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How Does Pinterest Fit into Your Business’s Success?

Is your business on Pinterest? If not, it should be. Pinterest can have a huge impact on your company’s success. Here are three ways you can use Pinterest to your best advantage to gain more customers and increase profits:

Establish Your Business as an Industry Authorityunnamed (24)

Pinterest is golden when it comes to establishing your business as an authority in your industry. Provide real value in your pins and boards, and you can quickly position yourself as the go-to expert in your field. Value is the key. Go out of your way to give as much free information as you can with your pins and boards. Your pins should tell a compelling story about who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Don’t just make one board on Pinterest. Create several, and put them into categories, such as “how to,” “FAQs,” “interesting uses for a product or service,” “how other people are using the product or service,” “tips for getting the most out of the product or service,” and any other category you think would provide real value to your customers.

Make sure your boards are fun and engaging, too. The more people look at your boards, the more they’ll take your pictorial stories to heart — and the more they’ll share those images with others. If you have a YouTube channel, post videos to your Pinterest boards. These are great for a “how to” category. The more you post, the more of an industry expert you’ll seem. This will increase customer engagement with your company, as well as customer loyalty, since customers love to be associated with the best in the business.

Tap into the Power of Other Companies’ Networks

Do you want to reach potential customers you might have never found on your own? Collaborate with other business owners on Pinterest. There are a number of ways you can do this. One is to start a group board with another business in your industry. Another is to allow a business in your niche to put pins on your boards in exchange for you being able to pin to their boards.

The more followers your collaborative partner has, the more potential new customers your business will be exposed to when you post on a common board or to your partner’s board. Your partner will get the same benefit from being exposed to your followers. You can collaborate like this with as many business partners on Pinterest as you’d like. Just make sure they’re all in your niche, so you don’t confuse current or potential customers.

Vet collaborative partners thoroughly before embarking on a Pinterest business venture with them. Remember, the things other companies post on your boards reflect on your company, so choose your partners carefully. Make sure you trust each other to only pin appropriate and relevant content to each others’ boards.

Use Pinterest as a Conduit to Your Main Company Website

Is your main company website lacking the traffic it needs to thrive? Pinterest can help attract new visitors to your website. The people who use Pinterest are really passionate about it. If they like what they see on your boards, they’ll be more likely to visit your website to find out more about your company.

The key is to get people to re-pin your images to their own boards. You want people to re-pin and to share your pins with others. Getting them to do this means pinning visually entertaining, enticing, mysterious, and/or educational images to your boards. Pins that make your followers stop and look twice are more likely to motivate them to re-pin and/or share your pins with their friends and family. Try to make sure your images solve a problem, appeal to someone’s interest in a hobby, inspire them, or are just plain gorgeous.

Include a link back to your company’s website. That way, when other users re-pin your images to their own boards, their followers will see them, along with your link. If you’ve made images interesting enough for others to re-pin and share, it’s highly likely they and their followers will want to click your links, as well, to go to your website and learn more about you. That’s your chance to turn them into customers who will buy from you and tell others about you, too.

As you can see, Pinterest can be a powerful tool for increasing the success of your business. Follow these tips, and you’ll be amazed at the additional customers, followers, and profits you acquire. When it comes to boosting your bottom line, Pinterest is picture perfect.

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Local Marketing: The Biggest Weapon in A Mobile and Social World

Man Standing in Front of His Butcher ShopEngaging with customers has always been the name of the game in marketing. Thanks to the Internet, target audiences are increasingly spread out. That isn’t to say the Internet hasn’t been a benefit to marketers. It unquestionably has. However, the Internet isn’t marketing‘s final frontier. Far from it, actually. When you think about some of the biggest digital channels businesses are using today, mobile devices like smartphones and social networks like Facebook unquestionably come to mind.

When you break down those two categories into their core elements, however, what you’re left with is the same type of local marketing businesses have been using for decades. This is why traditional print marketing and — more specifically —local marketing remain hugely valuable tools to businesses in the 21st century.

What Is Local Marketing?

Studies have long shown that most people do most of their shopping within a ten mile radius of their home. This is still true, even at a time when people can have something delivered to their home with the press of a few buttons and the click of a mouse. People are still willing to venture out of the home to pick up that hot new item or to participate in a service they truly believe in. They just need to know where to look.

