Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

What is RSS and why do I care?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Almost every site you visit these days not only allows you to connect via various social media icons but also has this funny little icon with three arced lines over a dot. It is usually orange (but not always) and many people do not know what it does. What that icon represents is an RSS feed. RSS or Really Simple Syndication has been around since that time in the distant past before the current era of the smartphone when PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistants) ruled the world and most of them did not include an internet connection. At this time you had to synchronize your device in order to update information and while you are at it you could also synchronize information from websites using these feeds so you could read it offline. At that time you only really found RSS feeds available through news sites or other outlets with constantly changing content. Now though you find them everywhere because most sites contain a blog and what is a blog but an updated version of those same old news feeds but now they contain the most up to date info about your business rather than the latest crime statistics or the life and times of your favorite celebrity.

This ain’t your mama’s RSS.

I know what you are thinking, we are no loner in that distant past, we are in the now and the age of the smartphone is here so who cares about RSS feeds anymore, right? Well, you should if you have a website. The age of the smartphone is upon us but there are still a significant number of less intelligent calling devices still in operation and many of those have the ability to access RSS feeds with their basic mobile browsing. Not only that but RSS feeds have a myriad of other uses including the ability to be integrated into other websites just by using the links. All that aside, the single best reason for you to have an RSS feed available for your content is because it is the easiest way for clients and potential clients to subscribe to your content. Like the PDA apps back in the day (which was a Wednesday as I recall..) there are apps available on the web, for smartphones and for desktop computers known as RSS Aggregators (A.K.A. “RSS Readers” or depending on how old you are, “News Readers”) that allow you to subscribe to content from your favorite sites and then be notified when updates are made. When site owners use web based apps like Google’s Feed Burner, it makes the process even easier for end users. These apps allow the site owner to connect their RSS feed to the apps notification system and then the end user is notified by email when updates are made to the site. It is like giving your clients and potential clients a sales rep to put in their pocket. Whenever the site is updated, that sales rep pops up and lets them know about all of the exciting and new things going on with your company.

So now that you know what RSS is all about and how it can benefit your company, you now realize that RSS feeds are like a Moving Buddy in the movie Toy Story – “If you don’t have one, GET ONE!”.

The best things in life are FREE…Now including publicity

Friday, November 30th, 2012

You’ve all heard the song and it is true that the best things in life are FREE but now that old adage has been updated to include publicity. Yep, you heard me right, publicity. How much time do you spend each year trying to get exposure for your company or products using regular marketing channels just to get lost in the minutiae that is the internet? How would you like to get some of that much needed exposure, possibly even in national media like ABC and AP? Well…wait for it…NOW YOU CAN!

You may not be the inventor of the exciting new Miracle Wrench that tightens bolts, loosens bolts and even takes bolts all the way off. And in all likelihood you will not get your very own nuclear submarine absolutely FREE so that you can be the first person on your block to Level Cleveland. What you can do though is Help A Reporter Out and possibly help yourself out at the same time. So how can you make those kind of connections, you ask? Easy! All you need to do is become a  HARO Hero.

So what exactly is HARO and how do you become a hero? HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and it is the easiest way to FREE publicity. HARO is a new type of social media service that helps pair reporters with sources for their stories and it is free for everyone involved. All you have to do is follow these three steps:

  1. Visit HARO’s site and register to become a source.
  2. Watch for emails for PR opportunities that are sent out three times a day.
  3. Respond to inquiries that you feel will benefit from your insights on the subject.

If your response fits the need you will be contacted by the reporter to follow up and you could find yourself with anything from some additional search engine links for contribution to a bloggers post all the way up to some national exposure for your expertise on a certain subject. You could be one of many sources on a subject or you could find yourself as the subject of the article altogether like our sister company Virtual Technique did when it responded to questions about hiring a bookkeeper.

You may have heard that “The Truth is Out There”, you just may not have realized that you could be the source. So put your knowledge to work to Help a Reporter Out and who knows you may find yourself with a whole new pool of potential clients.

