Month: December 2013

You Get What You Pay For

time-money-qualityWhoever coined the phrase “you get what you pay for” must have worked in marketing because truer words were never spoken.

As I reflect on the past 12 months, I am struck by the influx of cheap (and I use this word literally)  web designers, online marketing services and social media solutions offered to SMB owners looking, understandably, to save a few bucks on their “marketing” solutions.

These companies seem to swoop in like vultures after their prey, with no regard to meeting the client’s needs, but to make a few bucks and move on!

My warning to all SMB owners is to ask questions of your vendor. Below are some helpful suggestions and tips!

  1. Ask them for references from other businesses you can actually call
  2. Ask them to show you their office so you can see what work is being done there, and by whom
  3. If you can’t see the office, ask if the work is being done in North America
  4. Ask them for a critical path
  5. Ask them if they own the WordPress template they are using for your site
  6. Ask them if they understand your brand – can they explain it to you?
  7. Ask them if they have professional content writers on staff or if it is outsourced and to whom?
  8. Ask them what their process is for writing the site (interview, meetings, etc.)
  9. Ask them if they work with a contract and what the terms of ownership are, specifically cancellation of the contract if for any reason you are not happy with their work

With more and more vendors, yes you will have more choice, but do not make your business decisions, especially marketing ones, based completely on budget.  At the very least, check in with a trusted expert in the field and get their input before signing any contract with an unknown vendor.

Have you ever felt “taken” by a vendor? If so, how have you handled it?  If not, how have you avoided this? Do you have any stories that might be helpful for others?  I look forward to reading your comments below.

How Will You Tackle 2014?

With the year 2014 on the very near horizon, many of us have started thinking about the upcoming business year and deciding how to keep our business competitive and profitable.

As a marketing expert, one of the best ways I find to keep ahead of the cure is to educate myself on what trends are developing and how they might help me reach my target audience.

I’d like to share with you the following infographic as it highlights the increased use of tools like company videos and social media, but also communicates three overarching trends you can implement in your marketing for 2014:

2014-Marketing-Statistics1. Visual marketing is a must: With so much virtual noise competing for everyone’s attention, consumers want to be able to understand your message very quickly, rather than reading through paragraphs of text. And, as large portions of your audience are visual learners, you can safely guess that all of your audience would appreciate being engaged, if not outright entertained, by your marketing.  Think about how you market your business, could you implement promotional videos into your marketing plan and adjust your website to enhance the visual experience?

2. Your audience wants to feel connected to your brand: Consumers don’t just want to know your product, they want to feel like they know YOU as a business and as a brand. If companies with blogs and customer testimonials see larger traffic than counterparts who don’t employ these tactics, an argument could be made that there is a disparity in consumers feeling personally connected to one company’s brand over the competition.

3. Your audience has to be able to find you: People have so much access to information via the internet, smartphones and social media. Many consumers do their homework prior to making any decisions around where to spend their time and money. Your brand has to not only communicate your message very quickly, but the message must live where your future customer will find it. So get listed, get social and be easily accessible.

Do you agree with these trends?  If so, are you already using these tactics, or plan to in the New Year?  How can you leverage them further to reach your audience? I look forward to your comments below.

Emotions are High with Online Advertising

storytelling-marketing-speak

Last month, I shared an infographic about how Cutting through the informational overload with effective storytelling helps SMB owners make an emotional connection to their consumers by making their brand more memorable to your target audience.

One of the takeaways from this infographic was that statistically “everybody wants multimedia”, and multimedia is a great way to tell a story. But as we all know, video can be expensive, particularly when buying air time, so where better to advertise your multimedia… online of course, where you don’t need 30-second spots.

That means there is an opportunity to show more rich advertising. A great example of this type of advertising is the British Airways 5-minute film online film, promoted with shorter-form ads in other media, entitled A Ticket to Visit Mum. The airline had analyzed 1,400 routes and found too many empty seats on its New York-Mumbai offerings. A traditional solution might have been a seat sale, or touting its vegetarian meal. But the airline thought it needed to connect in a deeper way.

It surprised a real-life Indian mother who had a typical story – a son making a life for himself in the U.S. – with a visit from her son. Following the campaign, sales are up roughly 50 per cent on that route.

Research has shown that there is a direct link between the likeability of an advertisement and purchase intent, said Peter Murray, a New York-based consultant and PhD in consumer psychology with expertise in the role of emotion in marketing.  “There is an emotional imprinting, if you will, on the brand,” he said. “…People are attracted to brands we like just as we’re drawn to people we like.”

But there is another big reason why emotional marketing works with our brains: aside from all the sharing, all the online clicks, the most important thing for advertisers is to make consumers remember them.

“Our minds primarily work as storytelling machines,” Dr. Murray said. “We don’t remember things as facts, we remember things as stories. … That’s why emotion is potentially a very powerful vehicle.”

What do you think of this ad?  Can you relate? Have you considered telling your story with an emotional video story? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Online Shopping Goes Mobile – Is Your SMB Ready?

The holiday season often stirs two different emotions in people. On one hand, they enjoy spending time with their families, but on the other hand, shopping at malls and stores becomes a nightmare.

Online shopping has made buying presents much easier, and more Canadians now prefer to buy their presents online. In fact, a recent Ipsos Holiday Statistical Predictions survey showed that 73% of Canadians will shop for presents online this year.

What is more surprising is that Google Canada says 12% of Canadian smartphone users will buy their holiday gifts from their phone, and at least 53% will use a mobile device just to look up information about a purchase.

SMBs need to be aware that the future of shopping is heavily intertwined in the mobile market, and they need to adjust their marketing strategies to include mobile engagement. The infographic below from Mobstac looks at mobile shopping trends, and how smartphone usage is changing the way brands engage consumers during the holiday.

Mobile-Shopping-Trends-Holidays-2013-1126[1]

For SMB owners, this means that the world of mobile can’t be ignored. Just because you don’t feel that your business isn’t large enough to have a mobile website or app, doesn’t mean that your customers won’t be searching for your products or services from their smartphones.

Is your SMB’s website optimized for smartphones? Have you considered an app for your SMB? I look forward to discussing this topic in the comments below.