According to a recent report released by the CMO Council, 49% of all respondents to a survey agreed that localizedmarketing was crucial to the overall growth and longevity of their business. More than that, one in four marketers were spending at least 50% of their total marketing budgets on localized programs, certain location-centric promotions, and more.

At its core, local marketing allows you to use these types of stats to your advantage by not just targeting as many customers as you can with your campaigns, but by targeting the right customers — namely the ones who live in the area where your business is actually located.

The Benefits of Local Print Marketing

To illustrate just how effective local marketing can be, think of one of the oldest such strategies in the book: the business card. As you meet new people or network with fellow industry professionals, you’re likely to hand out a business card to whomever you meet. Even if that particular person doesn’t have any use for the product or service you provide, they may know someone who does. Thanks to your business card, they now have something tangible they can give that person to point them in the right direction.

The whole idea is brilliant in its simplicity. You’re establishing your organization as a local leader in a way that creates increased traffic right to your doorstep. On the one hand, it really is no different than sending out mobile “push” notifications to a smartphone or making people in your area “friends” on your Facebook page. The advantage it does have over those digital channels, however, is that it’s something tangible. By tailoring your printed materials to a local market, you’re instantly increasing their relevancy in the lives of those people. The result is improved marketing effectiveness, which will ultimately build brand awareness and position your business as the type of authority you know you are.

Targeted local marketing remains one of the best ways to bring your organization to the attention of a new set of customers who may not even realize you exist. In an age where you’re competing with digital businesses that may offer the same services, it’s no longer about trying to attract the biggest possible audience. It’s about attracting the right audience. That’s the power local marketing gives you if you know how to use it.

Planning a Meal, Planning a Marketing Campaign

Imagine planning a special meal. You start by thinking about the different dishes you want to serve and how well they’ll go together. You try to choose flavors that complement each other and fit well with the occasion. You hope to create a delicious feast people will love and remember for months to come. The same should be true of your marketing.unnamed (22)

Understanding integrated marketing

Planning a successful integrated marketing campaign is a lot like planning a successful feast. Just as choosing various dishes that complement each other helps to create a memorable meal, using a variety of marketing platforms to create a single campaign will help to capture the story of your brand.

Too many companies try to create different marketingcampaigns for each platform. The result is like a meal of random dishes that have absolutely nothing in common. Separately, each might taste good and draw compliments, but together they seem confusing and fail to provide the lasting impact you hoped to create.

The importance of audience

It’s also important to consider the desired audience for an integrated marketing campaign. When you plan a meal, you carefully think about the atmosphere and what people will expect. Similarly, when you plan the various aspects of your integrated marketing campaign, you need to consider who you want to reach. If your audience consists of largely retirees and empty nesters, focusing a large part of your campaign on Facebook might not be the best use of your time and money. The same way you think about the types of dishes people would expect and appreciate, you want to maximize the reach of your marketing campaign by thinking about where people are most likely to appreciate your message.

Planning a large meal requires careful preparation to ensure that each dish fits together well to accomplish the desired final effect. Similarly, your integrated marketing campaign must combine various marketing elements into a successful, incredible campaign that attracts the right attention.

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How to Handle Customer Complaints Effectively

Few aspects of running a business can be more frustrating — or more expected — than customer complaints. It’s impossible for even the most successful companies to please every customer every time. Knowing how to handle customer complaints effectively and professionally can improve brand reputation and turn a disgruntled customer around.

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It sounds basic, but a surprising number of businesses care more about defending their actions than listening to the customer. Remember that the vast majority of people who have a problem with your company won’t bother complaining to you. They’ll just complain to everyone else. Every customer who takes the time to complain directly to you should be thanked for the opportunity to make the situation right. This means listening carefully to everything the customer has to say about the experience and offering an apology for their discontent.

If you encounter a complaint online, reach out and publicly acknowledge the complaint online as well. Let the person know how disappointed you are that they were unhappy and ask for the opportunity to discuss the incident with them privately.

