Author: Bonnie Harris

tools for online marketersBy Bryce Colquitt, Small Business MBA  In 2015, it can be harder than ever to stand out. There are so many marketing channels, and so much noise. There are also a ton of decisions to make – what to write about, how to get your content out there and who to talk to.  Fortunately, there are more tools than ever for online marketers to make our jobs easier and make us more effective. Here are 10 tools for online marketers that you should definitely know about: TOOLS FOR INCREASING TRAFFIC 1. BuzzSumo Use BuzzSumo to find out what content is resonating with your audience. This tool shows you the most popular content about a topic, or the top performing content of a certain website. It will also list who is sharing this content and on what platform. 2. Google Trends With Google Trends, you can see what everyone else is searching for. This tool is good for figuring out what’s current. Wondering if people are still interested in a certain topic? Google Trends will let you know. Deciding on what keyword to use? Google Trends will tell you which one is searched for more. 3. Canva What makes Canva so great is that it gives anyone the ability to create gorgeous graphic designs. It can be used for all sorts of things (like making PowerPoint presentations more interesting), but for a marketer, it’s perfect for creating marketing graphics, infographics, and images to be shared on social media. 4. Open Site Explorer

People at the conferenceAccording to Aberdeen Research, 84 percent of marketers use some form of social media today. And, the number of businesses that say social channels like Facebook are important to their business has increased by 75 percent. But in a time before the birth of social media, both marketers and businesses were generating leads by passing out business cards and connecting with customers face to face. It's time to get back to the literal reality of organic connecting. Here are four ways to successfully promote your business offline:

Seminars

Seminars are one of the most popular lead generators and they are great for attracting and connecting with customers. Don’t go to a conference or seminar with the assumption that you have to sell yourself and your business to other attendees. Networking at events is all about making connections, not prospecting. Kevin Stirtz, writing for Business Know-How, suggests asking people about their businesses, and says to be friendly and relaxed. Stirtz also advises against giving everyone you meet a business card; instead, he recommends passing out your business cards when others ask or when you make a good connection.

Trade Shows

Setting up a booth at a trade show gives you the opportunity to connect with new customers who are interested in what your business has to offer. Companies like Apple Rubber, a leading designer and manufacturer of sealing devices, have found success by attending trade shows. The company sets up booths at trade shows in cities from coast to coast and lists each show's date and location on their website, merging both offline and digital marketing. Mark Krenn, founder of Coastal Creative Reprographics, writing for Business 2 Community, says that you need to stand out from the crowd. Your business will be alongside other industry competitors, so you’ll have to get creative when connecting with potential customers and designing your booth.

Giveaways

[caption id="attachment_6565" align="alignright" width="300"]sample marketing strategies Me when I had my big corporate job.[/caption] Okay, this promises to be the most boring blog post ever. But whenever I look for examples of strategies I can never find them, so here's a list of sample marketing strategies. I've grouped them by objectives too. This is not necessarily a complete list, but it's the one I use when I need to brainstorm. Consider this your laundry list of sample marketing strategies and let me know if you have questions. Feel free to add your faves in the comments.
  • Brand marketing strategies create awareness of a new brand, change perception of an existing brand or create a brand extension.
    • Earned media
    • Word of mouth
    • Cause marketing
    • Thought leadership/education
    • Sponsorships
    • Celebrity endorsements
    • Brand journalism
    • Online marketing
  • Content strategies are used when with a longer sales cycle, the client or customer is sophisticated and the brand needs credibility.
    • Brand journalism
    • Native advertising
    • Social media
    • Influencer marketing
    • Multimedia messaging
    • Education/Thought Leadership
    • Contests/Quiz
    • Ambassadors/Celebrity
    • Testimonials
  • Promotional strategies are used to influence the later steps in the buying cycle, including post-purchase behavior.
    • Events
    • Sponsorships
    • Contests
    • Events

imc tacticsIn both integrated marketing communications and traditional marketing, strategy gets a short shrift. Most marketing plans I've seen either dive right into tactics after defining their objectives, or they mistake strategies for objectives. It's always a squishy subject - let's start with a good definition. A strategy is the "what" - the overriding method for reaching your goals. Tactics are the "how" - the action items aligned with that strategy. In IMC, strong strategies are a critical success factor to the campaign for several reasons:
  • Strategies help with alignment. A strong strategy can be implemented across channels.
  • Integrated marketing communications require constant, iterative testing of IMC tactics. With a good strategy, you can constantly change up your tactics without changing direction. Tactics or linked tactics may fail to produce, but your campaign doesn't have to fail overall.
  • Messaging is a strategy in itself. Developing strong messaging that is translatable across channels and targeted toward the chosen personas is the foundation of great IMC campaigns. A core or integrated statement helps to drive alignment throughout the campaign.
  • Strategy is easier to communicate than specific IMC tactics. And again, if a tactic fails you don't have to tank the entire campaign.

video marketingIf a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth? Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research placed the value of a video at 1.8 million words in, "How Video Will Take Over the World." While this may be surprising to you, most big brands fully embrace the concept and use video marketing to its fullest potential, and small businesses need to take notes. Continue reading to learn more.

