Tuesday, May 17, 2016 by Alex IvanovsBecoming the kind of a person that others begin to look up to as a leading mind in particular topic and industry is not something that happens overnight, overweek, or overyear. It happens after several years of dedicated practice and dedication towards your craft, which is when you start to develop the kind of habits and insights that experts tend to have, at which point sharing, creating and engaging becomes much more seamless, and rewarding. To become an influencer one must truly understand his craft, his audience, and have enough ideas to keep his source of information (blog) constantly updated with relevant content. If you feel that you're nearing the threshold for becoming an influencer yourself, here we have some example things that successful influencers do on daily basis to ensure that they remain relevant, and in fact to ensure that their success continues to rise.
Thursday, May 12, 2016 by Jeremy Jensen
If this article caught your attention because you don't feel like you're proficient in marketing, or you don't have the budget to bring in a marketing specialist, you've come to the right place!
Nowadays it's common practice for small to mid-sized businesses to skip hiring a dedicated marketing staff member in favor of dividing marketing responsibilities between current employees. In today's business climate where we all have to wear several hats, here are our best five tips on how to run a successful marketing campaign on a bootstrapped budget.
1. Learn How To Run The Show
Chances are that if you're the one who founded your company, then you probably already know your company’s vision and voice better than any of the current employees. That's not to say you'll be the only one implementing a marketing strategy, but you should take it upon yourself to delegate tasks and positions among your staff based on each of your employee's skills.
A good way to sustain marketing progress is to have weekly, or bi-weekly meetings to run analytics and check in on how your strategies are performing with your team present.
2. Focus On Your Target Customers
The whole point of marketing in the first place is to attract the right customers to your business. Rather than expending your valuable time and resources marketing to the whole world, try narrowing your scope to customers that are most likely to be recurrent and help your business grow.
Usually your target customers come down to those you know how to reach. Common methods for showing these customers you appreciate their loyalty, while also buffering your marketing scheme, include:
- Send prior customers free samples or small incentives to regain their business
- Create a frequent buyer program to keep your brand on their mind
- Ask for client testimonials to use in your promotional material
- Collect your customers birthdays and send coupons on gift cards out every year
Spending more time on customer loyalty will teach you a lot about what types of people are using your product or service.
3. Grow Your Social Media Presence
Ideally I'm not the first person to tell you to get on social media, but if I am, please drop what you're doing and get on social media right now. Not only has social media become the number one strategy for marketing professionals, your customers are now expecting to see you online.
The best part about it is it's free! Mostly free, at least. There are definitely options within most platforms to 'Boost' your posts by paying to have them seen more, but for those on a bootstrap budget this is a perfect way to spend your time over money to grow your social presence. Prior to diving in headfirst take some time to outline your goals and make a content calendar in order to keep your posts consistent. (Don't miss our post about spying on your competitors to determine their Facebook marketing strategy!)
4. Engage in Community Outreach
Even though social media and web-based advertising has grown exponentially in popularity, the practice of engaging with your customers and community members in-person is a timeless strategy you should spend more time doing.
As a local business you have the opportunity to become a pillar in your community, and allowing your customers to meet you face-to-face is the first step. Some cost-effective ways to get your name out around town include:
- Sponsoring and attending local events
- Participate in University events like career fairs
- Send a Press Release to your local newspaper detailing changes in your company, or request editorial based on something historical or interesting about your business
- Host a competition that gets community members involved
5. Create Simple Videos To Demonstrate Your Brand
Video is the king of content marketing. Nothing can incorporate as much information into as little time as video advertising, and nothing engages audiences quite as powerfully as the combination of audio and visual elements.
In the past having video marketing was an expensive endeavor that typically required hiring an entire film crew. Nowadays, thousands of videos are being uploaded every day from business owners producing short videos entirely from their smartphones.
All it really takes to make an engaging video is bringing people behind the scenes, or showing them exactly what it is you do. People love feeling transparency between the products their buying and the people who are creating them.
Try any or all of these ideas out today, and measure the results. Let us know what worked for you in the comments below!
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 by Jeremy Jensen
There's no one else that will ever care about your business, and your career, as much as you do. Although it sounds like a harsh blow against humanity, accepting that you're ultimately in control of your business and personal destiny will greatly assist you in achieving your marketing objectives.
Whether you have realized it or not, you've been in the business of marketing from day one. CEOs, cashiers, and freelancers alike all partake in marketing dialogue everyday as they discuss, sell, and work towards building a brand.
Nowadays we have all of the marketing tools imaginable; it's time to start thinking like a marketer, and meet your objectives without having the formal title on your resume.
1. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
In the marketing world you'd be hard-pressed to find anything as consistent and timeless as the S.M.A.R.T. Goals model. Goals and objectives are practically synonymous with business, and so here is the SMART breakdown to provide you with the foundation for reaching your objectives:
> Specific - Address problems or new opportunities down to the last detail. Building goals on ambiguity is the easiest way for them to fall apart at their foundation.
> Measurable - Again, be specific and set milestones in small increments leading to your objectives. It's important to feel like you're making small, sustainable steps, not massive leaps.
> Actionable - Often times goals and objectives fill our minds loftily as ideas instead of steps we can take in the form of action. Give yourself the opportunity to take action - don't just write down ideas.
> Relevant - Will your action be relevant to marketing your product? Are there better ways to apply it towards your goals?
> Time-bound - Seeing returns is a long and never ending game, but breaking your goals into smaller time frames will allow you to analyze your progress.
Now that you can see the format for creating objectives, here are some of the most common objectives professional marketers build into their strategies.
2. Increase Sales
Business without sales isn't business at all. At the top of every marketer’s checklist is figuring out how their efforts can lead to people not only finding a business, but making a purchase as well. In order to know whether or not your marketing efforts are converting sales, you'll need to track the correlation between increased marketing and increased sales.
The best way to track your ROI is by doing one of the following:
- Create goals in Google Analytics that can trace where traffic is coming from that's leading to sales.
- Send out customer surveys to see where they heard about you.
- When you receive a new customer or client, ask them how they heard about you.
The best way to improve your marketing is to know what's working, and what is simply wasting time.
3. Improve Product Awareness
If you've ever gotten potential customers questioning exactly what it is you're selling, then you may need to improve their awareness to your products or service. In addition to the volume of advertisements and social posts you create, spend some time putting out content that details what customers will get from using your product or service.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating a simple video. It doesn't have to be elaborate, given how powerful smart phones are and how easy it is to create video these days. Your video can be embedded into your website, or shared on social channels.
4. Target New Customers
Of all the marketing tools available to us, social media is by far the most effective at targeting new customers. Not only can you browse for relevant groups or keywords to share your content, you can also pay to have the social media platforms put your ads in front of viewers who are statically more likely to follow up after seeing those ads.
Another effective method is by examining the competition and to whom they're able to sell. Or, looking in the opposite direction, find a business that supplements your product or service and see how you can complement each other with customer referrals.
What are some of your go-to marketing strategies for reaching business objectives? Let us know in the comments!
Thursday, May 5, 2016 by Kevin Wood
The digital marketing space is very volatile. Every single year we see new technology updates that completely shake up the space. It’s important to keep an eye out for upcoming trends in the marketplace. By becoming a first adopter to a new technology, or new trend, you get a leg up on your competition and can be seen as an authority in the space rather quickly.
Below we dive into five different digital marketing trends that are starting to take off this year.
1. Marketing Automation
Marketing can be an incredibly time consuming process, especially as the number of platforms you need to be active on continue to grow. Thus the rise of marketing automation.
One of the simplest forms of marketing automation is sending out an email autoresponder. Chances are, most of your reading this are already familiar with this tool. Now marketing automation is expanding out into social media posting, content management and scheduling, and customer tracking.
By automating these aspects of the marketing process you free up time to focus on other high-value activities, like deepening client relationships with those that matter and focusing on long-term business growth strategies.
2. Video Advertising Is Set To Expand
Video ads have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook already offer advertisers plenty of options for video advertising. However, Google is finally enabling the use of video advertising within the search results.
This suggests that video advertising is only going to become more prevalent. If you haven’t hopped on board yet, you should; you can bet that a few of your competitors are going to utilize this trend.
3. Mobile Continues To Grow As A Force
Mobile isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only growing. A recent announcement from Google stated that mobile traffic was larger than desktop traffic in ten different countries. Of course, this hasn’t spread worldwide yet, but you can bet that it’s heading in that direction.
Google’s latest algorithm update also punished sites that weren’t mobile friendly, or didn’t have a mobile version of their website. It’s easy to see that Google has all their force behind a mobile-first future. It’s a smart choice to hop on board.
4. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is going to play a huge role into the future. The Oculus Rift has already been introduced to a very positive response. Now, and into the future, virtual reality will influence how marketers reach their customers and how they tell stories.
Virtual reality enables immersive storytelling at a level we’ve never seen before. It’s a good idea to hop on the VR train sooner, rather than later. Now is a good time to get a first look of what it’s like to use this new platform, and be part of its inclusion in your brand’s eventual strategy.