Discover the source of their frustration

If a customer complains that they can’t find something in your store, you might assume they’re asking you to reorganize your shelves. However, they might really be upset that no staff members noticed their frustration and stepped in to help before they started complaining.

Find out what the company can do to help

Sometimes all the customer really wants is an apology or information about how you’ll work to improve so you don’t make the same mistake again. In these situations, it’s easy to exceed customer expectations by offering coupons or a similar incentive in addition to meeting their request.

If the customer’s not sure how they’d like to be compensated or if they have demands you can’t reasonably meet, you should have a policy in place to help alleviate the customer’s concerns. Make a point of explaining what your company’s doing to improve in the area of the complaint, and thank them for their feedback.

Handle the publicity of social media

If a complaint originates on social media, take the solution back to social media once the situation’s resolved. Everything in social media is public, so once a customer posts a complaint, it can be seen by countless potential customers. Bringing the solution back to social media will help those who saw the original complaint see how well you did addressing it.

If someone complains to you through a blog post, ask them to either update the post so new readers know the situation was resolved or remove it altogether. If the complaint was made on Facebook or a similar platform, return to the original post and make an update yourself, such as, “I’m so glad we were able to work together to resolve this problem. We look forward to doing more business with you in the future.”

Customer complaints are an aspect of business no one enjoys but everyone has to know how to manage. Keeping the above guidelines in mind should help you successfully navigate this terrain, strengthen your company’s brand, and improve your reputation.

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What Gardening Can Teach You About Marketing

Spring is in the air (or at least on the calendar), and people everywhere are starting to think about their gardens for the year. While gardening might not seem to have much to do with business, in reality, it has several lessons it can teach us about running a successful marketing campaign. Here are four to keep in mind as you prepare your yard this year.unnamed (20)

Start with a plan

Any experienced gardener knows a garden must be carefully planned. From lighting and shade considerations to eventual plant heights, watering needs, and general arrangement, failure to consider the characteristics of each individual plant can easily result in a struggling garden that doesn’t please the eye.

Marketing is the same. Randomly throwing together a variety of different strategies and hoping something sticks is never a good approach. You need to plan how each piece will fit together and serve your ultimate goal: getting your message in front of the people who are most likely to buy from your company.

Provide regular maintenance

Once you plan and plant your garden, you’ll find yourself returning regularly to care for it. Weeding prevents undesirable plants from taking over. Watering ensures the garden prospers and grows. Without regular care, your plants could die, and the entire garden might turn into a small, wild field.

Your marketing also requires regular attention. Track how well each strategy performs and how much you’re spending per customer. Identify areas to improve and refine your marketing. On social media, use each platform to interact with your followers. They aren’t going to magically buy just because you set up a page.

Have patience when tracking results

Gardeners know the fruits of their labor might not be visible for several weeks or even a couple months. They put in the work and planning so their yard can look amazing in the future.

You must also be willing to wait to see the results of yourmarketing efforts. Just because you sent out a direct mail flyer or set up a few social media sites doesn’t mean customers will just start rolling in. You need to have patience to see results and understand that marketing is all part of the plan to grow your business.

Make a plan to handle abundance

Anyone who’s ever planted a garden knows that sometimes you get too much in return. Maybe your bushes have started to grow so much they’re overtaking the other plants. If you planted vegetables, you might suddenly have too much produce on your hands. You need a plan to deal with this excess.

It’s also possible in business to get overwhelmed by a very successful marketing campaign. A sudden influx of customers can leave your company scrambling to keep up with demand. Make sure you have a plan for dealing with fluctuating customer numbers. Consider part-time help and training staff to adequately handle larger numbers so no customer gets neglected.

As you plan your garden this spring, consider the many lessons you can learn about marketing as you go. If you’re ready to start working on a new marketing campaign, contact us. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Mastering Business Strategy at the Chess Board

unnamed (19)The game of chess has a long and storied history. Early versions were played from about the 6th century, while the modern game has been played since the mid 15th century. Even as technology advances, chess remains one of the most challenging and educational games around. It’s been used to teach military strategy and to improve critical thinking skills.

While most people are familiar with the intense challenge chess provides the brain, you might not realize how much it can teach you about marketing and running a business. Two key lessons involve pragmatism and playing the “long game.”

