Tag Archives: ROI

MARKETING SURVIVAL MUSTS

TODAY’S SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING SURVIVAL MUSTS:

A LEAP OF FAITH AND A SENSE OF HUMOR

For the moment the debt ceiling crisis has been averted, but it’s no secret there will be challenges in coming months for the small business ROI. 

Let’s start with the good news:  sales of luxury goods are up, corporations are sitting on a good deal of cash, the Federal Reserve has vowed to keep interests rates near zero, and a lot of people are pushing for quick remedial action. 

What’s the situation right now?  Fueled by the unprecedented Standard and Poor’s rating downgrade and abetted by economic distress impacting Europe, fiscal uncertainty will color business decision making at least for the rest of 2011. 

Until Thanksgiving business will hold its breath, watching and wondering whether the 12-member Super Committee will make the deficit reduction recommendations needed to avoid triggering automatic spending cuts in 2013.  The nail biting will continue until the Congressional vote in late December.

Given that situation and all that goes with it, today’s small business CEO survival kit should contain a leap of faith coupled with a good sense of humor just to stay the course. 

Don’t Toss Out the Baby with the Bathwater

Long-term marketing efforts should not be the first to go just because they may be hard to measure. In theory your initial business plan was based on a sound strategy and you have made prudent adjustments over time.  A review may suggest more revisions, but hoarding gold is not the answer.  Why uproot a solid foundation simply because it turns out it will take longer to build the house?  Trust the decisions you’ve already made, and just reduce the pace as needed. 

Better ways to save:

  • Shop carefully for office equipment and supplies
  • Risk the mayhem and reduce insurance coverage
  • Cut shipping costs
  • Eliminate interest charges by paying on time or in cash
  • Cancel all but essential memberships, frills and perks 
  • Postpone the new hire; instead use contract services or freelance services and/or offer incentives to the existing staff 
  • Barter for goods and services
  • Do some of it yourself, but only if it doesn’t detract from your core business.
  • If all else fails, employ robots!

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

See how comic Stephen Colbert Explains the Debt Ceiling Deal & the Coming Super Congress.

Learn from the poem Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.   Look for the humor.  Find something to laugh at or at least smile about.   Your smile will be infectious. “Rejoice, and men will seek you.”  Network.  Be charismatic.  Let business find you.

Solitude

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone.

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air.

The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;

Grieve, and they turn and go.

They want full measure of all your pleasure,

But they do not need your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;

Be sad, and you lose them all.

There are none to decline your nectared wine,

But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;

Fast, and the world goes by.

Succeed and give, and it helps you live,

But no man can help you die.

There is room in the halls of pleasure

For a long and lordly train,

But one by one we must all file on

Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Is Traditional Networking Dead?

This post advocates the preservation, versus total abandonment, of old-style business networking at least until Xtreme Networking becomes truly widespread and each new person one meets is screened for value in four minutes. (Interestingly, in recent years a Chicago company has been offering such speed dating style networking events for business.)

Lately I’ve attended a lot of local workshops, breakfast, lunch and after-hours meetings in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton.  I’ve watched a lot of webinars.  My goal is to help clients achieve their best marketing return on investment (ROI).  To do that I need to keep up with the latest trends and to continually educate myself about changes in the way goods and services are marketed in 2011.  It’s also part of my own networking plan.

All the meetings I’ve attended so far were ostensibly designed to educate the under-informed; but, of course, the underlying intent was to sell services.  Similarly, social networking seeks to engage potential customers through a mutually-beneficial dialogue, but the underlying intent is still ultimately to sell something.

Not what you’d call a “newbie,” I’ve been immersed for decades in advertising and professional public relations; yet I’m learning a little something new with each session.  Essentially a freelance business writer, I take copious notes.  As I review them, one thought keeps haunting me:  “The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.”  Let me attempt to draw a few parallels.

Martha and Maxine Talk About Networking with Social Media, Etc.

Martha’s Way

Maxine’s Way

Build your reputation through personal branding I don’t own any cows
Synchronize LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages with your website and Blog Try dialing the phone
Write an insightful Blog every week Take more naps
Recommend and Friend people Friend is not a verb
Start a dialogue and engage people Oh, shut the duck up
Develop friendships, not leads Don’t call me, I’ll call you
Use links for better SEO results SEO? New sausage recipe?
Set up RSS feeds Is that like the KISS principle?
Keep an eye on your ROI as you go viral Only under doctor’s supervision
Use Google Analytics to gauge results Analyze THIS!

Seriously, the point is that face-to-face networking is still alive and well, and e-mail is not quite dead yet.  We shouldn’t be too quick to declare things “dead.”  As always, marketing efforts work best when integrated or synchronized. In-person networking can flow in tandem with social media networking. Just as a book can still become a movie, a blog post might become a video.  Someone you meet at a business function can be someone you connect with on LinkedIn or Friend on Facebook.

