Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

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.


How can I do an Email Newsletter, let me count the ways…

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

One of the most popular methods of building an email marketing database is through subscriptions to an email newsletter. They are a great way to connect with new potential customers but how do you get started with one? Once the decision is made, you can get things going in pretty short order, but as with most things you need a good recipe to get things just right. And the best way to ensure a tasty dish, as I may have mentioned in previous posts, is to think it through before you start. So whats to think about, right? You want to increase your email database and what you have to say is definitely monumentally important to anyone with half a brain so you should just make it happen, right? Well, not necessarily. If you take a little time to think it through before you start, you can make your first endeavor into the world of email marketing a much more successful one.

So let’s think it through a bit:

I know you want ti increase your email database, but is that the only purpose behind your need to shower unsuspecting readers with your thought-provoking prose? Think about your ultimate goal in adding to your email database. Is it to drive traffic to your website, increase sales for specific products, interest potential attendees in upcoming events or to simply a way to stay connected with your client base by informing them of what is new and happening with your company?

What type of content do you want to present? Just because you have a good idea for an article or two in the inaugural issue does not mean your newsletter will have legs. Make sure that the concept behind the newsletter is scalable enough to include as yet undetermined topics for your concept. You don’t want to develop a newsletter entirely around the “pitfalls of baking 3″ diameter apple tarts during the winter solstice” when a slightly broader topic like “3” tarts” will allow you the fluidity needed to keep your readers interested with a broader range of topics throughout the year.

How do you want your newsletter to be read? It seems like a simple enough questions but it is one that can have a great impact on how your particular brand of literary brilliance is received. There are a number of ways to format a newsletter, all of which are good, but what works best for you is entirely dependent on the content you plan to provide. The two most common types are the All-in-one and the click-through.

The all-in-one type brings all of the content of the newsletter right to your subscribers inbox. They allow the subscriber to easily digest the information for quick action.These work very well for company announcements, affiliate sales and newsletters with fewer articles or shorter content. The advantage of these is they are entirely encapsulated so they are easy to read on the go with various wireless devices.

Click through
The click-through type of newsletter is one that provides a summary of each article with a link to continue reading. This type of newsletter generally has both an email and website component It is more suited to newsletters with a great deal of technical content, a large numbers of topics or longer more in-depth articles. Although it can be more time-consuming to maintain, this type of newsletter allows for additional benefits outside of simply bolstering your email database. With this type of newsletter you are driving traffic to your website with each click and once they are finished reading your newsletter, they might decide to stick around and see what else you have to offer at that moment in time. It also allows for the possibility of both broad and targeted advertising based on topic rather than just the broad type of advertising that the all-in-one might deliver.

Now that you have done your due diligence: you know your purpose, you have a scalable idea for ongoing content and your format is set, it is time to get busy. Your next steps are to come up with a catchy title, some awesome design and a way to make it go.

Catchy title – Check! Forget the marketing angle, the brilliant name you came up with is probably the whole reason you decided to do the newsletter in the first place, right? 🙂

Awesome design – Check! You know a kick’n designer that can make that brilliant title sing. All you have to do is give him the name and the next great content vehicle is as good as done! And if you don’t think you need the next great design, that is not a problem either because there are ways of making your newsletter talk even if it in NOT one of the pretty people.

Way to make it go – Uh, oh! How do I do that? Well lucky for you this ain’t your mama’s content distribution method. There are a great many ways to give your vehicle wings and none of them require jet fuel. If you don’t have a bunch of technology black belts lying around just waiting for you to come in with your next flash to brilliance then you will want to consider using a third-party email provider to deliver your newsletter and more importantly maintain your email database.

There are an ever-increasing number of providers out there to suite this need and the one you go with depends a lot on you. Most have tools and templates for creating simple HTML newsletters (in case you do not feel the need for design ecstasy in your template) but all will help you manage your list. You can find solutions to fit anything from a large enterprise implementations that service lists in the hundreds of thousands (like YesMail, Silverpop and ExactTarget) all the way down to lists of less than a hundred. The trick is to read the features available for the cost and decide what works best for your list and mailing needs. Small businesses can easily find FREE Trials (like AWeber, VerticalResponse, and GetResponse for example) and depending on your list size and mailing requirements FREE forever (like my personal favorite MailChimp). Functionality varies from service to service but they all do a good job of helping you get your word out.

The best part of hosted services is the list maintenance. They allow you to set up your list with boning or preloaded with an existing database. From there they provide you with ways to create subscribe forms that can be used in your online marketing efforts, auto responders that can be used to carry a link to a free gift and all the while they handle any unsubscribes that come through to make sure that you stay CAN-SPAM compliant.

