This column first appeared on RIMOFTHEWORLD.net on December 20, 2010.
I have to admit my personal New Year’s resolutions for 2011 are the same as they were in 2010—lose weight; save money; be a better wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, neighbor and friend. I long for the day when I achieve my nebulous goals so I can draft a fresh, new list.
When it comes to business, I find it easier to establish innovative objectives. So please allow me a departure from my usual column-format to share what I believe to be the top 11 marketing strategies for the New Year:
1. Public Relations
Admittedly, I might be prejudiced, since this is my field. But I maintain the single most important tool in any entrepreneurial chest is public relations. After all, PR is about projecting a positive image, so it is universally applicable.
But how should you approach PR in 2011? Perhaps counter-intuitively, to market in the modern era, you need to return to an old business stand-by: the press release. Retooled as a Social Media Release, this approach remains the single most effective way to boost Search Engine Optimization. Because you can select keywords for each release and post to an online newsroom, Social Media Releases are far superior to the standard press release model.
2. Email Marketing
Although some pundits predicted that social media marketing would replace the use of this time-tested tool, don’t expect email marketing to go away. It is still the best way to reach your target market. In 2011, make sure you’re using the new tools provided through most email marketing companies, such as surveys, bounce-reports and social media tie-ins.
3. Social Media
For those of you who were waiting for the demise of social media, it’s time to give up the ghost. We’re living in a brave new world where Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are as much a part of the landscape as business cards and email addresses. So, if you have somehow managed to avoid setting up a social media account for your business up til now, do so in 2011.
My family and I finally caved in and purchased the new TiVo Premiere. I am blown away by our newfound ability to watch YouTube videos on our living room television set. We no longer have to crowd around a PC to access music videos, podcasts and MP3 files. The drawback to this type of technology is that the inferior quality of amateur videos now stands in sharp contrast to professionally-produced commercials and short films. So hire a professional to write, direct and post videos that have the potential to go viral.
5. Promotional Marketing Items
Everyone loves gifts…even you. So don’t underestimate the value of providing people with nifty trinkets that show you care while promoting your brand. Unless you’re rolling in the dough, think simple and cheap. Favors can be very inexpensive—something as simple as pen with your logo on it, a pin or sticker, or an individually wrapped chocolate. For just a few pennies per item, you will make a great impression.
Don’t stop at giveaways. Use every available opportunity to build your brand online and in the real world. Make sure your logo and slogan appear on everything from your email signature to the sign outside of your shop.
7. Website Strategies
If you haven’t already done so, convert your website so it no longer functions merely as an electronic brochure. Shoot for an update that encourages website visitors to interact instead of passively peruse.
8. Direct Marketing- Knock on More Doors in the New Year
The shine is off the penny for teleconferencing and Go-to-Meetings. Since, by now, most businessmen and women understand how to navigate the world of the webinar, to stand out in 2011, you will need to abandon all things electronic and at least offer to give your clients some face-time.
9. Support your Community
This topic is so important that it actually merits its own column. So we’ll cover it more in detail in time. But suffice to say it is imperative you support the businesses located adjacent to your own. Buy local and encourage others to do so. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Volunteer to serve in leadership positions wherever you are able.
10. Do Pro-Bono Work
Again, this is critical. So we’ll discuss the topic more in future posts. Demonstrate your personal commitment to support causes that matter. Pro-bono work shows that you care about more than your own bottom line.
11. Have Fun
Try not to take yourself too seriously. Try to remember why you went into business for yourself in the first place. If you aren’t having any fun, it will show in your product or service. And if you take steps to make changes in 2011, you might be able to come up with a new list of business resolutions for 2012. Happy New Year!
Until next time, I’ll be Bowling for Business.
Tags: bounce-reports, branding, direct marketing, email marketing, have fun, interactive websites, mountain marketing group, New Year's Marketing Resolutions, PR, pro-bono work, promo items, public relations, SEO, social media press releases, social media tie-ins, surveys, YouTube
This column first appeared on RIMOFTHEWORLD.net on February 28, 2010
While I was growing up, my best friend, Lori, and I used to play in the woods near her home in a small rural suburb of Denver. We would leave her house in the morning and stay out all day, trying to make it back home before dark. But sometimes, our vivid imaginations would carry us away, causing us to lose track of our play-time curfew. On such occasions, when we finally arrived at Lori’s house, we were greeted by her very unhappy mother, who had quite a set of lungs for a woman of such an advanced age. (Everyone seems old when you’re in grade school. At the time, Judy was all of 28.)
To try to ward off the lectures, Lori and I manufactured elaborate cover stories on our way back to her house. On one such occasion, we told her mom that we had been kidnapped by factory workers at the abandoned DuPont factory in Louviers. An impressive sleuth, Judy somehow saw through our tall tale and promptly called my mom to ask her to pick me up. Lori and I learned a valuable lesson that day. No matter how creative the spin, a lie is a lie.
