Marketing mediums that shine during the holidays

It is every retailer’s favorite time of the year – the beloved holiday season. And as we wind down what has now become Black Friday “weekend,” there are some mediums that I feel are helpful in keeping consumers in-the-know about sales and such at the most appropriate times.

Radio
That’s right, I said it. Radio, which many marketers feel is a waste of budget, is helpful during the busy holiday season. People are in their cars, in and out of the stores, with making purchases on the brain. They want to get the scoop on where they need to be to get the best deals. For larger companies, radio ads during peak travel hours can be a good way to reinforce the TV spots and circulars that you’ve been pushing out. For smaller businesses, a radio spot during the holidays can be a great investment to call attention to the great items that you have to offer, along with any promotions that you have.

Online – SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
The internet has become a HUGE resource for the holidays. From gift ideas, to hunting down gifts, to pricing them out, people are using the internet like never before. Increasing your website’s visibility in search results can mean the difference between a consumer turning to you or a consumer turning to your competitor.

Online – Social Media
Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow marketers to promote posts so that they appear in consumers’ feeds. This presents a great opportunity to meet your consumers where they already are so that you can let them know how you can help them with their holiday shopping.

MobileSMS and MMS (Short Message Service and Multimedia Message Service)
While I personally struggle with the intrusiveness of mobile marketing, I cannot deny that it is a great opportunity to reach consumers and deliver relevant, location- and time-appropriate messages through a medium that is more times than not guaranteed to get the message through. For the holidays, I’d focus particularly on SMS and MMS with concise, hard-hitting messages that get the point across. Tell the consumer what he or she wants to hear, for example – “Save 50% on the entire store Thursday – Sunday at all North Carolina locations.” I would also provide users with the opportunity to “unsubscribe” to text messages to avoid the risk of running off those who are uncomfortable being reached via their mobile device.

Television
This time of the year brings millions in front of their TV screens with prime time TV shows well into their seasons, holiday specials, and countless NBA, NFL, NCAA Basketball AND NCAA Football games showing all day and night. TV ads, of course, are very expensive; however, if this is a medium you can afford, this is definitely the time of year to use it. Be smart in your media buying and select programs that will reach your target audience and deliver quality content.

What mediums do you think are most effective for marketing during the holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Managing your brand’s credibility

Image via Incredible Adventures

No matter how large your marketing budget may be, and regardless of how cool your packaging is, and even if your social media efforts are out of this world, CREDIBILITY will always be one of the very most important assets your brand has. In this very social world, consumers seek the opinions of their friends and their online social communities. They also rely heavily on ratings and reviews to make final decisions about making purchases.

What does this mean for brands?

It is absolutely imperative that you be aware of conversations taking place that involve your brand. If the conversation is a negative one, you can take a number of steps.

  • Put yourself in the conversation and find out why your brand is being viewed negatively.
  • Be gracious about the feedback.
  • If the conversation is held away from your platform (for example if a complaint was discussed in a tweet, but your brand wasn’t mentioned directly in the tweet), encourage the issue to be reported to a platform that you control, like email, and respond in a speedy manner
  • Let the person know that their feedback will be taken into consideration.
  • Always pay attention to your reviews and star ratings and respond to negative ones. While a bad review can send a bad first impression for a first-time consumer, a thoughtful, sensible response on behalf of the brand may convince a newcomer to for try to form their own opinion.

Put your positive feedback, reviews and results in a place that is highly-visible to the consumer.

  • Don’t bury great product reviews and star ratings in the product detail pages. Bring those great assets to forefront and flaunt them! A simple “5-star rating!” callout can intrigue a customer and make them want to find out what others consider to be so great.
  • Make it easier for consumers to find the top-rated or most-preferred items that you offer – even if it means putting gold star or a thumbs up beside the item to call attention to it. Always be prepared to discuss your best sellers.
  • Showcase testimonials that consumers send in and share via social media in an attention-grabbing manner. Take the time to have a graphical treatment used to make the best ones stand out (display via banner advertisements, wall photos on Facebook, Instagram images, etc) and always give credit to the person who provided the testimonial. Not only will this allow you to leverage your credibility, but it will also encourage others to send in their thoughts as well.

Credibility is crucial. Address those issues that threaten your credibility quickly and effectively and leverage the positive feedback that you receive in a tasteful manner that will help take some of the guesswork out of purchase decisions for your consumers.

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Update: Case studies can help tremendously with credibility. Check out this article I came across and learn how you can use them: 3 Methods to Use Case Studies to Attract More Clients

Is your marketing season-appropriate?

Image via singanewsongmusic.blogspot.com

Autumn is just around the corner and companies are gearing up to implement their fall strategy – but what does that strategy entail? It shouldn’t be just a switch to warmer color tones. I think most larger companies get how to adjust their strategy from season to season, but it may be something that startups and smaller companies don’t realize the importance of.

Changing your strategy from season to season means changing your messaging. Consumers’ way of thinking change from season to season, and that is completely understandable since we as people are presented with different issues and concerns from month to month. And that’s what you and your brand or product is here for – to solve a problem for the consumer.

When planning your strategy for fall months (or any season, since your fall plan should’ve been done at the beginning of summer), ask yourself, “How is John Smith’s behavior going to change during the fall from what it was during the summer?” A big part of catering to your target audience is anticipating their needs, factors that may change those needs and what their needs will become. Once you understand this, you’ll have a better understanding of what it is that you should be saying to your audience.

