How to Avoid Falling into the Coupon Trap

coupons-discountsI seem to keep having this conversation so hang in there while I engage in a little blogging therapy as I think aloud in this article trying to align my messaging with my thought processes.

Fact: The people who come to your business with a coupon in hand are less likely than even your children to return any time soon, that is unless you bribe them with another coupon offer.

This means you are giving away product to the people who are the least likely to come back and do profitable business with you. And a lot of these coupon redeemers would have come in with or without the coupon. I know in my household, we will decide to purchase something and on the way out the door someone will say, “Wait, I think I saw a coupon for that.” So with these facts on the table, why would a business owner ever want to use coupons?

I’ve heard all the rationales. They include: Continue reading

The Truth About Marketing

It’s one thing to do the right things.
It’s another to do them right.

As a marketer, this saying holds great value for me. It was the same for my father, a lawyer. I recall asking him about a do-it-yourself lawyer-in-a-box kit being advertised while he and I were watching TV. “Does that hurt your business?” I asked. He chuckled and said, “No, but I’ll end up dealing with a stressed out client later and have to charge more to fix the mess than I would have if they’d come to me in the first place.” That has stuck with me for decades.

Now as I set out to guide businesses to their optimum marketing positions, I too am seeing far too many do-it-yourself attempts that are messy and often do more damage than good. By the time I get the call, the first things to do are to undo things, to get back to center. Afterwards discovery can be done and then new initiatives designed and implemented.

So in the hope I can spare at least one person from making a mess, here are my truths about marketing (these are for today, who knows what’s going to work tomorrow):

Some painful truths about marketing:

Marketing is more than being noisy and saying nice things about your company and products. There was a time when that’s really all you had to do and whoever was noisiest (bought the most advertising) would win.

Marketing is more than “getting the word out” and “being visible.” Often misrepresented as “branding,” this is the epitome of checklist marketing. Doing something just for the sake of saying you’re doing something.

Marketing is more than building a web site, having a Facebook page or publishing monthly newsletters. None of these items, by themselves, is going to move the needle for your company. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

Some painless truths about marketing:

Marketing involves taking time to understand who wants your offerings and why. Knowing this means being able to bundle, price and explain your offerings with extreme accuracy for your best prospects.

Marketing involves knowing you’re not going to be able to tell people what to buy but they are looking for solutions to what pains them. Offering solutions (free and paid) is key to developing relationships with your best prospects today.

Marketing involves learning who your best prospects trust and listen to and then build a relationship with those people so they can know about and share your solutions with their audiences.

Marketing involves measuring everything. You need to then know how to read the data in order to make make changes to do more of what works and quit doing what doesn’t. For instance, low numbers may indicate an incorrect or misdirected strategy. You need to be able to tell the difference.

 

Did I miss any?

Public Relations, Your New Name is Outreach

During the past decade, successful marketing strategies have been rewritten and dramatically so. With audiences moving away from traditional media to ‘new’ media channels, the inexpensiveness of online content creation and the ability to attract qualified leads via search engine optimization it was possible to create ones own marketing ‘gravity’ to attract prospects without relying on the media or anyone else to push them. But, that too, is beginning to change. Continue reading

It’s Pay to Play Time with Facebook

We knew it would happen eventually. They are taking away that which Facebook business page owners have been taking for granted for years. For some marketers it will require no change in execution but a great deal of change in expectation. For others, it will be a crushing blow of the uncontrollable loss of their singular or at least most effective marketing presence.

It has been taken for granted that content posted by a Facebook business page will be seen by all of its fans who visit Facebook within the few hours following and some even later. But that’s all about to changed. Continue reading

Facebook & Google Advertising working together

John W Ellis of Crescent Interactive[Editor’s note: I’m excited to share this guest post from John W. Ellis of Crescent Interactive, a Nashville, Tennessee PPC and SEO consultancy. A successful hands-on practioner of SEO and PPC for more than a decade, John is a frequent blogger, article contributor, speaker and consultant able to empower companies seeking to improve and expand their online marketing efforts.]

For over 10 years, I have been managing PPC (per-per-click) advertising. By far the most utilized PPC resource has been Google AdWords. At Crescent Interactive, although we are familiar with multiple channels and platforms, we spend the vast majority of our time in Google Adwords.

For those not familiar with AdWords, these are the sponsored ads that show up in Google search results. Yes, searchers do click those ads. In fact, that’s where Google makes the volume of its revenue.  Continue reading

Social Media Management Case Study | Boomer’s Drive-In

imageBoomer’s Drive-In is a single location restaurant located in Bellingham, Washington, a small town with a university population nearby. Boomers had enjoyed consistent revenue growth for over a decade but never fully utilized online marketing nor social media. Boomer’s Drive-In had three social media goals: 1) to capitalize on their ever growing sales and market share; 2) to be positioned for the future with regard to the ever-increasing role technology plays in marketing and 3) to offer existing and new customers new ways to become more connected with and part of Boomer’s continued success.

Boomers turned to a new marketing service, Whatcom Marketing, who was providing social media management services. Whatcom Marketing assessed the situation and advised not to expect any significant benefit from a social media effort for about three to four months.

imageWhatcom Marketing began managing Boomer’s presence on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well as building out their profiles in online directories and on customer review sites. The Boomer’s Drive-In web site was also optimized for better search engine performance. Initially, Boomers did not expect many people were searching online for “burgers” or even for “boomers.” But once traffic monitoring had been put in place, they discovered two-thirds of their web site visitors were coming from search engines.

imageIn just the second month, Boomers reported sales up more than 13% from the same month the previous year. This also beat the record for that month for all years prior by 8%.