Spicing up your boring website text

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Differentiation is always at the forefront of marketers minds but until recently the only way that could be done on the web (outside of stellar content that everyone wants to read) was through the use of flashy designs and creating graphics for all of the headings you wanted to use your logo font. Sure the @font-face CSS tag was added to the CSS2 spec back in the late 90’s but only in the last few years have all of the major browsers begun supporting it.

So what does that mean exactly, you ask? It means that you might finally be able to escape the same old boring Times, Arial, Georgia, Helvetica loop you have been stuck in since 1993 without having a degree in graphic design. Or if you are happy with your existing San-Serif choice, perhaps you will just be freed up to bring some Holiday Cheer to your otherwise dreary website.

There are a great many ways to achieve this new level of style but for the purposes of this post I will stick with the two easiest:

@font-face

As I stated above, this CSS tag has been available since the late 90’s and is the most basic implementation. All you do is upload the necessary font files to your web server and then link to them using the appropriate CSS code. But don’t go wild and upload all of the fonts on your system thinking that you will make a tapestry of crazy on your site because most fonts are NOT licensed for this type of public distribution. As time goes on, more and more will open up but be very careful before implementing this method.

So how do you know what fonts you can use? Well, to be safe, stick to sites like this one when looking to trick out your site using this method..

 

Google Web Fonts

Like with everything else you need on the web, Google is there for you again with their Web Fonts API. With hundreds of fonts to choose from and simple search features Google does it for you with probably the easiest method for implementing this new found font freedom on your boring site. They even go so far as to give you the code you need to simply copy and paste into your style sheets and pages. What could be simpler?

Don’t believe me? Check it out for your self.

As with everything there are pros and cons to any method you choose. Most methods for spicing up your fonts differ slightly in the pros but the main con is the same for them all: limited selection. But don’t let that dampen your creativity! As long as you have a little time and some patience, chances are you will find either the exact font you want or something close enough for government work to get the intended result.

 

Marketing success for the summer or making hay while the sun shines

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Most small businesses ebb and flow with the seasons and summer more often than not is one of those slower times. The kids are out of school, vacations loom and clients are slower to respond even when they are very anxious to get something completed. During these times it is important not to lose focus. Don’t get me wrong, you deserve a break and should take some time to smell the roses but think of how much easier your life will be the rest of the year of you take a little of this time surplus and apply it to some of the housekeeping things you have been forced to ignore? So what can you do now that will make your life easier the rest of the year?

  1. Editorial Calendar
    As you know, regular site/social media updates are the cornerstone of any SEO success. I know you have your blog setup and have been dazzling everyone with the shininess of the pearls you have been putting on display but how much easier would it be for you if you had a calendar to rely on for your blogging, newsletter, social media and website update topics? Take some of the extra time you find yourself with this summer and rather than spending it trying to beat your old paddle-ball record, use it to sit down and come up with an outline of topics to get you though the rest of the year.
  2. Design updates
    If you are thinking about making updates to your identity in the form of design changes for your logo, website, collateral materials or social media themes, now is the time to put those thoughts into action. If you have plans for a new media blitz in the fall, you don’t want to lose valuable time going through a design process when you could already be reaping the rewards. Get the things you need done in process during your slow times so you can take as much time as you need to make sure any graphical updates are exactly what you want rather than rushing the process and accepting an inferior product because your are in a hurry to get things out the door.
  3. Blogging
    Now that you have your editorial calendar, why not take a little of this time to go ahead and bang out some of those posts? If you are using something like WordPress for your blog, you can go in and write as many posts as you like and schedule them to go live over time. How great would that be to be going into fall with posts queued up to run at regular intervals without a thought. Just fill up that marketing crock pot and let it run. And who knows, you might find some other marketing uses for your brilliant prose along the way.

Summer is finally here but fall is right around the corner so make sure to make the most of your summer and smooth out some of the business wrinkles for the rest of the year.

