Bell Canada Remembrance Day TV Commercial: Poppy

A great ad and message from Bell Canada. Be sure to remember and pay tribute to our Canadian armed forces who served and continue to serve for Canada. #LestWeForget

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Small Business SEO: 8 Ways To Rank Higher

It’s no longer enough for companies to simply have a website. Your website should have a strategy and objective. It should provide value and be easy to find. If no one can find you, you’re going to have a problem.

Here are 8 search engine optimization (SEO) tips to boost your website’s position in search results.

1. Think Like Your Customer 

Think about what words  and search terms your customers will use to search and find your customers. Do research and even ask your customers.

 2. Draft 20-50 Keywords

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.

You should also integrate a search engine marketing (SEM) Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. Create ads that resonate with your defined keyword list and your ads will appear above or beside the free search results including those terms. You will then pay the search engine company each time your link is clicked. Competition is stiff for keywords so if you don’t have a big budget, you will have to focus on your niche.

3. Include Keywords In Your Website 

As mentioned above, start using your keywords in your website content and in your URL, webpage titles, subheaders, descriptions and metatags. Then, use the words in the text on each of the pages, but don’t overuse. You website copy should provide value, not irritate. The priority should be to make the content clear and easy to read. As Google webmaster guidelines state: “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

4. Work To Attract Linkbacks

The more sites that carry links to your site the higher you will rank on searches. Ask website owners of related sites to link their site to your site. You can also offer to carry a link to theirs in exchange for a link to yours. A good example of this is to guest author blogs. Focus on the quality of the links. The more popular the website, the more impactful they will be on your website SEO.

5. Publish Lots Of High Quality Content

The more content on your website, the more traffic you will attract from search engines. Publish compelling content—articles, videos and photos—and update it frequently.

6. Be Social 

Social media is a great tool to have in your SEO strategy. Create company pages and link back to your website. Be active in online communities in your industry. Share content on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter that brings visitors to your site.

7. Be Patient 

Benchmark your site performance and monitor the results, but don’t expect fast results. It will take months to make significant improvements in your search engine rankings.

8. Measure Results & Work For Page One

Use free services like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Moz to track the statistics on the behaviour of your visitors—how they found your site (search engine, referring website, etc.), their geographical location and how long they stayed on each page. This data can help you to improve your online strategy. You need to rank on page 1, no one really looks past it now.

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.

Don’t Be a Troll (On or Offline)

Keep it classy and don’t be a troll. Here is a simple definition to help:

A troll is someone who posts a deliberately provocative message (normally to media) with the intention of causing disruption and generally a negative impact.

The Newsroom put it better – watch below.

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.

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.