Build Your Brand With These 7 Social Media Tips

At this point, most brands have engaged on social media. However, it is still common for small businesses to use offline marketing because they feel they are too new to even set up an online profile. They may have also tried using social media and struggled with building their brand in the past. No matter where your company is at right now, you can use these seven tips to launch a successful social media campaign that builds buzz around your brand.

Assign Responsibility

The first step to building your brand is to develop a plan that members of your team are going to be responsible for. As you start your planning session, try to identify how often you want to post and respond to other people. Then, appoint the person, or people, who will be responsible for finding content and posting according to a determined schedule.

Keep It Simple

There are so many social media platforms out there that you could have a team spending the bulk of their day compiling posts and responses if you try to use every platforms. If your company is still a bit new to social media, then focus on only using a couple of platforms that relate to your brand the most. This allows you to keep your social media campaigns manageable and sustainable for optimum brand-building.

Aim for Consistency

Consistency generates trust in your brand. Once you’ve chosen the platforms that you prefer, try to post consistently. While you don’t always want to repeat information, you can always post a #ThrowbackThursday photo on each platform every week. This helps your followers know what to expect so that they’ll keep coming back to see the latest updates.

Keep a Conversational Tone

A formal business tone may be what your company uses when interacting with other businesses or compiling reports. However, there is not much room for stuffy business talk on social media. Instead, aim to make your posts more like a conversation, and create an engaging voice that is more relatable to your target audience.

Make Posts Eye-Catching

With social media, you have seconds to catch a person’s eye. Fortunately, that’s easy when you know how to use your company logo, bold colors and beautiful images to garner attention. Keep in mind that the right image can entice someone to click share or hit a link to learn more about your brand.

Be Willing to Shine the Spotlight Elsewhere

Naturally, you want the main focus of your posts to be about your brand. However, only talking about your company gets boring, and it makes your brand seem self-absorbed. Try turning the tables by showcasing something positive that one of your partner brands is doing, like announcing the release of a new product. Alternatively, you can mention a social cause that your brand supports.

Track and Adjust to the Results

As with any marketing campaign, you need to track the responses to know how to adapt as a company. A social media marketing analysis can show you insights such as how followers interact with your posts, how often they visit the business profile, and how frequently your brand’s posts are shared. You can then use this information to tweak your strategies to make future campaigns even more effective. At minimum, you should be analyzing this data at least on a quarterly basis, but you may need to do it more often due to the changing landscape of social media.

Building your brand on social media takes time, but the payoff is worth it when you see those numbers take off as more people are exposed to what your company has to offer. Whether your brand is new to social media or has been at it awhile, be willing to incorporate new strategies that help to bolster your brand’s online presence.

4 Effective Traditional Marketing Techniques

Technology has transformed how companies market their products and services today. While it’s great to be able to instantly share an advertisement video, it is also easy to forget that traditional strategies still work, even in a world filled with social media influencers. When your campaign needs a little something extra, it pays to go back to the basics and try one of these four traditional marketing techniques that are still just as effective as they were years ago.

Telemarketing Campaigns

People still prefer to hear a human voice over reading an email. This is especially true for older demographics that include people who may not feel comfortable submitting their information online or trying to navigate through reading the small print on their computer screen. When possible, try to arrange for an actual customer service representative to handle all outbound calling needs, or invest in a quality automated program that can quickly address a potential customer’s needs. If your marketing campaign involves having customers call in to your company, then make sure that you have the resources in place to answer calls right away and make a sale while the customer is still excited.

On-Site Events

As anyone who has ever stopped at a roadside attraction can attest, events that draw a crowd reels in interest. Consider hosting an event at your main business location that taps into the interests of your target audience. For instance, bounce houses and refreshments are always a great way to encourage families to stop by your location. Companies within the food industry can host pie eating contests, bake-offs, or demonstrate how items are made to get people talking about the company. With this strategy, you can even add a modern spin on the technique by sending updates on social media that include teasers leading up to the event and images in real-time that will have people flocking to your site.

Broadcast Messages

Television and radio advertising still works. Not only can your ads reach a large number of people at once, but you can target them to hit a specific demographic. Although broadcast messages tend to only last a few minutes at most, this is still far more time that you can catch someone’s attention than you can often get online. Just remember to keep all of your advertisements geared towards your target audience, and never underestimate the power of late night ads that can catch a consumer’s attention when they are bored and interested in hearing something new.

Direct Mail

The internet helps you to spread your message to a wide audience at minimal cost, but there are also times when it pays to invest in your advertising. Direct mail puts your company’s information directly in a customer’s hands. Even if they tend to throw away advertisements, they will still have to view your company’s information for long enough that it may capture their attention. To increase the effectiveness of this strategy, consider adding a few coupons or a mention of a new service. If your customer base is still fairly small, consider sending out a handwritten note of thanks or a card to celebrate a special occasion. Those little personal touches help to increase your word-of-mouth advertising, and the effort is worth its weight in gold when your business increases its referrals.

