Strategizing Your Promotional Marketing Mix

In business or marketing strategy, you have probably heard of the “4 P’s” of marketing (Product, Price, Place and Promotion). The promotional aspect can also be described as the “Promotional Mix” and it determines what actions to take to reach your target audience. If you find yourself asking “How do I know what works?” the answer begins with your target audience. This blog post will help you to strategize your marketing plan and I’ve even included estimated costs.

Marketing Tactics

  1. Business Name

Your business and brand name is crucial to your success. ($1,000 – $8,000)

  1. Logo

Your logo should represent your company and your brand. This is a must-have and quality does count. An affordable solution is 99Designs. If design and creativity isn’t your strong suit then you should invest in an engaging logo. ($500 – $10,000)

  1. Slogan

This may be optional, but this short description can explain your unique value proposition to the market. ($500 – $5,000)

  1. Website

Developing a website can be almost free (e.g. from WordPress or another free online template) or a substantial investment. It all depends on your ability to build a website, develop a strategy, content, etc. It will cost less if you can write it yourself and supply the photography, but if you don’t want to build a website, you should hire someone who does. You can also save money by being involved in the planning and content selection. ($5,000 – $50,000)

  1. Content Marketing Schedule

Unless you’re ready to draft a content marketing plan you should probably enlist some help. Providing valuable content will help move your targets through a track-able process.

  1. Email Marketing

This will help you provide value and disseminate you content. Free templates can be set up with any number of online eNewsletter programs. ($50  – $20,000)

  1. Social Media

Set up your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and ensure they are consistent with your branding and messaging. You should be able to do this yourself, but make sure you’re on the right networks – correctly.

  1. Blogging

Writing a blog is free and easy to do once you’ve planned your content strategy. Creating a blog will help you keep your website content fresh.

  1. Signage

Signage will let the market place know that you exist and help people easily you’re your location(s). ($500 – $50,000+)

  1. Directories and Classified Ads

Whether online or in a newspaper, these should be a cost-effective method to list your company in it’s target industry. People searching for specific items can locate your ad by category. ($25+/each)

  1. Community Newsletters

If your goal is to reach a specific community, than community papers may provide you with a cost-effective tactic, however readership varies. ($50 – $500/ad/size)

  1. Outdoor Advertising

This tactic will increase your local presence. Outdoor advertising covers a variety of media, including lawn signs, bus benches (0 – $200/month), shopping mall signs, billboards and building sponsorships. ($5,000 – $50,000+)

  1. Videos

Videos are an extremely important, especially within your content marketing strategy. They can be used in a variety of mediums including both digital and traditional marketing tactics.  ($2,000  – $50,000)

  1. Search Engine Optimization (and Outsourced Content Creation)

Your company and it’s digital assets need to rank highly. Enlisting the services of an expert will save you time, which will allow you to get back to business. ($1,000 – $5,000/month)

  1. Radio

This brand awareness tactic will increase your presence with commuter traffic, especially in rural communities. ($3,000 – $10,000/month)

  1. Television (TV)

Advertising on local (or national) television can greatly increase your brand awareness and increase recognition. (Estimate $1,000 – $10,000/month + production – you need a solid 30 second spot)

  1. Newspapers

Newspaper (local or national) can help build local, immediate attention and over a period of time can increase brand visibility. ($2,000+/month – depending on ad size)

  1. Promotional Products

These are branded items that you send (or give) away to gain (and retain) attention. In Calgary I recommend Level2, however there any many choices in every city.

  1. Direct Mail

Targeted, local direct mail can be effective if there is a valuable offer or create that stands out. This can also be applied to eNewsletters or digital marketing. ($0.5 – $3/ household is consistent depending on the creative you are mailing)

  1. Digital

There are many new online advertising channels to consider. Start with Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which is essentially your online search traffic that should relate to your company, product or service. Then look at display advertising, which is the online version of billboard advertising, layered in with retargeted and behaviour ads. Next think about social media advertising (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). If you’re confused by the above let me know and I can help. While marketing budgets may vary they are also affordable and track-able. ($25/day+)

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM system, emails and phone calls will help you manage current relationships, increase referrals and attract new prospects to be clients. If you don’t have a sales process or strategy you will not generate new business. ($25/month+)

  1. Recommendations, Success Stories and Celebrity Endorsements

Some of these are free or earned and others are not – however all will help you increase credibility within your market place. Always be aware of the risk.