Use your new understanding of your consumers’ needs in the new season to drive your marketing strategy (which includes content, social media, PR, advertising, etc. etc). Figure out how you can clearly and effectively communicate the benefits that your product or service offers during that particular timeframe, without straying from the brand’s identity. This type of season-relevant, benefit-driven messaging strategy paired with tasteful, season-driven graphic and merchandising updates should help prepare your brand for a successful season.

How does your marketing change from season to season?

To auto DM on Twitter or not to auto DM? That is the question.

Twitter offers a helpful tool that allows you to automatically send new followers a DM. Most people use this service as an opportunity to say “Hello” and “Thanks for following” and others use it as a chance to enlighten people about other platforms on which they are present like Facebook or a website. And then there are others who use the auto DM as a chance to make you get, do or buy something. It is this last use of auto DMs that I find to be counterproductive for the opportunity that Twitter presents to engage with your consumers.

Many people question whether or not you should even send auto DMs to new followers. Some find it impersonal and annoying, while others see it as a great way to start a conversation, and as a common courtesy. I agree with both sides; however, so long as you’re not using it to MAKE people do something, I don’t see too much harm in it. So, I won’t say yes, send auto-DMs and I won’t say, no, don’t send them. It could always be something that your brand tests for a while to see if it has an impact one way or another. If you do choose to send them, here are some things to consider.

Set goals for what you want your DM to accomplish
You only have 140 characters to say what you have to say, so decide before you start crafting your message, what it is that you want to accomplish.

Be conversational
Twitter is a laid-back, social atmosphere and your message should be crafted in a way that fits that atmosphere.

Be grateful and reciprocate
That new follower did not have to follow you. Let them know you appreciate the opportunity to engage with them. And if you follow back all of your followers, let them know that it will be an info exchange and not just you pushing tweets out AT them; moreover, let them know that you’re excited to hear what they’ve got to say.

Be subtle
If one of the goals of your DM is to get users to like your Facebook page as well, don’t force it on them. Make a subtle suggestion or help them out by letting them know that they can also join the conversation on Facebook.  Do not make your brand sound gimmicky or make the person immediately regret following you by trying to get a sale or by sounding too pushy. Remember, social marketing is not push-push-sell; it is an opportunity for true relationship building.

Don’t be redundant
Again, you only have 140 characters for this touch point. Don’t repeat information that the follower can find in your bio. If your website is already in your bio, then let them know that they can also feel free to join you on Facebook, YouTube, or wherever else you have a presence. Don’t say, “We love rainbows and want to share pictures of them with you” if your bio says, “Lover of rainbows.” People already know that Twitter is for sharing. Make sure you’re making the most out of this opportunity.

At the moment, I don’t send auto DMs on behalf of my blog. Ironically, I find them to be impersonal and at the moment, I don’t have any other information to provide in a DM. I choose to say “thank you” to my new followers via one general tweet after I’ve accumulated a few.

Do you send an auto DM to new users? Do you think they’re helpful at all?

5 reasons you should keep the ‘enemy’ closer in marketing

Image via Fortune3.com

The saying goes, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Ok ‘enemy’ is a strong word – competitor is more appropriate. When it comes to marketing, it’s crucial to keep your eye on what the competitor has going on. Don’t get me wrong, never get so wrapped up in the competitor that you lose sight of your brand’s core values, identity and goals, but do realize the value in keeping tabs on what your competitor has going on for a number of reasons.

1. Size up your competitor
Before you even start your marketing, you need a clear sense of what you’re up against. Does your budget compare to theirs? If not, you’ll need to find a way to capitalize off of the options available to you. Is your brand not as personal as theirs? Find a way to personalize your brand. And so on and so forth.

2. Learn
You can use your competitor’s marketing efforts as a learning experience. Research to see if you can get data on how well their work was received and find out what people think they did right and what they did wrong.  This will be able to help you avoid similar mistakes, and it may also allow you the opportunity to capitalize off of a failing effort from your competitor. It’s usually pretty easy to Google an ad and get a results list full of opinions.

3. Avoid being a copycat
It’s quite common and disappointing to find that the great idea that you had for a campaign has already been done. But what would make this even worse would be to find that your competitor has done it. Don’t be a copycat, even if it’s by accident. Take note of what your competitor is doing and what they have done so that you don’t make the mistake of doing it, too.

4. Don’t miss the train
Has your competitor caught whiff of a nuance that works exceptionally well for your category? Of course you can’t copy it exactly, but is there a way that you can jump on board while bringing your own special touch to the table? You won’t know if you don’t know about the nuance in the first place.

5. You’re in battle!
It’s you against them, and just like in any other competition, it’s always important to anticipate your competitor’s next move. You can’t do this without at least having knowledge of their past plays. Also, if your component comes at you head-on, you need a clear understanding of not only their marketing, but their business as well, so that you can be prepared to retaliate.

Football teams watch footage of their competitors’ games for a reason! Be prepared when you enter the market and stay ready for action if you’re already in the market by getting a good understanding of what your competitor has going on.

Happy marketing!

How do you keep track of your competitors’ efforts? Leave a comment and share!

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