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The Marketing Ecosystem

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The Marketing Ecosystem

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“A referral happens when the evangelist’s friend has a need that the evangelist believes that your product or service will service their friend’s need.”

This article might not be for you!

If your business model leans more towards the transactional side, clients and evangelists are not in your model and all your resources should be focused on the prospect to customer action. If your business model is transactional, this article does not fit your business. Transactional businesses normally have a product or service that is only sold once. Things like debt relief or diet pills lean toward this model.

A good marketing ecosystem moves people or businesses through various stages of relationship with the business. People flow in both directions based on the on-going experience they have with the business. The job of a marketer is to move the most people in a positive direction in the flow. While often represented as a pyramid, the shape of the data is actually more like the form above. It has a steep angle as it moves up the statuses with a bubble at the end in the most mature companies. Time is like gravity in this process as the status tends to drop if the relationship is not constantly refreshed.

Many business executives will tell you that most of their business comes from referrals. The challenge is that the executive is only looking at one point along the path and typically that is when the order is registered and the prospect becomes a customer. If you follow this farther back, you will find that all business ultimately came from prospects or suspects.

Please note that nowhere in that statement is there anything about the vendor (that’s you) in the process. That’s because while you have to earn the referral, you do not cause the event. It is the need of the friend that starts the process. There are things you can do to influence that but it is very difficult to create need.

It’s about moving people through the communication system

Each stage in the process can be thought of as a segment classification with a barrier to the next class. That barrier is the customer experience and that is within your control. So let’s take this problem apart and discuss the barrier between each classification.

Suspects – People that might do business with you

The first class, and by far the largest, are the suspects. These are people that we suspect could do business with us but so far that’s it. Many times, the problem with this class is the size and the related expense of communicating with that class. The first thing a business has to consider is do they have the budget they need to talk to this class. If they do, the primary barrier to being a prospect is awareness of the product or service. This is especially difficult when you are dealing with a new innovation where people are not aware of the problem or the product. With a well-defined product or service, creating awareness is largely an educational process to a very large group of people. As awareness becomes interest, the person morphs from a suspect to a prospect. So this barrier is the combination of awareness and interest.

Prospects – People who have some indication they might do business with you

Prospects are created by data that indicates that the person is more likely to be a good fit for your product or service.  Creating prospects using data is quick and easy but moving them from prospects to customers is not. This is because as a marketer, you need to transform the qualification of interest into desire and ultimately action. This is where most businesses spend the majority of their marketing resources and their measurement of choice is the ever popular first sale.

Leads aka Sales Pipeline – People that have proactively indicated an interest in your product or service

A prospect or suspect that has proactively reached out to the business is a lead for the time period that it is being followed up on by the sales team. The proactive outreach normally takes the form of a sales lead form completion, phone call inquiry, or other valued event. If the lead goes cold, then the person returns to be a prospect with special history.

The subsystem of leads is often called the “Sales Pipeline” but our position is that the pipeline runs from suspect to evangelist.  Thinking only of this one section of the system results in a myopic view of the process. Since this status starts with expression of interest and ends with a sale, it is an area of focus for many plans but it is no more or less important than the management of the other stages.

Customers – People that have done business with you within one business cycle

Customers happen when a suspect or prospect purchases a product or service. Sounds simple enough but trust me when I tell you it only looks simple.  A customer is not a lifetime status and the customer can easily drop back to being a prospect if they fail to reorder when expected. This is also the time when many organizations stop marketing and that is a huge mistake. The other big mistake made with this classification is thinking of customer as a permanent status. While you can establish any rule you want for the classification, the typical customer status should only hold until the next expected purchase and this is driven by the normal sales cycle of the product or service. If you are not aging the customers out of this status, then you will not see what is truly happening in the business.

Clients – Customers who will continue to do business with you even if you do something wrong

Clients are someone who will continue to do business with you even when you are not the low cost provider. They will also forgive you when you do something stupid because they trust you. Moving a customer to a client requires that you build trust and loyalty.  Normally this transformation happens over time and can be difficult to observe. Most businesses that measure this do so a few times a year.

