Specializing in Marketing Services for the Learning and HR Solutions industries

Archive for November 2011

Seven Holiday Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Boost year-end sales by steering clear of these slip-ups.

BY STARR HALL|
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/204268

The holidays have arrived, and you still don’t have a plan for marketing to your current customers or reaching out to new markets. Why do the holidays seem to sneak up on us every single year? As much as we try to prepare ourselves for family, shopping, gift giving and travel, it’s no wonder we often forget about our businesses marketing during all the holiday mayhem.

It’s quite common for business owners to freeze their marketing efforts over the holiday season with the notion that they’re going to start strong in the new year; little do they know, however, just how many opportunities have passed them by.

The holidays can be the best time to bring in new business and reconnect with current clients and customers. The holiday rush is not just for brick-and-mortar department stores; it can also help your business by boosting revenue and customer loyalty before the end of the year.

Here are the top seven marketing mistakes businesses make during the holidays:

1. No marketing plan going into the holiday season. Your holiday marketing should have been planned in the summertime, but now it’s the holiday season, so what do you do? Take some time today to decide what you are going to do and offer for the rest of the holiday season. If it’s just too late, then start with a New Year focus. For 2012, set a marketing calendar at the beginning of the year that can serve as a blueprint for your marketing plans year round.

2. No communications. Many business owners mistakenly think that offices are closed or people are too busy to be bothered. If you choose not to follow up with leads or customers because it’s a busy time of year, you’re making excuses. Although the holiday season is hectic for most, for some businesses it’s actually the slowest and the best time to pick up the phone and make a call for their business. If it’s not the holidays, it’ll be the New Year, or Spring break, then summer. Now is the best time to market precisely because so many people don’t.

3. No holiday offers. People, for the most part, love the holiday season; they like to focus on gift giving, vacations and family time. So if you don’t provide a holiday special or offer that helps them with those goals, you are doing them–and your business–a grave disservice. Any product or service can be repackaged with a holiday offer or theme. Search online to see what other companies are offering; it might spark an idea or two for your business.

4. Not sending holiday greetings to customers. These are people that have been loyal, bought from you and supported your business year round; you need to let them know that you are not only thinking about them over the holidays but that you are grateful for their business. Take a few hours out of your day and hand write a holiday greeting card. There are automated systems such as SendOutCards.com where you can design your own card (to add a personal touch) and you can even send a gift with the card. In addition, this service will put the postage on the card and send it for you, saving you a trip to the post office.

5. Forgetting to ask how clients are doing. This is something that most businesses completely miss the boat on; they do not survey clients and customers from the current year to see how they can improve in the future. How are you going to know what worked and didn’t if you don’t ask? If you keep doing what you have always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. Find out what worked and what didn’t, look at your systems and your marketing, and then make improvements and enhance your current offerings. Constantcontact.com has great online survey templates. Offer a free gift or holiday discount to customers who take the time to complete your survey.

6. Shirking your public relations. Many businesses don’t reach out to the media during the holidays because the owners are under the impression that media outlets shut their doors or are too busy to bother with new story ideas. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The media is always open and looking for the next great story or feature. If you can tie your story in with the season, all the better. If you missed the holiday calendar, you can still plant a seed for a feature in the new year. A great way to connect with the media during this time of year is to contact the media using LinkedIn, which will usually go right to their inbox.

7. Not tapping into year-end budgets. There are thousands of companies that earmark holiday and year-end budgets–that money must be spent. These budgets are usually set prior to the holidays and focus on staff or client gifts and employee training as well as planning for the new year. What service or product can you offer to help them meet their budget and year-end goals? If you do a keyword search that applies to your industry or topic on social sites such as Twitter, you can see what people are looking for and talking about. This can help you plan and approach contacts with holiday offers.

Marketing During the Holidays

http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/tips/archives/2010/12/marketing_during_the_holidays.html

With the holiday season upon us, there are many sales and marketing strategies that small business owners can leverage to expand revenue base and improve business. Here are a few tips to help ensure your business is in the best position to accomplish its holiday sales and marketing goals:

1. Up the bid. Consumers are much more likely to make a purchase during the holidays than at any other time of the year. That’s good news for revenue, but improved conversion rates can also fund an increase in marketing during December. This is particularly effective if your business is using online marketing tactics such as paid search, where spending can be adjusted on the fly.

