Category: News.

It’s the wild west out there.  Semi-closed to the public, small businesspeople everywhere find themselves in a new frontier.  Today, we’re marketing in COVID territory.  Saddled up in their horse and wagon, otherwise known as the internet and delivery, options seem slim and consistent revenue streams a distant mirage.

The challenges are there, but so are the opportunities.

Here are some ways for marketing trail blazers to land the loyalty of current customers and stake claim on new ones in COVID territory.

Care
Contact customers and show you care.  Ask how they are coping and how your business might help. Use phone calls, hand-written notes, chats, and emails.  You’ll learn about their worries, needs, and support each other in the process.  Create a weekly live social media check-in to show the inside of your business, new items and ideas.

Outreach
Access your community’s resources to find ways to connect your product or service with those in need. Think about how your offerings could be modified to meet a whole new audience you might not have envisioned previously. Create content that presents the benefits of your company on a personal level.  Consider reaching out to your local television stations and share your story.

Visualize
Look ahead and visualize what your customers’ needs will be in our new normal.  As your community phases in businesses, where will yours fit?  How can you merge and maximize your current COVID tactics of internet sales and delivery with limited in-person service?

Identify
Adapt your current operations and identify ways to expand future revenue streams.  Take the “slow-down” and turn it into an efficiency injection. Deluxe Small Business Revolution offers 10 ways to maximize downtime.  They advise to refresh your website, seek different ways to share your message, and look for partnerships to leverage resources.

Dare
Reimagine your business.  Use the time to plan and develop a new product or service.  Consider rebranding and developing new messaging for the new world ahead.  Check out Wordstream’ s advice on how consumer behavior has and will change and ways to adapt your online marketing and advertising strategies.

By showing you care and thinking ahead, your business will be ready to claim success when we make this virus wave the white flag of surrender. Do it right when marketing in COVID territory!

The 3 Levels of GOOD Employees:

Level 1 — You do what you are asked to do.
Level 2 — Level 1 + You think ahead and solve problems before they happen.
Level 3 — Level 2 + You proactively look for areas of opportunity and growth in the business, and figure out how to tap into them.

Here are the the 3 Levels of GOOD Employees. Let’s see all of us thinking and purposely working at Level 3.

Source: James Clear

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

The Current Social Media Scene

Just when you think you have the current social media scene figured out, a new platform, updated feature and enhanced algorithm makes you feel like you are in the dark again. Instead of searching around the social world with two hands and a flashlight, try using five W’s and an H.  Find out the WhoWhatWhyWhen and Where of each of the six significant social channels’ key audiences and How you can create content to make an impact with them.  Search no more.  Here’s the current social media scene. 

Facebook  

Who: Two billion users are active on the platform each month, with Generation X and Millennials leading the way according to the Spredfast Social Media Audience Guide 

What: According to the same research, Facebook is the best platform to grow a small business and is most useful to retail, media, financial services, and healthcare industries.   

Why: The audiences on Facebook go there to discover new products.  In fact, 30% of retail shoppers who recently made a purchase discovered a new product on Facebook. 

When: On average, the Spredfast guide says that users hang out on Facebook 35 minutes per day and Sprout Social shared that by far Wednesday is the best day to post on the platform. Specifically, businesses should make their move at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on hump day.   

Where: More Facebook users view content on mobile devices than they do a desktop.  

How: Based on Spredfast and Sprout Social research on the 5 W’s covered above, businesses can reach Facebook’s key audience base by launching new products on the site through images, videos, concise descriptions and links to buy within the same post.

Instagram  

Who: Of the 800 million monthly active users on the platform, ladies and teens comprise the majority of the Instagram crowd according to Spredfast’s research. Females between the ages of 18 to 29 make up the largest demographic and 53 percent of teens use the platform to learn about new products.   

What: Retail, sports and automotive businesses can find their niche with Instagram.  

When:  According to Sprout Social, the best times to post on Instagram are Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday between 10 and 11 a.m.  

Where: Most users view Instagram on mobile devices. 

Why: This highly visual platform is the place audiences look to learn about new products, follow brands, and check in with influencers to see what they are saying, learning, doing, wearing and buying. 

How: Announce new products, show influential people in your industry and community using and talking about those products.  Better yet, become an influencer in your industry by sharing how your products and services make their lives better.