Evangelists aka Brand Advocates – Customers, Clients, or trusted advisers that recommend your business when their friend has a need

Evangelists are the very lofty goal of the ecosystem but they are exceptionally difficult to create because it requires a client with a specific set of social skills and experiences. I subscribe to the concept of the social connector as described in the book, Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. In every social network, there are people that value the process of connecting others and it is this trait that turns a client into an evangelist. To some degree, there are clues in social media as to who these people might be but there are also lots of posers. The data you want to look at is their connection level and the activity of those connections. Evangelists are a temporary status and can change from product to product. This means that an Evangelist for product A may be a silent client for product B. Mavens (trusted expert) can also become Evangelists if the need of the person is a very specific product. These evangelists are driven by their desire to pass technical information.

It is important to note that not all evangelists are customers or clients. It is entirely possible to create an evangelist that is a trusted adviser to the prospect. Common examples of this are CPA’s or Attorneys that often recommend items to their clients when they see a need. In some cases, campaigns with the goal of communicating to potential evangelist segments make good business sense.

Negative Flow

Referrals can be positive or negative based on the experience they are communicating.  Negative flow can happen when you create an evangelist with a negative experience and they distribute that. Many studies show that the typical negative experience will get distributed to 12 people, while a positive experience will reach one. This is not what you want to hear but referrals do work both ways. If the person involved is an evangelist, great care should be taken.

Time is Like Gravity

Time pulls the person to lower levels within the classification. An example of this is a customer that does not repurchase and drops back to prospect status.  The reason this is important to understand is that while we might want to earn a level and stay there, that is not how it works.

Paying for Referrals

One common idea about referrals is to pay for more of them. This idea almost never works but it often looks like it does. The reason it can look like it works is that when the referral happens and an incentive is available, it is often claimed. It is likely that an incentive to some customers will result in an action but you have to ask yourself how powerful the referral will be if it was motivated by money. Are you in fact paying for what will happen naturally? I would contend that in many cases, paying for referrals does not create a referral but they do create a marketplace for them.

Moving People through the System

From ToHow
SuspectProspectActive: Create awareness that serves a want or need
Passive: Find data that indicates a product want or need fit
ProspectCustomerCreate desire to service a want or need
CustomerClientCreate a trust relationship
ClientEvangelistHave a trust relationship with social connector and get lucky enough that they become aware of a friend’s want or need that is served by your product or service
Customer Client EvangelistProspectMore than one business cycle without a business interaction.

In the marketing plan for the business, each of these areas needs a campaign to serve these movements.


The Market: Everyone
Suspects: Someone who could do business with you
Prospects: Someone who has demonstrated some interest in your product/service
Customers: Someone who has purchased your product or service
Clients: A customer that will continue to do business even if you do something wrong
Evangelist: A person that tells others about you. Can be a customer, client, or other trusted adviser. This is also known as a Brand Advocate in some circles.
Mavens: a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others
Social Connectors: people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions

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Mobile Friendly Test

Now is the Time for a Mobile Friendly Site

Google’s updated mobile ranking system, taking effect April 21, 2015, will affect your website’s ranking in mobile search results. If your website is mobile-friendly, your organic ranking in mobile search results could improve. What isn’t clear is if and how this will affect a website’s ranking for desktop searches.

This change could also affect your business if you run AdWords advertising because your organic ranking is similar to your quality score in AdWords. Quality score is driven by ad quality, click through rate, and landing page quality so it can have a big impact on your account. If your page is ranked as not-mobile friendly this could push your quality score down in a hurry. None of us will know for some time but this is a time to watch your quality scores very closely.

If you’re not sure that your website is mobile friendly, Google has provided a tool – the Mobile Friendly Test. To use the test tool, just paste your website URL and click “Analyze”. You’ll either get a green notification that your site is fine or a red warning with recommendations on what you can do to fix it.

A mobile friendly website can be accomplished in 3 ways:

  1. Responsive Web Design (RWD) – recommended by Google, one site that adjusts for different sized devices
  2. Separate Mobile Website – different site/code for mobile, desktop, tablet with different URL’s
  3. Dynamic Serving – different code for device type, same URL

If you do already have a mobile site, you can use Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability to see where your mobile experience can be improved.