Compatibility…it’s not always about online dating…

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Most of the time when people hear the word “Compatibility” they immediately think online dating but when it comes to your online presence you need to think about more than just viewing your matches for free this weekend. When it comes to compatibility and your website the kind that should be forefront in your mind is more of the browser variety.

You might not realize this, but not everyone is using the exact same browser as you do when you go online to admire your latest dispatch of inspiration to the masses. I know what you are thinking “So what? Aren’t all browsers the same!”. Were that only true the world would be a much more lovely place for web developers but alas it is not the case. Not all browsers are created equal but how different could they be, right? Well that depends on your website design. In some cases you will see little or no difference while in others it could be night and day so it is important to make sure that you know how your site looks in other browsers.

Just because your system came with IE installed does not mean that is the case for everyone on the net. If you use a professional to build your site, this is usually part of their regular process but even still it is a good idea to see for yourself. Every browser renders slightly differently. Firefox, Safari and Chrome are very similar but not always exact and IE (the bane of most designers existence) although it has gotten better in recent versions, can still have some significant differences. The last thing you will want is for site goers to think your site was inspired by Picasso because it was not tested and in their browser it looks like some cubist version of the reality you thought you were showing.

So how can you test it? Well, that is probably one of the easiest things you can do on your own where your site is concerned. All major browsers are free to download and most can co-exist in peace on your machine, the notable difference being different flavors of IE (and yes from version to version of IE you can see major differences but the most recent version will do the trick for our purposes). The process is simple (even old hat if you are used to downloading and installing applications for the internet). The steps are simple:

  1. Download
  2. Install
  3. Test

Easy, right? Now all you need are the links to get started so here they are in order of their market share:

As you can see IE owns the lions share of the market with Firefox and Chrome neck and neck for a distant second and Safari and Opera rounding out the top five. So what does this tell you? You need to make sure your site works in IE first and foremost but at a minimum you also need to make sure that Firefox and Chrome are given due consideration. Safari can be more of an afterthought and opera only for really hardcore Type “A”‘s out there.

Although it seems like a simple thing, cross browser compatibility can be a major issue when it comes to website usability so what are you waiting for? Depending on your internet connection, the download and install of the applications should not take very much time and all you will need to know to use them is your website address. Who knows, after your testing is done, you may just decide you prefer a different board for your future web surfing outings.

Pinterest for business, who knew?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The latest social media craze sweeping the net is Pinterest but what everyone really wants to know is “Can I Use it for Business?” and the answer is, strangely enough,  yes.  For those that don’t know, Pinterest is a new social media platform where users create virtual bulletin boards of images that interest them. The images can either be uploaded or pulled in from other sites on the net. When a new image is added it is known as “Pinning” and boards can be shared so others can “Re-Pin” things of yours that they find interesting. Although it seems a bit unorthodox to many business models, just about any business can benefit from using Pinterest, they just have to be willing (as with most things) to conform their marketing to fit the medium. So how can you use Pinterest for your business? Here are three easy ways

  1. Add a Catalog/portfolioAs always it is best to begin with the most obvious. If you already have images that represent your products or services, you are half way there. All you need to do is create a board (or boards if you have many categories of things) and start pinning. You can either upload images from your offline archives or pin directly from images you already have online. Then you just add a description to each image.
  2. Create Special Offers 

    A step up from a simple catalog but an infinitely more interactive option is to use Pinterest to showcase special offers. Good deals will always get re-pinned and it is a great way to spread the word and drive traffic. You can make the offers exclusive to Pinterest so that it is easy to calculate the ROI. Then you can post new offers on a regular basis to keep them coming back for more. People will make your boards a favorite and they will tel their friends to follow you as well.

  3. Have some FunIt is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and a great way for customers and potential customers to get to know your company is by showing them more of who you are. Pin images that describe your corporate culture. You can use original images as well as found art to give your customers and potential customers more of an idea of who you are. Make them part of the team by allowing them to feel they know what you are all about. It is also a great way to bring in potential customers that have shared interests because they will your re-pin your images based on that interest and then they might dig a little deeper to see what else you might have and discover what your company has to offer. You can also re-pin from other people’s boards to build this up as another way to get their attention.

