Web Design

Marketing Resolutions To Keep for 2015!

HNYWith the New Year upon us, most of us are taking the time to reflect on the past year and look towards the next. Everyone will soon be talking about how 2015 will be the best year yet – without it actually having happened yet! But it doesn’t have to be all talk. Here are four resolutions to keep in your marketing plan for the coming year:

  1. Check out the competition: See where your competition is spending their money, you could learn something! Are they focusing on branding themselves? What keywords do they use on their website? Knowing this information will inform your marketing strategy and will help find ways to help you stick out from your competition.
  2. Explore your social platforms: Find what platform works best for you and engages your target audience the most. If your subject matter is image heavy, don’t be disappointed if you’re struggling with success on Twitter – it may not be where your best audience is. Try Instagram instead!
  3. Invest in measurement: Whether you’re looking to launch a national campaign, book an ad in a magazine, or start a blog, make sure that wherever you choose to spend your marketing dollars on has the best ROI.
  4. Increase your curiosity: Never stop trying and testing new campaigns or messaging! You will not only keep your content fresh, but over time you will refine messages to your current target markets, and find new ones. Digital advertising is one of the most flexible mediums for messaging and testing new content. Get out there!

2014 wouldn’t have been the kind of year it was for CreativeWorks without my incredible clients! Thank you. Your businesses inspire me and I look forward to working with you in 2015.

To those of you following this blog or engaging in my discussions on LinkedIn who are not my clients, thank you for your interest and engagement. In 2015, I will continue to bring you hands-on, thought-provoking insights and case studies based on my personal experiences as the owner of a Canadian marketing agency.

On behalf of all of us at CreativeWorks Marketing, I wish you and your family the very best for the holidays and New Year!

Are there any topics you’d like me to write about in 2015? Please share your questions and comments below.

Looking In with Marketing Analysis

ContentImageHandler.ashxWith the last of the fall leaves falling from our trees, this last quarter is one of the best times to review your marketing plan with a tried and true business tool, the SWOT analysis. But let’s focus on a marketing SWOT, which is a great way to review your marketing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It provides insights that can guide you in revisiting your marketing strategy, giving your company a stronger edge in the marketplace.

I have outlined below a few tips on conducting a marketing SWOT analysis, which will enable you to quickly see any missing gaps and revise your resources or plan as needed.

How do I get started with a Marketing SWOT?

Outline or summarize what you have planned for your organization: strategic direction, target audience, what you are known for, sales figures, internal and external resources, and a marketing budget breakdown including web, campaigns, online and media spends.

Strengths:

Here you should make note of significant advertising spends that you may have that your competitors do not, brand name recognition, and a proven, loyal customer base. Also consider your proven brand value as it relates to your customer (engagement of your audience).

Weaknesses:

A company could suffer because it has poor brand recognition or customers regard the company’s products or services as unreliable or overpriced. Weaknesses are important in a SWOT because they suggest how best to position a company against a rival that is stronger overall.

Opportunities:

Here you should illustrate any move your company could make to enhance its position. You might want to list extensive cash resources and financing as a chance for your company to quickly grow market share by spending more money on advertising and promotion. You could also consider any recent expansions or new services/products that could provide a strong future opportunity.

Threats:

These are similar to weaknesses, but show how your company is vulnerable to developments in the marketplace. For example, an established company that has always relied on traditional advertising in its marketing could face threats from new, entrepreneurial companies determined to build market share through social networking.

Once completed, you can review your current strategy against the SWOT and see if there are any gaps that you can address. You can also use the SWOT to help determine how best to use the company’s marketing budget given other factors in the marketplace and the competitive landscape.

Have you ever heard of a marketing SWOT? If so, when was the last time you conducted a one? How did it help you strengthen your marketing strategy? If not, do you see the value in doing a marketing SWOT for your company? I look forward to hearing your stories in the comments below.

What’s Your Biggest Pain Point?

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As marketers, we try to assess client’s needs and results to understand what strategy should be followed to help them achieve their goals.  As success can be measured on various levels including ROI, awareness, reach, leads, and conversions, it is critical to clearly define your needs, so a targeted strategy can be developed.  Needs are usually rooted in what I like to call “pain points”. In this weeks blog, I thought I would take the pulse of the industry and ask you what you feel are biggest pain points facing your business.

As a result of this quick survey, I hope to share with you “pain point” trends and some analysis of what these trends might mean for our industry and your business. The results will only be as strong as your participation, so I hope you’ll participate. What is the top “pain point” facing your business?

  • Financial concerns
  • Employee/personnel issues
  • Marketing ROI
  • Marketing strategy
  • Online marketing (emails, web, ads)
  • Mobile application of business
  • No brand awareness
  • Lack of sales
  • Lack of innovation
  • Other – define:

I look forward to reading the results and sharing the trends in next week’s blog.

Three Strikes and Online Shopping is Out!

Online Shopping

I recently decided to buy a bicycle for my wife online. I really don’t have the time to go to the store and I knew exactly what size, tire rim and features, including colour my wife wanted.  Simple task… or so I thought.