Only time will tell the extent of the effects that this will have on your website’s ranking. If you haven’t updated your site for mobile, we highly recommend you start that process as soon as possible – for the sake of both your organic and paid results. If you have any questions about the status of your site, give us a call.

Original announcement from Google on February 26, 2015

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Color Wheel

Roundtables as a Business Strategy

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Ten years ago I started a project in partnership with 2 other businesses and 3 non-profit trade associations to form a Regional CEO Roundtable program in the local area. Today this program serves 5 groups of CEO’s and approximately 60 CEO’s that meet monthly to share ideas and experiences with the other members. The value of this program comes from the relationships and understanding of a diverse set of opinions. I belong to all 5 of these groups and I find them to be extremely valuable to my business. There is no doubt in my mind that diversity creates organizational strength and these groups create a level of diversity that simply is impossible in a single business.

We are now preparing to take this concept to the Creative Design area of our business by building a local Designer’s Roundtable. This will be a group of intermediate to advanced designers that we can exchange ideas with in a confidential peer to peer network. Our goal is to put together 10-12 designers that can meet monthly in a confidential group and share best practices. Having done this with the CEO Roundtables many times I know that getting to the trust level takes time to build. In new CEO Roundtables I have found that trust relationships takes 12-18 months before people become comfortable with the group and the discussion becomes more honest and direct.  What happens is in the early meetings everything is good and they only talk about the things that worked well but as the group matures the failures start to be debated and the real relationships in the group start to form.

I have been a business owner since 1988 and I was first introduced to the Roundtable concept in Milwaukee where the program was part of the regional chamber of commerce. When I first moved to the California Central Coast in 1996 the first thing I did was join the Chamber and ask how to sign up for the CEO Roundtable.  The silence to that question was deafening and it would take almost a decade to fix that.

Roundtables are not the product of a person or even a company. They are a product of a business community and that requires partnerships be built.  In our case the partnerships that had to be created included a couple of leading business. In our case the commercial part of the partnership came from a HR Services Company, Your People Professionals, and a CPA firm, Barbich Longcrier Hooper and King. This had to be partnered with business organizations that included Softec (Technology Trade Association), the EVC (County Economic Development Group), and the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce. With that partnership it was finally possible to pull together the first 3 groups and stand the program up in the community.

These groups have matured over the year with many strong relationships being developed between different members. I have seen these relationships create value for members many times and the value is typically an understanding of the diverse perspectives that members are exposed to. There have also been cases of members doing business with each other although that is typically kept outside the roundtables.

In a small business we often become consumed by our own little world and we fail to understand the bigger world view. The roundtables can help moderate that challenge and stop ideas from being isolated in a single business.

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Dealing with the Village Idiot

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How To Deal With an Unfair Negative Review

We are fans of social media networks but they can create the challenge of dealing with an unfair negative review. Negative reviews happen all the time because it is a rare week that we do not get a call from a client on this topic. The problem, of course, is that our instant reaction is to lash back at the unfairness and doing this runs the risk of writing the best response you will ever regret. Managed properly, negative reviews can improve your business; but this article is about dealing with the unfair review. Just so we are clear on the scope of our comments, this is where the person irrationally attacks your business for no justified reason.

If you get a negative review for something you did, the best advice is to take responsibility, learn from your mistake, and get better for the next time. Sometimes negative reviews are the best thing that can happen to you but they almost never feel like that when they happen. They hurt and they make us angry, but as a business we have to fight those reactions and deal with the issue at hand.

Step One is to take a deep breath and let out some of the tension. You have been unfairly assaulted but as a business you cannot react with your emotions. Let out the emotions in some other fashion but do not post a response while you are still mad.

Step Two is to assess what really happened. There is a reason that this person went off on you and it may or may not have anything to do with you. They may just be having a horrible day and something you said or did gave them the opportunity to vent. Sometimes the cause of the hostile response is not actually related to your business. We have seen situations when we ask for more details and the person will back off their statements. They were mad when they wrote the posting but after some time to reflect they soften their response.

Step Three is to respond to the complaint and bring it to a close. There is no perfect answer to this and it really depends on how you read the person on the other side of the posting. If the problem is something that you can fix then some consideration of responding in public is worth the time. The advantage is that others will see how you respond to a problem and most will appreciate a professional response. If however you have to deliver bad news to the customer, doing that in private might be the right way to go.

