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Wednesday, October 15 2014

Marketing in the 20th century was primarily done three ways: In person, via phone or by mass communication (television/radio spots, newspaper/magazine ads and direct mail).  All of these are still valid components to consider today when developing your marketing plan.  Add to these the 21st century goodies: websites, social media, email marketing, pay-per-click, etc.  As you can see, there’s lot of marketing choices these days but please make sure your foundation is in place before you get too far down the path. 

What makes a solid marketing foundation?  I suggest it’s all the items that you own and fully control.  Do you own your social media channels?  Can you dictate exactly how your brand is presented and the breath of exposure you get on social media?  No, you are always one “terms of service” change from potentially losing all the momentum you’ve built.

So what are central components of a strong marketing foundation?

  1. A domain name you own and control.  You’ll want to secure both the .com and .net version of your domain.  Buy each domain for two years or longer (because Google likes that!)
  2. A high quality logo for your business that’s easily recognizable and represents your brand well.
  3. A professionally designed website that’s graphically appealing, easily navigated and converts (makes browsers become customers).  It also must auto re-size for easy reading on a cellphone.  You website is the center of all your marketing efforts.
  4. An email marketing program where you constantly capture email addresses of prospective customers to add to your list of regular customer who receive your company’s monthly, branded email newsletter.  Remember, they came to your website so there must be an interest in your product or service.  Every email you send moves them closer to buying or using your service again (or trying it for the first time).

The items listed above all have one thing in common. You are in control!  You set the rules and decide how things will work.  Can your business survive with only these four tools in your marketing toolbox?  Probably.   Can you excel and grow using only these tools?  Probably not.  You’ll need social media to create the “digital word of mouth” for your company and drive your website activity and rankings.  Broadcast/print advertising will get your message to the masses fast while pay-per-click places your ad on page one of Google search.

Build your foundation and make sure it’s stable. Then focus your attention on the supporting elements like social media and mass advertising.  It’s called marketing strategy for a reason.  It takes careful planning and consistent monitoring to insure your marketing effectiveness.

PS:  Let’s not forget the oldest form of marketing in the world: person to person.  Make sure you get from behind that desk and out in front of people whenever the opportunity permits (maybe even create a few networking opportunities at your office!)   There are hundreds of business networking events across Atlanta every month.  Here’s a list of the most popular ones: See you there!

Posted by: Gregg Burkhalter AT 01:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 09 2014
Pay To Play

Oh, for the good ole days…  Back when all of your social media posts were seen by all of your followers.  Not today!  (In fact, your Facebook posts rarely reach 15% of your followers.)

What’s one to do?  The answer lies in your wallet.  You might want to “Pay To Play”.  Social media channels are actively seeking new ways to monetize their business model.  One way is by charging you a fee to expose your company’s posts/updates to a larger audience.  It’s not just Facebook.  LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest all have paid options.  We’ll discuss a few of these “Pay To Play” options below:

Facebook – Boost A Post:  As was mentioned in the introduction, most of your followers on Facebook never see your post. But, you can increase the number of people who do see your post by boosting it.  This service will cost you but you are able to set how much money you’re willing to spend.  (The less you spend, the lower the exposure.)  You can also select the demographics, geographic location and interests of the individuals who will be shown your update on their news feed.  The persons you target can be people you already know or people you don’t currently interact with. Tracking the success of your post is easy thanks to the Facebook Ads Manager.

LinkedIn – Sponsored Update:  This is LinkedIn’s paid service.  LinkedIn is the business social media channel, so naturally anything you promote on LinkedIn is geared toward the business customer. (Think B2B not B2C.)  Unlike Facebook, your shared updates are currently seen by all your connections.  However, LinkedIn Sponsored Updates can expose your update to an even wider audience.  You can define your targeted audience based on variables like age, gender, location, job title, job skills, company size, company industry, etc.  You will need to decide whether you want to pay per 1000 impressions (CRM) or per click (CPC).  CRM is good for building brand awareness while CPC is good for lead generation.   This is an auction for ad space so will need to select your maximum bid amount.  Results from sponsored updates can be tracked via the LinkedIn Ads Manager. 

Twitter – Promoted Tweet:  Twitter is home to the tweet, the very popular 140 character social media message.  (Factoid: The tweet has the shortest lifecycle of any social media update at about 18 minutes.)  Just like Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter has paid options for expanding exposure. One such item is the Promoted Tweet.  With this, you can target by keywords, interests, geography and device (cell phone, android or iPhone, laptop/PC, Mac, etc.)  Promoted Tweets appear at the top off a person’s timeline and then scroll through the timeline.  Simply select your bid based on your budget. You’ll be charged when someone follows your account or clicks, re-tweets, favorites or replies to your Promoted Tweet.  Use Twitter analytics to track how well your Promoted Tweet is doing.

Pinterest – Promoted Pin:  The Pinterest Promoted Pin has not been rolled out to the general populous but Pinterest has invited select individuals to use the service and serve as a beta tester for what will be offered to the masses very soon. Pinterest Promoted Pins are a great if you have something to sell because it gets your product in front of a lot more eyes and you can point the customer directly to your website for purchasing. (Factoid:  The Pinterest pin has the longest life cycle on social media.) To create a promoted pin, select one of your recent pins.  Then choose the keywords you’d like to target, demographics and location.  Like Twitter, you can also choose which devices will show (or not show) your Promoted Tweet.  You are charged when someone clicks on your pin and is directed to your website. (You do not pay for views, re-pins, or likes.)

Should all businesses use the paid options above? Probably not.  Should your business use a couple of the options? Maybe.  Should you at least try one of the paid options? Yes, absolutely!  (Suggestion: Start with Facebook’s “Boost A Post”.)  

Posted by: Gregg Burkhalter AT 12:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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