Build Your Promotional Marketing Mix

Choose your promotional marketing tactic based on your target audience. This includes the volume, type, and geography of the target customers you are trying to reach. Depending on your marketing strategy (or objectives), choose the method that is the most direct and provides the most value. Your target prospects need to engage with your market for it to be a success. Forecast and plan your marketing budgets to ensure that you allow enough budget to carry your campaign throughout completion. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Just be sure to measure the results of your marketing.

10 Tips for Creating an Engaging Business Blog

Business blogging is a powerful tool which when used correctly, can impact your marketing significantly. Here are 10 recommendations on creating a successful business blog:

  1. Set Goals
    Have complete knowledge about your content marketing, social media and blogging goals. Make sure the goals are specific, measurable and achievable.
  2. Define Your Target Audience
    Defining your target audience personas will help you create valuable content based on their content interests. Be consistent and appeal to their pain points.
  3. Plan with a Content Calendar
    Great blog posts don’t spring up out of the blue without proper planning. An established content calendar helps ensure regular, streamlined content flow through the year.
  4. Create a Content Marketing Plan
    Increase your visibility by creating content. If your content is good, increased visibility will translate into views and leads. Promote your blog through cross promotion initiatives on social media, your website and online paid advertising. Also incorporate social sharing buttons on your blog pages for increased distribution and engagement.
  5. Assign Adequate Resources
    A successful blog needs resources: to generate quality content, for creative work (images, design, formatting etc.), to work on the editing and marketing your content.
  6. Work on Content Optimization
    Your blog is a major contributor to your search rankings. Optimize your content by using relevant non-brand keywords. Integrate your blog’s URL into your company site URL which helps in branding and further search optimization. Also, make it easy for people to access your blog from your website and vice versa. Lastly, structuring your content into short paragraphs will help visitors read your content.
  7. Brand Your Blog
    Ensure your blog is consistent with your brand identity, including brand colors, logo, font etc.
  8. Connect Your Blog to Relevant Product/Service Pages
    Make it easy for blog readers to find your products linking your blog pages to the right products/services with a persuasive call-to-action and hyperlink.
  9. Include visuals
    Balance the presence of text on your blog with adequate visuals including photos, video and presentations.
  10. Measure Performance
    Track your blog’s effectiveness by measuring important performance metrics including the amount of traffic, leads and sales generated. Also measure the extent to which your blog is helping you cut costs in search and customer service.

15 Tips on How to Create a Successful eCommerce Website

Every website needs visitors and customers. Websites are specifically designed to serve customers. An effectively designed eCommerce website experiences high conversion rate and brings the desired profit for a business. However not all the web designers understand how to make the eCommerce websites conversion-friendly. Below are 15 tips to help you build a successful eCommerce website.

  1. Identify your prospects 
  2. Have simple navigation 
  3. Use high resolution product images (or stock photos)
  4. Include valuable product details
  5. Employ simple, clear and visually engaging call to actions (CTAs)
  6. Feature product and/or service videos 
  7. Have 24/7 visibility into your shopping cart 
  8. Offer free shipping as an option
  9. Avoid distractions 
  10. Leverage landing pages to feature valuable content, products and services  
  11. Offer special discounts or sales clearly
  12. Display your contact information easily and visibly
  13. Consider multiple transaction options
  14. Feature an effective and useful Site Search: Advanced
  15. Keep the site simple, engaging and focused on providing value 

Building an eCommerce website could be a challenging task, but the tips given above offer great help even to a newbie web designer. Try to improve the usability and shop-ability of eCommerce website that you are designing. Keep in mind that building a website is a never-ending process. You’ll need to keep updating your website on a continually ongoing basis.

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.

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.

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.