2. Change the offer. During the holidays, consumers are usually shopping for gifts for others. This is a different shopping mindset that requires you to rethink what you are offering consumers. Positioning products and services as gifts, offering free shipping, and promoting gift cards are all great ways to succeed with holiday shoppers.

3. Timing is everything. The holiday shopping season lasts months, not weeks, and consumer behavior changes dramatically over that period. For example, women are much more likely to make a holiday purchase in November than men, while men are last-minute shoppers who usually wait until mid-December to make their purchases. As such, you should make sure you are focused on a female customer base for most of the season, then be ready to target and better engage a male demographic as the holidays kick into high gear.

4. Make it social. The holidays are a social time and businesses should capitalize on that dynamic. There are many ways to do this and the Internet makes it easier than ever. Consider leveraging group buying, one of the hottest dynamics in retailing, to offer customers discounted gift cards—but only if a minimum number of customers sign up.

5. Don’t forget the post-holiday season. Holiday shopping doesn’t end on December 24. In fact, a majority of consumers will make a purchase during the last week of the year, when they are shopping for themselves and looking for deals. As such, businesses need to adjust marketing and sales efforts yet again to capitalize on a second wave of shoppers.

Scott Albro
Founder and CEO
Focus
San Francisco

New Sales Economy Blog

New Sales Economy Blog

Modern Sales Strategy for the Web 2.0 World

The New Era of Marketing, Sales, and Customers

by Chad Levitt

The dawn of a new marketplace has arrived that has changed the best practices of sales, marketing, and the way customers buy products and services. We are sitting at the largest inflection point since the industrial revolution. To be blunt, everything that used to work best, no longer does.

Digest that thought, no, really, let it sink in deep. Real deep. To the very center of everything you used to believe about sales, marketing, and your customers.

Then go through this slideshow from HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Mike Volpe and really….. really, think about the affect this will have on your business, and the ways you market and sell.

http://newsaleseconomy.com/the-new-era-of-marketing-sales-and-customers

The Era Of Reciprocity

The Era Of Reciprocity – November 7th, 2011

“We’re entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. The consumer is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another way: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?”
– Kim Kadlec, Worldwide Vice President, Johnson & Johnson.

When’s the last time you purchased an electronic device? Whether it was a camera, smart phone, Television, etc., odds are, you did your home work. You didn’t let Sony convince you that their camera is the best for your needs, you went out and made up your own mind about who makes the best digital camera. Somewhere along the line, Sony planted the seed, but you took the seed, you researched on your smart phone, you read online reviews at a digital camera web site, you listened to other consumers and their experience with the camera, you made your own decisions and ultimately, you purchased that new amazing camera.

This is happening everyday, from consumer goods, to electronics, to automobiles, to insurance policies. We shop way differently then we did two years ago. Businesses now have to engage, they have to make these platforms readily available for consumers to read about their products, learn about their products and ask detailed questions about others experience with that product. It’s an amazing statistic, but consumers are now visiting / consulting over 10.7 places before they purchase anything today. They may have seen a television commercial, which prompted them to pick up their laptop and read an online review, or ask a friend on Facebook, or visit the web site of the product itself. The point is, your business HAS to be there on many levels. And once your business is there, it’s got to give up the goods that the shopper is looking for. The era of reciprocity recognizes that consumers are not going to be sold to, they will hunt for and pull down the information that they need to purchase your products.

Here Are Three Ways To Feed Your Prospects Online:

– Online Product Reviews.
Allow your visitors to post product reviews at your e-commerce store.

– YouTube.
The second most used search box on the web is the YouTube search box. How can your business capitalize on that?

– Make it easy to be found.
If they (prospects) can’t find product information that they are looking for, they move on to the next brand, quickly.

