Why Social Media Hasn’t Worked for Many Businesses

iwannapunchuI have been quietly observing a large number of business professionals jumping into social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) as if it were a conveyor belt they can simply throw their product pitches onto. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

See if the following example sounds familiar and then check out the ways to leverage social media correctly to actually build a passive lead generation and reputation building machine.  Continue reading “Why Social Media Hasn’t Worked for Many Businesses”

Where Did My Heroes Go?

Several years ago, I traveled the search engine and online marketing trade show circuits and made friends with some very smart people in the space. Over time I was able to weed out those who simply were part of the marketing echo chamber (a great majority of the so-called “rockstars” fit this category) and others who really really thought for themselves, citing real data and experiences and developing notions and strategies that could and should be implemented. The latter group I would call my marketing heroes.

Over time my heroes’ value to businesses has grown to the point where they are now getting hired by Fortune 100 companies more than not. But this has ruined them for me. Back in the day, they were a God-send for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs). They were immersed in the SMB world and had great empathy for their needs and requirements. Unlimited budgets weren’t part of that paradigm.

Now many of these heroes of mine are writing articles and blogging about much more philosophical topics and less about pragmatic effective strategies to be implemented on the cheap. But there are two exceptions to this worth pointing out.  Continue reading “Where Did My Heroes Go?”

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 “How to Avoid Falling into the Coupon Trap”

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?

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

Owning & Protecting Your Company’s Online Assets

This week was an interesting one for online marketers. Two earth-shaking, paradigm-changing revelations occurred.

  1. We discovered that Google isn’t perfect as their “new” personalized search results are poop (hello Bing?).
  2. We discovered that Facebook is registering declining numbers in some global markets.

Whether you agree or disagree about the importance of these specific points, they serve to remind us that what works today for online marketing isn’t necessarily going to be what works tomorrow. As the steward of your company’s online assets (blog posts, pictures, videos, etc.), it is crucial that you create an infrastructure that takes this into consideration.  Continue reading “Owning & Protecting Your Company’s Online Assets”

How your small business can generate leads on a small budget

There are two primary methods of marketing, ‘push’ and ‘pull.’ Push marketing uses intrusive delivery methods and has served us well for decades, even back in the 50s, 60s and 70s when it was simply a game of whoever could afford to ‘push’ the most direct-mail, print and broadcast advertising in front of consumers won the battle. Pull marketing is a whole different beast that relies on things like value, relevance, informative content, and, yes, entertainment value to create significant gravity to pull in, willingly, your best prospects.

Continue reading “How your small business can generate leads on a small budget”

Small Business Customer Service Razzle-Dazzle

Click to download a premade Customer Email Register form to print and use

Believe it or not, as a small business, you have some advantages over large businesses. For instance, you are nimbler, not needing to hold a dozen meetings to add to your inventory or adjust your marketing messaging. You’re closer to your market. Heck, you probably are part of your market.

Yet, you may not be taking advantage of opportunities that come from being “small.” You can provide customer service in your business that is more useful and intelligent than what a larger business could even hope for. Consider the most obvious, post-sale followup.

Continue reading “Small Business Customer Service Razzle-Dazzle”

Make every day Small Business day

American Express has created a merchant promotion declaring  today, the day after “Black Friday,” “Small Business Day”  for the second year. While drawing attention to the benefits of doing business with Small Businesses it’s simply geared to move the needle one day. I suggest all small business owners make every day “Small Business Day” and in doing so make the rest of the year dwarf AE’s efforts to move the needle one day.

Continue reading “Make every day Small Business day”

Creating retail holiday buzz without being a Scrooge

It’s tough. You are in business to make a buck by providing worthwhile products and services and the end-of-year holiday season can make or break many your businesses. So how do you create a message, handle a promotion, or produce marketing that rises above the noise, draws in a large crowd and encourages community involvement? It’s not that hard really.

Continue reading “Creating retail holiday buzz without being a Scrooge”