefit-worthy messaging to help increase the results of your marketing.

Consider these questions when planning your messaging or creative:

  • What key issues are important to them?
  • Is there a point of view to consider or address?
  • What emotions or feelings do they experience before, during and after converting from a lead to client?
  • Can you provide unique value?
  • Is there a competitive position to take?
  1. Find the Best Marketing Mix

Consider a variety of marketing strategies and tactics. This includes local advertising (TV, radio), outdoor (billboards, transit), direct marketing, digital (display, PPC, SEM), social media, mobile, etc.

Marketing Strategies to Consider:

  • Radio works well in commuter markets from 6 AM to 6 PM. It requires very little production cost, and you can change your message in hours
  • TV works well in the evening (7 PM to 12 PM) and can provide increased emotional branding, however production costs are quite high
  • Outdoor advertising works well when generating local brand awareness, however you need to be in market for a few months to generate results
  • Direct mail works if you have a small area to target and you can create something that will stand out in the mail
  • Digital marketing can be cost effective, flexible, and highly measurable/trackable
  • Social media is an important tactic, which will help drive awareness, leads, and prospects to your business
  • Everyone is spending more time on his or her mobile devices, so don’t forget about that medium
  1. Implement, Test & Measure

Testing will help you improve and fine-tune your marketing efforts. Think about this before you launch a campaign to so you track it and measure results. Review monthly or quarterly and decide if you need to end the campaign, renew, refine, etc.

4 Common Mistakes with Retargeting Ads

Retargeted ads offer so much potential. When a consumer goes to look at a brand or publisher’s content, they’re making the first step in developing a relationship with the company. Retargeted ads, when done right, should still create that brand recognition, but it should also go a step further and encourage brand loyalty, advocacy, and community.

Here are 4 common issues with retargeted ads:

1. Being Static

Repetition can either increase or decrease brand awareness and overall result.  You don’t want to be static and repetitive, but rather memorable and engaging. Every time you have someone look at the same image it’s going to lose it’s impact – especially when it’s already a fairly standard-looking image. Today especially, people are used to a constant flow of new information. Each interaction so be valuable.

2. Lacking Amazing Content

People don’t like ads (or content) that don’t provide value or are engaging. The burden for advertisers is to create content that is just as, if not more, interesting as the competing content on the page. This means the content should be unique, visual, and useful to your audience – even if its usefulness is just that it’s entertaining.

3. No Interaction 

Give your audience the chance to get creative in your ad experience, and make sure that that content is shareable on their social channels. Often companies will create these experiences as standalone pages, but there’s no reason why creative content can’t live within ad units around the web.

4. Not Being Human-Focused 

Every ad needs to have a human element – something your audience can see and relate to. Chances are, your audience isn’t going to relate to the model you place on every website. People can relate to their friends though. And they can relate to stories from people that could be their friends. This is where user-generated content comes in. Using retargeting to connect with the users most likely to engage with your company is great. However, you’re not going to promote any kind of longterm relationship or engagement with a boring (and ignorable) ad.

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.

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.

Are You Mobile Marketing? Here Are 4 Tips To Help.

If you missed the memo, marketing has gone mobile. ComScore reports that more than 1.8 billion people worldwide use mobile devices and this includes your customers. Customers (and potential clients) are using smartphones and tablets to find information about your company (and your competitors). 48% of Internet searches begin on mobile devices. Basically if you haven’t thought about your mobile marketing strategy, you’re already missing out. You need to be in the mobile marketplace if you want to be seen as a relevant leader in your respective industry.

Entrepreneur has a few statistics you should probably consider:

  • 99% use mobile devices to search for valuable content and information
  • 63% of all Internet access is from mobile devices
  • 62% of users access email from mobile devices
  • 15% make purchases from mobile devices

Here are my 4 tips to help you improve your mobile marketing.

1. Have a Mobile Friendly and Responsive Website

This is a must-have. You need a website that is mobile friendly/responsive and loads fast for mobile viewing. Include relevant informations and ensure your mobile website is easily accessible and navigable with clear links and user-friendly icons.

