Small business marketing: Quality does matter

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I just read an interesting round-up of ideas on using video as an effective marketing tool.

Much of the advice consisted of encouragement by experts (and I’m paraphrasing),  to “Just  do it,” with tips on how to spread your video around.

In the comments section, “beenyweenies,” a video marketing professional who did not reveal his or her name or company name, objected strongly, and called most of the suggestions “borderline irresponsible.”

Here are some of “beenyweenies’” key points:

“There is already so much bad video on the internet right now that the world doesn’t need another 50,000 self produced, poorly executed videos of some talking head rambling on…Most of the suggestions seem more geared to appealing to one’s DIY sensibilities, desire to spend nothing on marketing, and our inner narcissism (YOU can be the star in your own video!).

“Beenyweenies” continues: “Even most “professionally” produced videos have a high failure rate if the producers don’t have a solid understanding of video marketing principals….

“There was a time when business owners thought they could get away with slapping together a shoddy website using FrontPage, too. These days, you’d be lucky to get a few dozen hits a month with a site like that, and most business owners wouldn’t dream of doing something so damaging to their brand. Video is no different, which is why I say this article is doing a disservice to its readers.

“People judge a company on the quality of their promotional materials. If your marketing is poorly done, most consumers get a bad feeling about you and move on to a competing provider. There are simply too many choices in the marketplace to get so sloppy with your marketing.”

In the end, marketing, like most else in life, comes down to the advice my father gave to my brother and me while we were growing up: “If you’re going to do something, do it right.”

To read the entire article, and all of the posted comments, click here.

How to attract customers: The best way

Posted in Building customer loyalty, Copywriting and content, E-mail marketing, Marketing strategies, Print materials, Search engine optimization, Social media, Web design Be the first to comment

I get lots of e-mails–as we all do. Most of mine contain information I’ve requested from expert resources in all areas of marketing. Hey, ‘ya gotta keep up!

Just saw a simple explanation of today’s marketing landscape. It was in a white paper on Twitter as a business tool that I downloaded from Hubspot, a company that sells marketing automation software. This paragraph summed up today’s marketing landscape clearly and succinctly:

“Th[e] changing nature of consumers‘ shopping habits means that instead of continuing to push marketing messages out, effective marketers must adapt to consumers‘ new behavior by creating marketing campaigns that pull people in to their business. This strategy is called inbound marketing. Inbound marketers offer useful information, tools, and resources to attract people to their business and its website, while also interacting and developing relationships with consumers on the web…”

Put more simply: Offer information that customers will find interesting and helpful. That way, they’ll see you as a great resource, someone they can trust.  And they’ll want to come to you–to learn more about you and your business.

The bottom line: Don’t waste your money on marketing that focuses on you.  Think about what your customers want and give it to them.

You really can be a customer magnet. Easily and affordably.

To download the Hubspot whitepaper (registration required) click here.

Marketing health–with games

Posted in Advertising, Marketing strategies, Selling tips, Social media Be the first to comment

At the end of last year, we wrote a post that covered experts’ predictions about marketing trends for 2011.

One of the trends mentioned was “gamification,” or marketing messages or brand awareness in the form of games. Every day, it seems,  another company jumps on the bandwagon, announcing a new game that has prizes of free products, trips, etc.

Now, apparently, health experts are turning to games to promote the idea of healthy lifestyles and wellness.   In an article in HealthLeadersmedia about the 5 big ideas to come out of a recent major health care conference, author Margaret Dick Tocknell named gaming as “Idea Number 5.”

Health care organizations are racing to develop games that use audience engagement techniques, social interaction,  rewards, and multimedia presentations to get people involved in taking better care of themselves.

Tocknell quotes Microsoft’s Dennis Schmuland, who clearly sees the value in such an approach:  “[F]un always takes precedence.”

She reports:  “Aetna is set to launch…a social game to promote wellness that will be accessible through mobile phones, email and social media channels. There’s even a group…looking at how digital games can be used to help motivate treatment adherence and manage chronic health conditions.”

Here’s hoping that this marketing strategy succeeds where so many other attempts to improve our nation’s health have failed.

To read the item, click here.

Group buying: A good marketing tool?

Posted in Advertising, Building customer loyalty, Selling tips, Social media, Special promotions 1 Comment

Small business marketing strategyIf you’re planning a small business marketing strategy that includes signing up for Groupon, LivingSocial, or one of the roughly 500 other social buying plans, you may want to think more about it.

According to an article on ClickZ,  Utpal Dholakia, a management professor at Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, has found that only 20% of people who use such deep-discount coupons ever return to pay full price.

Here are some other key findings of Dholakia’s study:

  • 36% of deal users spend more than the voucher value when visiting a merchant.
  • 22% never redeem the vouchers they’ve bought.
  • 56% of businesses reported making money on their promotions, 27% lost money, and 18% broke even.
  • 48% of all businesses planned to run another daily deal promotion, 20% said they would not, and 32% weren’t sure.

How might you do? It depends on the type of business you own, the study found:

Roughly 70% of marketers in special events, health, and services reported making money on their promotions. Conversely, only 44% of surveyed restaurants were as fortunate.

Perhaps most telling, only 36% of restaurants/bars and 42% of salons/spas that had run such promotions said they would do it again.

To read the study summary, click here.

Small business marketing plans encouraging

Posted in Advertising, Building customer loyalty, Copywriting and content, E-mail marketing, Search engine optimization, Web design Be the first to comment

Finally, some good news about small business owners’ outlook for the future. Signs of increasing optimism have finally shown up as concrete numbers.

A study by MerchantCircle during the first quarter of 2011 shows positive expectations on all fronts.

The numbers certainly aren’t of the pop-the-cork variety. But as most of us know–for better or worse–when companies fear for the future, the first budget item to go is marketing.

At long last, small business owners are planning to spend more on marketing in the next few months. That  means they’re encouraged that their revenue will grow in 2011.

Of course, we’re happy to see the study. But that kind of optimism benefits everyone.