Pragmatism

To be successful at chess, you must be pragmatic. You need to be able to think on your feet. While most successful chess players have concrete strategies they enjoy using, no player can completely predict the moves their opponent will make. That means they must be able to make decisions on the spot.

A good chess player also has the skills needed to read their opponent. Through experience, they can often anticipate an opponent’s next move and will devise strategies based on what those moves might be. This gives them the insight they need to succeed with the next skill: playing the long game.

Playing the long game

A chess player knows that one must be willing to sacrifice a pawn or two for the long-term goal of winning the match. A good player will never get so caught up in an individual “battle” that they lose sight of their end goals. Chess players are continuously looking to the finish and developing their strategies based on their desired outcome.

How these lessons relate to marketing

Pragmatism

To be successful in marketing and business, you must realize you’re not going to be able to completely control every factor in your industry — or even in your company. You can’t control the response of your audience, what your competition does, developments in the industry, and other factors. Instead, you must be able to adapt your business and marketing strategy to whatever’s going on around you.

That said, a successful marketer will be able to “read” their intended audience and anticipate the type of marketing that is most likely to solicit a response. They’ll also be able to change their strategies based on customer actions and industry trends.

Playing the “long game”

When you’re successfully managing a business, you must always have your end game in mind. You can’t allow small upsets to disrupt your goals and strategies. You must have the presence of mind to know what you’d like to accomplish and what you need to do to get there. That might mean making a few sacrifices here and there to reach the end point. You don’t want to get so caught up in the small battles that you lose sight of where you want your company to be in the long term.

Chess has been used for centuries to teach strategy and improve critical thinking skills. As you sit down to play your next game of chess, think about how the strategies you learn on the chessboard can be applied to making your business a success.

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Keep Your Existing Customers Around By Improving Engagement

unnamed (18)If you’re like many business professionals, you know that half the battle of growing your business is getting existing customers to stick around. When you provide your customers with outstanding customer service, some incredible things happen:

  • Customers are willing to pay more, just for your service.
  • Customers are more likely to recommend you to others.
  • You end up spending less for each conversion (it costs less to retain customers than find new ones).
  • You build customer loyalty.

In our intensely competitive modern market, you can’t afford to overlook these benefits.

The key to providing this outstanding level of service is taking the time to engage your existing customers. Too many organizations focus so much energy on attracting new customers that their existing customers feel neglected and overlooked. This can lead to feelings of resentment. Fortunately, with just a little bit of extra effort, you can keep your existing customers engaged and invested in your company. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Leverage the ‘social’ part of social media

Social media was designed to give you a platform to chat and get to know your customers on a personal level. Rather than advertising blindly to large populations, you can communicate directly to individual people and meet their needs personally. Encourage your existing customers to communicate with you on social media. You can do this in a number of different ways.

  • Invite them to ask questions about using your products or services.
  • Start fun contests that involve customers telling stories about using your products or services.
  • Respond to inquiries quickly and personally.

When you use social platforms to reach out and communicate with your customers, you show them how much you care about their experience, which resonates with both existing customers and those considering your company.

Run relevant promotions that existing customers can use

We’ve all experienced times when special promotions or discounts were made available only to new customers. Such deals often leave us feeling unappreciated and annoyed. Many customers facing such restrictions look for ways to get around them, such as switching back and forth between companies just to take advantage of the promotions. This leads to poor service and frustration for customers and does no good for the company’s reputation.

Instead of rewarding only new customers, offer your longtime customers a “loyalty” discount based on their longevity with your company. Customers will feel more appreciated and more loyal to your brand. They’ll see this simple ‘thank you’ as evidence that your company truly does value them, not just the bottom line.

Develop communications relevant to your existing customers

The more personal you can make your communications and correspondence, the more likely your customers are to respond. When people buy from your company, remember what they bought and why. Initiate messages, such as emails, asking customers about how well their needs have been met and if they have any questions about using your products or services. Ask customers for reviews and feedback, and make your requests using the name of a salesperson the customer dealt with personally.

Keeping customers engaged is an important step in encouraging them to stay with your company. When you do this successfully, you can grow your customer base and your bottom line.