As a Canadian, I started my online experience at Canadian Tire. I found the site easy to navigate, lots of product information and even videos about getting the right fit, but looking through the FAQs, I found they did not have the right size tires on the bike I wanted.  I called the store to speak to a sports representative and I am still waiting for them to call me back… (Strike one.)

Next.  I tried online shopping at Wal-Mart. The American site was far superior to the Canadian site with a lot more brand variety. Not as much product detail, but still easy to navigate, I found they didn’t even carry the brand I wanted. I called the store to double-check and was told they thought they did carry that brand, and I should check online.  I asked them a few questions and was told to come into the store. (Strike two.)

By now, this online saving me time experience has turned into over an hour, but I was not quite ready to give up.  I decide to give up on the large stores and go to a few smaller sporting stores and bike shops.  Needless to say, after invites to come to the store, and a few more phone conversations, I gave up looking online. (Strike three.)

I did what I usually do and drove over to my local Canadian Tire and low and behold they had the bike I was looking for right on the floor display. When I asked the sales representative why the bike was not online, he said, “It isn’t?”

As a marketer, I was surprised at my experience. I thought that large retailers were trying to push online sales, I see consistent online specials and even free delivery for online purchases – so it seems the strategy is to push incentive-based online sales. However my experience was not unique. Frontline personnel do not necessarily know what’s online and it seems the online system does not account for storefront displays or new arrivals.  This raises many questions – was I naive to think my online and in-store experience should be roughly the same? Am I expecting too much from online shopping? I am expecting too much from the store staff?  There is no push online to send me to the store, yet lots of push in the store to push me to online.

Online shopping has existed for many years now and yet I feel it often falls short of my needs and expectations.  As a key deliverable to customers, I expect integration between the store and the website at the very least.  Is this the online strategy (or lack of strategy) or simply our need to ultimately “see for ourselves” and interact with a product, to touch it, feel it and truly experience our product in the store?  Ultimately, online shopping has raised more questions for me than answers.

What has your online shopping experience been?  Do you think online shopping takes away or builds your trust in a brand? I look forward to reading your comments below.

Charming Your Way into Their Hearts

Spring is here (so they say) which means only one thing.

Love is in the air.

Everyone knows the kind of consumer who is in love with their preferred brand. The folks who won’t drink any coffee if it’s not Starbucks or eat ketchup if it’s not Heinz. For many of us, our favourite products and services have become habits ingrained in their daily life, rather than mere brands.

Brands like Starbucks, Heinz, and let’s not forget Apple, have charmed their way into people’s hearts, so what is their secret? How, exactly, do you make your customers fall in love with your brand?

The following infographic will give you some insight into how this relationship is built between businesses and consumers, and some of the traits truly speak to how you treat that special someone in your personal life, in terms of listening, going the extra mile and open communication.

6-ways-to-make-customers-fall-in-love-with-your-brand_52e843e89c070_w1500

 

Did anything surprise you about the statistics you read above? How can you include emotional content in your brand? I look forward to your comments below!

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.

#4 Piece of Advice for SMBs is Tracking Marketing Tactics

measurementContinuing in our series on the results from our online poll a few weeks ago, we asked what the best piece of advice a SMB owner needs to help them grow their business and the fourth highest response was “”track your marketing results”.

Even though it ranked fourth in our poll, I want to highlight just how important this point really is. As a marketer, tracking marketing results is key, and it helps us determine the success of a campaign and also can indicate what decisions we should make in terms of further investment, making tweaks to a campaign and setting the expected return on investment (ROI).

Many SMB owners have produced brochures, one page ads, sell sheets, flyers, and even websites, but when asked for the ROI on each of these marketing tactics they are hard pressed to produce the results.  With analytics available on everything these days from emails and websites to webkeys and radio ads, SMB owners need to know that they can ask for and expect results. I have outlined below what I feel are the top marketing tactics that SMB’s need to be measuring.

  1. Do you have Google Analytics on your site? If not, why not? Google Analytics is free and lets you measure your advertising ROI as well as track your Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications.  At a minimum, you should receive a regular report about your site from your marketing agency or internal resource. If you have extra time, ask you marketing agency not just for a report, but also to give you access to your Google Analytics account.  You need to be looking at this report and make sure you understand what it means. If it doesn’t make sense to you… then work with them until you can clearly see the value.
  2. If you are using print in your marketing, make sure the print pieces can be tracked.  One way to do this is to add a code to each piece and have the recipient quote that code when they contact you. Another way is to add a QR code to your print materials and then you can measure the success of the “visits” on the site you have entered into the code.
  3. Online marketing should all be measurable via its own application, a landing page or links to your site.
  4. E-blast vendors all offer analytics – open rates, click through rates, etc.  Make sure you get a report once you send out the email so you can assess the results to determine if it met your campaign objectives.

Before you launch any marketing tactic, make sure it’s tied to your marketing strategy, has clear objectives with clearly defined goals and ensure you have a measurement system in place that will help you meet your objectives and achieve your results.

Have you ever launched a tactic without using measurement?  How did you decide if it was successful or not?  How important is the measurement of your tactics? I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions on tracking your marketing results.