Twitter 

Who: There are 317 million active users tweeting, and the majority of them are men.  

What: Best platform for sports, media, financial services and healthcare industries, but not the place for retail.  

When: Businesses will have the best results by tweeting on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m. according to Sprout Social. 

Where: Contrasting with its social cousins Facebook and Instagram, Twitter faithful tend to check the site on desktop devices more than they do on mobile screens.  

Why: Audiences head to the platform to get scores, news, reviews, deals and ideas.  

How: Post coupons and news about your business and link to your website.  When they have more time, they may switch to your Instagram and Facebook feeds to buy your products

Linked In  

Who: LinkedIn is the place to reach other businesses, business owners and professionals.  The largest demographic on the platform is between the ages of 25 to 34. 

What: A key industry served well by this professional platform is financial services.  It’s also the place for business to business marketing and not so much for retail traffic.  

When:  According to Sprout Socialthe best times to post are Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to10 a.m. and at 12 p.m.  

Where: Given its professional niche, more users check the platform at home or work, which means their use is on desktop rather than a mobile device. 

Why: The audience links in to make job searches, research companies and network.  

How:  Connect with this platform’s users by posting open positions and sharing research on your product or service.  While you are at it, link up with like-minded businesses or research your competition.

YouTube  

Who: This is the space to connect with the guys.  Males between the ages of 35 to 44 are the largest user group. Another fun fact Spredfast found is that YouTube’s channels reach more 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the United States.  YouTube is second only to Facebook in monthly active users boasting a healthy 1 billion each month.   

What: Industries related to media, sports and automotive sectors are served well by this platform.  

When: YouTube’s myriad channels draw in users an average of 40 minutes a day.  

Where: People are tuning into watch on mobile devices more than desktop computers.   

Why: Tubers hang out on the site to interact with brands and follow content creators. 

How:  Businesses can publish video content showing the benefits and uses of products and services to directly engage with audiences and push them to a website to convert into sales.

Snapchat  

Who: The ladies love Snapchat. 

What: Retail, media, and sports sectors should snap away with this platform’s audiences. 

When: The ladies (and others) open the app 25 times each day.   

Where: Snapchat only lives on mobile devices. 

Why: Snappers use the platform for its privacy – they control how long and who sees their posts – and of course for the pretty filters and lenses.  

How:  Use filters for your business and create quick and fun content that is lighthearted and hip. If you want more tips, follow Snoop Dog and Spencer Pratt, they seem to have it all figured out and have the largest following. 

Need more help with the current social media scene? Need a strategy or ideas for posts? Give Poole Communications a call. We can help. 800-900-3635.

© 2019 Poole Communications

Sources:  

https://assets.khoros.com/content/tipsheets/2018-Social-Media-Demographics-Spredfast.pdf  

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/#times-fb  

Lots of social media buzz but still no business?  Everyone’s talking about your latest ad campaign. They’d better, you spent a lot of time, money, and energy creating it. You agonized over every word. Sorted through dozens of visuals. Finally, it all came together perfectly and now your biz has the buzz of your dreams.

 But now the buzz is fizzling out and all the hype didn’t translate into actual biz.

Instead of asking WTF (Why the Fizzle?), you should be thinking CTA (Call-To-Action).

Unless you are content with the warm and fizzles, insert a specific call-to-action on every ad within a campaign regardless of marketing channel.

CTAs compel the customer to do something that indicates their interest or need. Ask them to click, download, subscribe, like, take the quiz, share, learn more, get started, and then provide meaningful content when they answer the call to take action.

Calls-to-action:

Connect the value of your product with customer needs.

Learn the Top 3 Products Used by Millennial Moms

Communicate useful information.

Download 5 Tips to Save on your Energy Bill

Convert prospects into leads.

Subscribe to Earn 15% Off Your Next Purchase

Confirm the effectiveness of your creative and return on investment. CTAs help track how many clicks, downloads or forms you receive based on your message and campaign timeframe.

And, most importantly CTAs are EXPECTED. Consumers are barraged by hundreds of ads a day. Everyone loves a good cat video, but at the end of the day people have less time and more choices.

Educate them on how to make the best choice by offering ideas, tips, discounts, solutions, and ways to make life easier.

