Following the Leader Wherever He May Go…

One pervasive characteristic most people share is the desire to belong. Children in school often develop close-knit groups of friends as a way to satisfy this need. Even in our professional lives, the desire to be part of the crowd continues.

A major component of this desire is the tendency to follow the decisions made by group leaders. This explains why trends in fashion, music, and business can spread so quickly.

People come to trust certain brands based on the opinions of those they respect within their peer group. As a marketer, you can tap into this phenomenon to help your own products and services succeed. Here are just a few ways to make the most of people’s desire to follow the crowd.

Reviews

Product reviews are huge. An estimated 70 percent of Americans say they look at product reviews when considering items to purchase. Many of these people trust product reviews nearly as much as they would recommendations from people they know personally. Positive product reviews can help show customers that yours is a product worth their investment.

Start by asking customers to leave reviews after a sale. Then advertise those reviews on your website and marketing materials. If your company has positive ratings from organizations like the BBB or Angie’s List, make sure you present that information prominently, too.

Along similar lines, user-generated content, such as blog posts, testimonials, and YouTube reviews, can hold considerable weight with new customers. Try to spark new content by holding user-generated content contests, where winners receive coupons or a special promotion.

Social media mentions and shares

Given the penetration of social media, it makes sense that social media mentions and shares can attract lots of attention for your company and its brand. Use monitoring tools to track the number of times your products or services are mentioned online. Encourage people to share content you publish on their social media pages. Add social media sharing options at the bottom of blog posts, newsletter articles, product pages, and other key content areas of your website. All of these can be great ways to capitalize on this phenomenon.

Statistics

Statistics are a fantastic way to get a second look from potential customers. User statistics can show you how your products or services already appeal to the crowd. Track down and leverage whatever your most positive statistics may be. These could include anything from blog readership to how long you’ve been in business to customer retention rates. Any statistics that help to establish an air of legitimacy can (and should) be used to leverage the power of the crowd.

Humans are by nature social creatures. We tend to seek out social groups that make us feel like we’re part of something larger than ourselves. We also tend to follow the lead of those around us and trust the opinions of our peers. Keeping these dynamics in mind and finding ways to leverage their power is essential to effective product marketing.

Blogging Can Be a Fantastic Promotion Tool Across Platforms

Building a successful blog is an excellent way to integrate your marketing campaigns across several platforms. Here are a few ways to use your blog to promote your business regardless of medium.

With direct mailBlogging hands

When you send direct mail, mention your blog to let people know it’s there for them to read and comment on. Highlight some of the recent topics you’ve covered to entice them even further.

Direct mail is a wonderful way to advertise deals and upcoming sales. Market your blog as another way to stay updated about specials and events. Promote it as a way to learn more about your industry, so customers can get the most from your products and services.

On social media

Social media is an excellent tool for promoting a blog and connecting with page visitors. Use your social media accounts to promote your blog posts among your followers. Invite conversations on social media about subjects you’ve covered in your blog as a way of keeping your social channels active and engaged.

Promoting your posts on social media makes it much easier for people to share your content. People can read and post your content to their own social media pages without much effort. The more people share your content, the greater your reach, which can help spread your brand name and reputation.

With community events

Becoming active in your local community is a fantastic way to promote your brand. Customers enjoy working with local businesses they see as interested and supportive of the local community. Sponsor various charity events or host a table at community picnics and other neighborhood gatherings. This will allow you to get your organization in front of others in the community, so your company becomes a familiar entity. Use these opportunities to begin conversations about your industry and products with interested parties to further boost your reputation as an industry leader.

Use your blog to promote the events you participate in and to speak about your involvement with the organizations holding them. Encourage people to participate and get involved. After the event, post some pictures and write a post with highlights from the day. These types of posts can help advertise the event and encourage people to participate, while also demonstrating your involvement in the community even for those who are unable to attend.

A successful marketing campaign means reaching out to prospective buyers on a variety of platforms so they get to know your brand and how you can serve them. Your blog can be a fantastic tool for accomplishing this goal. If you’re still debating the merits of starting a company blog, consider the benefits it will bring to your integrated campaigns. If you’d like assistance getting a campaign off the ground, let us know. We’d be happy to help you with your marketing.

High School Loyalty and Brand Community

There’s something about high school that inspires loyalty for decades after graduation. For an outsider looking in, it can be difficult to understand why people care so much about their past high school experiences. Whether it’s journeying hundreds of miles for a high school reunion or feeling offended when someone insults the old sports hero, high school loyalties run deep for many people.

Why?unnamed (16)

High schools have built an incredibly strong community within their walls. The students have countless shared experiences together, from classes and teachers to events and activities. These common moments help to tie the collective memories together.

This same sense of community, which helps bring high schools such strong loyalty, can also prove helpful in the business world. Building brand loyalty can lead to higher numbers of repeat customers and more referrals, both of which are excellent for the bottom line. Here’s how to go about building a community around your brand.