1. Tell a Story

All of the biggest brands use storytelling in their videos. Stories evoke emotions from the consumer and prompts them to associate those same feelings with the product or brand. One great example of using storytelling is with LifeLock's "Summer" video. The video features a family enjoying the beach on vacation, children playing with their parents, and a couple experiencing new adventures. The video tells a story that is relatable. At the same time, the video explains the inherent risk of identity theft and how it could disrupt those picture perfect scenarios. The storytelling tactic prompts powerful imagery in the mind of the consumer and causes significantly more interest in the product and brand.

2. Optimize for SEO

All big brands effectively optimize their videos for SEO because videos are 50 times more likely to make it to the top of a search page in comparison to text. When you upload your videos to YouTube or other video sharing platforms, make sure you use keywords in the titles, descriptions and tags. It's much easier to spread videos over the Internet because most search engines give videos priority over other content types. In addition, Google allows users to perform web searches specifically for videos. Optimizing videos for SEO positions your company to rank higher and increase brand recognition just like some of the larger companies.

3. Always Add Value

PRSA_RGB_234781Advising and empowering fellow professionals in the PR and marketing industry is an honor and passion of mine. It was fun develop an online course for  PRSA  to help position professional communicators to oversee integrated marketing communications (IMC) campaigns. This course gives professionals the tools to put together successful, integrated campaigns.
The following is a summary of the five in-depth lesson modules included in this e-learning course.
  • MODULE 1: Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC): Master the Key Components of Every Campaign Learn the definition of IMC, the building blocks of a successful IMC campaign and the starting motivations for developing one.
  • MODULE 2: Defining Key Audiences: Identify Audiences Within the Buying Cycle Review the historical evolution of audiences and the implications, how to define an audience, the buying cycle process and the motivation behind personas.
  • MODULE 3: Leveraging SWOT Analysis: Ensure Strategic Consistency Understand the purpose of a SWOT analysis and how to implement the findings, as well as the integrated strategy purpose.
  • MODULE 4: Syncing Tactics: Align Messaging Channels and Linked Tactics Go over messaging channels and media components and the purpose and execution of tactics used.
  • MODULE 5: Measuring Performance: Analyze Qualitative and Quantitative Data A cohesive look at measuring objectives, responses and performances of campaigns.

millennialsGeneralizations are never a good thing, but marketers are noticing some trends in how millennials find and consume products and services. Things are definitely changing, my friends. The term “millennials” is used to describe the 18 to 36-year-old demographic who have grown up in the digital age. Also referred to as Generation Y, they are known as the socially savvy generation that’s always connected to the Internet via multiple communication devices. Because of their short attention spans and demand for personalized services and goods, connecting with millennials can be a difficult task for many businesses. Each year, Generation Y grows in purchasing power, and they are on track to spend more than Baby Boomers by 2017, according to a study conducted by by Berglass + Associates and Women’s Wear Daily — so if you’re not developing a strategy to reach out, you could be left behind. By assembling a well-integrated and thought-out strategy, your company can tap into this demographic.

Focus on Customer Service

Millennials have a much different idea about how customer service should work, along with expectations on how to be helped as a consumer. According to Nielsen, 42 percent of millennials expect to receive customer service on social media within 12 hours of raising their issue. Instead of having a phone number to call, most young people expect to be able to find answers to their questions online or through an app, and may become frustrated if a solution to their problem requires a phone call. One way to boost your online customer service presence is to work with acloud-based contact management company, which can provide and maintain the online infrastructure for a streamlined customer service experience.

Let Others Market for You

According to socialchorus.com, 95 percent of millennials say their friends are the most credible source of product information. Over the last few decades, marketing has shifted from an overarching "push" strategy to a now more popular "pull" approach. In his book The Thank You Economy, Gary Varynerchuk lays out his philosophies on how to effectively market in contemporary culture and he emphasizes the importance of brands communicating directly with customers via social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine. He explains, “At its core, social media requires that business leaders start thinking like small shop owners." Because the social channels are open, Vaynerchuk urges companies to use these mediums not as faceless entities or corporate representatives of a brand, but as real people. He describes the impact this can make: "When faced with two equal choices, people often buy for no other reason than they associate one choice with someone they know."

email marketingAfter 21 years taking the stage on The Late Show, David Letterman has sadly announced his retirement. Not only leaving behind years of laughter and a comedic legacy, Letterman has also produced valuable lessons for email marketers searching for success. Just as Letterman’s producers would work endlessly behind-the-scenes to ensure his opening act would be a hit with the audience, marketers should take a similar course of action to create a star subject line. For email marketers, every one of their campaigns acts similarly to an episode of The Late Show, with the subject line serving as the opening act and setting the stage for the rest of the show. To ensure the audience is hooked and engaged throughout the entire process, marketers must to invest the appropriate time and resources into creating a killer opening act with a star subject line. If not, they’ll be sure to have a flop right into the spam folder. Campaigner, an email marketing firm, has identified these top-three tips for email marketers to channel their inner Letterman and set the stage with an attention-grabbing subject,  to increase overall engagement and ROI.