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Your marketing should appeal to your customer, not you

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

I’ve talked to marketing clients who personally hate social media, because they consider it an invasion of privacy or a waste of time, so they don’t want social media accounts for their businesses.
People have told me that because they personally don’t want any more email, they don’t want to offer a business e-newsletter.
It’s great to have empathy for your customer and it can be helpful if you‘re serving a clientele like yourself, but make no mistake — your marketing is designed to appeal to your current and potential customers, not to you.

Look out the window, not in the mirror

I absolutely get the instinct not to flood your customers with email — we’re all drowning a bit and you don’t want to irritate people who spend money with you.
But data show that e-newsletters are effective in driving sales. Assuming you‘re only emailing people who’ve opted in to your list and they can unsubscribe any time, you are only dropping your love notes into the inboxes of people who want to hear from you.
If email is effective and people have asked to hear from you, why aren’t you sending emails? Because you don’t want to hear from you?
If customers want to learn about you or talk with you on social media, do you really want to hide from them?
Watch what’s effective in boosting your sales. Ask your customers what they want and need. Keep checking your assumptions about your own preferences against what works for your customers. Read more

5 tips for marketing when you don’t have time

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

Whether it’s back to school, harvest time or retail holiday season, plenty of businesspeople hit a point when there’s not enough time to sleep, much less market yourself.

Do you not have enough hours in the day for marketing? Five tips to help you stay in touch with your customers. Photo by JD Baskin used under Creative Commons license.

Do you not have enough hours in the day for marketing? Five tips to help you stay in touch with your customers.
Photo by JD Baskin used under Creative Commons license.

If that sounds like you, let’s dive right into five pointers to stay on your customers’ radar during your busy time:

  1. Think small — Your customers are probably busy, too, so don’t be afraid to do an email newsletter or blog post that’s just one photo and a couple sentences. A sale, a new product, the return of a favorite product, special hours, all you need is one idea your customers will find useful.
  2. Think efficient — If you have little chunks of time, like a few minutes between when you’re done setting up and when you actually open, grab your phone and write one quick post you push across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Conversely, block off 15 minutes to schedule daily social media posts for the whole week using a tool like HootSuite. Let technology make it easier to use whatever limited time you have.
  3. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — If part of the reason you’re so busy is that you are answering endless calls and emails with the same questions over and over, use your marketing to intercept those frequently asked questions. Be sure your hours and directions are on your website and that you share them frequently in your e-newsletter and on social media, for example. If people are always asking if you have X in stock, post a picture of it when you do.
  4. Delegate — If you usually update your website yourself because you want to make sure it gets done to your exacting standards, it might be better to let someone else do it for now than to not have it happen at all. Give a clear assignment like “put our back-to-school sale on the front of the website with a big, bold headline and a picture” and accept that done is better than perfect. If you don’t have anyone on staff who can help, maybe you should hire a consultant or temp for short-term help or perhaps a favorite customer would pitch in for a trade.
  5. Be human — If you’re up at 4 a.m. (either already or still), snap a selfie and share it on your social media. Showing people what your frantic time is like might help them understand why your email response time is a little longer than usual.

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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: 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 Twitter for marketing

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, StirringUpSuccess.com has been featured in top industry trade publications as a unique and helpful tool for bakery owners.

Here’s my third post in the series, offering bakeries some pointers for getting started using Twitter as a marketing tool. Even if you don’t run a bakery, I hope the basics apply, but I apologize if you find yourself suddenly craving a cupcake.

Using Twitter for the first time can feel like hearing people speak  a foreign language – or for those old enough to remember, it’s like turning on a CB radio, where voices you don’t recognize are using slang you don’t understand in conversations you aren’t sure how to join.

Getting started on Facebook probably feels a little easier, because its format is closer to websites or blogs. But with a little watching and listening, you can use 140-character tweets for business communication.

Here are five tips for using Twitter for business:

  1. Set up your account – Go to Twitter and fill in your name, email and password. On the next screen you choose your user name, sometimes called your Twitter handle. If you’re new to Twitter, I recommend using your personal name so you can experiment without attaching your business name to your trial and error. Because Twitter users communicate with each other by using handles, choose something short and easy to spell. JessSmith is better than Jessica_Lynn_Smith-Kluczyk, for example.
  2. Add a photo and a description.  Your Twitter photo, also called an avatar, helps identify you with your tweets. Your photo and profile description both help create a credible presence, and demonstrate you’re real, as opposed to the spambots you will encounter.
  3. Set up saved searches.  Start with the name of your business, then any related ways people might talk about your business or product, to scan Twitter for what people are already saying about you. Enter a term at the top of the page, then click the gear on the right of the results screen to get the option to save. Your saved searches will appear when you click your cursor in Twitter website’s search box.
  4. Follow people.  The quickest way to learn is to watch others. Try following some of Twitter’s most popular accountssome of Time magazine’s best Twitter feeds, and use Twitter’s profile search or a directory like Twellow.com to find people with your interests.
  5. Talk to people.  Twitter can initially feel like you’re talking to yourself. The easiest way to make sure someone is listening is to tweet at another user. When you see an interesting tweet in your saved search or news feed, click “reply” and Twitter will insert an @ symbol ahead of that user’s handle, letting him know you’re answering.  RT means retweet, sharing someone else’s tweet with your followers, and MT means modified retweet, generally because you had to shorten it to make 140 characters. Be sure to read your own @ replies so you know when someone’s talking to you.

If you’re stuck figuring out what to say, start by figuring out your strategy for social media and let that guide the kinds of tweets you post. We’ll talk more about strategy and content in a future post.

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.