These are but a few of  the many ways to dip your toes into the deep waters of Pinterest. As with any social media venture it will take regular updates to make the most of it but as you devote a little time to it, you will find more and more ways to connect with those potential customers and have a little fun while you are at it.

 

What is a bounce rate and how do I reduce mine?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

When marketers hear about bounce rates the first thing they think (like the rest of us) is about the college paddle-ball championships in which they carried their intramural team to victory when they kept their cool while their opponent sneezed at the crucial moment of a heated bounce-off . Once they come out of their reverie they then think of email but that is not the only kind or worse kind of bounce rate you can run across. Nay, the worst kind of bounce rate is the one that occurs with most site owners blissfully unaware. The bounce rate I am talking about is for your website. Now, I know what you are thinking, “But I am not sending my website anywhere, how can it bounce?”. Well. It is not THAT kind of bounce. When someone talks about website bounces, they are not talking about emails and they are definitely not talking about rubber balls; unfortunately they are referring to site visitors. Specifically ones that that make their way to your site and then leave from the same page they entered without going any deeper into the gooey deliciousness of your well crafted content.

So what can you do to mitigate this paddle-ball like nature? The best way is to try to avoid some of the barriers to entry that site owners sometimes unknowingly include in their site.

  1. Design & Layout
    The first place to look for potential issues is your site design. One of the biggest offenders can be in the use of media. I am not saying that you should not use media, in fact it is just the opposite. As I have stated in other posts, media (like greed apparently) is good. It should just be applied judiciously. You would not make a meal of Twinkies (at least not on a regular basis) and that same rule applies to your site. Avoid using gratuitous animation, automatic pop-ups and under no circumstances should you have media with an audio component play automatically when the site is loaded. A lot of it sounds good in theory but in these situations it is always best to harken back to that first law of web design: First, Do NOT Annoy!. Keep your site focused and that will help your visitors focus on why they are there. Stay away from things that could be at very least a distraction or at most a full on deterrent to nestling in and basking in the Cool that is your site.
  2. Content & Navigation
    The next places to look are your content and navigation. It should not require and advanced degree for people to find what they need. The ability for users to find their way around  quickly and easily is one of the most important elements of any website. If a user cannot find what they are looking for, they leave. It is as simple as that. The easier you make it for people to find what they want, the more useful your site will become. But finding it is not enough. If you want to reduce those bounce rates you also need to make it easier to comprehend as well. The content itself needs to be clear, concise and valuable. Marketing speak for the sake of hearing your self talk or technical jargon that does not mean anything to anyone outside your industry does not do anything for anyone. And forcing someone to read a hundred paragraphs on the technical specifications for flushing a toilet when the words “press lever” will do, will likely lead to that unwanted rubbery response you are trying to avoid. The easier you make it to read and understand, the faster they will get the point and the more likely that they will slip unknowingly into the comfy chair of your brilliant content without need of the Spanish Inquisition (whether or not they expect it).
  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Probably the biggest contributors to a sites bounce rate are irrelevant search engine rankings. I know what you are thinking, “There is no such thing as a BAD search engine ranking!”, but that is not necessarily true. As you may have remembered while putting on your deodorant this morning, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. It does you absolutely no good to rank for keywords that are not relevant to the content on your site. Sure you might grab a good spot in some searches but by trying to rank for unrelated keywords you could be hurting yourself in more ways than one. Not only are you getting a bounce because as soon as someone realizes that your site does not have the content they are looking for  they leave but you are also creating a negative first impression with a potential customer.  So when you pop-up later in a search that actually does makes sense, you might get skipped because all they remember that your site was not relevant. So the best way to avoid this is to make sure your site is optimized for the most relevant keywords possible.

