My Goodbye

My Goodbye

Sometimes leaving a job is just as difficult as finding one. The people, the environment, and the work involved are some things I will miss. With a mind full of memories, this is my goodbye.

For as long as I can remember I have been open, honest, and always willing to engage and make friends.  As an only-child, it surprises people how extroverted I am. Some people get turned off by my natural confidence.

As an ENFJ*, I’m a natural-born leader, extremely passionate about everything I do, and truly enjoy bringing it out in others. Upon arrival at DME I found a team of intelligent, yet guarded, coworkers.  I said “oh s—t!”

I spent my first month learning about DME and my role as part of the marketing team.  Slowly, but surely, everyone opened up, or maybe I dragged them into it.  Once I was accepted as a valuable, contributing member to the team, we have evolved into a harmonious group that openly supports each other.  And I think each team member has also grown in their own ways.

Comradery has become the stepping stone to workplace growth.  Challenges, critiques, approvals and team support now define our team on a daily basis.  And maybe we are even the envy of other departments.

Moving On

As my life now takes me away from DME, I am torn between the joys of success, the thought of projects left unfinished and the now scary excitement of finding a new team. I hope it works out as well as it has here.

While I, and they, know the show must go on, I secretly wish they couldn’t go on without me. Is that selfish?  The short time spent at DME has changed me, and hopefully I have touched each of my coworkers professionally and personally. Perhaps they will look back at our shared experience and know they’ll always have a friend in me as I do them.

I now know that those motivational speakers and LinkedIn posts are right…first and foremost, you work for and with people.

* If you’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Test you should take the free version at 16Personalities.com

What’s Up with a Corporate Communication Plan?

If you have a company that employs sales staff or account executives as part of your business plan their whole career revolves around speaking with potential clients and current customers. They have their own tactics, plans and communication styles. But what happens when your customers or clients become disenchanted with their contact or if that person is no longer with your company? Do you have a corporate communication plan in place with over-arching, brand enforcing messages?

If for any reason the sales staff or account executives aren’t communicating in a consistent manner, a corporate communication plan means you still stay top of mind. So what should you be communicating? Think first about what your recipients would find relevant. By no means should you be blaring out in-your-face promotional messages every time you contact them. Go for a more subtle approach, but keep in mind some key points to communicate about your company: service, variety, knowledge and quality. Continue reading “What’s Up with a Corporate Communication Plan?”

Halloween Marketing Ideas: No Tricks, Just Treats

Depending on your industry Halloween may mark the start of your holiday rush or it might just be another day on the calendar. Either way Halloween is a great excuse to reach out to customers or potential ones with a fun and lighthearted marketing campaign.

Hopefully, if you are doing a pre-Halloween promotion, it’s already active or about to go live. But we wanted to recap some “screaming” good marketing from last year! Continue reading “Halloween Marketing Ideas: No Tricks, Just Treats”

Why You Should Stop Talking

We all talk. A lot. We want to have the answers, be the problem solvers for our customers. But we don’t always have them, or we do, but we can’t find the time to execute them. Our plates are full. Always.

So maybe we should shut up. As the old homage goes “actions speak louder than words”. That project you’ve been putting off. Do it. You say you have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Honor it. Be a man or woman of your word. You could tell a customer or a peer how great you are all day long, and a lot of time as marketers that’s what we do: All.Day.Long., but don’t let that be all you do. Make sure you can back up what you are saying with policies, ethics and skillsets.

It sounds simple, and we all know it in theory. Of COURSE you don’t want to lie to anyone. Duh, it’s bad. But if you are honest to yourself, how often do you do it? Marketing walks the fine line of truth and exaggeration.

Getting out of your comfort zone or going the extra mile often results in great things. Shoulda, woulda, coulda doesn’t get you anywhere. Once your reputation is tarnished, whether as a company or an individual, personal or professional, you’ve just added extra hurdles to overcome. Not that those hurdles are fatal, but sometimes you are too tired and too downtrodden to jump them. So why set them up in the first place?

Be a doer. Be a goal setter. Excuses don’t cut it in the professional world and talk is cheap. Lead by example and success will follow. An outstanding reputation and unprompted peer or customer reviews mean much more than anything YOU could ever say about YOURSELF. Bottom line: Let your actions do the talking.

The Best Tactics for Launching a New Product

As a marketer, it is your responsibility to promote your company’s products. This is especially the case with a brand new product that you’re hoping to introduce. This can prove to be a tall task when your product is a one-of-a-kind idea and there is no roadmap for promoting something of that genre.