Create shared experiences

Help customers get to know each other and your representatives. Host get-togethers and customer events. Get involved in your local community. Raise money for a national charity, or sponsor regional fundraising events. All of these are fantastic ways to bring your customers together, improve your reputation, and get your brand in front of new potential customers. They’re also great conversation starters with followers later on social media or in blog posts.

Encourage connections

Invite existing customers to tell stories about using your products or services on various social media platforms. Have contests where people take pictures of themselves with your product or share stories of how your service helped them. This type of sharing builds credibility for your brand and helps participating customers feel more connected to your company. It helps encourage a concept known as the ‘bandwagon effect,’ where people are more likely to try a product or service when they see others doing so. Having customers share their experiences with your brand helps all customers and potential customers see themselves as a part of a desirable group, which increases loyalty.

Highlight clients and employees

Show prospects the people behind the reviews and the employees who will be helping them succeed. Highlighting past clients and employees in this manner serves two purposes. First, the person highlighted will enjoy and appreciate the attention cast upon them. And second, other customers will feel a connection to the person and thereby feel a strong connection to your brand.

Building a strong community around your brand can help tremendously when building brand loyalty. Just like a high school looking to encourage its alumni to come out and root for the home team, creating a strong loyalty can serve your company well for years to come. Keep the above three tips in mind and start coming up with ideas to build loyalty for your brand.

What a Symphony Orchestra Can Teach Us About Harmony and Marketing

We all have some type of music we find pleasing to the ear. For some, it’s classical. Others prefer rock, hip hop, pop, or jazz. But no matter what type of music we enjoy, there’s something about a symphony orchestra that seems to draw admirers from a wide variety of musical backgrounds and tastes.unnamed (10)

An orchestra brings harmony to life. Its beauty comes from the different sections — woodwinds, percussion, strings, and brass — working together to create something spectacular. If just one person or one section is out of tune or out of line, the entire piece can fall flat. The same is true in your marketing.

The importance of harmony in marketing

Just like an orchestra, marketing works best when every member of the team works together to perfectly complement the others. In today’s busy world, countless platforms vie for your audience’s attention. Print media, inbound marketing, social media, PPC ads, retargeting ads, radio advertising, and more all seek at least some portion of the metaphoric pie.

Too often, we try to meet these demands by randomly throwing content at all of these different platforms. We see each platform as a checklist of requirements, rather than a resource to be leveraged. By finding harmony in the platforms we use to carry out our plans, we stand a far greater chance for success from our marketing efforts. The key to creating this harmony is five-fold:

  1. Develop the central message for the new marketing campaign.
  2. Identify the key characteristics of buyers the marketing campaign will target, including where those people will be found.
  3. Use these characteristics to prioritize your advertising platforms and decide which ones will receive a greater share of the budget.
  4. Develop the campaign with all of the platforms pointing toward a common goal, such as leading buyers to a particular promotional webpage.
  5. Use common colors, language, and themes across the different platforms to create a unified brand.

Take the time to learn how different platforms complement each other, such as how social media can drive people toward the inbound content on your website. This will enhance your efforts and your reach. Marketing works best when different platforms are used in unison to create a common message for prospective customers. When marketing is performed well, it can make people sit up and pay attention.

Finding the right rhythm in your marketing requires careful analysis and planning. When you can accomplish this, you’ll see far better results from your marketing campaigns. If you’re interested in developing a successful new marketing campaign, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you get started

Back to Basics: The ‘Why’ in Creating Valuable Content

When it comes to producing valuable content, countless marketing and business professionals will tell you that you ‘should,’ but not many delve into the ‘why.’

“You need content to bring customers to your website!”unnamed (14)
“You need content to keep up with the digital age!”
“You need content because that’s what your customers seek!”

These responses are the ‘reasons’ most often given for spending time creating content for websites and marketing materials.

In truth, creating valuable content will help you grow your business and improve your bottom line. Here are two key ways it accomplishes this:

1. It helps you build trust with your customers.
People don’t accept advertisements at face value. They choose brands based on how well those brands meet their needs.

When customers go online, they want to find answers to their questions. They want a brand to understand the problems they face, offer solutions, and explain why their products are the best at meeting those needs. When a prospect finds a company that answers their questions again and again while also providing them with a service that comes with good reviews, the decision to buy becomes a no-brainer.

Valuable content builds a reputation of authority and leadership in the minds of customers. They come to see you as someone who really knows your industry and feel confident knowing they can turn to you whenever they have questions. This increases loyalty and the potential for future sales.

2. It’s more likely to be shared, increasing your brand’s reach.

Customers today live on social media. Just about everyone has a Facebook or Twitter account. People use these profiles to share things that interest them and offer value they think others might appreciate. When you provide your customers with repeated value, you enhance the odds your material might be shared on these social sites. When content is shared, it automatically increases your reach, while also building credibility in the minds of all those who see the share. Customers tend to trust referrals more than standard advertising.