In the field of marketing, there are some classic techniques that are just proven to work. Be sure to mix it up and include a variety of different strategies in your advertising plans that help you hit every corner of the market.

5 Ways to Market to Millennials

millenial

Millennials have long held a substantial amount of buying power, yet this generation often does not get enough credit for being some of the savviest consumers that you need to include in your company’s marketing plans. Not only are millennials active online shoppers, but they also prefer face-to-face experiences that allow them to get the most out of a product or service. As your company develops its marketing campaign, be sure to use these strategies that are specifically designed to attract and hold the attention of millennials in your target audience.

Shift to Quality Video Marketing Campaigns

This generation grew up with some of the most advanced technology we have today, and they have come to expect quality when they watch a video. Go through your current marketing materials and eliminate any grainy or outdated video footage. Then, replace it with high quality videos that are short and to the point. As you do, focus on uploading shareable content. Millennials love to keep their friends and family updated on their latest favorite businesses, and a well-executed video campaign can reach hundreds of thousands of people if it gets shared across social media platforms.

Segment Your Advertising Campaigns

Although millennials are within the same age range, they have a vast range of life experiences and interests. Avoid creating one, generalized campaign that doesn’t resonate with anyone by dividing your target audience up into segments. For instance, a millennial could be a single adult who is focused on their career, or they could be a new parent that has the primary goal of using only natural products in their household. Consider establishing several smaller campaigns that reach each type of millennial on a more personal level.

Keep It Real and True

Millennials are one of the first generations to be able to carry a computer in their pocket. For this reason, you want to avoid exaggerated marketing campaigns that will ring alarm bells among an audience that can do a fact check within seconds. Make sure to highlight what makes your business the best, but keep it true and simple. A millennial appreciates honest statistics that show them how they will benefit from using a product or service.

Demonstrate a Commitment to Building Communities

Marketing to millennials also means showing that your business cares about the communities that it serves. Consider contributing to a charity or starting up a cause that your customers and employees can get involved in. Then, share the latest happenings regarding your community crusades with your target audience. This generation loves to feel good about the purchases that they make, and they’ll flock to companies that care about taking an eco-friendly and diverse stance on their business practices.

Share New Information

The millennial generation is one of the first ones to prefer to learn more about a product before falling for gimmicky advertisements. Try sharing information that is pertinent to your industry. For instance, restaurants can share recipes on the blog, and a company that produces baby products can share parenting tips on social media. Millennials also love knowing how things are made so give an inside look of your factory or kitchen on a shareable video. Once you reel them in with some insider knowledge, they’ll be more interested in hearing how they can benefit from your company’s products.

Millennials catch a lot of flack for being more thrifty than other generations, which can pose a few challenges for getting them to buy into using your business. However, the right marketing strategies will work, and you’ll be glad to discover that these are some of the most loyal customers you will ever have once you get them to love your brand.

How to Create a Brand Positioning Strategy

Effective brand positioning places your company at the forefront of your target audience’s mind by highlighting what makes your products and services unique. Yet, carving out a niche is harder than it appears when the market is flooded with competitors that are all trying to do the same thing. Whether you realize it or not, brand positioning begins from the moment that you make your company public, and you can use this step-by-step guide to make sure that your brand takes a leadership position in the marketplace.

Determine Where Your Company Stands

Your first step is to conduct a thorough assessment of where your company currently is positioned in the market. Start by focusing on your brand’s attributes and how the target audience uses them to fit their needs. For instance, a customer may seek your services to fulfill an emotional need or to accomplish a specific task. Using this information, you can then begin to figure out how to align the core values of your business with those of the target audience.

Identify Your Competitors’ Position

You also need to know where your competitors’ brands are positioned. Identify your top competitors and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Are they excellent at keeping up with social media? Or perhaps they are known for tapping into the mindset of a specific type of consumer. Be honest and try to figure out what they do better and worse than your company. While digging into the competitions’ tactics may be tedious, you need to know how your company’s standing fits in with theirs to make a plan to stand out.

Analyze Your Target Audience

The market depends upon the actions of your target audience, and your brand should address a need that causes them to think of your company first. For example, they may want to know that they can get your products faster than the competition, or you may prioritize being the brand that always has the best price. You also want to make sure that your brand is positioned in a way that you can get the word out to the target audience about why your brand is the leader in the market. Whether they shop online or prefer to browse shops downtown, taking your marketing where the consumers go means that your brand is already in the first place that they look.