Ensuring that your product gets off to a hot start is all about generating buzz before it is even released to the marketplace. Aside from advertising online and elsewhere, your success here is dependent upon how well you market to the public as well as to your own employees.

Here are three useful tactics for making sure your product release gets off to a strong start.

 

  1. Promote on Social Media

Especially in regards to a new product, it is important to gain as much free exposure as possible. With social media at your disposal, this task becomes fairly achievable. Companies today turn to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to announce their new products and draw interest. GoPro recently used a chain of Instagram posts to construct a large image of their new Hero 4 Session camera.

Posting the large image of the new camera using smaller, individual images helped build anticipation throughout their followers. Piece-by-piece images led to curiosity and lured followers into checking back to see the final product. In addition to this strategy, they also used a unique way to display their product on their page to draw interest and bring attention to the company.

 

  1. Market to Your Employees

It is equally important to draw interest from your employees as it is from your fans. Without a staff that believes in the product, it is far more difficult to get it off the ground. Help your employees familiarize themselves with the product whether it be through giving the product to each of them or by meeting and discussing all of its great features. This will generate an internal buzz in your company that will encourage your team to promote the new product on their own and get the message across to people outside of the company.

 

  1. Use Images and Videos

Sometimes words just aren’t enough to get your point across. Particularly on social media, people want to see what your product will look like and not just hear about what it can do. Images and videos can attract a larger audience for your announcement and can generate more curiosity than a simple press release would.

Put your creative skills to work and brainstorm some fun video ideas that would get people talking about your product and sharing with their friends. Consider a “How to use” video that is more informative than promotional so as to avoid being too “salesy”. Also, a simple photo of your product can generate some discussion even without a long description. GoPro, for example, used short captions for the photos in their Instagram announcement. A simple phrase like “Something is coming…” with a teaser photo is vague, yet interesting enough.

 

Before you present your great idea to the public, be sure you are prepared to do so effectively. Simply adding the product to your online store won’t be nearly enough. Get people talking about your product before it is even available.

Check out our last blog on best practices for CRMs

 

The 3 Best Practices for Using a CRM

One of the most important tools that your company can have is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform. To effectively sell and manage your customers, it is essential to have a way of staying organized despite the overwhelming number of contacts you may have. With the proper technology and training, salespeople can begin to close more deals by being more informed about every potential customer to whom they have reached out. Before you purchase a CRM, it is important that you understand the purpose of implementing this software into your sales strategy. Here are the 3 best practices for using a CRM.

1. Track Your Customers

From the moment you first import a new lead into your system all the way to the day you close the deal with that customer, it is vitally important to include and track as much information as you can. How much revenue would you expect out of this opportunity? At what stage are you in the sales process? How likely is it that this opportunity will be closed? Having this information readily available will make marketing and salespeople’s jobs that much easier. A CRM allows you to keep this information in one common place where everyone in the organization can access the data.

2. Reports and Dashboards

Tracking this data will not only give you something to refer back to, but it will also give you information from which you can build detailed reports and visual representations. There’s no easier and more effective way of presenting your open and closed sales opportunities than with the help of these CRM capabilities.  Knowing where you stand with your business opportunities is important, especially when it comes to reporting to upper management and keeping them updated on prospects. Creating simple and eye-catching graphs is a great way to do this.

3. Keep a Record of All Interactions

Communicate with customers more efficiently by using a CRM to track every interaction you’ve had with that prospect. This is especially useful while managing a large number of contacts at once. After every conversation, make a note of how the conversation went. Did you call or email them? What was discussed? Did this move the opportunity further along in the buying process? Next time they reach out to you, or vice-versa, you will have a note that will remind you of where you left off. More than likely, this will help you to close more opportunities by appearing more informed and personable to your customers.

If you decide to begin using a CRM, be sure that you know how to use it to its full capacity. Simply importing a list of leads will not bring you much newfound success. It’s what you decide to do with this list that determines how successful you will be. Use your most important data to collect and build reports while keeping a record of all your interactions. You are sure to see an improvement in the way you conduct business.

View our last blog on why your data is important.

Why Your Data is More Important than Your Message

As marketers, we automatically gravitate towards what we want to communicate. After all, communication makes up a great portion of our job description. We often times forget (or choose to ignore) the vast need for clean, detailed data of your target audience. Who you want to reach, dictates your message… not the other way around.

We all know it, and can repeat how important data is. But who is actually sincerely happy with their team’s effort to match data and messaging? According to a 2015 Digital Marketer survey of 1,000 diverse marketers, 80% use data to drive personalized communications, BUT one-third feel they are not using it to the best of their ability. They cite a shortage of internal resources, personalization technology and accurate data.