6 Tips Creating a Valuable Online Survey

Because of the wide availability of opportunities to create surveys using free online survey software, you can quickly and easily gauge customer satisfaction or interest in new product offerings via customer surveys.

When using a free or subscription-based online tool to create a survey, however, you must be certain that the survey is carefully designed to yield the most valuable data.

  1. Preliminary Research

Online survey software makes it easy to create multiple surveys, which means you don’t need to create one survey to address all of your market research needs.

So know what it is you want to know:

  • What information do you need from your survey?
  • What do you plan or hope to do with that information?

Different goals require different types of data from customers or potential customers. For example, the information you gather prior to launching a new website will be different from the information you’ll solicit before adding a feature to an existing website.

  1. Determine the Target for your Survey

Almost all survey software enables you to enter an email list. How do you determine which people to include on that list?

Choose a specific group of people you want to survey:

  • Existing customers
  • Potential customers
  • Purchased sales leads

Customize your survey for the target group. When you create a survey for college students, for example, the tone and language will likely be different from that of a survey for senior business executives.

Writing questions tailored to your target audience will increase the response rate of your survey and result in more valuable data.

  1. Write Simple Questions

Regardless of your target, use simple, straightforward language in all of your questions.
Most participants will not take the time to read a question more than once.

Multiple-Choice Questions

If you choose to use multiple-choice responses, be sure that each choice is distinct. Participants should not have to consider two responses that seem almost identical.

It is acceptable to use questions with fewer (or more) response choices than other questions if doing so improves the clarity of a question.

Double-Barreled” Questions

Double-barreled questions actually query two different data points. An example would be “How important are cost and quality when considering a new car?”

This question asks for two pieces of information, the importance of cost, and quality. And so there is no way of knowing which feature respondents have in mind when they respond.

Break down such questions into two short and simple questions; doing so will lead to better data.

  1. Prioritize Your Questions

You have a choice of how to order your questions:

  • Randomized question order: Questions appear in a different order for each respondent.
  • Static question order: Questions appear in the same order for all respondents.

To best control the survey results, choose a static order.

Create a survey that starts with questions your respondents will find most interesting. Respondents are always most engaged when responding to questions about their own experiences. The most effective survey will therefore move from the most- to least-personalized questions.

Group questions. When you create a survey, also consider the groupings of your questions. Developing blocks of questions that address a single theme from different perspectives will return very specific data.

  1. Formatting

Most online survey software websites offer premium features that enable you to customize the layout of your survey. Be sure that there is ample white space between questions.

If possible, use survey software that presents each question individually, on its own page.

progress bar will help respondents measure their progress, without being overwhelmed by a long list of questions.

  1. Test Your Survey

Finally, test your survey before sending it out to. Survey testers should, of course, check the questions for spelling and grammar errors. Just as important, however, is to learn how respondents may react to the questions.

Key issues for survey testers to assess:

  • Are there any questions that are confusing?
  • Could any be misperceived as offensive?
  • Is there a logical order to the questions that allows respondents to build upon prior responses with more detailed data?

Once you’ve vetted and revised the survey based on the feedback from the testers, release the survey to your target group.

The next time you create a free online survey, keeping these tips in mind will ensure survey results are meaningful and valuable.

Increase Your Online Presence with Digital Marketing

Businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on the internet and digital marketing to inform and educate prospective and existing customers. While content marketing plays a vital role in conveying a company’s brand message, online engagement is critical to promoting this message and solidifying relationships with your target audience. Online engagement tools such as social media and email marketing allows a company to interact with prospects and customers dynamically and transparently, driving home its core message.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is one of the greatest community building tools in history. Content shared on social media amplifies a company’s online presence, while transparent social exchanges project its authenticity. This helps to foster a longstanding connection with new prospects and existing customers. Social media marketing recognizes each social follower as a person interested in the company. Companies should use social to expand their reach and engage prospects on their terms. Also, businesses can use data gleaned from social interactions to better understand the interests, wants and needs of their target audience.