Create and Implement a Positioning Statement

Once you’ve gathered your information, it is time to put it all together. Contrary to popular belief, a positioning statement is not the same thing as a tagline. Instead, your brand uses the positioning statement to define goals and make sure that everyone’s plans are aligned with the core values of your company. Develop a brief statement that defines your target audience and niche market while following up with what makes your brand distinct and unique. Then, make sure that everyone in the companies aware of the statement and knows how to apply it to the marketing plan.

A proactive stance is the only way to ensure that your company’s brand is viewed as a leader by your target customer in a busy market. Now that you’ve got your strategy in place, be sure to keep tabs on it. With regular analysis, you will know how to tweak the plan to adapt to changes in the market so that your brand stays at the top.

How Marketing Automation Can Aid Your Business

Marketing is the fuel that allows your company to grow and skyrocket to the top of the industry. Your business may provide the best services on the market, or you may have developed an innovative product that doesn’t exist anywhere else. However, none of this matters if your brand’s target audience is unaware of what is available. Marketing automation is a technology-based tool that incorporates different types of software that your company can use to streamline some of the most time-consuming and difficult tasks associated with spreading the word about your business. When you choose to automate your marketing tasks, you can expect to see these benefits that help to boost your company’s growth.

Open Up Room for Creativity

Your company’s marketing team should represent the best and brightest talent in their field, and they thrive on coming up with new ideas that help your business prosper. While they may be full of brilliant ideas, they are also limited by time constraints when they are forced to spend the majority of their day performing menial tasks such as calculating figures and compiling reports. Marketing automation software does these types of tasks so that your company’s marketing team has more time to focus on creative thinking. With the combination of human generated creative strategies and the accuracy of computer software, you’ve set up a win-win situation.

Gain More Control Over the Budget

Marketing campaigns take up a big portion of a company’s budget, and you should always be looking for strategies that give you the highest returns. With automation, you gain more control over how your company’s budget is spent since there is no longer a need to pay for labor to manage simple tasks, and money is not wasted on ineffective campaigns. Instead, you can focus on using the budget to hire the best talent or to purchase a larger advertisement to market the brand.

Retain More Customers

As every good marketer knows, it’s far less expensive to keep a customer coming back than it is to recruit new ones. For this reason, customer retention is a critical part of marketing campaigns. Marketing automation includes software that makes it possible to cross or upset products to current customers by making them aware of promotions that fit their past patterns of behavior. With computer-generated marketing intelligence, your team can act with the perfect timing to hone in on current customers’ needs.

Track the Effectiveness of Marketing Campaigns

Data analysis is a critical component of every marketing campaign because you need to know how effective each strategy is for bringing in new and returning customers to increase profits. Marketing automation software makes it possible to quickly identify how well each campaign works, and some of the best options that are available also allow you to see predictions regarding how well future campaigns are expected to perform. Being able to stop or start a campaign based upon solid data gives your business one more way to be certain that every move that is made is strategized to generate success.

In today’s business environment, the competition is fierce and you must take advantage of every tool at your disposal to leverage your company to a leadership position. Start now by developing a plan to utilize marketing automation to streamline your business processes while also spreading the word about your company’s products and services to a wider audience.

3 Expert Ways to Get Customer Reviews for Your Business

customer reviews

Customer reviews have become one of the most effective marketing tools in recent years, and you should expect that prospective clients and customers are going to check to see what other people have to say about their experiences. Nowadays, 92% of consumers read online reviews, whereas only 88% did in 2014.  In addition to driving more people to your website or store, customer reviews can also help to push your business to the top of the list on major search engines. While you may know how important reviews are to your business, you may still struggle with getting people to actually leave their opinions about your business. These expert strategies are designed to get customers to start leaving reviews that vouch for your brand’s superior products and services.

Show Up Where Your Customers Go Online

Start your review increasing mission by gathering some information about how your customers currently interact online. Web analytics provide insight into which social media platforms and search engines are bringing people to your website, and this information helps you plan where to start your campaign to increase reviews. Once you know where your target audience goes, set up profiles on the major platforms. For example, you may prefer to entice people to leave reviews on LinkedIn if your main focus is B2B sales. Alternatively, you may want to set yourself up on Yelp or Google Local if you need reviews for your restaurant. Just as location is everything for brick-and-mortar businesses, you need to remember that your customers will be more likely to leave reviews if they are already on a specific platform.

Incorporate Review Requests Into Company Processes

One of the best ways to get positive reviews is to ask customers for them when they are having an excellent experience. Train your sales team and customer service representatives to remember to mention the opportunity to leave a review shortly after a person has received a service. While you should never pay customers for their feedback, you can use incentives to reward your employees for seeking reviews. For instance, you could start a company contest to see who gets the most positive reviews within a week. You could also read a few rave reviews during your next company meeting to highlight how great it feels to read positive feedback from your customers. You’ll be surprised at how many reviews you receive when you just ask your customers. Most people don’t mind helping out your staff after a job well done when they know where to go to leave a review.