Not a sausage recipe, search engine optimization (SEO) is, of course, vital when it comes to being found by Google’s “spiders” and by other search engines.  If you are paying to help ensure that your business can be found when someone searches for it on the Internet, SEO that works will surely enhance your ROI. But don’t forget to put a sign out front that can clearly be read by approaching cars.

For my money Really Simple Syndication (RSS) doesn’t quite qualify under the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (KISS) principle of old.  RSS feeds aren’t that simple to explain, yet the benefit is not complex:  easily being able to subscribe to and read timely updates from favored websites. RSS feeds are a great time-saver, yet you may still want to track down a hard copy of that newspaper article with your quote and photo in it so you can frame it.

Both word-of-mouth and viral marketing rely on trust.  Most people still will not spread the word about a product or service, either in person or through social media, unless it comes from a trusted source, such as possibly a medical professional.  We still need our soft skills, reputation rules and words still matter.

Various methods of measuring advertising’s effectiveness have existed as long as advertising has existed.  Google Analytics is simply a modern version of tracking your advertising ROI and more.

Even as I write, technologies are being developed that will present new and faster ways to do things. But it can’t hurt to review your options when you choose how and when to embrace those new ways.  It’s important to note that audiences are not migrating from one medium to another. They are spreading their attention across all platforms. For example, people are watching more online videos than ever, yet tv viewing is actually on the rise as well.

Until everyone owns and can operate a smartphone that scans an encoded business card which instantly takes them to a website, or until the facial recognition app is perfected, we will still exchange uncoded business cards and later visit each other’s websites.  In the extreme, we might even want to get out of our comfort zones, attend a “meet and greet,” shake hands and send someone a hand-written follow-up note!

Your Best ROI

Advertise Or Publicize for a Better ROI

You are a small business owner looking to find new customers.  Perhaps you’re a professional services provider and need new clients.  Or you’re heading a non-profit development department and need new donors.   You know that marketing is necessary, but how do you really know where to put your dollars for the best return on investment?

Marketing is the umbrella term that covers a number of options to reach the same destination – get new customers/donors/clients — but each option takes a slightly different road.   This blog contrasts advertising and publicity.  Both can be part of a marketing plan to help raise visibility, get your message across and help to establish and build your reputation.  A reputation for good quality and service eventually leads to a sale,  donation or new assignment.  Other marketing techniques include creating events, seeking speaking opportunities, using direct mail and promotions.

Advertising 101

Advertising is paid for by the advertiser.  Readers, viewers, visitors and followers know that.  Thus, the advertising message has less credibility than publicity.  Advertising often has broader reach and definitely greater frequency if it runs as part of an ongoing campaign.

Good advertising is professionally designed to 1) attract attention quickly amidst the clutter of messages seeking attention and then 2) to communicate and repeat a clear message to motivate action.

Publicity 101

The term “free” publicity is a misnomer because, to be effective, publicity-seeking is done in a professional manner by trained professionals who specialize in media relations.  Keep in mind that a company or firm does not obtain publicity simply by sending news releases to media personnel.  The process is more circuitous than direct, and it is not instantaneous.

The art of obtaining favorable publicity involves knowing:

  1. what makes news
  2. which medium will be receptive to a story idea
  3. what will appeal to a particular editor, reporter, columnist or TV producer, and
  4. how to approach that person in the way he or she prefers to be approached.

Media relations professionals cultivate relationships with journalists in order to increase the odds of placing a story on behalf of a client.

Publicity is not controlled by the seeker, not paid for directly, but instead must be obtained by persuading the editor or reporter that the message is one that his/her readers, viewers, visitors or followers want to know about.  Because we have a free press, publicity is never guaranteed.  Traditionally, the “persuasion” is done via a professionally-written news release or “pitch” in the form of a letter, text or phone call.

Publicity is sometimes actually perceived to be the opinion of the medium in which it is seen or heard.  Thus, publicity creates a valuable third-party endorsement.  Publicity coverage can also be “merchandised” to increase its reach by, for example, distributing an article that contains a quote to a target audience via e-mail and calling attention to the quote.

It’s important to know that “hard news” from the point of view of the media is not about selling a product or service.  The media covers changes, human interest, controversy, noble gestures, recognition, et al.  They also selectively cover “soft” or “created” news, which can be achieved by staging an event.   Many times the primary purpose of an event is to create an opportunity for publicity that would not otherwise exist.

Last but not least, the more prestigious the medium, the more difficult it is to obtain publicity.  In other words, if your goal is to be in Business Week, and your business is a start-up, you may have to advertise.