Category: Blog.

Here is an example of my video conferencing set up at my office.

Below are some video conferencing best practices to help you look good on camera:

  • We recommend using ZOOM.us – it’s easy to set up and works great.
  • Sit close to the screen. You want your face to fill a good part of it.
  • Put your monitor at eye level. Your face will not be distorted in this way and you’ll look better. Put it on a stack of books if needed.
  • IF you have 2 monitors focus on the one with the camera. You don’t want to be looking somewhere else.
  • Turn off your phone, email, message applications and everything that makes a noise. You don’t want to be distracted or distracting.
  • Stay focused! Don’t check email, browse online or type. We can see what you are doing and we are watching.
  • Look sharp! Be engaged and smile slightly. You don’t want to appear bored or preoccupied at all.
  • Use an external microphone or headset whenever possible. The sound is really that much better.
  • Mute yourself when you are not talking. That eliminates all background noise. Remember to unmute before talking!
  • For heaven’s sake, don’t eat during the meeting.
  • Don’t sit with a window behind you, so that you are in shadows. Make sure your face is well illuminated.
  • Use a lamp to side light and illuminate your face.
  • This is not an audio call. When you are on an audio call and muted you can do whatever you like. On a video call, you must be engaged and reasonably happy to be at the meeting. Nod your head, focus on your camera or on the screen.
  • Talk in shorthand. Get to the main point quickly. Fill in details later – or when questions are asked. Be concise.
  • Pay attention to your background: keep it simple, you don’t want a plant or wall hanging coming out of your head. You also don’t want a cluttered desk or confidential information showing.
  • Be prepared! Have your talking points on screen in front of you.
  • If something distracting does happen, handle it quickly and get right back into place.

SHINE, and be concise!

Download a printable copy here: PCZoomWhitePaper

When fishermen find a honey hole, their smiles are big and their mouths are shut. But when they catch the big one, it’s all about the show and tell. Social media is the new word-of-mouth honey hole; so let’s use it to your best advantage.

In business, everyone has access to the honey hole of social media, and the fish swimming in it are free for the taking if you have the right bait.  Reel in your own word-of-mouth marketers ready to show and tell tales from your business with the following lures:

Show Others With Their Trophy Fish

Everyone has happy customers, but if you don’t show them off, you might lose the next big one. How can you catch more fish if they can’t see what they are missing?

Lure: Post a smiling customer holding one of the last products on the shelf along with a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out ) message like, “Sam got one of the last She-Shed lock openers! Stop by today to get yours and find out what the wife has inside that place.”

Give Them a Secret to Share

Your social channels should be chock full of exclusive visuals and crave-able content. Everyone is searching for a new honey hole, so make your channel the next secret to share.

Lure: Post behind-the-scenes pictures of new product being delivered, share a new trend from one of the “coasts,” or snap a shot of your team prepping a new service to save customers’ time and money.

Find Your Big Mouths

Pay attention to your followers. It’s likely you have loyalists who like your posts, comment, and share information. They can influence hundreds more, so lure them in with your best bait.

Lure: Give them a free sample or service and ask them to take a picture or share the experience on social media. Follow up by inviting them to a VIP referral club that offers a big discount if they bring fresh fish to your pond.

Open Your Mouth

If you don’t open your own mouth to engage with your following, they might get away. Worse yet, if your fish flip and spew bad information, you need to dive in to rescue your reputation.

Lure: Comment on a recent customer’s post and include a specific detail about your encounter with them. Follow up offline to see how the product is working. Also, be sure to engage immediately with bad reviews and negative comments. Thank customers for bringing the issue to your attention and ask if you can connect privately to find a solution.

Release the power of your customers’ word-of-mouth on social media and watch the flow of free marketing and new fish swim your way.

Need help with your social media posts or planning, give us a call at 800-900-3635 or email us at: info@poolecommunications.com

© 2019 Poole Communications

Tuning up your marketing should be like maintenance on your vehicle. Marketing is the fuel that keeps the customer engine running. The good news is that unlike vehicles, marketing inspections don’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Here are 5 tips to tune up your marketing:

Take a Test Drive

When was the last time you viewed your messaging, processes, discounts, service and overall company experience from a customer’s point of view? Click on your ads, sign up for offers, send a family member into your business, email a staff member and review the results. You may find some small tweaks to help you pick up more miles per gallon.