How can we expect to get the most out of our marketing dollars if the communications are doomed from the start? Data and communications will never reach 100% accuracy, but one cannot survive without the other. More than likely, depending on your target audience and state of your data (or lack thereof), you will need to implore several solutions to get the most return on your data.

 

  • An internal data management system

Depending on your resources and amount of pre-existing data you may be able to invest in a system to internally house your data. Robust systems may also clean, sort and complete other tasks in preparation for use.

  • An external data management company

If you do not have the internal know-how or availability to manage your own data: outsource. Companies can provide you a whole suite of services tied to your data, and can be more cost-effective than internal changes.

  • A big data company

Maybe you are starting from scratch and have no means to develop your own list of targeted audiences, then working with a list company is a fantastic option. By providing them criteria, they will create you a highly-targeted, customized list of viable customers.

 

The bottom line is without a strategy for utilizing segmented, targeted data, any marketing communications will not be successful. “Spray and pray” is not a valid method and provides very little return on your investment.

View our last blog on Content and Design.

Digital Marketing Demystified

It was once stated, “There’s a statistical theory that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they’d eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare.” Thanks to the Internet, we now know this isn’t true. We also know, however, that the majority of the 3.1 billion Internet users are also consumers. Many are your current customers, while many more fit the profile of your ideal customer. Our challenge as marketers is to let them know you exist, the need your product or service satisfies, and the benefit of being a customer. Sounds easy, right? Without a basic understanding of this amazing communication channel, it would be nearly impossible to develop an effective digital marketing strategy.

 

The digital landscape

Navigating the marketing labyrinth of the Internet is not for the faint-hearted. Of the 3.1 billion Internet users worldwide, an estimated 279 million are in the United States. At the moment this article was penned, there were 140,669, 383 registered domains. The average users spends 66 personal hours per month on an Internet-connected device. The average user spends 7-10 hours per month on Facebook. This does not include the time spent on a computer at the office. There are an estimated 210 billion email messages finding their way to inboxes each and every day. Just over 80% of these messages are identified as SPAM. Using statistics from 2014, and considering the increase in smartphone and tablet sales, it is likely that 60% of online sales for Mother’s Day 2015 will be on a mobile device.

All digital marketers should be thinking about a “mobile first” strategy. Everything from the corporate website to email communications need to be composed with mobile devices in mind. Just over 87% of American adults use the Internet, 64% have a smartphone and 42% have a tablet. Let’s look a little deeper at the user community. Over 97% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 use the Internet. Around 74% of online adults use social networking sites. According to a recent report from The PEW Research Center (www.pewinternet.org), 70% of the Facebook users engage with the site daily—and 45% several times per day. Here’s a breakdown by site and percentage of users: Facebook – 58%, LinkedIn – 23%, Pinterest – 22%, Instagram – 21% and Twitter – 19%.

 

Enough already with the numbers!

Given the abacus-fueled results above, it is accurate to say… it would be far more likely for your target audience to visit your website than drive by your billboard, see your television advertisement or hear your radio spot. While mass-media continues to dominate all other communication channels for “brand building,” it relies on timing. The consumer needs to be tuned-in (and paying attention) at the exact moment the mass-media advertisement airs. Digital marketing has several advantages. Unlike other communication channels—especially mass-media—digital marketing can include messaging relevant to the consumer. Each and every consumer. Usage and tracking technologies can be leveraged to control the frequency of a particular message. One major concern among email marketers is “list fatigue.” The same is true for advertising on social media sites. There is a tipping point at which an advertisement becomes annoying.

Every marketing initiative starts with a communication objective. From there, the creative and message strategies must communicate key benefits while maintaining the brand’s personality. The communication—such as email, banner ad, social media post or text message—must explain the value proposition, and include a clear call-to-action. An email message, for example, should contain an objective statement, a support statement, and a tone or brand character statement. A well-planned digital marketing strategy often includes several communications—or touch points—working together to incubate interest and trigger a response. Unlike other communication channels, digital marketing is interactive. Consumers can respond immediately, or share with a friend or colleague. The Internet user community is growing at a mind-boggling pace. Every company should include the digital communication channels as part of their overall marketing strategy. There is no faster way to go from conversation to conversion!

 

Social Media and the Consumer Voice

I recently came across an article written by Mark Hurd, the CEO of Oracle Corporation. In his piece, he details the importance of “customer-obsessed marketing” and the ways in which it can bring a competitive advantage to companies. He credits Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the rise in importance of customer involvement.