No matter what you do, some bounces will always occur whether it is a mis-clicked link, an erroneous URL or just someone playing around in their browser. All you can do is optimize your site to mitigate any real and consistent bounces. Using a professional designer from the start can help avoid common pitfalls but even if your site is already up and running and is guilty of some of the outlined offenses, you can always go back and take a lesson from the Beatles and take that sad song and make it better…

 

Using linked in as part of your social media strategy

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

To most people LinkedIn is just part of the social media landscape but in this location you will find not only your customers and prospects but employees and competitors as well all interconnected in a web of possibilities. And while the business uses of other social networks are still being explored, here you have one whose original purpose was business networking. With over 100 million plus users in over 200 countries (and getting a new member about every second) there are exponential networking capabilities but how can you make the most of your involvement in this business networking behemoth? It is all about the basics.

Optimize:
Fully optimize your profile. I know it sounds simple but those little nagging completion meters are there to help you. The more information you provide the easier you are going to be to find by potential clients. And don’t just go through the motions to get to that ever elusive 100% mark, make it count.

  • Don’ Bury the Lead
    Make the info you provide work for you starting with a strong summary-headline. Think of it like keyword optimization for your website. What is the best way to describe yourself for a search. Are you a Graphic Designer or are you an Atlanta Logo Designer. Once term will pull you up with about a million other people while the other significantly narrows the field
  • Show them what you can do
    Make sure to fill out your areas of expertise. You never know what skills a person might be looking for and the more well-rounded you are for the job, the better.
  • Give them a Call to action
    Make sure they can contact you. It does not do you any good to show up in all of the searches if people cannot find a way to connect with you once they determine you are the right person for the job. You need to strike while the iron is hot so don’t give it time to cool down while they are trying to figure out the best way to make your brilliance part of their project.
  • Let your music be heard
    Request recommendations them from connections you have done business with in the past. Testimonials from satisfied clients or praise from former co-workers can go a long way toward sealing the deal. Anyone can “enhance” their resume to sound better on paper but it is a whole different story when potential clients can hear people singing from the mountain tops about their amazing experience working with you.

Connect:
Making connections is what it is all about but it is more than just names on a list. You need to interact to make the most of the medium.

  • Lock and Load
    Add connections from your address book or search people out based on past work history. You have to start building your connections at home before you can expect to be found. And once you make your base connections you can expand your web by reaching out to people they may know. And then they’ll tell two fronds and so on and so on and so on.
  • Get Onboard
    And if you are a business owner, get your employees involved and leverage their connections as well because you never know where you might find that next project.
  • Follow up
    Keeping top of mind with people only requires you to keep your eyes open. Listen to what your connections are saying and drop a quick note congratulating them on recent promotions or other events notated in their LinkedIn account. It will start a dialog that will make you more memorable.

Socialize:
Get your other social networking involved to help spread the word.

  • Twitter
    Integrate your twitter feed into your profile to let people see what you are putting out there and give them an opportunity to follow your musings on a regular basis.
  • Blog
    Integrate your blog as well (if you have one) so people get all the info they need about your and what you offer in one place. Give them more than they bargained for and take advantage of the captive audience to dazzle them with your thought leading brilliance.
  • Trip-It
    If you travel a lot for business set yourself up on Trip-It so you can easily make sure people know where you are going and how long you will be there. That way you can kill two birds with once stone by setting up meetings with new potential clients while you are in the area.

Contribute:
As with any social network, what you get out of it largely depends on what you put into it so make a contribution.

  • Say it don’t spray it
    Use updates to give useful info, not just propaganda. Become a resource for people looking for your expertise. Best case you can become a thought leader on certain subjects and worst case you can provide information that can be a tipping point for determining whether or not your get a call. Either way you can never go wrong with providing useful information.
  • Get in with the In Crowd
    You will find a great many groups in Linked-In that cover a multitude of topics from Alumni associations to highly segments industry specific cabals. Find a group that makes sense for you and join. But don’t just join, in order to make the most of this type of interaction you need to participate. Join the conversation. Give your two cents and who knows you might just strike up a conversation with someone who is looking for you.
  • Sing for Your Supper
    The recommendation train runs both ways. Don’t be stingy! Make sure you are helping your connections the way they are helping you. And if you are still felling a little bit selfish,  keep in ind that writing recommendations can be just as useful as getting them yourself. What you say about working with other people says as much or more than the what others say about you. Remember, you never know what circuitous route a connection may take on its way to you. Someone could be looking for something completely different, read a recommendation you posted and realize that what they really need is a person like you for a totally unrelated project.

