Author: Bonnie Harris

[caption id="attachment_6692" align="alignright" width="225"]@bartthedog as Trump @bartthedog[/caption] Years ago, I "carried a bag" in the technology industry. There were very few women in the industry - I think three of us sold those kind of services in Minneapolis at the time. Every time I see or hear Donald Trump I'm reminded of the bombastic salesmen against whom I competed in the late '80's and early 1990's. In fact, these were the ones who called me honey  and patted me on the head right up until I stole their business. Then they just got mad - which made me very happy. Let me explain this persona of this "sales guy" I know so well. They weren't (and aren't, for that matter) bad guys, they actually had good intentions and many were loving husbands and fathers. They have one major common characteristic that brings them down every time however - they don't believe in messaging. Don't confuse this with the Don Draper persona. Although Draper could shoot from the hip, he planned his creative and messaging carefully. Although like Draper, the Donald Trumps of the world are also highly skilled in the art of persuasion, they don't believe in the power of the carefully crafted message. Nope, not for them. Send them your talking points and they'll make up their own every time. Like Donald Trump many of these sales guys eventually become entrepreneurs. As a marketing consultant, I'm working with them instead of selling against them. Unfortunately many have retained their old habits of shooting from the hip and ignoring attempts at messaging.

shutterstock_254812159A microsite or mini-site is a stand-alone website that rose in popularity as a marketing tool in the mid-1990s with the growth of Google's then-revolutionary pay-per-click business model. Microsites are still a great way to create a brand-oriented experience for consumers, and serve as a landing page for search results. TopRankBlog reports optimized microsite landing pages improved site conversion rates by up to 200 percent. Microsites give your brand a chance to shine without the extraneous information and features that your primary site may contain, and here is a look at how you can leverage microsites into your marketing strategy.

Provide Focused Content

Microsites can give customers and consumers a landing page for a specific product or service, campaign or project. Not only can they highlight one aspect of your business, they can increase awareness of your brand as a whole to consumers who might not be familiar with you. By keeping your microsite simple and easy to navigate, it can direct consumers to what you want them to see. To achieve this, think about exactly what it is you want to highlight and stick to it. Don't get off topic; consumers will become interested in your other offerings if you can grab their interest in the one thing you're highlighting. A key component to microsite design comes in the earliest stages, when creating a hierarchy for your site.

There's new fear among business owners based on the recent hubbub at Reddit after the firing of Victoria Taylor and the subsequent "exit" of CEO Ellen Pao. Although most companies don't have 36 million users or even thousands of employees, many are afraid that the kind of discontent voiced so passionately by Reddit users could happen to them as well.  What if this discontent experienced a tipping point and caught fire in a LinkedIn group, for example, or someone's private Facebook page? Could customers or employees become so incensed that the situation goes viral for them as well? ? I'm sensing a kind of panic right now. The kneejerk reaction seems to be a lock down of online policies, and  micromanagement of organic engagement on social media.  The justification for this behavior is that without the internet, this wouldn't happen, right? WRONG. The internet doesn't cause problems, it brings them to light. What happened at Reddit is a communication problem, and as far as I'm concerned it's lucky that the internet brought it to their attention. When I was a manager in the 1990's, it could be impossible to know what was being said over lunch, or on the phone, or at happy hour. Sometimes we didn't know there was a problem until a costly trend in turnover brought it to our attention, and that could take months. I covered a territory with nine profit centers in six states, plus a corporate headquarters 1,000 miles away. I tried as hard as I could to meet with employees and customers as much as possible, trying to ferret out possible issues before they caused real damage to the bottom line.  Occasionally someone would come and talk to me about an issue, but it had to get pretty bad for someone to email me, or worse, pick up the phone. Problems didn't boil over quickly, they percolated behind the scenes causing much more damage. Arka Ray is the CEO of Sidelines, a company that develops engaged native ad experiences.  His recent commentary about Reddit and community management is so relevant when he says

[caption id="attachment_6665" align="alignright" width="226"] Mike Salem, CEO, Vorex[/caption] Integrated marketing means managing a lot of different channels, including the synchronization of those channels. Lately I've met more and more public relations and communications professionals who are training in project management, even going so far as to...

Special Event Badge Lanyard Conference Expo ConventionEvent marketing typically only consumes 20 percent of a company's budget, according to inbound marketing software platform HubSpot. Meanwhile, 67 percent of B2B marketers consider event marketing its most effective strategy, reports an infographic by WebDAM. Event marketing doesn't have to be expensive or even complicated to be highly effective. You can set up an event in hours and get started on improving public awareness for your business. Here are some ideas to get started:

Create a Learning Event

Educate your customers on how to use your products while empowering them to improve their lives or own businesses. Host an event at a community center on how to use your sales software, create original jewelry, master organizational strategies or anything else that relates to your business. Then, ask your students what other types of resources and classes they need to succeed to get targeted ideas for follow-up courses. Remember to ask for students' contact information to start an email list for future events and product promotion. And before you dismiss class, sweeten the deal by offering a discount or free swag to help spread the word about your product.