Employ Digital Diagnostics

Digital advertising campaigns pinpoint the customers most likely to connect with you based on their online behavior. Combined with relevant offers, creative ads and corresponding landing pages, digital advertising is the best way to diagnose if your campaigns are running smoothly or need some tinkering. Check to see if you are getting the impressions, clicks, website visits and leads you deserve.

Marketing is now more science-based, and while it’s still also still an art, you can count on the numbers for truth and finding the best path to success for your company.

Street Race the Competition

Next, review your competition’s website or walk-in to see what gets their sales motors running. Compare price points, review their discount and take an inventory of where, when and what they are marketing. You are sure to find at least one idea to beat them to the finish line.

It’s pretty simple to set up a search that flags you whenever your competitors name in mentioned in the news. Set one up today and start tracking.

Buff the Exterior

Look at your business’s exterior touch points. Do your ads, website and displays have a cohesive shine or are their a few chips in the paint? Maybe a quick run through the branding car wash is all you need, or perhaps you can buff a few images to freshen up your look.

Chips or dings? Address them immediately. Don’t cover them up. Fix the trouble and polish out the finish.

Listen to the Engine

Finally, ask new and old customers some key questions.

  • Why did they choose you?
  • What do they like best about your products?
  • What do they wish you would start, stop, or continue doing?
  • How did they find you?
  • Why are longtime customers loyal?

Finally, listen and respond. Use their responses to inform new offers, events and products so they know you made all the right fixes.

Use this five-point inspection any time you need to tune up your marketing and keep your sales engines humming. Need 5 tips to tune up your marketing? Contact us today or call 800-900-3635.

© 2019 Poole Communications

You thought you turned heads on your last advertising campaign because it was on point. People were clicking your ads like crazy and your website had a spike in visits. But, the activity didn’t turn heads adequately to become a trend. You had a lot of the right pieces, but lacked the coordination to make a real fashion statement. Review the following Do’s and Don’ts so you can turn heads with coordinated marketing and make all the right choices in the future.

Don’t fall flat on the runway.

A discerning, highly influential client – let’s call her a fashionista – deigns to click on your ad. Instead of seeing a lovely coordinated landing page she spots a cluttered website. Like last season’s stilettos, she kicks your product to the curb.

Do accessorize.

The same client clicks on your stylish ad, arrives on a coordinated, trackable landing page and notices a valuable offer. She whips out her swanky wallet and hands over contact information to collect your must-have discount.

Don’t be a one-hit wonder.

Before you can say fabulous, you move on to your next task. Just as you look away another shiny object catches said fashionista’s attention and she never redeems the discount. It’s almost like you left her in the back of the closet with last year’s handbag.

Do shower attention.

A millisecond after receiving her valuable contact information, your prompt auto-reply email lands in the maven’s inbox wrapped in a bow nudging her to use the discount before the product sells out.

Soon she begins to see your retargeting ads with more of photos of your product on other exclusive websites.

A week later – because you have set up an automated email workflow based on her interests and behavior – she receives an exclusive email offer for first-time customers who subscribe to your newsletter.

Not long after that, your next thoughtful and targeted email elegantly appears showing the latest piece in the collection along with a special offer for customers who like your Instagram page.

Do expect to make a statement.

Follow the do’s and avoid the don’ts above you will make an impression that turn will heads with coordinated marketing and transform that fashionista into a brand-devotee ready to influence her stylish circle of friends and their matching disposable incomes.

Engage in more meaningful conversations

The back and forth between a business and customer on social media can sometimes feel like the old school method of passing notes in a classroom. Do you like our new spring clothing line? Check yes or no. If you like it, please share it with Susie in the next row. Of course, it’s important to get likes and shares on social media, but savvy business owners might want to seek something more than a classroom crush.

To build a lasting relationship with a customer you need to engage in more meaningful conversations. In dating terms, you need to put a ring on it. Take the time to engage with your audience on social media. Pay attention to what they need, when they need it, and why.

Here are a few tips to move your social media engagement to the next level:

Create polls to obtain information from customers
Rank their favorite product.
Rank the various ways they use the product.
Vote for the time of day/year they use the product most.
Rank why they use the product – give three options and an open comment box.

Run contests to learn how customers interact with your product

and provide a discount or valuable item to the winner.
Most creative or best photo/video of customers using the product.
The best success story of how a service helped them.
Most loyal or longest-standing customer.