To respond in public or private – that is the question.

We recently had a client that got slammed with negative reviews after just the initial phone call over their service charge for coming out to a client location. This is a perfectly normal, customary charge but the caller really got fired up about it. The caller declined the service from the business and then went into multiple social media sites and posted horrible reviews. Clearly an unreasonable person, but still something the business had to deal with. None of the options for dealing with this are good so it is a lesser of multiple evils situation. The business cannot back off their service charge since that keeps them in business, so the news they need to deliver is bad but responding in private will make it look like they did not respond to the complaint. While there is no good answer to this the lesser evil is to respond in public so people can see that your response if reasonable. There are risks involved with this in that the other party can continue unfair postings but inaction has its problems as well.

We have had more than a few situations of tracking down who the person is and what they are complaining about. For whatever reason the source of this is often a Yelp profile that has been recently created, has no personal information, and has only the one posting. In these cases the contact is often connected to an email that goes nowhere. When you are faced with this your options are more limited and the only response you can make is public. In this case we typically respond with a request for more information about the situation and this almost always goes unanswered but it has the side effect of resolving the complaint in the eyes of the other visitors.

To sum it up, don’t let your emotions guide your actions. Figure out the cause of the negative review. Decide if the situation requires a public or private response and respond professionally.

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Balanced Marketing

“What is the best form of marketing?” The challenge with this question is the underlying assumption that one form of advertising is better or worse than another and they are not – they are simply different. We have lots of successful clients and they do share a common theme. They have carefully balanced the different channels available to communicate with their prospects. Everyone wants a simple answer to the marketing challenge but the answer is always complicated.

The common success story is a balanced strategy using all the marketing channels available in the right mix. When you get to the bottom line with this discussion, a good marketing plan is about balancing:

  • Frequency
  • Reach
  • Message
  • Audience
  • Budget
  • Timing; aka luck

The challenge here is these factors are connected to each other and improving one often results in degrading one of the others. Others have a sweet spot that is a balance between quality and quantity. For example, increasing frequency is positive up until the point that it becomes an irritant. If I see your brand once a week it keeps it in the coveted top-of-mind position but if I see it 20 times a day I no longer notice the advertisement.

I was recently working with a Coaching Client who has 17 operations across Midwest and Southern states in the US providing a local service that is a mix of emergency service and quoted work. The different regions are all independently managed with a central AdWords Account. They get radically different results using the same keywords, ads, bids and other settings. The difference in results is directly connected to the other marketing the branches have selected. The bottom line is that when the branch invests in brand building efforts, the PPC results improve. They are not directly connected to each other but they are related and support each other.

The classic example of this is the support that organic and PPC provide to each other. In several studies we have seen that 1+1 is greater than 2. What I mean by this is that if a first organic position gets a 3% click through and a first PPC gets 1% then both of them get a collective rate of 6% or simply stated 3+1=6. The numbers vary depending on the study but the effect is consistent. While nobody can prove what causes this my belief is that two listings lend authority to each other. I will be the first to admit that there could be other things that cause the result but the result is consistent.

The challenge of this part of your plan is finding the right balance. I use a simple spreadsheet to help me think through the problem and it is what I call a zero net sum. I put the channels on the side then the audiences on the top. I then give every cell the same amount – typically 5 points. If I have five channels and four audiences then I have 20 cells and a total budget of 100. I start to move budgets around to the various cells with the rule that the total cannot exceed 100. This way if I have a priority of 18-25 year olds and give them 10 points for display marketing then those points have to come from some other cell. This game is basically to help me understand the priority distribution in my plan. Once I like the result I can then apply that to the real budget and decide how much resource goes to each cell in my marketing plan. I typically like to create the priority of the audiences first then distribute that across the channels but you can play this game anyway you want.

Once you have your distribution you can now start to create campaigns that fit your strategy. Typically, this process should happen on an annual basis to keep up with the constant changes in your business.