As a public relations practitioner, I try to disassociate myself with unscrupulous folks in my field who have yet to learn the message. Popular culture portrays us in shades of gray, with television shows like Spin City and SPINdustry and movies like Thank You for Smoking and The Hoax. The prejudice can probably be traced to our predecessor P.T. Barnum who had a knack for finding and exhibiting people, animals and a range of oddities, many of which were hoaxes, such as the infamous Feejee Mermaid.
But leaders in our field know that the only way to successfully pitch anything is to make sure all promotions are based firmly on the truth. Wikipedia defines Public relations (PR) as the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics, which gains an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that provide a third-party endorsement.
What sets PR pros apart is our knack at taking any given company or individual’s reputation, activities or incidents, and reinterpreting them from the Point of View (POV) of the client to the POV of the intended target market. A timely case study of this is the recent public relations’ nightmare faced by SeaWorld Orlando. Global news coverage started shortly after the attack when an animal trainer drowned after being dragged underwater by a 12,000-pound killer whale during a show called (of all things) Dine with Shamu.
Further complicating the incident is the fact that Shamu is the name generically used for the killer whales at the theme park, according to Steve Baker, president of a theme park consulting and management company called Baker Leisure Group.
Shamu is the SeaWorld icon. Shamu is SeaWorld.
So how do you convince potential park guests that Shamu won’t dine on them? I believe the order of the day for SeaWorld is honesty. Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, Inc., a management consulting firm, concurs,
The big task (for SeaWorld professionals) is to be honest with the public and the media as they conduct their forensic study on why the accident happened, because that will determine how SeaWorld is perceived in the future.
If I were on the public relations team for SeaWorld, the first order of the day would be the prompt removal of the tagline currently posted on the Dine with Shamu section of the theme park website. “It’s exclusive. Intimate. And unforgettable.” no longer seems appropriate. It will be interesting to watch the actual SeaWorld PR team in the weeks to come. No doubt they’ll be pulling out all the stops to get SeaWorld back on track. Tools at their disposal include the same ones your company or non-profit group can employ.
Dust off your phone book and call an editor to introduce yourself. If you take time to get to know their editorial needs (without wasting their time in the process), they might give you an idea or two for potential coverage. The most important advice I can give you about press relations is to learn to be a resource instead of a pain in the neck.
And, on June 15, the Public Relations Society of America’s-Inland Empire Chapter, is hosting a free event, Speed Consulting at the Speedway, for businessmen and women in need of pro-bono PR.
On a Limited Budget—
Hire a freelancer to write a press release about a new product or event you want to promote. Then, subscribe to a free or low-cost electronic press release service such as E-Releases, I-Newswire, BusinessWire, PR Log or PR Newswire. The social media releases we post get clicked an average 215 times. Those clicks lead to valuable press coverage.
The Sky’s the Limit—
Hire an agency. Only a trained public relations professional will be able to skillfully speak on your behalf, work with the media, handle crisis communications, manage social media and oversee effective employee communication. And that’s not spin.
Until next week, I’ll be Bowling for Business.
Tags: Baker Leisure Group, Bowling for Business, bowling on a budget, Business Wire, Dine with Shamu, Dupont Factory, E-Releases, Feejee Mermaid, I-Newswire, Inc, inland empire, International Theme Park Services, Kathy Bowling, Louviers, non-profit pr, point of view, POV, PR, PR Log, PR Newswire, PT Barnum, public relations, public relations nightmare, Public Relations Society of America, rimoftheworld.net, SeaWorld Orlando, Speed Consulting, spin, Spin City, SPINdustry, Thank you for smoking, The Hoax, wikipedia
This column first appeared on RimoftheWorld.net on Nov. 9, 2009.
Because there were two girls named Kathy in Mrs. Dale’s kindergarten class, my mother agreed to let everyone call me Kathy Ann. The horror of it haunts me to this day.
Don’t get me wrong. Ann is a lovely name. Not only is it my middle name, but it’s the name of two of my favorite aunts. But my weak bladder, coupled with my classmates’ irritating ability to rhyme, produced a moniker that took me a long time to shake…Kathy Ann in the Can. In fact, the nickname stuck until we moved to another school district when I was in sixth grade.
When it comes to people and business, for better or worse, branding happens. And it doesn’t take much to get people to react to an organization’s emblem. Take the controversial 2012 Olympic logo, created at a staggering cost of 400,000 pounds. The image drew fire from a group called Epilepsy Action, which said that a video promoting the logo triggers migraines, epileptic fits and vomiting. The International Olympic Committee is set to investigate the logo which politicians say is childish and “looks like Boris Johnson’s hair.
Although causing people to puke is rarely the objective in professional trademark development, some believe there is no such thing as negative publicity. So, in that regard, the London Olympic logo designer’s efforts were successful.
A more conventional approach would be to create a logo that is:
- Instantly recognizable
Some famous logos that fill the bill include Google, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Fed-Ex, and McDonalds, whose images you most likely pictured even as you read their names. The reason you recognize these brands, however, isn’t just because their logos are great. Superior products, excellent service and aggressive marketing help. Let’s face it, if your company sucks, coming up with an amazing image for it is lipstick on a pig.
