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Technology is always changing, so focus on your message more than the tool

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment
You say you're intimidated keeping up with all the new technology? It can be overwhelming -- but the alternative is sticking with what you already know. Would you prefer to go back to video cameras this big? Creative Commons photo by Andre Chinn.

You say you’re intimidated keeping up with new technology? It can be overwhelming — but the alternative is sticking with what you already know. Would you prefer to go back to video cameras this big? Creative Commons photo by Andre Chinn.

Back in 2005, my aunt and I went to Rome for Easter. I packed what seemed like an impossibly small video camera, its case about the size of a small purse, and I captured beautiful scenes of Pope John Paul’s last Easter.

Then I got home and realized that without specialized editing software, I couldn’t do much besides play it back as is, plugging the camera into my computer.

About a year later, a friend told us about this thing called YouTube. John’s computer wheezed and stuttered as we tried to watch our first video.

As online video became all the rage, I bought a Flip, a high-definition video camera about the size of an old mini cassette recorder. Its simple interface quickly got me recording, editing and uploading video to YouTube. The name referred to its clever design — you push a button on the side of the camera and a USB connection flips up, plugging straight into your computer without a cord.

This was the first video I shot on my Flip cam then uploaded to YouTube. It’s literally almost as interesting as watching paint dry.

I was slow to the iPhone trend, but once I started carrying a high-quality camera as part of my smartphone, I rarely bothered with my Flip any more. The launch of Twitter’s Vine, a tool for sharing six-second video loops, followed by Instagram’s 15-second videos, made it easy to share video without ever touching my computer. Record the video, share it straight from the iPhone via wifi or data plan.

I shot my first Vine at SXSW Interactive … of NOLA band Big Sam’s Funky Nation:

In just a few years, it’s remarkable how much amateur video has changed — and that’s from a starting point I already thought was pretty advanced.

So many other technologies are moving just as quickly, and it can be tempting to just stick with what you already know. It can be overwhelming to constantly learn new tools.

But imagine saying no, I’d rather keep my fax machine than learn email. No, my film camera is just fine, why would I bother with a digital camera or the phone on my camera? Who needs a photocopier when this ditto machine still works? I prefer this rotary phone to a cordless push button, and I can’t see a use for a cellphone. I like these eight tracks, or albums, or cassettes, or CDs … Read more

10 ways to improve your marketing during your slow season

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

If your business slows down in the summer, now is the perfect time to tune up your marketing so you’re ready for your busy season.

When your calendar loosens up, you might:

review your website

    1. Review your website — replace any out-of-date information and add some new photos to freshen the look. Look at your design compared to others in your industry and if it feels dated or if it doesn’t work well on your phone, consider a redesign. That can be relatively simple if you use a template for WordPress, Squarespace or Wix.
    2. Write e-newsletters and blog posts for the future — get your content ready now so you can just hit “send” when you’re swamped later.
    3. Check out your competitors — what information can you find on their websites, e-newsletters and social media that might help you tell your customers how you’re different?
    4. Craft a 30-second description of what you do — practice a clear, compelling answer to the question “What do you do?” so you communicate the most important ideas about what makes your business special.
    5. Update your social media profiles — If you haven’t looked at your “about” section on your Facebook business page in a while or you don’t remember what your Twitter profile says, make sure all your accounts describe you and your business accurately.
    6. Review your analytics — look at your website data to see what search terms bring people to your site and how long they spend once they’re there, review the open rates for your marketing emails to see which subject lines, days and times get the most people looking, check out your social media metrics to see what kinds of posts get the most comments and shares. Your goals are to better understand what your customers want from you and to find out what’s working so you can repeat.
    7. Plan a snail mail campaign — now that we get so much email, a thoughtful printed piece might stand out in your customer’s mailbox. One client of mine gets cards custom designed by an artist and she hand writes messages to all her customers. I’ve gotten postcards designed and printed to write to prospects. Think about who you want to reach — current or potential customers — and what you could mail that would feel valuable instead of like junk mail.
    8. Research important conferences — are there events where you’ll meet new customers or connect with existing clients? Get those dates on your calendar and start budgeting for registration, travel, lodging and meals.
    9. Learn a new social media platform — choose a network where you think you might find your ideal customers, create an account and start watching how people interact.
    10. Schedule an appointment for marketing — get out your calendar, whether it’s hard copy or electronic, and block out time to work on your marketing for the rest of the year, such as 30 minutes every Friday, so you keep on top of creating fresh content and responding to customers as you get busier.
Do you have other ways you like to use your slow times to work on your marketing?

Marketing Monday: Beta testing a quick-hit marketing review service offers helpful lessons

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

When technology companies use their own products, it’s commonly called eating your own dog food.

Why dog food? I don’t know. But pour me a big bowl of Gravy Train.

A few days ago, I posted to my Newvine Growing Facebook page looking for people to help me beta test a new service:

I am testing a new service offering and I’d love to find a few guinea pigs to help me.
I’d like to offer quick-hit consulting sessions, just 90 minutes start to finish, where we review your business goals and look at how well your marketing communications lines up with those goals.
Are your website, email newsletter, social media, brochures and the like telling the right story to the right people to help you get where you want to go?

I plan to charge $300 for these intensive work sessions, but if you help me refine the format and give me feedback on how to improve, I’ll offer you half price.
If you get one decent idea, could you increase your sales by $150 to make that time pay for itself?

I'm *not* a graphic designer. Once I get some feedback on the service, I'll work with my artist husband to create something more professional than this announcement.