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The Problem with Long Scrolling Design

Long scrolling websites have been trending for the last couple years. If you’re not familiar with the term, a long scrolling website design is basically a one page site that uses scrolling as opposed to clicking to view all the site’s information (Here is an example: Even though they’ve been around for a while, they are still pretty rare and it’s probably for good reason. The type of site that benefits from a long scrolling design is highly dependent on a user that is looking to peruse, without a particular goal in mind. Long scrolling websites tell a story and they pretty much force the user to read your story. They also present issues related to SEO and website data tracking.

screenshot long scrolling example


Another problem with long scrolling design is with SEO. Basic SEO teaches you that you get one title tag and that it’s best to use just one h1 tag. Within those tags is your keyword and the content of the page is all about that keyword. Because a long scrolling design is one page, you’re putting your entire websites content on one page. For people who have multiple services described on their website, this is a problem because the more topics you discuss on one page the less likely you are to show up in search results for any one of those. As SEO expert, Bob Dumouchel says, “The more things you’re about, the less you’re about any of those things.” The h1 and title tags drive the topic of your page content and adding any information different than that detracts from your page relevancy, therefore lowering your position in the search results. This is fine for large, well-known companies who don’t depend on search results to get business. But for lesser known businesses, long scrolling is not the best option.

Website Data Tracking

Another area that leads to problems is with accurate data tracking. The traditional method of tracking clicks is made irrelevant by long scrolling because there is nowhere else to click to. You also can’t tell which information is causing your users to leave or convert. There are however, some other options for tracking like analyzing scroll depth. Scroll depth monitors how many people scroll through to a percentage length of your site, like if they scroll 25%, of the way down or get all the way through. There are also heat mapping solutions (like Crazy Egg) that track where people are looking most on the page. Using these metrics from the other tools will likely require more inferring than the traditional click-through.

Unless you’re a well-known company that doesn’t depend on search results or you have a really interesting story to tell and present it in an engaging way, then long scrolling is not a good design option for your website.

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Developing a Messaging Strategy

Starting a successful social media campaign requires developing a clear messaging strategy. The messaging strategy centers around your audience. Defining your audience will help you figure out why they would want to follow you. From there you can decide how your brand’s persona matches with your audience’s interests. A solid messaging strategy acts as a guide for consistently presenting content in a way that your audience will connect with.

Why should your target audience follow you?

Millenials using smartphones and tabletsPeople communicate through social media to be entertained, more specifically, they are looking to be informed or inspired, or both.

Positioning your company as an expert in the field is a great way to attract followers via social media and keep them interested. Offering tidbits of knowledge whether it’s about your products, services, or things going on in your industry will be valuable to your audience. It’s important to not always “sell” your offerings but to demonstrate the uses and benefits. Being too sales-y is a good way to lose followers.

Being a source of inspiration for your audience is a sure way to keep them coming back. There are endless ways to do this and it all depends on what your product or service is. If you offer a project-based service, posting photos of past projects is a great way to show off your capabilities and get your audience thinking how your service might benefit them. If you offer a product, posting photos of how customers use it is also a good way to show its application to others.

How do you want to be perceived by your target audience?

The next step is deciding on your brand’s persona and the tone you use when you post the types of content stated above. Do you want to come off as humorous, serious, sarcastic, or play to people’s emotions. Two examples of companies that have a clearly defined persona are iFixit and HeadBlade. iFixit is a local company that writes free repair guides for almost anything. They speak to people who like to fix things themselves, especially tech geeks. iFixit’s tone is geeky, relishing the happiness they get from taking apart and fixing something that can seem so complex. HeadBlade sells ergonomic razors for shaving your head. HeadBlade’s tone is playful, yet very proud of their head shaving ways. Both have a unique product and service and therefore they have attracted a unique set of followers by speaking to them in their language.

These two examples help to explain how your messaging strategy completely depends on knowing who your audience is and what they want from you.

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Developing a Social Media Plan

Man-looking-at-phone-at-cafe-450pxIf you run a business and do not have a social media plan then you need to crawl out from the rock you are hiding under and say hello to a brand new world. Like it or not social media is a communication channel for your business and how you use this is up to you. Let’s explore the factors to consider as you create your plan.

Social media is a very big topic and this article is limited to basic planning for a business and avoids all the complexity involved in the personal components of social media. It is written from and for business owners, executives, and key managers.