2. Mobile Relevant Articles and Content

Your website needs to have a mix of dynamic (topical content in the form of blogs) and static (About Us, Services, Products, etc.) content. Potential clients search for more than just what your company does. There needs to be a value exchange when developing useful, mobile-friendly content.

3. Be Social

When visitors find great content on their mobile devices they want to share it quickly and easily with others on their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.). Be sure to include social media icons on all of your web-based marketing.

4. App- Centric

Consumers spend more than half their mobile time using mobile applications. I am not saying that all companies need a mobile app, but you need to consider how your website, content and marketing is presented within other mobile apps – for example Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You should also have a presence on the popular social media networks, with branded pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, etc.  Ensure that the profiles on these sites are complete, up-to-date and provide relevant information.

Affordable Marketing Strategies

How much should I spend on some basic (or I’d say required) marketing strategies? Fees can range depending on the age and size of the company and national, local or global marketing goals. This should help get you started:

Branding
Inexpensive: 99designs can help you design and build up your brand (roughly $400, but it doesn’t include additional collateral: business cards, letter heads, email templates, etc.)
Good: A small agency may charge between $4,000 to $5,000 and should include all necessary collateral
Great: More than $10,000 and this is if you are going to a large agency who is creating your entire brand book, story and collateral, among other assets

Website
Inexpensive: Wix or WordPress can be a do-it-yourself website and can be free (minus time and effort)
Good: For a WordPress site designed to look like your brand, it will usually cost you around $3,500 (or more if you need a shopping cart)
Great: At least $15,000 – the price will depend on the objective, functionality, automation, design, etc.

Social media
Inexpensive: Do-it-yourself or hire an intern
Good: Between $1,500 and $2,500 for a small agency
Great: More than $4,000, which would be contingent on the number of platforms, listening software, amount of real-time interaction and PR integration (great tactic)

Advertising
Inexpensive: Word of mouth, tell your family and friends!
Good: Some social media marketing (between $300 and $500/month) and targeted display advertising ($500/month)
Great: Full social, outdoor, print, digital, pay-per-click will set you back at least $5,000/month (or more), but you’ll definitely have a presence

Content
Inexpensive: Do-it-yourself or hire an intern
Good: A freelancer platform like Odesk.com (you can name your own price)
Great: Agency content usually runs $250 and $1,000 per piece depending on word count and graphics

Events
Inexpensive: Show up and network at other people’s events
Good: Cross-market with another brand with the same target audience
Great: Full events strategy. For production teams, small event start at around $5,000

While marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all these tactics should help you establish some presence and budget accordingly!

Selecting the Right (or Best) Marketing Budget

The timeless question. “How much should I spend, when I want to market, advertise or promote my new….?”

Ultimately, it all comes down to planning and budget. You have to plan, segment and execute with strategies that will not only achieve you objectives, but align with your budget.

Here are a few tips for navigating that elusive marketing budget:

1. Marketing Math
Do you know what your budget is?

New companies: For companies that have been in business for 1 to 5 years, I’d suggest using 12% to 20% of your gross revenue or projected revenue on marketing. If you’re under a year old, you still need to build and develop your business and clout before spending budget on marketing.

Established companies: For those companies that have been in business more than five years and have some market share/brand equity, we suggest allocating between 6 and 12 percent of your gross revenue or projected revenue.

While this may seem like a lot, remember new and emerging brands are looking to capture new market share and develop brand recognition with an audience that doesn’t know who you are. Once the brand is established and a portion of the market is brand-conscious you can reallocate funds accordingly.

2. “I need to grow my brand to make money, but I have no money to help do that.”

Branding isn’t easy and you’ll make some mistakes along the way. This is why it’s very important to build and fund this strategy accordingly. Just like any large project, it will take time, effort and money. Really, when is the last time you built something free that has endurance? It’s also important to make sure your dollars are spent wisely and tied tightly to specific deliverables. Don’t waste money building the wrong thing. Aim to set objectives and execute on the right tactics the first time.

3. The Marketing “Must Haves”
You need these, it’s as simple as that. The marketing mix (and spend) may differ, but you should plan for all of these.

  • Branding
  • Website
  • Content
  • Social media
  • Events
  • Public Awareness
  • Local Advertising