After the due diligence for your new newsletter us done, make sure to check out some of these email providers to see what works best for you needs:

Creating Effective Marketing Collateral

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The trick to creating truly effective marketing materials is finding the right balance between form and function. As I have stated before, content is king but great content is useless if you don’t have anyone reading it. Enter Content’s flamboyant cousin, Design. Good design can have as much of an impact on the bottom line as content because the flash of a great design, like a carnival barker, is really what brings in the crowd.

So what can you do to make sure what you are creating is both visually and substantively powerful?

The 5 C’s of powerful marketing materials

  1. Clear Headline – Think about it, you are standing in line at the grocery store, you glance over at the magazine rack and see one headline that says “Cow has Human Baby” and one next to it that says “Beige is the new Off White” which do you gravitate toward? Unless you are planning on auditioning for the next edition of Project runway, you will likely be more intrigued by the former. Although this may not be a good example of a brochure headline, it illustrates the point that the right headline can make the sale.  A clear and catchy headline can be the difference between someone stopping to read your material and moving on to the next more “off white” marketing piece in the rack. Make sure your headline is clear and catchy. Make people want to read more.
  2. Clean Layout – A good layout bolsters that great headline and helps direct your prospects eye. It leads them through the content and helps them digest the material the way you want them to. Using short paragraphs that are broken up by larger (and sometimes colorful), informative headings allows your reader to get the point even if they only have time to scan the material. Good layout maximizes the efficacy of your content.
  3. Clever Graphics – There really is something to the old adage “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”. Maximize your exposure with graphics that help to define the information you are trying to get across or at very least helps draw the reader further into the content you have worked so hard to develop. A nice graphic presentation can draw as much attention as the aforementioned “Cow has human baby” headline. Make the most of the little time you have and give those visual learners out there something to absorb. Whether you use drawings, maps, or photos as long as they help illustrate your products benefits, visuals can help tell the story when they don’t have time for the words.
  4. Call to Action – One place many marketers fall short on their materials is in the lack of an effective call to action. No matter how savvy your prospect base is, when you are marketing to them, they are sheep and you are the little pig asking them to kindly move along. Don’t be afraid to be forceful. They are looking to you for guidance so don’t disappoint. Make sure to tell them what they should do next. Click Now, Call Today or whatever is appropriate for your product or service. If you don’t tell them, how can you expect them to do what you want them to do?
  5. Contact – Don’t forget to tell them who you are. You got their attention, you have directed through the information, you have stunned them with your graphics and you told them what to do. Make sure they know who you are. Always include your branding and multiple ways to get in contact with you. You need to ensure that you don’t blow the excitement generated with your awesome graphics and brilliant prose.

Make a Memory
The bottom line for any type of marketing material is usefulness. The goal should be to create something that clients will want to hold onto. They might not be ready to purchase immediately but if you find the right balance between content and design, they will hold onto your materials (or bookmark your site) until they are ready and when that time comes you will be their first contact.

5 things to consider when creating marketing materials

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Whether you are creating a website, a brochure or a full on ad campaign there are a number of things that need to be considered before starting the process. Considerations vary depending on the type of marketing you are doing but some things stay the same.

  1. Know Your Audience. You have to know your ideal customer in order to effectively communicate with them. Putting yourself in their place will go a long way toward developing the type of relationship you want.
  2. Know Your Materials. The approach you take when putting together a particular type of marketing material or campaign will vary depending on what you are doing. The content that goes into an ad campaign is much different form that of a brochure. Make sure you have a complete understanding of the medium before you start so you can properly organize your selling points to maximize the effect on your indented audience.
  3. Know Your Audience. I can’t stress this enough. Stay away from jargon or any kind of industry specific language that may distance you from your customers. The more you know about your intended audience, the more effective your communications will be no matter what types of material you decide create.
  4. Know Yourself. Know your products and services inside and out. Be thorough in the information you give to prospects and above all make it meaningful. If the content of your brochure, ad, mailer, etc is not valuable to your target audience, your materials will quickly find their way to the recycle bin or worse, the shredder.
  5. Know Your Audience. I may have mentioned this one before but I thought I would mention it again because too many companies produce materials that are really good if you already know all there is to know about their product or service but they are not quite as meaningful if you are not in with the in-crowd. Knowing your audience well allows them to be let in on the joke and gets you one step closer to your goal…a sale.

Keeping these things in mind as you begin to develop your marketing plan will keep you on the right track and hopefully help you begin to build the types of relationships you are looking to build with your customers.

I need to create some marketing materials, but what is the best option for me?