The CTA game takes thought, trial and error, and a healthy dose of patience. It is not enough to add an arrow and “click here” to visit your website. (P.S. They need to know what to do when they get there!)

Think about the buyer’s journey and create links to content for each stage of the process – from awareness and research to prioritizing and purchasing.

Finally, businesses who develop CTAs that connect and communicate value will convert customers and confirm that all the buzz will translate into real biz.

Lots of social media buzz but still no business? Need some help, give us a call at 800-900-3635 and we’ll turn your fizz into biz.

© 2019 Poole Communications

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.

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.

Today we’re looking at the simplicity of six words. Can you write your company story in six to ten words? This isn’t a new idea. Ernest Hemingway wrote a famous six word story.

“For Sale: New baby shoes. Never worn.”

Too often we make things harder than they need to be. Use the simplicity of six words.

Carefully Define Your Business

First, implement this six word idea with your business: define your company and culture in six words or less.

For example: at Poole Communications, we are client-focused, ethical, creative, self-motivated and passionate. When hiring new employees we look for those same characteristics. Even when interviewing a potential new client, we look for those same qualities. (That’s right, we don’t accept all new clients; we really want a good fit.)

The result is that we have a better fit with ALL the people we work with, that means more enjoyment in our work – and lives – for everyone involved.

Whenever we deviate from this principle there’s trouble: a unhappy client who doesn’t fit, or a disgruntled, unproductive employee. I’ve learned over the years how important it is to let our values lead the way.

Next, Define How You Work

Next, six simple words can help us define our logos, our slogans, how we work – and even who we work with. Those same words help you in planning and creating work or providing service. We don’t want to sell ourselves, our products or services; we want to educate in an ethical way. Let’s make the world a better place. Everyone wants marketing material that are simple and easy to understand. The little amount of time each have makes it mandatory. Word choice and communication is extremely important. It’s critical to be clear about who you are and how you work; and it’s equally important to be quickly understood.

Simplify Your Life

Finally, the world is fast paced, and we all have a lot to do; work to simplify your job and make your company function better. The simplicity of six words is one small tool you can use. Define what your business is, and how your business works. Get your team involved and listen to their input. Empower them to help grow the company and help make it better.

Need help? We can help you with strategy, writing, planning, budgeting and media placement. Give us a call at 800-900-3635.

©2018 Poole Communications

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

I live in the Midwest. Luckily for me, I have family and friends on both the East and West coast. So when I’m visiting the coasts I can see what trends are likely to occur in the next 3 to 5 years in the Midwest. This is kind of like a mini time travel advantage that I can use to help clients. For instance, we recognized the importance of websites and began building them before any of our competitors in this region.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that Pinterest is gaining popularity on both coasts. Because of this, you may want to consider opening a Pinterest account and allow it to help promote your business. Pinterest for business is a growing trend that you may be able to take advantage of.

What is Pinterest?
For those of you who don’t know Pinterest, it’s a social media tool allows you to share images. You can save your images in boards – kind of like albums or scrapbooks – to help you organize your images, and to help others find what they are looking for. This would be perfect for a construction company, a retail store, an artist, or a restaurant.

Image Sharing
As far as collecting images, you may want to collect images of advertising campaigns you like and may work for your company. You may want to collect what the competition is up to. You may want to collect ideas of things you want to implement at the office, or ideas collected for blogging about. On thing that is really neat about Pinterest for business is that you can have private and public boards. So you can choose what you share.

Business Sharing
Sharing images can help build your business. You can share product photos, focus on services you provide, show work you have completed, or illustrate your processes. It can provide clients with an inside peek of how your company operates. This allows potential clients to become more comfortable with you and more likely to contact your company when they are ready to buy.

Call To Action
Speaking of contact, don’t hesitate to include a call to action. What do you want people to do? Call you? Come by? Like your post? Make it simple for people to text, call or email. Use Canva or some other free image building software to build colorful graphics to share on your Pinterest page.

Pinterest is great for collecting and sharing ideas — just don’t forget to implement. Coming up with ideas is fun and creative, however you have to implement to get results.

Open a Pinterest account and play with it a little. You’ll probably think of other ideas of how to promote your business. If you do, mention them below and help other business owners.

©2018 Poole Communications