EMAIL MARKETING

As consumers demand more relevance in the type of content received and the nature of its delivery, dynamic and personalized email marketing campaigns are becoming crucial to online promotion. Through a series coordinated emails, companies are able to send out highly personalized content tailored to customer segments at various stages in the buying cycle. These campaigns allow brands to efficiently nurture new prospects down the sales funnel and to stay connected with existing clients.

INTEGRATION IS KEY

To form connections that matter, businesses need to produce original content that is exceptional, personalized, and relevant.  By responsively engaging with their audience over social media and email, companies are able to promote their content and message in a concise manner. Companies can also take advantage of analytics and the ability to adjust online campaigns easily to better hit their target market.

While social media, email marketing and mobile advertising are expected to increase, they only represent a few elements of a fully integrated marketing strategy.

LinkedIn Company Page Checklist

Your Company Page on LinkedIn is a powerful way to reach millions of professionals online. With over 100 million professionals on LinkedIn, this tool can help exposure your company and brand to an ideal target market. These professionals are following more than 1.9 million companies on LinkedIn and are purchasing professionals, current clients, job seekers, interested observers, and most importantly, potential customers. Professionals follow companies to stay updated with new developments, compare products and services and track potential opportunities. LinkedIn regularly informs members of Company Pages changes via email and/or network updates.  When LinkedIn members want to know more about your company they can look at your Company Page, which is conveniently linked to your profile.

Use this check list to ensure it’s ready for visitors:

  • The Company Name
  • Assign Admins
  • Upload Company Logo & Profile Photo
  • Describe the Company
  • List the Company’s Specialties in Showcase Pages
  •  Add the Company Twitter and Blog RSS Feeds
  • Show the Company Type, Size, Website Link
  • Select Industry, Operating Status, Year Founded
  • Highlight Locations
  • Place a Careers Listing

Here are 3 quick tips to get you started:

  1. Promote Your Products or Services – Create showcase pages to showcase the voice of your company and brand These pages provide you with the opportunity to promote who you are and what you do.
  2. Monitor Traffic and Audience Analytics on LinkedIn – Analytics is a rich resource, which adds insights and value. Here, you can track page views and unique visitors for your overview, careers and products and services pages.
  3. Invite Connections to Follow Your Company on LinkedIn – After your Company Page is set up, invite followers. You can add a follow button to your website, blog and email signature. You can also post a link to the company’s page to your updates or status feed asking for followers. Another option is to navigate to your company page’s services/products tab and click share to promote to individuals, groups, or connections.

Social Media Marketing 102

Establishing a good social media marketing strategy for your business can help you increase your presence and drive sales. As a follow up to Social Media Marketing 101, read below for the best way to jump into the realm of social media marketing.

Start by creating profiles on sites your audience is likely to use. You should create profiles on Facebook and Twitter and any other site your target audience is using. Take the time to create original designs for your profiles, but make sure you create profiles that can easily be recognized as being affiliated with your brand. Use the name of your brand when registering for a profile and place a logo on your page. You also need to place links to your homepage and product pages in visible locations as well as your contact information. If you join more than one site, add a link to your other profiles on each site.

Post updates on a regular basis. You need to write quality content that your audience will want to read and share with their friends. Posting links to your blog updates or new products is a good idea, but do not hesitate to share news stories and articles from external sites related to your industry. Keep track of the comments you get and of how many people share your updates to find out what your target audience is really interested in.

You should set a goal to establish a real connection with your audience. This can be achieved through your social media accounts. On your site, add links to your social network profiles as an option to contact you with questions, requests or suggestions. You should be very polite and professional in your interactions with people on social networks. If necessary, create a personal profile so you can talk to your friends and family privately. Remember that the social network profile associated with your brand is basically a storefront for your business; it is necessary that you make a good impression. Use your real name to encourage people to trust you but treat them as customers, not as friends.

Make a few changes to your website or blog so that sharing your content becomes easier. You should add social network buttons to your blog posts; most blogging platforms automatically add Facebook, Twitter, Google + or Pinterest buttons to your posts. You can easily get the code for these buttons on social networks if you wish to add them to your site.

To learn more about developing an effective social media strategy read Social Media Marketing 101.