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

When it comes to marketing materials there are a great many things you can choose from to get your message out to the masses, the most popular of which is a website, but we are talking about offline materials here. So what to create?

In order to determine the best type of collateral for you, you first need to decide the primary function of the piece. Is it something for use strictly on sales calls, is it something that you want your clients to come to on their own or are you trying to reach out to cold sales prospects? The answers to questions like these will help determine the format of your material and that format will help determine the content.

There are several types collateral materials, here are five of the most popular:

A standard brochure or leave behind as they are sometimes called are something that you would take with you on a sales call. These materials usually contain an overview of your products or services and generally summarize your sales pitch for why someone should use your company.

Point of Sale
Point of Sale materials are similar to a display advertisement (magazine type ad) and are generally used to get potential customers attention while they are standing in line or waiting for something. These materials are usually characterized by a catchy headline that draws immediate interest followed by a brief description of the product or service involved. They usually have a strong call to action driving potential customers to request more information or contact a sales representative.

Sales Support
Sales support materials in the form of individual sell sheets are very similar to your standard brochure but while your company brochure has a cross section of your entire business, your support materials will give specific details about a single product or service. these types of materials can also be used as a follow up to direct inquiries and responses from ads, or point of sale materials.

Direct Mail
Direct Mail is used when trying to connect with current or potential customers about a specific product or service. The space is usually more limited for content on these and comes in the form of a post card or other such simple communication. Direct mail can be a very powerful tool if done correctly but it generally allows for much less content so it has to count. Like the Point of Sale pieces, it needs a headline that will capture attention quickly, but in this case it has to be done before it finds its way to the trash. They must have a specific call to action and it is important that responses to this type of material be measurable. Direct mail can often expose you to a much wider audience but response rates for direct mail in general hover between two and five percent so you have to consider your potential return on Investment (ROI) before you even begin.

The last type of materials have become the most popular in recent years, Downloads. While these are technically printed materials, they also have an online component. Most often these resemble a sell sheet but since you are not specifically limited by material cost and deliverability, they are much more flexible. If you have created printed versions of any of the above materials, you should also have a downloadable version to give you additional delivery options such as through email or from your website. These materials are generally in a PDF format for the widest possible distribution. Although they are more flexible and you can create online versions of all existing printed materials, one thing to keep in mind when creating materials that are to be download only is standard computer printer limitations. Download only materials should limit bleeds (unless of course you don’t care how they will look when printed – which they will be) and the best case is to leave 1/2″ border of white around the entire document to ensure that the materials will be displayed the same on every device (by default the printable area for most printers leaves 1/4″ of white space on the top and sides of a sheet while having at least 3/8″ at the bottom for gripping the paper – some go as low as 1/8″ top and sides but the tail is usually the same).

No matter which direction your marketing takes you (and it may just be all of the above), just make sure that as you develop your materials, you gear them toward your intended audience in both style and content to ensure that they are as effective as possible for your specific marketing purpose.

Hey, I’m not a cowboy, so why do I need a brand?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Business owners, no matter their size, are encouraged to develop a logo or some kind of identity when setting out their wares in the open marketplace. No matter whether you offer good or services, are a man or a woman, have 100 employees or are a sole proprietor, you need a way to be identified. Everyone seems to know they need it but many are not sure why.

So what’s a logo good for anyway?

Here are my top 5 reasons to have a logo for your business:


Branding – A logo helps you build your identity as a provider of good or services in the marketplace. By establishing a solid brand you can capture mind share with your target audience and as a result increase your pool of prospective customers.


Differentiation – A well designed logo can help your business stand out from the crowd and even tell your customers something about who you are. In a market filled with businesses offering the same or similar goods and services, a professional logo can be the difference between getting the sale and not.


Memorability – A vast majority of people (about 65%) are considered to be visual learners so they find it easier to forget things that they hear or read. But as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A professionally designed logo can help keep your company top of mind with the majority of your target market.


Commitment – A well thought out logo can be like a college degree on a resume. It shows a commitment to your business that can inspire confidence from would be customers thus increasing the odds of a successful outcome when competing for their business.


Stability – A professionally designed logo can make a business feel more established and quite possibly like a larger operation than you are in reality. In today’s global online marketplace it can give you the opportunity level the playing field against much larger competitors.

Identity is everything to a business but a logo may only one part of a larger picture. If you are in need of a full branding campaign to get your company where it needs to be and have the budget to support it, an Advertising Agency is the best place to start because they can offer end to end service across a variety of media. But if you are just wading into the waters of the marketplace with a new business, there are a number of online companies that can design the perfect logo for your business and augment it with other identity materials for a very reasonable costs and you will never have to leave the comfort of your own computer desk.