Social Media Profiles

These are the company records and personal profiles to be included in the plan. One immediate challenge is how some people feel about their profiles. In every business you have market facing positions typically executives, managers, and sales staff and if any of these feel their profile is personal you need to have a serious talk with them. In extreme cases where the person will not allow the profile to be managed you might want to consider creating a positional profile. Because of the complexity of this planning you have to understand the type of profile and the person that owns it. In a small business the owners or key managers are typically deeply engaged in the business and it is a blurry line between the personal and professional use of the profile. For sales staff they have to consider as a minimum that they are renting their profile to the business. There are lots of challenges in this part of the plan and the right answer is a variable based on how the person perceives their profile.

Define Your Audiences & Messaging

Audience-handsIn any communication plan you have to start by defining whom you are talking to. The better your audience definitions the better you can be in planning your content. Do not fall for the ‘everyone is my prospect’ statement because if everyone is your prospect then nobody is your prospect. By defining the audience you force your organization to clarify who they are talking to along with the message they want delivered.


Not every network works for every business and while there are lots of these networks, typically only a few are important enough to develop a communication plan for. The classic ones to talk about are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ but many industries or markets will have some of their own. LinkedIn tends to be the network connecting business to business and Facebook is business to consumer. For any specific audience it is unlikely that both of these will be important for the same audience.

Post Types

Posting types include things like company-unique content, like this blog article but also includes other articles of interest, news, photos, video content, and fun/humor. As you paint the image you want for the market you can consider each of these are a different type of paint brush. Each post type has a unique set of attributes and all are used to create a different effect. The news you pick, the articles you write, and the humor you like, all create the image of your business in the social networks.

Posting types can be planned or event-driven and each of those has to be planned separately. For example in our business we post things that are interesting for our business as we run into them but we also have regular communications like our monthly newsletter. Within that newsletter are articles like this one that defines what we are and what we find to be important to share with the market.

Dumb Things Businesses Do

We have been involved with social media for a long time and we have seen businesses do some incredibly dumb things. The common one is to rush into a network with no understanding of the culture of the group and act like idiots. Very few respond and those that do, respond negatively so the business leaves assured that social media does not work for their business. This however is a bad conclusion based on false data. In social media, like all social settings you have to earn the right to communicate and it is not a god given right. You have to first understand the culture of the network and any sub-groups and then post.

little-footballer-on-the-sidelines-300pxAnother common problem is the business enters the social network but never engages with the group. Then after months of painful silence they declare that social media does not work for them and they exit stage right.

Slow & Steady Wins the Game

Like any social setting, success comes to businesses that communicate in a steady manner by establishing their value in the group. This comes from a steady communication plan that effectively represents your business values and beliefs. We often see social media plans that start with a shock and awe campaign and the only one that is ever shocked and awed is the business when they are driven out of town by the villagers with flaming emails. Earn your reputation by contributing to the social network and the rewards of an expanded network of business contacts will take care of itself.

Professional Execution Counts!

Once you have established this basic data the next step is to plan out the postings and post them on time and over time. We use a spreadsheet with each day of the month and we include the complete posting to include the short link. Using the len feature of Excel we make sure that the posting is less than 140 characters (in the case for Twitter) and we are off to the races.

Next month we will write more about developing the messaging strategy to go with the plan.

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New Service Rollout: Social Media Administration

Social media is time consuming and confusing, but also an essential part of a business’s marketing strategy. If you realize the benefit of being active on social media but have other priorities, then this service is for you.

Service Benefits:

  • Time Savings
  • Consistent Marketing Message
  • Branding
  • Drive People to Website – Improve SEO
  • Build your Network of Connections

An effective social media plan has to be executed or it’s just a plan. Our services are designed for the Executive or Manager that needs to have a presence in social media but cannot afford the time required to do this properly. Our experts discuss with you how you want to be represented and implement the details while providing you with the ability to control the strategy. Our experts help you pick the networks that are important to your business and to engage with the groups that mean something to you. They can make recommendations and then execute on your instructions. The typical manager needs only a few hours of service each week so the service is affordable.

Keeping up with the changes in social media is almost a full time job and our staff works full time in these networks. This gives them an insight to the opportunities and risks that would otherwise consume days of your time each week. Our staff reduces the amount of work involved in social media by 90% saving busy executives like yourself hours that can be spent focused on the business of your business.

