30 Aug

Good Intentions

Have you ever hired an outside contractor? Have you been satisfied with the results? Hiring a outside contractor can provide a high level of expertise in a specific area without having to employ a full-time person. While this may seem obvious, here’s something people often fail to recognize. The value that your contractor can provide is directly tied to your ability to find an equilibrium between bringing their talents forward and the degree in which you provide your own ideas on the project.

It’s important that the person you hired has an understanding of the history your company relative to the type of project they were hired to do. It’s in your best interest to coordinate a comprehensive overview of any materials, statistics and information prior to hiring your contractor. Also, be aware of what you felt was successful and what was not and why. Having this understanding will help you and your contractor to move forward with less time (and money) wasted.

When you’re in the trenches, it’s easy to assume you know everything there is to know about your business. It’s essential that you have a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish by hiring an outside consultant. These expectations should be provided to the contractor prior to beginning any project.

You also should have a keen awareness of who you are and how you function as a person. Are you the type if person who likes to micro-manage and have a say in all aspects of your business? If so, how will you feel to let go a bit and rely on someone else’s expertise? Will you try to influence the contractor to implement your ideas and therefore, limit the development new approaches, thus, the contractor value and benefits of your monies spent. While your feedback is a critical part of the success, it can also hinder opportunities if you are so tied to your ideas that you close the door on your contractor’s input. By influencing the process too much, you hinder what might have been provided. Make sure you’re not creating a robot (someone who’s just executing your ideas) but rather bringing their expertise and value to the table. Remember, their expertise is their core competency so don’t overlook it by trying to push your ideas through. That’s why you hired this person to begin with because if you could have done it on your own, as well, you would have.

If your super happy with the work, is it because they did what you told them to do by overwhelming the contractor with your opinion or because they truly provided the specialty you were originally looking for? In fact I would I argue that pushing the envelop with contractor to explore the mist innovative concepts will yield the greatest results (provided you hired the best contractor for your needs).

 

17 Aug

Facebook Marketing: What can it do for you?

I saw a commercial where the company asked the audience to join them on Facebook, instead of mention their URLs on television commercial. While I would not suggest to overlook mentioning your website, I think that this illustrates just how powerful and fully adopted Facebook has become in both business and society as a whole. It’s a serious force.

In business, you’ll want to create a Fan Page as opposed to using your personal page. Also, don’t create a Facebook Group, they are outdated (they do not support Facebook Markup Language (FBML) or Facebook Apps, so they are not as interactive). First do a search and search for your brand or company and see what’s out there.

When you create your business fan page, choose a name that people will remember, and that clearly represents you. Ideally it should be the name of your business. Also, this name cannot be changed. You must have 25 fans in order to set up a username. It really makes accessing your profile a lot easier. Be sure and apply the username to your Facebook Page, not your personal profile.

You can customize your Fan Page and you should do so as much as you can. Upload a profile picture, and fill out the details about your business. If people are coming to the page, then they want to know more so use the profile to flesh out who you are, what you do, where to find you and more.

I’m not going to get into detail here about this (unless your comments want me to in another article), but you should be aware that you can (and should) create custom content that is appealing to customers and will stand out in the crowd as well as reinforce your brand. You do this using Facebook Markup Language (FBML).

In today’s economy, Facebook can offer no or low-cost, creative and innovative marketing. With millions of users each and every day, Facebook is present in people’s daily lives.

Once you’ve created your own Facebook Business Page. Next you need to let everyone know that it’s there. I would suggest first communicating the launch of your new Facebook Page with your existing customers, particularly if you have their email addresses. Let them know how to find you that you want their honest feedback on your product or service, and to reach out to you on Facebook. You may consider doing a promotion, for example, if they become a fan, they could receive a discount on their next purchase.

More tips on Facebook in my next post. If you have specific questions, please comment on this post.