After five months, Boomer’s Drive-In realized a return on their investment with Whatcom Marketing of more than 6000%. Their fan bases on Facebook and Twitter have more than quadrupled and are engaging (commenting, sharing, etc.) with the content being published. Boomers made no other changes to their marketing efforts during this time.

Knowing online marketing channels tend to be quickly replaced by others in the future, Whatcom Marketing is currently working with Boomers to capture customer contact information and implement a strategic email marketing strategy.

 

Whatcom Marketing was able to create real results for Boomer’s Drive-In and other businesses in other industries. We would welcome the opportunity to help you take your business to the next level. Contact us today.

 

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(360) 223-1438
info@WhatcomMarketing.com

Product Launch Case Study | On Water Designs

On Water Designs of Bellingham, Washington, led by Tim Niemier of Ocean Kayak fame, came up with a high-quality and high-performance yet low-cost solution for paddle board enthusiasts limited by the portability and storage requirements of paddle boards that are typically longer than ten feet. The Origami Paddler is a solid board uniquely designed to fold when not in use. When folded, it is easy to ship (conforms to UPS and FedEx shipping requirements), transport (take in your car, not on it), carry and store. When unfolded, it outperforms inflatable boards, its only real competition.

imageSince the folding boards could be shipped directly to the customer, there was no need to create a reseller network. That meant Niemier needed to be able to market and sell the Origami Paddler direct to the marketplace. Something he had never done before.

Niemier came to Whatcom Marketing seeking marketing ideas to directly reach his best prospects and generate awareness of and interest in this new product. It also needed to be accomplished with the least amount of cost. Whatcom Marketing developed a strategy utilizing online marketing channels in order to garner a sufficient number of “pre-orders” to fund the initial production run. In essence, a self-funding bootstrap product launch was planned.

In anticipation of the expected attention this campaign would receive, a marketing and sales support infrastructure was created across multiple social media platforms and a web site was built. This provided the means for prospects to learn about the Origami Paddler, discover its unique benefits and start sharing and discussing it.

A press release launched via PRWeb’s online distribution platform marked the launch of this campaign. News outlets worldwide covering sports, water sports, gadgets and inventions were attracted to the press release and began writing about this game-changing new product. Tim Niemier quote A 2-minute product video produced by Whatcom Marketing received over 2000 views within the first month and over 6000 views after only four months.

Email addresses of interested prospects were collected via social media channels and the product web site. Monitoring the online chatter and making contributions to discussions about the Origami Paddler in online forums worldwide fostered additional interest, ensured accurate information was exchanged and enabled immediate collection of market feedback about product messaging and design.

After creating pent-up interest and demand for a product no one knew to even ask for previously, emails and social media announcements were sent out announcing orders were being accepted. No one had actually seen the product, outside of the videos and a pictures. But enough interest had been created that the orders submitted were enough to cover the expense of the initial production run and product delivery. The product was successfully launched with minimal expense and time and the sport of stand-up paddle boarding revolutionized.

 

Whatcom Marketing was able to create real results for On Water Designs. We welcome the opportunity to help you take your business to the next level too. Contact us today.

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(360) 223-1438
info@WhatcomMarketing.com

Build Up Your Customer Service Via Twitter

Have you ever heard that someone was unhappy about your service but you didn’t hear it from them? That’s because people are more likely to walk away vowing not to repeat the behavior than to seek a fix. But that doesn’t stop them from grousing about it to whoever will listen. Do I hear an “Amen!”?

Enter blogging, Twitter and Facebook and all the other ways that people can share their stories with dozens, hundred or even thousands. The realization of this is likely to send chills down most small business owners’ spines. But, this also presents a big customer service and support opportunity.

Continue reading

Guest post at Crescent Interactive’s blog

Crescent Interactive logo

I have been one of those cobblers whose kids have no shoes. The Whatcom Marketing blog has been sorely neglected while I have been busy creating content for others. I need to take my own advice (“eat my own dog food” as some people say) and fix this.

But in the mean time, I have been graciously invited to provide a guest post on John W. Ellis’s company’s blog. So wander over to the Crescent Interactive blog and check out my latest along with John’s gems of online marketing wisdom.

 

Businesses Turn to Social Media During Harsh Weather

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The very Northwestern corner of Washington State is mostly at or near sea-level and as such rarely sees temperatures below freezing. So it was very inconvenient and uncomfortable to endure temperatures in the teens with near zero wind chill during the last 24 hours. With several inches of ice and snow mixed in, it made for a “better to stay home than go out” scenario.

Local businesses have recognized this and many chose to let staff and customers stay home. This also created the need to communicate this news to them before they set out. Conventional news channels were utilized but more significant was the tremendous uptick in the volume of Facebook posts and Twitter tweets by local businesses in the last day. More than twice the norm by my tally.

I can’t see it from my vantage point but it would be very interesting to know how this burst of activity from the business side of the equation affected the level of engagement from the customer side.

Anyone care to share whether they saw customer responses and other means of engagement from posts or tweets that you would be closed due to the weather?