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Marketing Monday: Goals > Action > Communication

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

Not long ago I had a hands-on social media training session with some of my favorite clients. We covered how to send an @reply and a direct message on Twitter, how to link to other businesses and people in a Facebook status update and how to use HootSuite and Facebook to schedule posts in advance. We even got them started on Instagram, which they linked up to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to share photos.

It was the easiest part of a project I did with them to craft a social media strategy.

Each social media platform has its own lingo to learn, and it can be a little intimidating when you’re new.

But I think any effective social media strategy doesn’t start with tips and tricks, it starts with goals. Goals should be the foundation, then the actions you’re taking toward those goals, and finally how you’re going to communicate those goals.

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Five tips for getting started using Facebook for marketing

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

By this point, Facebook has become so culturally ubiquitous that probably even the remaining holdouts who don’t have an account have at least seen it and are aware of the concept of the interconnected social network.

But even those who are active personally might not know how to use Facebook for marketing.

Sadly, it’s getting harder, as Facebook’s algorithm for what users see in their news feed limits the number of users seeing page content – the rough number thrown around is that only about 10 percent of those who’ve liked the page see that page’s posts in their news feeds. So even if you’ve already liked my business page, or Coke’s or Justin Bieber’s, there’s a good chance you’re missing what we’re sharing with you.

Still, it’s a huge, free channel to not just share your message but engage your fans in conversation, so it’s worth getting to know.

So here’s a guest post I wrote last summer for a business-to-business blog for bakeries, on how to get started using Facebook for business.  Stirring Up Success is run by Dawn Foods, a manufacturer of bakery ingredients and products and distributor to the bakery industry. According to a case study by Crossroads, has been featured in top industry trade publications as a unique and helpful tool for bakery owners.

My first post in the series encouraged bakeries to take the time to define their business goals to help them be more effective on social media. Then we built on that with some how-tos for Facebook beginners:

Social Media Strategy – Facebook

Facebook has more than 1 billion active users so odds are good you already have an account with the popular social media site. But are you using it to find high school friends or to help grow your business?

Starting with a strategy for your social media will help guide you, as I blogged about last month. For example, do you want to use Facebook to talk to existing customers or try to reach new ones, and are you trying to make more sales or help improve customer support?

Once you have defined your social media goals, here are five tips for using Facebook for business:

Set up a page – not a profile, not a group. When you create your page, you can choose from designations including local business or brand. Facebook prohibits businesses from using personal profiles, so if you previously set up a profile instead of a page, here’s how to convert it.

Fill in the “about” section. So many businesses don’t take advantage of this obvious place to answer visitors’ basic questions about who you are and what you do.

Manage your page’s settings. Click on Edit Page, then Update Info and you can customize the name of your page to something like . You can also set up email notifications when users comment, and get the ability to either post under your business name or as a person.

Post a mix of content. Photos pop visually in your fans’ news feed, links can direct your Facebook fans to content on your website or blog, questions let your customers know you care what’s on their minds. Variety lets you see what your visitors respond to, and keeps you from sounding monotonous.

Experiment with posting at different times and on different days. According to social media scientist Dan Zarrella, Saturday is the best day to post to Facebook and the best time is noon if you want maximum engagement. That’s on average, though, so it’s important to see if that’s true for your customers.

How will you know if you’re on the right track? Facebook Insights gives you data on how many people your page has reached each day and what kinds of results each of your individual posts got. If you aren’t sure what any of the numbers mean, hover your cursor over the question mark or data point and you’ll get more information.

Five questions to begin your strategy for effective use of social media

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

Last summer, I wrote a series of guest blog posts for Stirring Up Success, a B2B blog run by Dawn Foods, a manufacturer of bakery ingredients and products and distributor to the bakery industry. According to a case study by Crossroads, has been featured in top industry trade publications as a unique and helpful tool for bakery owners.

Here’s my first post in the series, encouraging bakeries to take the time to define their business goals to help them be more effective on social media.

We have a shelf full of cookbooks, which help us figure out a plan when we cook.

Using social media without a strategy is a bit like turning on the oven without knowing whether you’re reheating last night’s leftovers or baking an elaborate wedding cake.

Just as understanding how to use a measuring cup and mixer are essential to baking, comfort with social media tools can make it easier to implement a plan. But there’s a difference between randomly throwing some ingredients together and following a formula – you need a strategy.

Five questions to help you get strategic about social media:

  1. What are your company’s goals? Do you want more sales, bigger sales, new customers, more orders from existing customers, different kinds of customers? Be as specific as possible, so you can measure your progress.
  2. What’s your status quo?  Inventory your existing communications, including newsletters, social media and brochures. Even in a small organization, this is worthwhile so everyone is conscious of what you have and so you don’t reinvent the wheel.
  3. Who is your audience?  Describe who you want to reach, what they want and how they like to communicate. Are you trying to stay in touch with existing customers so they will tell their friends about you or find potential new customers? The way you talk to moms planning birthday parties in the Midwest is very different from corporate event planners in Los Angeles.
  4. What is your competition doing with social media? You don’t need to copy what they’re doing, but you should be aware. It’s also a cheap way to keep an eye on them.
  5. What resources do you have? Be realistic. If you have a small staff with no communications budget, you need to be selective about what you take on. Consider your talents and interests as well. For example,would you rather write or take pictures?

Answering these questions doesn’t mean you have a social media strategy, but it should get the conversation started.

One final thought: don’t limit yourself by only thinking about pushing out information. Social media is a two-way conversation. It can be an excellent way to ask questions, listen to what people are saying about you and your competition and to respond to customer concerns.

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy.  She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.

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