Visit this article online at http://ontargetwebsolutions.com/search-engine-blog/the-era-of-reciprocity/

How Facebook Video Chat Can Help Your Business

by Douglas Idugboe | 19th Jul 11 12:01 am |

Facebook just keeps getting better and bigger, especially for businesses. A little over a week ago, the world’s leading social network organized a media event to unveil ‘something awesome’. It unveiled the group chat feature and announced that it now has more than 750 million users. However, the ‘awesome’ announcement was the partnership with Skype – thereby allowing users to conduct video calls from within Facebook.

I reckon Facebook’s video chat feature will prove to be a game changer for businesses. As a business, you can now reach your customers via Skype sessions and video chat with them. If you haven’t already tried it, you can download the latest version from here.
In this post, I explain how Facebook video chat can help your business.

Demos and Announcements

It’s often said that ‘seeing is believing’. Till now, businesses were restricted to textual communication via Facebook. Of course, it was still possible to upload videos but it lacks the real time aspect. Businesses can use the video chat feature to conduct demos for their products and services. This allows customers to get a first hand experience before buying a product.
Further, Facebook video chat provides a great way to announce a new product or service offering.

Customer Service

A large number of businesses use Facebook as a customer service tool. And now it’s going to better as businesses can see and talk to their customers and vice-versa. Personal touch is a crucial aspect of good customer service and Facebook video chat helps businesses build a personal rapport with customers.
In my opinion, business owners can leverage this technology to reach their followers and expand sales and marketing strategies virally.

Save Time and Money

It’s a saving of time and money for businesses as well as customers. They need not make phone calls or visit a local business for issues that can just as well be addressed by a Facebook video chat session. It’s a major convenience for customers as they can interact face to face with a business from any part of the world, thereby eliminating all geographical barriers.
The best part about using Facebook video chat – it’s free!

Limitations

Facebook video chat has some limitations though. It does not allow group video chat. In contrast, Google+ Hangouts allow group video as well as simultaneous watching of YouTube videos. However, despite the explosive growth of Google+, it is no match for Facebook’s 750 million strong user base.

5 Ways Facebook Can Help Your Business

Tuesday 2 August 2011 | Jessica Kornfeind

Do you already have a Facebook page for your business? If you do, great! But do you know how to get the most out of your Facebook page? And if your business doesn’t have one yet, get on it!
MycroBurst has a facebook page that we use to connect with clients and graphic designers around the world. It has been a vital tool for our support and marketing departments. But there are so many more reasons why Facebook is important. Here are 5 simple ways that Facebook can help your business grow:

1) Express your business’ personality
It’s a fact- people do more business with business they know and trust. Your Facebook page is not limited to posting new announcements and events; it shows your business’ personality!
By posting pictures, information and status updates shows you’re not just any business. Interaction with your customers and fans on Facebook is on a more personal level, thus people will get to know the business and gain its trust.

2) Get to know your Customers
These fan pages are designed for your customers and fans. Not only can you post to your fan page, others can too. When fans post comments, pictures, “check-in” to your location or even “like” things that you post, this allows you to truly get to know your fans.
You now have an inside view of how your customer thinks and be sure to take into consideration the feedback they give you. This interaction is crucial in how you operate and how your business can grow.

3) New Customers can Find your Business
Many of your future customers are going to head to a search engine to find someone in their area that does the type of work that you do.
Having a Facebook page will increase the chances that your business will be found. Your business’ Facebook page will also be indexed in search engine databases, ready for the next search to be conducted.

4) Promote What’s Happening
Have an event coming up? What about a special promotion? Post it on Facebook. Include pictures, information and more to help spread the word about what’s happening!
Want to spend a little cash? Facebook offers ad space which can be seen by its 750 million users – half of which login each day.

5) Expand your Marketing and Advertising …for Free!
Facebook pages are free, so is increasing your marketing and advertising plan on Facebook. More advertising and marketing leads to more new customers and increased sales numbers.
Facebook pages enable you to expand your page by adding features and apps for free. You can connect your business website to your Facebook page, track the visits to your page, add discussion boards and more.
The Facebook for Business page will show you how effective Facebook marketing is and how to easy it is to put together. While you’re there, head to the MycroBurst Facebook page and “like” us. Don’t forget to share with your friends!