Research your ambassadors

All businesses will have loyal customers who consistently like, share, and comment on your platforms. So, thank them for sharing, give them a head’s up on sales and offer advice on making the most of the product. Then, take a few minutes to look at their personal pages to get more of a feel for their lifestyle, needs, and friends.

Be responsive

If someone sends a message or posts a comment, respond as fast as possible. Because many customers view social media the same as an in-person encounter, treat social interactions in the same way.

Ask questions

Pose open-ended questions about your product or service on social accounts. What do you like best about our business? What do we not offer that you would use?

These tips will have you well on your way to walking down the social aisle with customers. Still, you should be ready for those members of the congregation who just can’t seem to hold their peace. View negative comments as opportunities rather than irritants to be ignored. Everyone sees the negative comments and a lot may ride on how and if you choose to react.

Steps to keep the peace:

1. Thank them for the comment, acknowledge the issue, and apologize.
2. Ask what you can do to make it right.
3. Offer what you can to make it right, plus a little extra.
4. If you cannot make it right, tell them how you will work to make it better in the future.

However, there may be cases when a courteous approach isn’t effective. For those situations, a general statement acknowledging the issue and an offer to resolve it offline with an email or phone call may be a good compromise.

Finally, like any relationship, staying engaged takes time and effort and a willingness to learn from the good and bad comments.

When businesses create a social media page, they may believe the hard part is over. Actually, it is just beginning. Once a social media page is created, the real work of increasing social media engagement begins.

Use Images
One thing we have learned over and over again at Poole Communications is that social media users like images. A post containing a photo or image will be seen by more users than one that does not. Post a video to your Facebook or Twitter page, and you may be surprised to see how many more people respond to your post. We are becoming a visual society. A picture or video is always more likely to catch the eye than just a text. Free picture sharing sites such as Pixabay and Pexels make it easy to find stock photos to make your posts appealing to the eye.

Live Video
Live video is another way to rapidly increase social media engagement. We would strongly caution businesses to be prepared when doing live video though. Once you say something “live” it is out there, and there is no taking it back. Live video definitely has its advantages though; it gives you an instantaneous connection to your social media followers. You can answer their questions and engage with them. Special events, a product unveiling, or a new food item are all reasons to try a live video. The effects may be far reaching and last longer than just the minute or two your video goes live.

Get Personal
Another way of increasing social media engagement is to personalize your business page. Give a virtual tour of your office. Introduce your employees using their pictures a short description of their educational background and job duties. Celebrate work anniversaries with a post. Introduce a new product by having an employee showing its uses in a video. Social media is about being “social.” People do still want to feel connected to other people. Introducing your staff adds a personal touch to your social media pages. We have learned from our own experience it also leads to much higher engagement.

Remember Reviews
Reviews are another way to see your engagement improve on your social media pages. Ask past customers to share their opinions. Invite them to review your business and their experience. This will allow potential customers to learn more about you through the experience of others.

Ask Questions
We have seen an increase of engagement on company pages when a product or gift card is given away. Who doesn’t like free things? If there is information you want to elicit from your social media followers, think about a question that is pertinent to your business when you conduct the giveaway. For example, a restaurant may ask followers what their favorite dish is. This helps them to see what is popular and what new dishes they may want to introduce. While your engagement increases, so will your knowledge base.

Don’t forget there is also power in likes and comments. To see engagement increase, businesses must be involved. Like comments made on your page. Comment back to a potential customer when they ask a question about a product. This is vital to keeping up your engagement and increasing your brand awareness.

As a business owner, it seems like media love from any platform comes with a price tag. If only you could become the media’s valentine. Wouldn’t it be nice if they pursued you for something other than a monthly advertising invoice? Or maybe you have dreamed of a reporter showing up at your storefront with a bouquet of free air time to spotlight your business.

Be Prepared

That dream date can happen if you are prepared with the right content at the right time. Content is the heart of every story, blog, and social media post. Reporters need quick access to experts, facts, statistics, trends, and testimonials to tell stories that are meaningful to audiences.