By the way, since I’m giving all the information to you, I thought I should set up my own Facebook page – so I did and don’t have any friends yet :(

http://www.facebook.com/pages/RubyMarCom/116688138381420

14 Aug

Twitter Tips: Part 2

First thing I forgot to mention in the previous article is that there is a distinction between a “follower” on Twitter and a “friend” on Facebook.

A Facebook friend – is more like a real friend, you can read about one another and see updates. Twitter, on the other hand is more like a peeping Tom. I know it sounds odd, but it’s not necessarily a reciprocal relationship unless someone you choose to follow, decides to follow you, then you can actually make real connections.

A good way to find people to follow is to:

  • Search for your real friends on Twitter
  • Ask a colleagues for their Twitter addresses
  • Search through your friend’s followers and see who might be worth following.
  • Tweet often and with good content.

What makes Twitter unique?

For starters, information is easy to find. For example, on Facebook, most people’s information is viewable only by their approved friends.

What to post?

Once you start posting and attracting followers, you might begin to post details that elicit little response. On Twitter, you likely have never met or heard of your followers – also different from Facebook where you know your friends. The question becomes, who are these people and what information do they want to read?

A good approach to understanding is to look at your followers tweets. you might reply to some of them as well. Also, if you  “retweet”  (this is when someone finds your tweet interesting enough to send it to their followers preceded by the code “RT @rubymarcom.”This can result in lots of new followers. If a tweet is retweeted say, 10 times and for each retweet, you gain 2 new followers, you might have 20+ new followers. Also, asking questions is another effective way to gain more followers. People love to give their opinion so ask interesting questions and you’ll likely get a few answers.

One trick you must do is if you want to post a link, use a link-shrinking service. I use http://bit.ly, it allows you to maximize the space you get (140 characters).

Just a heads up – when you reply to a tweet, using the @reply your tweet will be broadcast to all your followers. It’s basically a reply all function, but beware because you don’t want to start spamming people. You can send a direct message to another Twitter user with the Direct command. Enter d username message, and users will get your ping if they have direct messages enabled on their phone or IM account.

If you enter a Tweet with @username at the beginning of it, your message is understood as being intended for that particular person, although others will be able to see it. (However, @ tweets won’t show up on your home page unless you are the intended recipient.) Be sure the person who you want to see your message is following you, or they won’t get it.

Twitter is useful you can really get a clear picture of what people are saying about your brand.  you certainly don’t need to commit to read each and every tweet – but rather engage when you can with whom you want.

Twitter Glossary

As you may have already noticed, there are lots of terms on Twitter that it can be confusing. You may want to check out one of the available Twitter glossaries online:

11 Aug

Twitter Tips

So yesterday I wrote about the plan in relation to social media. Today I bring you Twitter. I see many of you on Twitter so I hope this will be handy for you.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of understanding your goals with all of this.

Everyone’s end-goal in using Twitter is to get people to follow them, correct? So start with completely filling out your user profile. If you don’t people will not view you as legitimate as are and will be less likely to follow you.  Also, in completing the profile, make sure that you add an avatar (the little image associated with your account). Again, without one, people often don’t think you’re as valid. If you have a question about what to add for the Twitter profile, check out your competition and/or similar businesses. Make sure whatever you include coordinates with the brand you’ve already established. It takes several times for people to see your logo to associate what you do with your product or service – this is another chance to be recognized so make sure you take advantage of the opportunity and not waste it.

Don’t forget about your background. Again, this is a chance to add a branded touch to the look of your page and reinforce the image to your followers. If nothing else, create a Twitter background that resembles some element of your website (the colors, style or logo) By the way, you can add information on your background that isn’t covered in your Twitter profile. Email me (or comment to this post) if you don’t know how to do this or would like me to do a piece on a specific topic.

There are a two schools of thought out there, most people put their company as their account name (I do – my account name is @RubyMarCom) but where the difference comes in is that some people use their personal avatar and bio so as to build the company’s brand, while still associating a name with the business. This gives a name and face to the business. In writing this I might actually change my avatar. The other school of thought uses business logo for the avatar and the business information for the bio. It’s up to you.