5. The Internet of Things
Wearable technology is only going to grow. With this growth we’ll see an increase in the amount of data this gives people to work with. This smart data that’s collected throughout the day-to-day lives of potential customers will allow for even more targeted and behavior-based marketing.
Wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, will continue to blur the line between the online world and the real world. Expect more devices like this to continue to be introduced in the future.
As a business owner, or marketer, it’s important to be able to recognize trends as they’re forming, so you can position your company to take advantage. You can expect the trends we highlighted above to only increase in relevance and importance into the future.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016 by Jeremy Jensen
Hiring an intern is a lot like hiring an employee in that most companies want to use internships as an interactive method for future prospects. The difficulty with internships in general is that you're working with mostly college students, or entry level applicants that require a lot of training.
Fortunately, hiring a marketing-specific intern has shown to be a much wiser investment as young and inexperienced interns have been exposed to marketing techniques and advertisements their entire lives. Between mobile apps, social media, blogging, and creative content production most of the younger demographics bring a fresh perspective your small business can greatly benefit from.
Finding the right intern is as much about what you can offer them, as they can offer your company. Here are three primary steps to selecting the best intern to work for your company.
Step 1: Should You Even Hire An Intern?
Oh yes, step number one is all about determining whether a marketing internship program is even right for your business. Internships require a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to the length you intend on keeping an intern busy. One and done assignments aren't fair to potential prospects, and it won't give your business a good reputation for future applicants.
You should only hire an intern if you:
- You feel your business can benefit from the perspective of a younger demographic
- Have enough free time to train and educate them
- Can offer base pay, fulfill their college requirement, or both
Do not hire an intern if you:
- Intend on having them do basic administrative work
- Haven't gotten your whole team to agree on the internship program
- Aren't willing to be open minded to their perspective.
Step 2: Where To Find The Best Candidates
Making it to this step means you're still ready to start looking for an intern that would mold well with your company. This step is also where many businesses get stuck as it's not always obvious where the best interns exist. Simply put, most interns will be waiting for you at universities and on the internet, but to be more specific:
- College and university job boards - Every college and university in your area has specific pages on their website devoted to job postings and internship opportunities. Get in touch with the with the school to get your posting listed, which might require a small fee, but most are free.
- Job Fairs - Job fairs are one of the best ways to meet potential interns because it requires face to face interaction. Marketing is all about interpersonal communication and being able to show up confidently, the same qualities should be present in your interns.
- Resources On The Web - Young interns intuitively seek out all sorts of different mediums to find the right opportunity. Try and make a posting on Craigslist.org, SimplyHired.com, or Internships.com just so you know all of your bases are covered. Finding interns on the web is also crucial for towns that may not have a university or community college nearby.
As you seek out your interns try to keep in mind that college students have limited availability during their semester's. If you can offer an internship full time over summer, especially if it is paid, you'll be much more likely to retain an intern full time.
Step 3: What Qualities To Look For
Marketing is a facet to business that has many parallels across different industries, especially when it comes to the tools and techniques responsible for an effective marketing campaign. All businesses have different needs, and so here are five basic traits to look for in your marketing intern applicants:1. Excellent Writing Capabilities
Marketing nowadays involves a plethora of unique skills but one that has never changed is the ability to write effectively. The written word continues to power our blog posts, commercial advertisements and is a crucial aspect to communicating through email.
Ask your intern to submit some writing samples, or prompt them to write something describing their outlook on your business and how they'd approach running a marketing campaign. A lack of writing skills should be an immediate red flag.
2. Confidence and Extroversion
There are many careers that allow us to be out of they public eye, but unfortunately marketing isn't really one of them. Look for applicants that look you in the eye, and can carry a conversation. Marketing involves a lot of interpersonal relations and the best marketing interns should be confident enough in themselves to help represent your company.
3. Social Media Proficiency and Appearance
Social media is constantly evolving. In order for your company to keep up with the trends you'll want an intern that knows how to use a variety of platforms front to back.
In addition, marketing interns should apply to your business with the expectation that you might check up on their personal profiles. If anything stands out to you on their public profile as unprofessional it's wise to keep looking as your employees end up being ambassadors to your brand.
4. Leadership Experience
While it's unlikely your intern will be managing your marketing campaign, having leadership experience is a large benefit to working with a team and accomplishing goals.
Leadership skills also teach us to act independently, while leading through example opposed to telling people what to do. Having an intern capable of self-motivation will greatly increase their value to your company.
5. A Knack For Creativity
Modern marketing tactics know no-bounds. Between video, photography, graphic design, writing, and music it's essential that a good marketing intern can chip in on creative projects. High-quality content should be one of your highest goals for your marketing campaign, and your intern should possess a few, if not many, creative skill sets.