How to develop content that can work this way

The potential for quality content is incredible. Your task is to learn how to capitalize on it. Here are six steps to get you started:

  1. Research and identify the ‘ideal customers’ you want to reach.
  2. Learn as much as possible about these ideal customers.
  3. Determine the common questions and problems that face these customers.
  4. Develop content that addresses these questions and problems in an informative and helpful way.
  5. Share the content on blogs, social media, emails, newsletters, and other places to draw attention to it.
  6. Repeat the process regularly to stay current.

When you take the time to develop valuable content for your customers, you’re investing in helping your business grow. Take the time to create content your customers will appreciate, and watch the impact it can have on your brand.

Marketing Lessons from Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein has taught generations of children lessons about life from his books of fun and goofy poems. People of all ages can appreciate his wit and what he has to say. As adults, it’s easy to forget all those valuable words, but Shel Silverstein also has a number of lessons he can teach us about business and life. Here are four quotes from the famous poet that we should never forget as we begin to build and grow our businesses.

“Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”unnamed (9)

This lesson can be very hard to remember in daily life. After all, most entrepreneurs have at least one force in their life telling them they’re not going to succeed. Sometimes one of the most important lessons is learning to tune out the naysayers and finding the mental strength to succeed in the face of adversity. Form your dreams, identify your goals, and plot a way to get there.

“If the track is tough and the hill is rough, thinking you can just ain’t enough.”

Forging your personal path is never easy. While most people intellectually understand there will be challenges, all too often, when these problems arise, they give up.

In business, you must accept the fact you’ll face problems and that things won’t always go according to plan. Sometimes the challenges will feel like too much. But if you have goals, you need the perseverance and strength to make it past the hurdles. Believing you can do so and determining the steps needed to succeed will give you the tools you need to continue along the path to your goals.

“If there is a book you want to read but isn’t written yet, write it.”

This quote applies to more than just books. It also applies to industries and businesses. If no one is fulfilling a particular niche and serving customers in a particular way, use that as your window of opportunity. The marketplace is extremely competitive. The companies that succeed are the ones that identify a need, determine a way to fill that hole, and then get their information in front of the necessary audience.

The idea of writing your own book also speaks to the importance of taking initiative. No matter what your position might be, finding ways to anticipate needs and then addressing those issues instead of waiting for someone else to notice the problem is an excellent way to get ahead and find both personal and company-wide success.

“Just ’cause somethin’ ain’t been done don’t mean it can’t be did.”

This quote also speaks to the importance of taking risks and being willing to be the first one to take a chance. This might mean developing a new product or service to fill a certain niche, or taking a conventional industry and finding completely unique ways to deliver your products and services. No matter what might drive you, don’t allow yourself to be limited by what others in the industry have done. Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail and see where the road takes you.

Shel Silverstein has words of wisdom for all of us. Keep these quotes in mind and use them for the motivation you need to move forward. If you need help developing your marketingplan, contact us. We’ll be happy to offer guidance as you get started.

Taking Your Keywords to the Next Level

unnamed (8)Keywords can be fantastic tools for attracting attention from potential customers. They help search engines ‘tune into’ your content and better match your pages to the queries people enter. Unfortunately, many companies use keywords at a very rudimentary level, failing to capitalize on what this simple optimization technique can do. Here are four ways you can easily improve the keywords you use on your website to bring in more visitors and increase your brand’s visibility.

1. Use the language your customers use.

Select keywords based on the way your customers speak. Often there’s a difference between how customers describe your industry and how you would describe it. Consider the types of jargon you and others in your industry commonly use when describing your products and services. Then compare that to how your customers tend to speak. If you sell a cloud-based service, for example, don’t assume your customers know the latest tech language, especially if you market your products to the average small business. Your keywords, and the language used throughout your site, should be user friendly.

2. Use language based on your buyer personas.

Your buyer personas can offer you considerable insight into your customers’ challenges and needs, so use them to help you optimize your content. As you develop your buyer personas and take a look at what motivates people to buy from you, start thinking about keywords that fit with each of these customer types, too.

3. Use your keywords throughout the page.

Look for ways to weave your keywords naturally into your content. When Google crawls your website, it looks at headlines and URLs, as well, to better ‘understand’ the content. Include your keywords in these spaces to better communicate with the search engines. Add them to your page meta description, too. When a customer sees your page on a list of search results, they’ll see the page title, URL, and meta description. Using your keywords in all of these areas will let search engines know what your pages are all about, while at the same time helping the people who are using those search engines know they’ve found a page that contains the information they seek.

4. Use your keywords naturally.

When it comes to keywords, more is not always better. In fact, more can often be worse. Overusing keywords comes across as forced and leads people to take your pages less seriously. Think about the last time you read something that had keywords placed oddly and used artificially. Chances are, you clicked away quickly. When website copy isn’t cohesive, people lose trust. Focus on providing reliable and valuable information for customers along with occasional, naturally placed keywords. This will help you get found organically and help improve your brand reputation.

Keywords can be a valuable tool for getting found and attracting the right type of people. Using them appropriately, according the four points above, can help you improve your keywords and see even more results from your marketingefforts.