With social media, there are newfound expectations from customers for personalized content and quick response rates. Those expectations are warranted given that social media is a great tool for meeting the demands of customers in real time. How can businesses use these growing demands to their own advantage?

Well, reading this article made me want to explore some of the companies that have already realized the importance of customer-obsessed marketing.

One marketing campaign came to mind almost immediately. In 2012 Lay’s began running an annual contest called “Do Us a Flavor” where contestants were asked to come up with a new Lay’s potato chip flavor using up to 3 ingredients.

The contest was/has been an undeniable crowdsourcing success. Participation not only boosted customer involvement on social media, but it also generated new ideas for the company. What better way to brainstorm than using millions of minds rather than just a small group around a table?

The contest has allowed customers to see that Lay’s is listening to them and their requests. In the meantime, new and exciting products are being released on a yearly basis thanks to this contest.

Another company that has capitalized on social media’s capabilities and harnessed customer-obsessed marketing is JetBlue. Using social media, JetBlue has excelled in meeting customer demands and earned a reputation as one of the airline industry’s best in terms of customer loyalty.

They do so by quickly and effectively responding to customers’ complaints and questions on Twitter and Facebook. When you mention their brand on Twitter, they will notice and they will more than likely respond if you have an issue or question about your flight status.

Responding to customers quickly and effectively leaves a lasting impact on the customer. It lets them know that the company hasn’t forgotten its purpose, which is to make the customer happy.

Here at DME, we may not be as large or well-known as JetBlue and Lay’s however, there are ideas and practices that we can take away from these two companies.

One major takeaway is that listening to your customers can improve your customer service reputation through word of mouth. When people can see that you listen and respond to your customers and act on what they say, it builds trust and customer loyalty. Listening to your customers can also can generate great ideas for your company including new products, services and approaches to business.

Social media then, is more than just a way to market the company. It’s also a tool that allows you to communicate with an audience that wants you to hear what they have to say. It’s a tool that can benefit both the consumer and the seller.

How has social media helped you communicate with customers or businesses?

 

What Makes a Contest Successful?

Running promotional contests are a great way to gain viral traffic and introduce people to your brand. I love something free, you love something free, we all love something free. It’s a no brainer people. While there is cost associated with a contest, such as promotional items, employee labor and advertising, this often is far under the gain of new business.

We are currently working on incorporating contests more regularly into our marketing plan for our retail websites, as part of our ongoing tactics to reach new customers. We’ve learned a couple things along the way:

  1. Have a mix of short-running and long-running contests

All contests don’t have to be complicated and drawn out. Try a mix of short and easy day-long contests that offer smaller prizes. For example, we have implemented #triviatuesday, where we ask social media followers something relating to e-Commerce, our industry or our local area. The prizes range from a percentage off to a free product. They might not be huge prizes, but it increases engagement and brand awareness. In contrast, take advantage of a contest that runs for an extended period of time, maybe a week or even a month. Prizes that are appropriate for this length of contest can range from multiple free products, cash prizes (depending on your business) or desirable gifts (like an ipad, tv, etc…). Be sure to scale your prizes to fit your predicted return.

  1. Use social media to its fullest

While Facebook has rules about holding a contest strictly through their service, you can link to an outside contest or giveaway. Other social media platforms are not so stringent on contest rules, and may be a more conducive medium. Holding a giveaway on Instagram, for example, is a great way to increase followers and grow your fan base. Ask them to repost your photo or tag friends that may be interested as well. Be sure to continuously mention your contest on all appropriate platforms for the length of the contest as to get the highest return.

  1. Take the time to do it right

Plan ahead as much as you can, as with any marketing strategy. If you go into a campaign not having your content fully-vetted or a half completed plan, you more than likely will run into issues. When your plan is not fully formed, you often cut corners and therefore cut into your ROI. No one wants to lose money. Take the time to do it right the first time. On the flipside, have the ability to tweak small things as you go. Maybe a certain image is really compelling, or you are reaching people through email more than you had a originally thought. Measure as you go to fully reach your contest potential.

  1. Measure, refine and repeat

Chances are, you will want to continue to periodically do contests. Some will be successful some not so much. Start by setting tangible goals for yourself. Maybe you want increased fans or followers, or you want to see an uptake in revenue. Define these BEFORE you start, as this makes it easier to make adjustments to your strategy mid-campaign. Measure EVERYTHING. Every move (post, email, landing page visit, etc…) that you can tie to your goals, is proof that your campaign was successful. Once your campaign completes, gauge how you did and refine for your next one… Then repeat!

 

Are contests part of your marketing plans for 2015?