Your expertise, industry knowledge and experience could be the perfect match for a reporter on any given day, but you have to get in the dating game to start building the relationship and really become the media’s valentine. Here are a few ways to get your business noticed by the media:

First, Create an expert profile

For example:
Amy Smith, owner, Smith Heating and Air Conditioning (Phone, email, web, social contacts)
Ten year’s experience in residential and industrial HVAC systems
Expert in electrical safety, home energy efficiency and indoor air quality

Connect with local journalists

Next, identify a few journalists in your area who report on topics related to your industry and send them your expert profile through multiple channels. (Social media, email, hand-written note, phone call)

Create content

Use facts and figures about your business and create brief, but meaningful tip sheets or infographics. Focus on ways to help the public save time or money, prepare for the future or avoid a crisis as it relates to your product or service. Periodically share your tips with media contacts. Use social hashtags and tag reporters. Example: 3 Ways to Save Money on Energy Costs #energysavings @nbcreporter

Look for trends and national stories

Find out what is trending on Twitter, look at what others are talking about in your own social media feeds and track stories in the national news. Connect your expertise with those topics and ask the media to consider you for an interview to share how the topic may impact your community, customers or industry.

Be ready and responsive

Journalists have very tight timelines. If a reporter calls for an interview, that interview may need to take place on the spot, or scheduled in one to two hours. If you ask for time to prepare, you may miss your opportunity. By having topics and tips ready you can quickly accept the request. Reporters will remember your responsiveness and likely reach out to you again. This will help build your reputation as a thought-leader in the industry.

It Takes Time

Finally, it takes time and effort to become the media’s valentine, but creating connections and content could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship with no price tags attached.

When your new company is created, there should be a strong emphasis on business cards. Make business cards work for you. Business cards are a tool to let others know what your company is about and what services it provides. A plain white business card does not portray the mission or creativity of a person or a business. Your cards should help make you stand out and be easily recognizable. Bright colors, a distinctive logo, and an easy to read font will make your card stand out from the rest.

Be Creative

Business cards do not have to be boring. They should not look like everyone else’s. Think about ordering square or round cards instead of rectangular cards.
Use the front and back of your card to share your mission. If you are an eco-friendly business, buy business cards made from recycled paper. There are so many ways to make that card work for you! Some people purposely leave a space on the back to write notes or provide other contact information.

It Works

Business card marketing is a real thing. It’s effective, and it does lead to new customers and new leads.  Here are some suggestions for using your business cards to maximize your customer base:

  • Post your cards on community bulletin boards. Restaurants, libraries, community centers, churches, gyms, and stores often have bulletin boards. All you have to do ask to post your card.
  • Think about the waiting rooms in your area and leave cards for those waiting for appointments. Doctor’s offices, hospitals, salons, auto shops, restaurants, and government buildings all have waiting areas.
  • If you want to expand your reach, consider asking local hotels if you can leave business cards at their check in counter.
  • Ask if you can leave your cards at your local Chamber of Commerce office or your local Tourism Office.
  • Use your business cards as a direct mailer. Target your audience and send out your cards with a note to potential customers and clients.
  • Send out cards with every item you ship or every promotional item you produce for a customer.
  • Hand out business cards at local events or at networking opportunities. And don’t forget to ask for other’s business card.
  • Create a photo or video of your business card and upload it to all of your social media pages.

Finally, make sure your business card is professionally printed on high quality heavy weight paper. You don’t want to skimp here. Having trouble coming up with a design or getting your design ready to print? Need help with marketing? We can help. Make business cards work for you. Come by or call 573-221-3635 and we can help you with your business card and any other promotional material you need for your business.

© 2018 Poole Communications

Books are better.

“Books are better than television, the internet, or the computer for educating and maintaining freedom. Books matter because they state ideas and then attempt to thoroughly prove them. They have an advantage precisely because they slow down the process, allowing the reader to internalize, respond, react and transform. The ideas in books matter because time is taken to establish truth, and because the reader must take the time to consider each idea and either accept it or, if he rejects it, to think through sound reasons for doing so. A nation of people who write and read is a nation with the attention span to earn an education and free society if they choose.”
― Oliver DeMille

When you were a child and drew a picture on a piece of paper, did you feel the need to fill up the entire page? Were you told it was wasteful to leave empty space? That belief may have been okay then, but it might not be a good idea for your marketing materials now. Fewer words or less design means higher impact for the words you do use. You don’t have a lot of time to catch someone’s attention and too many words will get lost. Only the main words will be read anyway, so don’t clutter your materials with information that won’t be read. Using fewer words will help you stick to the main point. Keep it simple.