Author: Bonnie Harris

Research compiled by Zephoria shows that 42 percent of marketers say using Facebook is critical or important to their business. Moreover, Facebook reported more than 30 million active small business pages in June of 2014. However, people soon learn that just setting up a page isn’t enough; pages need to be active to make a real difference. Faced with this challenge, many business owners choose to be more conservative with their posts, but in doing so, fail to engage and interact with their potential customers. As a business, connecting with an audience is not as difficult as it might seem. Mashable reports that approximately 70 percent of Facebook’s monthly active users in North America are connected to a local business on the site. To help you navigate the waters, here are a few tips for adding personality to your brand on Facebook; personality that consumers respond to.

Social Marketing

A common mistake is only publishing posts that serve as announcements about their company. But you should know that this form of ‘push’ marketing is ineffective and doesn’t use the social medium of Facebook to its full potential. Facebook is about interaction, so your posts need to be the catalyst for more engagement, rather than just churning out messages with no room for conversation.

Earlier this week, I had a great time participating in the @ProfNet brand journalism Twitter chat. I joined journalists and PR professionals from around the world to talk about what brand journalism is and how it's affecting traditional journalism. See a summary of the chat on ProfNet. I've compiled the following key themes that we discussed. What is brand journalism?
  • Stories written by the brand - about the brand and its industry.
  • Content that increases awareness, promotes and educates about a brand.
How does brand journalism differ from content marketing & native ads?
  • It's a subset of content & marketing - the storytelling piece.
  • It's controlled content.

mom owned businessMove over Al Capone, there's a new MOB in town. Mom-owned businesses (MOBs) are reaching new heights with innovative products designed to improve family life. Because moms are constantly seeking new ways to create better lives for their children, success is in large part due to their little muses. And, thanks to a mother's inherent nurturing abilities, identifying gaps in the market is purely mother's intuition. Need a little inspiration to kick-start your entrepreneurial endeavors? These three stories are sure to bring out the MOB mentality in you.

SwaddleDesigns

Our first mom-owned business: Lynette Damir, RN, CEO and Creative Director of SwaddleDesigns, launched a swaddling renaissance back in 2002. During home visits, Damir noticed a pattern among new parents. It seemed the practice of swaddling had become a long-lost art, and first-time parents were sleep deprived and exhausted because their baby was not swaddled and no one was getting much sleep. On her site, Damir describes how parents consistently asked her to share the secret of the hospital nurses: how to swaddle. Combining her passion for helping others with her medical background and design education, Damir developed the Ultimate Swaddle Blanket. Today, this mom-CEO has the SwaddleDesigns brand in Target stores nationwide. Because the brand only uses the highest quality materials to make its swaddling blankets, SwaddleDesigns has become a highly respectable brand across the industry.

PackIt Personal Cooler

I've written about ways to determine whether you're truly doing integrated marketing communications, or IMC. Everyone says they're doing integrated marketing in some way or another. It's always a struggle, however, to determine where your priorities lie in terms of really diving into the practice. The IMC Report Card  is a tool I created to help my clients and others figure out how to prioritize their strategies and tactics. It's a simple way to objectively review where you stand regarding the components that make up the critical success factors for IMC.  Here's a quick primer to help you "grade" your brand or organization (or someone else's) on their IMC proficiency.
  • The first questions ask about messaging. You must have a consistent message, but it also needs to be translated for every messaging channel. Do you see a lot of disparate, beautifully worded messages? That means the team was more focused on wordsmithing than on conveying simple ideas of what the brand does, why it does it, and for whom it does it. Sometimes the message is written so beautifully it doesn't resonate with the target audience. If you're selling to moms, are you talking to moms in a way that appeals to them? Or are you talking like an industry insider? These are all the kinds of questions I think about when I'm reviewing a company's messaging.
  • Next, does it look like the company or brand understands how their customers buy? In other words, am I led down a path that clearly leads to a  commitment or conversion when I go to social media, or the website, or any earned or owned media for that matter? Am I directed at all by the messaging?  

When it comes to your website, your goal is to make it as easy as possible for your client to get information. If you make it easy, they’re more likely to look, and therefore more likely to buy from you. Increasing the simplicity of decision-making by 20 percent increases the chances of clients purchasing by 86 percent. Insert a form that allows clients to enter the criteria they are looking for, and provide tailored search results. This increases the chances that they are matched with a product that meets their needs exactly.shutterstock_141377746 The main question is where to put your forms to get the most benefit.

On the Homepage

If you've been following the Wax blog you know that during the month of December I posted one step per day to help build your 2015 Marketing Plan. marketing ebookEach step was meant to require no more than 15 minutes. I also recently wrote about why February is also a good month to write your marketing plan so don't feel bad if you don't have time in January. Some of you emailed me asking if I could put these steps together in an easier format. I'm announcing the How to Write a Marketing Plan in 15 Minutes a Day eBook, available for free now. This eBook contains all the steps you'll need to write a sound marketing plan in 15 minutes a day, over the course of 20 days. In less than a month you'll have a plan and concrete tactics that will guide your marketing efforts for the next year. The eBook covers not just strategy and tactics, but also explains:
  • Ways to identify and communicate with your BEST customer

If you're like me, 2015 has gotten away from you already in terms of your own public relations and social media. However, it's never too late to update your accounts and blogs. Here is some terrific advice from Diana Ennen, the President of Virtual Word Publishing Diane specializes in PR and marketing and helps her clients frequently overcome what she calls "desperation marketing." Enjoy! PR Checklist for 2015 – Get Back Into the Swing of Things with These Tips to Maximize Business Success By Diana Ennen Hard to believe January is in full swing and the holidays are a distant memory.  By now, some resolutions are probably already broken and everyone is back into the same ole’ same ole’ of 2014.  But it doesn’t have to be that way!  There is still time to take action to make 2015 the year that your business sees the success it deserves.  Still time to get re-energized and passionate about your business once again, and still time to remember why you started in the first place.  Make 2015 the year you love your business back to success. Here are some tips to help along the way:

Lots of people bemoan the fact that February often rolls around before their business marketing plan is complete. I'm here to stop the guilt once and for all. In my mind, February is the BEST month to write a marketing plan. Here's why:
  1. Most operational plans are not completed until the end of January. In order to create a successful marketing plan, you've got to have measurable goals or objectives that align with the overall organization's goals. This is impossible to do UNTIL you are thoroughly educated on the company's plans for the coming year. Taking time to review the overall goals is important to building a marketing plan with the correct focus. 
  2. Your competitors often jump out of the starting gate too fast. In other words, it's not a bad thing to wait and see what your next best competitor is doing in terms of new promotions or launches. Watching and waiting can help you fine tune your own marketing strategies to best the competition after their direction is already set.
  3. Just as your business creates new goals, so do your target customers. If you're creating personas as I think you should, January is a great time to trend watch, particularly if you're a consumer brand. Some things come into fashion and others go out, and you can spend your time doing surveys, re-engaging in social media and really understanding the personal goals of your target audience. Knowing your best customer really, really well might mean understanding how they're "turning over a new leaf" and incorporating into their plans. (By the way, if you want a good primer for finding your best customer, here's a SlideShare presentation I did last fall on the topic.)