Social Media, Mobility Worth More Than Money for Young Workers

By Tony Kontzer on 2011-11-01

Talk about perceived value: In the eyes of some college students and young professionals, access to Facebook and Twitter via the mobile devices of their choice is now a bigger workplace priority than money. That’s the big eye-opener gleaned from the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report. The study paints a picture of a new generation of information workers that has lofty expectations of mobility and social media access on the job, and is even willing to accept a lower salary in exchange for that flexibility. The survey, conducted for Cisco by market research firm InsightExpress, polled 2,800 college students and young professionals in their early 20s — 100 of each group in 14 countries. The findings should provide IT executives with much to think about as you contend with growing pressures to support a wide array of devices and ensure anytime, anywhere network access for a user population that is growing increasingly dependent on social media to remain simultaneously connected to work, home and friends. Here’s a look at some of the study’s most telling numbers (percentages reflect the portion of all respondents, unless otherwise specified):
Priorities
• 40% of college students polled and 45% of young professionals polled say they would accept a lower-paying offer that meets their priorities over a higher-paying offer that doesn’t.
• 33% prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility and mobility over salary.
• 56% of college students polled say they would either pass on a job offer from a company that prohibits social media use, or accept the job and then skirt company policy.
• 64% of college students polled say they plan to ask prospective employers about social media policies during job interviews, and 24% say the answer will help determine whether they accept an offer.
• 41% of young workers polled say their employers promoted their flexible device policies and social networking policies in their recruitment efforts.
• 31% of young workers polled believe their comfort level with devices and social media was a factor in their hiring.
• 25% of young workers polled say the absence of remote network access would influence their decisions on whether to accept job offers.
• 77% of young workers polled say they rely on multiple devices, and 33% use at least three devices for work.
• 81% of college students polled say they want to choose their own devices for use at work.
• 68% of young workers polled believe that company-issued devices should allow them to access social media and personal web sites.
• 42% of college students polled believe companies should be flexible and empathetic about the need to remain connected to social media.
• 49% of respondents would rather lose their wallets or purses than their mobile phones.
• 70% of college students believe it’s unnecessary to be in the office regularly.
• 57% of young workers can easily connect to their corporate networks remotely, but only 28% have the ability to do so from anywhere, at any time.
• 63% of respondents want to be able to access corporate networks from their home PCs, while 51% want to network access from mobile devices.

www.CIOInsight.com

Reasons to Engage a Skilled Marketing Company

Gayle Gardner, November 2, 2011

Anyone can create an email. But it takes a talented marketing firm to create a successful email campaign. Why should you hire a skilled marketing company to manage your email marketing? According to statistics collected during a panel discussion at the Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer called “What Your Customers Really Think of Your Email Program,” Jay Baer reports the following statistics:

1. 21% of email recipients report email as Spam, even if they know it isn’t
2. 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address
3. 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line
4. 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone
5. IP addresses appearing on just one of the 12 major blacklists had email deliverability 25 points below those not listed on any blacklists
6. Email lists with 10% or more unknown users get only 44% of their email delivered by ISPs
7. 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months
8. 30% of subscribers change email addresses annually
9. If marketers optimized their emails for image blocking, ROI would increase 9+%
10. 84% of people 18-34 use an email preview pane
11. People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people that do not receive email offers
12. 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email
13. Subscribers below age 25 prefer SMS to email
14. 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device
15. 80% of social network members have received unsolicited email or invites
Statistics posted October 22, 2008 by Jay Baer

If you are not using a skilled marketing company, the chances that your email is being deleted or reported as Spam, even if it’s not, are higher than is acceptable for ROI. Let Cox eLearning Consultants quickly launch powerful marketing and lead generation programs to drive new sales opportunities to you, and keep your ROI high! COX will empower your existing sales and marketing staff to be more effective by writing for you or consulting with you on how on best practices for optimum email marketing and lead generation.