Do the Math
Connections through liked-in are like playing 6-degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. You start out knowing a few people in the far-flung reaches of the world and the next thing you know the Bacon Brothers are playing for your next birthday party. Lets put it in perspective. I only have 141 direct connections through linked-in but those 141 connections actually balloon up to a potential 36,600 connections and that is only going a few layers deep. Just think how many that would be if I actually had to go more than 2 degrees to get to Kevin Bacon? Going all six would yield be a crazy number of connections.

The bottom line is that there is too much business potential to ignore so get it in gear, optimize your account, load those contacts and start some business conversations.

 

Maximizing your website’s mobile audience

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Recent data suggests that 50% of website page views are now being made on mobile devices. I know what you are thinking, “So what, most people doing these searches have smart phones and aren’t they designed to see everything as If you were on your home computer?”. Unfortunately the simple answer is both yes and no. Not so simple, right. Let me ‘splain’… No it’s too much, let me sum up. Yes, smart phones are designed to have most of the internet functionality as your desktop computer. But at the same time, the functionality of your smart phone is more limited in general and more importantly the screen size is significantly smaller than your desktop.

These limitations coupled with the fact that your site is decked out with a brilliant layout, graphics and possibly animation means that when a potential client attempts to view your site from their phone, after hearing from a friend how amazing your product/service actually is, they might not be able to make any sense of what they are seeing.

With all of that in mind you can begin to see why it is important to make sure your customer facing pages are as mobile friendly as possible. So the obvious question becomes, “How do I do this?”. Well, I am glad you asked because otherwise this post would be nothing more than just another self-indulgent rant.

To answer your so brilliantly posed question, as with everything else, there are many ways of doing this but for the purposes of this brain dump we will boil it down to its simplest terms and cover the main two:

  1. Separate Mobile Site
    A separate mobile site is pretty self-explanatory. You create a completely different version of your site specifically for mobile devices. This can be done as simply as a text only HTML version of the site, a more complex version that also includes some graphics or as elaborately as fully customized version of the site design that is modified for a smaller screen. The first two ways can potentially be done without a great deal of technical knowledge (even by those hanging on to old school Static HTML sites) but the latter will almost certainly require the skills of a professional for either the graphics modification and/or specialized coding.
  2. Specialized CSS
    A Specialized CSS or Cascading Style Sheet — which is just a fancy name for a list of instructions for how things are to be displayed on your pages — is usually the weapon of choice for most entrepreneurs because depending on how your site was created, it can be the simplest to implement and for more daring site owners, something that they can handle themselves. The best part of doing things this way is that it is scalable with your site. Meaning no matter what content updates or changes you make to the main site, the same changes will automatically be available on your mobile site. This is because rather than redirecting users to a totally different version of your site, you are simply modifying the instructions for how things are displayed. Rather than an animation, you show a static image and rather than crazy layout art and special effects you simply show the content.

Once you have decided which way to go on your site (and possibly built it)  the next step is to do the Tim Gunn and “Make it Work”. Implementation of your mobile site is a little more daunting in general for those non-technical folks out there but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as adding a JavaScript to the header of your pages or as complex as setting up a special dynamic page (.php or .asp) that is used to determine what type of device is viewing the site. But fear not, either way you decide to go there are many examples available across the net for you to download and integrate in relatively short order. And for those of you lucky enough to be using platforms like WordPress, there are plugins available to take all of the guesswork out of either option. Some more advanced plugins allow you to create specialized templates that effectively create a totally separate site while others will  simply serve up a Jenny Craig version of your content with the click of a button.