Turn Reviews Into Conversations

Too often reviews are thrown into the online atmosphere and nothing ever gets done. You’ve also likely heard tons of advice about how to spin negative reviews into a chance to highlight your company’s focus on improving customer service. However, very little attention gets paid to the power of extending a review into a conversation. For instance, asking a customer who simply added five starts to a review what they liked about their experience encourages them to leave further feedback. You can also encourage reviewing customers to come back and try a new product since they are more likely to leave another review that increases the amount that shows up during searches for your company profile.

The best customer reviews are those that are spontaneously posted after someone is motivated by a positive experience. Yet, most customers still need a little nudge to get them to leave feedback online. Now that you’ve got a few ideas for encouraging customer engagement, get ready to read and respond to the newest reviews to encourage the cycle of business growth to continue.

5 Franchise Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

marketing

Owning a franchise comes with the built-in benefit of being part of a larger company that has already established brand awareness in the marketplace. While you can take advantage of a franchiser’s large-scale marketing campaigns, you must also remember that you are responsible for your own success. Now that you’ve purchased a franchise, be sure to avoid these common marketing mistakes so that you can watch your new business grow at a local level.

Relying Too Heavily On the Parent Company’s Marketing Plan

One of the things that may have attracted you to the parent company is their well-planned marketing strategy that has established them as a leader in the industry. While having access to marketing materials and content that is already developed gives you a leg up for getting your franchise off and running, you must create a plan that works at the local level to make sure that your business goes the distance. Take a look at what the parent company already offers, and then use this information to help you figure out the gaps you need to fill in your local advertising strategies.

Using Inconsistent Marketing Materials

Your company brand has established components such as a logo, colors and motto that all help to generate a sense of reliability and trustworthiness that keeps customers coming back. While new franchisees need to develop their own marketing plan, you also want to avoid veering too far off course since this could inadvertently make your business seem to consumers as if it is unaffiliated with the parent company. Make sure that any materials that you develop such as brochures and signage all work seamlessly and fit into any guidelines that are associated with the marketing plan already in place by the franchiser.

Forgetting the Power of Location-Specific Marketing

Franchisers tend to target their marketing efforts to a widespread audience. While you can bet that your customers will visit the main company website and see advertisements in public places, you also want to make sure that your franchise stands out from local competitors. If your parent company allows it, increase your visibility online by joining local business directories and begin building a presence on social media. This way, your franchise will start to be one of the first things people see when they search online for your company’s products or services.

Ignoring Online Reviews

Parent companies often have people appointed to handle national or worldwide publicity matters. However, they rarely step in to manage minor issues that arise at the local level. Unfortunately, consumers tend to choose the company that has the highest ratings online, and even a single negative review pushes your franchise to the bottom of the list. Appoint someone in your company to respond to online comments from customers that pertain directly to your franchise. Remember that even a negative review can be turned into a positive one if you handle the situation in a way that demonstrates a genuine desire to serve the community.

Focusing On Only One Area of Marketing

When a strategy works, it is tempting to keep working on that angle. However, the best marketing plans cover all the bases. Once you find that a strategy is working, continue to look at how it works with every area of your marketing plan. From advertising promotions to making sure that the interior of your store represents the brand, continuing to refine your strategies helps your franchise grow.

Learning from the mistakes of other franchise owners that have come before you allows you to save time and money by implementing the lessons directly in your initial marketing plans. By understanding how to balance your marketing strategies with those of the parent company, you can ensure that your franchise is a success.

BIG IMPACT

America’s SBDC New Jersey, also known as the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) program, has been assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs for 37 years. It was one of the first pilot projects in the nation.

NJSBDC is part of a national network of SBDCs and goes through formal national accreditation every four to five years. There are up to 1,000 offices throughout the United States promoting business development and growth and generating thousands and thousands of jobs for Americans.

NJSBDC’s 12-center network provides comprehensive assistance for small businesses in all 21 counties. The SBDC network helps entrepreneurs to start new businesses and assists existing and established businesses (at different stages) to further develop and grow, sustaining economic growth in communities across the state. The strong historical record of NJSBDC’s economic impact for New Jersey cannot be underestimated; its business experts touch the lives of countless numbers of small business owners and operators who tap the network for guidance on an array of operational issues, including but not limited to: Business planning, strategic planning, accounting, financial analysis, legal organization, taxes, recordkeeping, marketing, E-Business, International Trade (exporting), Sustainability, Procurement opportunities, Technology-Commercialization, etc. The program brings back to the state federal dollars for small business support, but, federal funding must be matched dollar for dollar. That’s why the State’s investment in SBDC matters! NJ lags behind the investment levels of other states in their statewide SBDC networks.