safeway-bakeryLike many of you, I share bad customer experience stories with friends and family. After all, word-of-mouth counts a lot these days and no brand wants bad reviews.

I also like sharing customer experience redemption stories, too, and this one today is just that.  Continue reading

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Image Source: ShutterStock.com

Image Source: ShutterStock.com

Guest post by Hilary Loren Smith

In today’s Internet-saturated society, everyone seems to be engaged with their hand-held devices, whether they are texting or tweeting, blogging and posting, or simply surfing the web. Speaking of surfing, let’s say we were having a big beach party, can we get all the cool kids out there riding those online swells talking about our gig?

That is the concept behind cranking up your content and blasting it out over the Internet. With the help of your new web buddies, your event could be the biggest thing to hit the sand since the Beach Boys. If you can get them stoked about your party, they will be chatting up a storm and promoting it for you. Here are three ways to get your material ripping online:

1. Surf’s Up! (Or, when is it the best time to hit the waves?)

Surfers seem to have a sixth sense about which wave will turn into a huge swell and when those waves are up. That’s when there are countless numbers of them out there hanging ten.

The same goes when it is “happy hour” online with the most traffic. Forbes magazine released these stats that show when the most sharing happens on social networking sites:  Continue reading

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Guest post by Cameron Johnson

social-media-marketingAs the influence of social media on marketing continues to grow, it is has become clear that businesses need comprehensive strategies for attracting social media followers. The problem for many business owners is that they have no idea where to start.

Why is a social media marketing plan necessary?

Studies have shown that roughly a third of consumers use social media to help them make purchasing decisions. They find it helpful for finding new brands and products. A business will need more than just a social media presence to be successful in this arena, an effective social media marketing plan will also be necessary.

When coming up with a social media marketing plan, it’s best to make it focused and precise – not so broad that its objective becomes unreachable. Despite being focused, it should still manage to cover all of the bases. Here are some elements you can include when formulating your social media marketing strategy:  Continue reading

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overt-linkedin-messagesIf you’ve been reading my blog in the past, you may remember that I have a pet peeve for overt LinkedIn promotional messages from people I don’t know. Well, I finally figured out how to deal with the ones I receive on a daily basis.

A while back, I wrote this post: Shame on You if You Send Overt Promotions on LinkedIn. It lays out exactly how I feel about pitching people through LinkedIn without building relationships first.

So, here’s what I do to save time and get my point across:  Continue reading

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Guest post by Lynsey Bowen

Colorful shoelaces knotIf we get down to what marketing is about, it’s basically real estate. Think of the human brain as having some areas on it labelled, “This space for rent.” You don’t buy that space with a mortgage, though. Rather, you buy that space with an idea.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “ideavirus,” it’s an idea that spreads like a virus. A good idea doesn’t cut it. Putting engine cleaner in your tank is a good idea, but how many people do it? Eating healthy is a good idea, but last we checked, there are more McDonald’s in the U.S. than there are vegetarian restaurants.

With a big marketing budget, you can buy a lot of ad space and hire brilliant creatives whose names alone will boost your brand, even if their ads are lousy. But, when it comes to developing an idea that has sharability built right into it, you and McDonald’s are beginning at the same starting line.

Now, implementing those ideas, on the other hand… well, on that level, you’ve got to be very creative to make up for a lack of money. Luckily, you do have some options. Here are some ideas:

Be an Aggressive Stat-Checker

Develop a zero tolerance policy for ads that just aren’t working. To a certain extent, this may feel like the efficiency-driven manic number crunching that dominates corporate culture, but you can think about changing how people do business when you make your second million.

Become a Big Fish in a Small Pond

Downsize what you do. Expand into a niche, not beyond it, and you’ll be able to focus on a much more concentrated percentage of the population – people who are already interested in what you’re selling. Pre-qualify your prospects and don’t waste time and money advertising to people who are outside your area of interest.

Make DIY Part of Your Brand

So you can’t afford professional talent. One option is to buy cheap, corny-looking stock photos and pay someone in another country a buck an hour to produce something that will look like your big-money competitors, only not as good. Or, you can do it yourself and allow the handmade feel to be a part of your brand.

Note: this works better for some businesses than others. iPhone-snapped photos might feel quaint and fun for a catalog selling hand-knit sweaters and hats, but they might not inspire confidence at a law firm.

Don’t Overextend

When you overextend, when you buy more ad space than you can afford, you wind up with late fees and fines that devour your ad budget. Buy less than you can afford, and you’ll always be able to pay your vendors on time.

Hashtaggin

Hashtags have gotten a bad name lately, as they’re a way for lazy people to pretend to campaign for social change. For an advertiser though, they’re golden. Rewarding your customers with discounts, freebies and special offers when they hashtag your brand is a great way to get them to spread the word. You can ask for customer referrals, but people are more likely to help out if they feel there’s something in it for them.

A common mistake when it comes to marketing: entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners often think “If only I had the right exposure, I could really blow up.” Exposure isn’t the only thing standing between you and greater success. Before you can take that “for rent” sign down from prospects’ minds, you need something that they will respond to, something that they will gladly allot that space to.

In short, more exposure can be a big help, but before you start worrying about your marketing budget, consider whether or not that exposure will help.

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lynsey-bowenLynsey Bowen works as a branding and marketing consultant for connectmyapps.com. She has a keen interest in Internet marketing, SEO, web design, and graphic design.

 

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