Start a Meetup Group

Find your ideal target audience by hosting a Meetup group on anything from travel to entrepreneurship to working moms. Events can be held anywhere you want, such as coffee shops or your own office. You can promote your Meetup through social media and to your current contact list. Plus, you also benefit from the exposure on Meetup with a built-in audience who is looking for a wide variety of groups and events.

business blogEven when it might not feel like a priority, business blogging is a critical component of your business' success. At times it may be tempting to give up on your business' blog, but don't do it — Hubspot reports that marketers who use blogs receive 67 percent more sales leads than those who don't. Here's how you can sustain you blog easily while still juggling the other aspects of running your own business.

Get Focused

Sometimes, it's all the little distractions that make creating content for your blog feel like a chore. If you are the sort who is easily distracted or tries to multitask while blogging, it's time to cut out the distractions.

Most people in communications and marketing are already performing simple linked tactics. The idea is to become conscious of these tactics and to try to accelerate performance by adjusting and tweaking the timing of them. For my dermatologist clients, for example, I know if I send an email to patients and follow up about a week later with information on the monitors in the offices, I get a pretty strong result. I also know that although the monitor information is there, I also need signage in the office to appear at about the same time. I’ve examined and tested the timing of email, monitor and posters  to understand how I can achieve the best result with the least effort and money. As I mentioned in the previous post on linked tactics, posting earned placements on social media is something communications people do every day. If you haven’t already, start looking at the timing of your social media posts to determine engagement. Now see if you can add something to boost your results. I’ve begun to get really serious about Pinterest and Reddit when I’ve seen the boost they can give to website traffic. I also know the timing to use - how soon after the initial post, time of day and day - that gives me the best results. [caption id="attachment_6614" align="alignright" width="300"]© Wany0003 | Dreamstime.com © Wany0003 | Dreamstime.com[/caption] Direct marketers have been using landing pages for a long time. QR codes were a great hope, but haven’t really worked much however other promotional codes seem to still work well. I like those that are branded and include a bit of messaging as well. (As a side note, you can include a bit of branding with unique bit.ly shorteners, another micro tactic that works well for me.) Don’t ever underestimate the power of traditional and online tactics combined. They provide some of the best results I’ve gotten for my clients. Another example of this are combining print ads with online channels. Print ads have become more of a “boost” mechanism for me and less of a direct draw. In fact, we’ve reduced the spend on print ads by half for one of my clients, and still increased our results. That’s because the print ads are now supporting many of the content marketing and digital tactics we’re using. The lesson there is that for this client, traditional tactics have become the "boost." Not the primary vehicle for messaging. (Don't forget, we do a recap of a great IMC campaign every month. This is a great place to find examples of linked tactics. The BJP Party campaign, for example, linked a lot of bleeding edge stuff with traditional media. ) Finally, we need to measure our objectives at the end of the campaign of course, but there are many ways to measure how your tactics are responding on an iterative basis.

shutterstock_172529708Although Facebook may be the inspiration for startups around the world, the company nearly bankrupted itself with monthly utility bills, bandwidth, servers and a rapidly growing payroll. In 2008, the social media juggernaut burned through its startup funding by spending nearly $1 million on electricity each month, reports TechCrunch. While it may not cost you a million dollars to keep your own startup going and the lights on, even modest estimates by Babson College puts startup costs around $65,000. To keep your eye on your bottom line and put more profit in your pocket, use these online tools to slash your overhead and save a bundle:

Cloud Storage

Skip paying for expensive storage systems and servers by storing your important documents, files and images in the cloud. Systems like LiveDrive save startup founders time by sharing files quickly and offering unlimited backup plans. And instead of panicking over a water-logged laptop or server outage, you can access your files from any computer at any location. Compare features and price points with a site like Top10CloudStorage to figure out the best option for your business startup needs.

Social Media Scheduling

[caption id="attachment_6604" align="alignright" width="288"]© Kurhan Dreamstime.com  © Kurhan Dreamstime.com[/caption] You may or may not have heard the term "linked tactics." I consider it so important that I'm going to devote the next couple blog posts to it. First I'll explain it. Then we'll talk about how to derive your set of linked tactics, and how to build your IMC toolkit. Then we'll talk about how to measure those tactics and keep the momentum going. First, what do I mean by linked tactics ? Marketing people argue about the real power behind the results we see in integrated marketing. Personally, I think linked tactics are the heart of IMC.  At a minimum they provide the fuel that accelerates IMC campaigns way past their traditional counterparts.  When you link tactics, they become much more powerful than merely executing components in a silo'd fashion.  When planned well, the synergy between a set of two or more tactics boosts the results of a campaign astronomically. It's a simple idea -  but like so many simple things, it's not so easy to implement. Why so hard? Because every brand has a unique set of linked tactics.