But for a credible organization, finding the right symbol can mean the difference between obscurity and notoriety. This is especially true in the Internet age, where deep pockets to pay for full-color brochures and slick press packets are no longer necessary. Anyone with a computer and a low resolution, jpeg version of their logo can upload it everywhere from A1-Webmarks to Zaadz.com.
But commissioning a classic design can come at a hefty price. So how do you to produce an iconic logo if you’re on a budget? Whatever the price point, you have several options.
- For Free—if you have no money with which to build your brand, proceed with caution. Like it or not, the logo you choose today will be with your firm for years to come. Also, unless your business is graphic design or fine art, don’t buy do-it-yourself logo software in an ill-fated attempt to craft your own. Having access to a logo program won’t make you an artist any more than owning a calculator will turn you into a mathematician.
When money is tight, less is more. So try to find a nice, clean, clear font for your company name and then quit while you’re ahead. Avoid the temptation to add clipart to the mix. Also, when choosing typeface, skip Script and Old English, unless you’re shooting for an Addams-Family vibe.
- On a Budget—while I generally caution clients against ordering logos online, some companies do a respectable job for under $200. The problem is that, when left to their own devices, many entrepreneurs will ask their Internet designer to place their company name inside a blue and red oval, without realizing they like the look because they’ve seen it on cans of Bud Lite.
- The Sky’s the Limit—if you are in the enviable position of actually having money in your marketing budget, don’t skimp on the cornerstone of business communication. Find someone you trust and let them do what they do best so you can do what you do best. The right professional can help you define your unique sales proposition so your logo not only looks great and conveys your message to the intended target, but does so without inducing nausea.
Tags: 2012 Olympic logo, advertising, Boris Johnson's hair, Bowling for Business, bowling on a budget, Coca-Cola, do-it-yourself logo software, entrepreneur, Fed Ed, free logo, Google, graphic design, icon, logo, logo controversy, logo on a budget, marketing, McDonalds, on a budget, online logos, public relations, Starbucks, symbol, trademark, unique sales proposition, USP
Small Scale Hunting
I’ve never been much of a hunter. I think the huge deer head that hung in our family room while I was growing up scared me. But, if I was a hunter, I would hire someone who knew what he was doing to show me when and where to score the big game. From what I’ve been told, rabbit hunters are able to go it alone, shooting scores of little bunnies without much effort. But if a bunny murderer wants to start scoring big game, he or she has to get help so he’ll know where to go.
Big Game Hunting
In much the same way, business owners who advertise their own products and services may experience success on a small scale. Creating their own logos, writing press releases, producing fliers and brochures using MS Publisher and the like, they might be able to generate a few leads. But folks who want to bag big game need to hire a professional.
Big Game Marketing
At Mountain Marketing Group, we help clients play on a large scale. We understand the tools of the trade and know how to point potential customers to our clients. We don’t just create a brochure. We don’t produce products. We focus on results. Instead of just writing media releases, we generate press interest. Rather than printing an ad, we develop a campaign.
Using the latest technology as well as tried and true methods, we promote clients in the following industries (to name a few):
- automotive repair
- business consulting
- carpet care
- church and para-church groups
- claims management
- computer technology
- education and e-training
- pest control
- tax services
While you may be overwhelmed with terms like social media marketing, blogs, DNS servers, content management systems, and the like, we get it. We know how to use these marketing tools and more to help our clients reach their target markets.
So, if you are content to kill rabbits, then go it alone. When you’re ready to bag the big game, remember Mountain Marketing Group.
So welcome to my very first blog entry. At my Lake Arrowhead advertising and public relations firm, Mountain Marketing Group, lately I’ve been the Pied Piper of social media, sharing the importance of setting up blogs and the like. But, like the cobbler’s kids who do not have shoes, I have failed to consistently create dynamic content of my own.
Aren’t you glad that is about to change? I’m sure I have lots of important ideas to share and links to provide. I just have to get the hang of this thing first.
In all honesty, this isn’t actually the first time I’ve tried to blog. I just didn’t realize, previously, that all of the great blogs I was writing on my own website were not being seen by anyone.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, did it really fall? So, sure, no one read what I wrote. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable and important. Right?
Lately, with the economy in the toilet, the thing at the top of business owners’ minds is how to make a living. First, the good news. It is still possible to make money despite the economy. After all, it isn’t as if all of the cash in the universe spontaneously combusted. It’s just that no one knows exactly where it is. As a marketing and public relations professional, it’s my job to answer that question for my clients.
So my tip for the day is to encourage my clients to do as I do, not as I say. This message is for you:
Dave-Give us some tips to keep our hair under control in the wind.
David-You can’t find a photo of yourself smiling? Or at least not frowning?
Chris-Let us know how to put together a notebook with decorating ideas
Scott and Dave-You guys are already pros. But why not share some of your expertise with your client-base? Give us a boon.
Creating a blog is obviously quite easy. Even a marketing director can do it.