Call Us To Talk About Your Social Media Plan! 800.272.0887

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7 Ways to Use Mobile Marketing for the Small to Medium Sized Business

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Mobile marketing strategies for a small marketing budget

While reading through Google’s Mobile playbook, a lengthy guide on how businesses should use mobile marketing, most of their case studies were from huge companies with huge marketing budgets. But what about small to medium sized businesses (SMB) who don’t have a huge marketing budget (for example, to create an app or implement a large campaign) but still get a significant proportion of mobile traffic? Or just want to keep up with changing consumer habits? The adwords experts and I racked our brains and put together some ideas that can be applied to SMB’s.
mobile marketing

  1. Mobile Ready Site

  2. Use analytics to find out where the majority of your mobile users go on your website – that’s a sign of what information is most important to them – make that information as easily accessible as possible (i.e. on the main screen of the mobile view).

  3. Social Media

  4. social media marketingParticipating in a particular social network makes sense depending on what type of business you are. For example, Facebook is not always relevant for business to business as LinkedIn, though Facebook for business to consumer is. If you sell products, Pinterest or Instagram might suit your audience. Instagram would also work if you’re selling an experience – like a gym. Things that are visually interesting, ways to use products, and tips are good things to post. To consistently build your audience create fun and engaging campaigns to spread your brand’s reach. Example: pin it to win it or asking followers to hashtag cool pictures related to your business for a chance to be featured on your website or social media profile.

  5. Regular Email Newsletter

  6. email marketingAn email newsletter sent out on a regular basis to customers and/or prospects who opt-in is a great way to maintain contact as well as establish your business as an authority on your topic; and it’s inexpensive. Content for the newsletter could include but in no way is limited to blog posts, company updates, or industry updates.

  7. QR (Quick Response) Codes

  8. qr codeQR codes by their nature drive interaction. Applied to a service business, QR codes could be used on print advertising to send potential customers to a landing page on your website.

    For retail stores, a new term for the customers shopping process is showrooming – when customers view products in physical store to research before purchasing online. Displaying QR codes within your store with links to product information and reviews and having sales people ready to answer questions can improve the in-store experience. Combining the digital experience of QR codes with the physical experience is something that the online store doesn’t have. Additionally, QR codes used on print advertising can be used to drive customers to the physical store. If you want more people to purchase in-store reward them with special deals like check-in deals using foursquare or yelp.

  9. Location Based Services

  10. location based marketingLocation based services (usually an app), if you opt-in, use your phone’s location to give you targeted alerts, discounts or announce an event.

    In Google AdWords, with the launch of enhanced campaigns it’s possible to display different ads based on location and the device being used. The reason for using these is similar to having a mobile ready site – people searching for something on their phone might be looking for different information than if they were searching on a desktop computer. Mobile PPC ads and banners aim to address the difference in search intent.

  11. Loyalty Programs

  12. punch card loyalty programThere are tons of affordable loyalty software options that will work with your existing POS System. Rewards can vary based on frequency, dollar amount spent, or points. The benefit of a program like this as opposed to an actual punch card is the amount of usable data that comes with it like email addresses, and purchasing habits like frequency and time of visit. That information can be used to better serve your customers.

  13. Customer Relationship Management

  14. database iconTypically, a database that organizes customer information like frequency, past purchases, total spent per month. Having this data can help identify who your best customers are and customize their service. The data can also be used to divide customers into groups based on their behaviors and market different services to them based on those behaviors.

The following items are elements of mobile marketing but were not included in the above list because they exceed the average SMB marketing budget or only apply to a very small amount of businesses.

  • App for mobile and/or tablet – can be a very successful method but development is expensive
  • Augmented Reality (AR) –also expensive to implement
  • SMS Texting – This tactic in our opinion is more intrusive because of the more personal nature of text messages. Effectiveness would really depend on the service or product you offer and how the campaign was implemented.

The mantra to keep in mind when creating a mobile marketing plan is: easy to use and easy to find – because customers are on the go. Mobile marketing shouldn’t be the only marketing you do, it is only a part of the whole.

Did I miss anything? Has your business used mobile marketing? How so? What have the results been?


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