Author: Bonnie Harris

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.

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.

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