As with most things the simplest option is usually the best but simplicity is relative. If you have a really complex site, it might make sense to create a custom mobile version of your site but for most entrepreneurs the simple modification of the way existing content is displayed is all that is needed to serve the purpose.

No matter which way you decide to go the needs of your audience should trump anything that you think or heard you should be doing. I know, I know, you are thinking, “Well that is kind of cryptic, so what exactly does that mean?”. It just means that you should  make sure to always include a link to the full version of your site in any mobile version because there is nothing more irritating than being redirected to a stripped down version of the info you are looking for when you have the desire and capability to view things in all of their glory.

So why are you still hanging around on my blog? Get to it. Get started making your site more mobile friendly and make sure you keep your share of that 50%.

 

Enhancing client interactions through social media promotions

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Most every business these days have finally broken down and entered the social media arena in one way or another but just setting up an account is not enough to truly make the medium work for you. Sure, setting up the accounts alone can help you with SEO initially because every footprint you make in the name of your company can have a positive impact in that area but that is a short-lived benefit at best of you don’t commit. The only way to really engage clients and potential clients in this brave new world is through regular updates. These updates can take a great many forms from syndicated blog postings for outlets like Facebook or simple re-tweeting of relevant information on Twitter but one of the most effective ways of interacting is through the old school use of a simple promotion.

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Promotion

Historically promotions were done in the form of a drawing. Clients and potential clients would need to go to a physical location in order to put in their entry and this was a great way to not only bring in new potential clients and reconnect with existing clients but it offered the opportunity to actually speak with the people involved. Unfortunately as things evolved into direct mail and then to email, this interactive component was lost for the most part and participation waned. Enter Social Media. The use of social media in business is working to bring some of the interactivity of yore back to the silicone landscape of today’s hermit rich environment. True, you still may not physically see the client or potential client (at least initially) but it is allowing an actual conversation to begin rather than the unidirectional neediness that businesses were directing into the cyberspace ether.

Make it Work!

I can see some nodding heads. You are seeing the potential but you are not sure how to do the Tim Gunn and Make it Work. Well, that can be a little more tricky because what works for one type of business might not work for another but in general contests are pretty universal. Contests are the oldest marketing trick in the book because they work. You set up a scenario, ask people to enter and they can potentially win a prize. It is as simple as that. And they work because the only thing you want to get out of it is the interaction with the people who participate.

A Shamelessly Self-Serving Example

As an example of how I interact with my clients each year, I give you the 12 Days of Mas Chris. This is a contest that was born out of a friend of mine wanting me to post a picture of myself on Facebook wearing a Santa hat. Seems like a rather innocuous request but as with everything else in my life, I took it to the extreme and posted multiple. They were so well received by friends and clients that I began the 12 Days of Mas Chris in which I would post a new photo of myself in a different Santa/Holiday hat each day for twelve days (And from there it evolved to be me also being inserted into different TV or Movie scenes wearing a holiday hat).

After all 12 days have been posted, people are able to vote on their favorite photo once a day for 5-7 days. I do a first, second and third place drawing from the entries and award prizes to the lucky few. In this case I give first place $50 toward any upcoming work, second place $25 toward upcoming work and third place a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Along the way clients comment on the photos and it allows me the opportunity to interact even if I am not currently doing any work for them.

The contest is so successful that I have clients asking when it is going to start because they enjoy my ridiculous photos almost as much as driving around their local neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights and have incorporated the 12 Days of Mas Chris into their annual Christmas traditions.

I enjoy creating the photos almost as much as clients and friends seem to enjoy seeing them each year and I get the added benefit of the additional interaction so it is a Win/Win/Win.

The Moral

The moral of the story is that no matter what you decide to do whether it is a simple concept or a very complex one, running promotions through your social media outlets can have a very positive impact on your customer relationships and you might just have a little fun along the way.