If you have employees that are also on Twitter, you might want to help them help you promote your business. So they would have an account like SmithJewelersJC – maybe Jen Carter is the employee. Therefore the account is mutually branded. The avatar would have the person’s picture and the corporate logo. Again, I’m happy to explain further if necessary.

You will likely become known for providing content on specific topics. Twitter is considered a mini-blog, it’s a shorter and easier to spread form of blogging.  Therefore, you want to post things on Twitter to deliver that content to your audience that they want.

You should have a marketing plan in place to acquire new followers. A few items to do: make sure you have your Twitter handle in your email signature, make sure it’s on your website – you can even add a button with a direct link, add it to your ads, your newsletter, on your business cards, on any promotional items, on anything your have printed for your business where you have your address and website.

The more people who follow you on Twitter, the easier it is to grow your community. Retweets and following other people are two essential ways to get new followers, but content is most important to make sure you produce consistent, quality tweets.

A word about content. I watch many of the posts from various stores. What I’m finding is of very little value. Think about what your customer wants to read. Social media is very different from traditional media. People want information and resources – not sales pitches. Post your fabulous sale – but not JUST your sales. Post information that is useful – how to clean a ring properly maybe. Little tips., fashion trends, new product announcements. People will begin to ignore you when they aren’t engaged. Lastly, read people you follow and interact with them – you have he chance to be more than a store- so build some relationships.

 

09 Aug

Social media plan

By now you’re aware of social media and likely understand that it can have an impact on your business, but are you implementing effective strategies that will give you payback?

Unfortunately, social media being as new as it is, is still challenging to measure. To ensure the most effective campaign, you should begin with a plan. You need to have an understanding of:

  • What social media strategies your competitors are using
  • Concise message that you wish to communicate
  • Whom you wish to reach
  • What is the goal for the campaign, do you want to increase sales of a particular product it service? To increase traffic on your site? In your store?

Social media strategies can be very effective, but require a lot of commitment in the form of time. While you may wish and hope for your campaign to go “viral” (that overused word that frankly isn’t likely to happen) you need to set realistic goals to measure your success.

Look for a future articles and tidbits that will discuss different social media options and how to use them effectively. Take the time to do some research and if you don’t understand something, feel free to ask. You can reply to this post or email me directly atRenee@rubymarcom.com

 

05 Aug

Marketing vs. Advertising

This is an article I wrote for one of my clients (ARMS). It appeared on their blog on March 15, 2010. I think you might find it to be useful.

Oftentimes I hear people refer to marketing in a way that suggests they mean advertising and to advertising in a manner that reads marketing. If the two terms confuse you – you’re not alone.

Advertising: Tells a story and lures a customer. It’s a paid, persuasive and public announcement of a message by an identified sponsor.  It’s non-personal presentation in nature with promotions aimed at existing and potential customers. Advertising is one piece if the puzzle. When you read an ad about a sale…communication that spreads news on your business is advertising. Advertising is not just buying an ad, it’s a process of  planning and developing strategies to make your ad successful. Where your ad can be seen (placement), how often it will run (frequency) are a few questions that require serious thought before taking the leap. Newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television, radio, and the Internet are mediums you can choose from to place your ads.

Marketing: Is the puzzle and involves planning what you want to do and with what mix of business activities with the intention to bring together buyers and sellers and ultimately facilitating the exchange of products or services. Basically to attract people to your business and hope that they buy. Advertising only equals one piece of the pie in the strategy, yet all of elements must work both independently and together towards the bigger goal. Do not be mistaken, marketing is a process that is time-intensive as to be effective, research and planning should be comprehensive. Think of marketing as everything that you can do to reach out and interacting with existing and potential customers.

As previously stated, advertising represents one piece of the puzzle – one tool that can be implemented to communicate your business and attract customers. There are many more pieces to complete the puzzle. They include: market research, branding, media planning, pricing, distribution, customer service, and public relations – to name a few. You should know that advertising is usually the largest expense in most marketing plans – with public relations following behind.