It's easy to let the lure of summer let us kick back a little, slow down, unplug, maybe take a well deserved vacation. This is a good thing, assuming we've let our marketing continue on auto-pilot, as I wrote about in my last post.
September is right around the corner, which means that the last quarter of the year also looms on the horizon. What you do NOW to create and maintain your marketing strategy and campaign execution can make a profound difference in your end of year numbers.
So, what can you do in the middle of August to prepare to hit the ground running when it's "back to business" in September?
The first thing to do is create a visual roadmap for September - December. This calendar will allow you to map out everything that may affect your business and marketing campaigns throughout the holiday season.
Begin by adding special dates (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday (if you sell online), Giving Tuesday (non-profit giving), etc. Look for special recognition days, weeks or months that are important to your industry and could be used in social media.
Will you be planning any special events, ie. customer appreciation day, a sales event, workshop, pop-up shopping day? If so, look at your calendar to strategize a date that is far enough in advance to be able to market sufficiently.
Once you know what event you will hold, break out the tasks that need to be done. You can do this on paper now and add it to a digital task list later, or an excel or Google sheet which can be shared with others. What is the task, who is responsible, when is it due? If you're depending on others to create print material, update your website or create a campaign online, be aware that they may be busier as well. Don't wait until the last minute to place the work order.
Your social media, email, and traditional marketing campaigns need to support your seasonal "offer". Timing is everything. Don't overlook the time needed to produce, print and ship marketing collateral. What can you pre-schedule and what must you do manually? Inboxes are inundated with offers at this time of year. Do you have a strategy for resending an email to your subscribers who did not open your offer?
It may feel a bit overwhelming now to think about fall and holiday marketing, but with a little planning now, you can reap the benefit of a fatter bottom line on December 31st. You can do this!!!
Salesy gimmicks and product pushing have been replaced by creating and growing relationships built on brand recognition and trust.
Today's marketing is all about engagement.
Websites, social media channels, mailing lists and online placement are key components in this new landscape. You're posting, tweeting, blogging, emailing, networking - doing everything you can to grow your business. What else can you do?
Events provide the "wow" factor in the relationship engagement cycle.
They give people a reason to talk, to share, to follow you, to get to know you better. Events can be big or small, and can be tailored to showcase your expertise. You don't have to be a Powerpoint wiz or in your glory when standing in front of a room full of people. If you're worried about speaking in public, there are many ways to help you find more confidence. Join Toastmasters, support groups like WBOA (ladies only), a BNI group or other networking organization.
Recently, I was invited to be the keynote speaker for the Hartford/Springfield Speakers Network as they kicked off their fall season in Enfield, CT. The purpose of this group is to help members develop and grow their speaking business. I found the group to be very high energy, extremely welcoming and very professionally run. The brainchild of Bill Corbett, host of Cooperative Kids, the group is very energizing.
Many members are using speaking as part of their overall businesses, others are intending to become, or are professional speakers. The meeting started with casual networking followed by two spotlight speakers and the keynote speaker. I found the group to be very high energy, extremely welcoming and very professionally run. Speakers are taped and timed, great for learning. Attendees came from as far away as Boston and southern Connecticut.
The Women Business Owners Alliance, an organization of which I am a member, is holding its 21st Annual Women's Night of Comedy on March 13, 2014. In order get the word out about this fabulous event, we chose Thunderclap to help extend our social media reach. When you and your friends join a Thunderclap, a message (our invitation to come to the event) will be sent at the same time, causing a wave of motion to occur on feeds, spreading an idea through Facebook and Twitter that cannot be ignored.
We need 100 supporters by March 7th to make this happen. Even if you can't come to the event, by lending your support here, you can help us reach our goal.
So, what do you say? Will you take a minute to help? Please JOIN our Thunderclap!
Now in its fourth year, Small Business Saturday was the brainchild of American Express, created to help small businesses stay afloat during a very rocky economy. The holiday shopping season officially kicks off on Black Friday (or for some big-box retailers on Thanksgiving Day - ugh) followed by Small Business Saturday, where buyers are encouraged to support the many businesses in their local community that are the backbone of a strong economy.
While traditionally thought of as a retail event, there's no reason why a service oriented business is excluded from the fun! If you're looking for ways to participate, it's not too late to get involved. Check out these resources and feel free to leave a comment letting folks know how your business is participating.
When: Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 8 AM - Noon
Where: Holyoke Community College, Kittredge Center
Featured Speaker: Corissa St. Laurent, Director of Regional Development, Constant Contact
Hosted by: Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources
Partners: Comcast Business & Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce
The Small Business Summit is coming to Western Mass in less than two weeks. This is an event you won't want to miss! Come be a part of a high-energy morning filled with networking and learning opportunities. Our featured speaker, Corissa St. Laurent, has presented to over 20,000 people on the topics of engagement and online marketing. Having owned two prior small businesses and been on several nonprofit boards, she understands the unique challenges small businesses and nonprofits face. Her refreshing style and ability to explain complex subject matter in a simple way will leave you feeling informed, inspired, and ready to grow your business through engagement marketing!
What else to expect? Mini-roundtable sessions, email marketing demonstration, share best practices, gather ideas to make 2014 your best year yet.
Who should attend? Business owners and staff, marketers, non-profit organizations looking to increase donor relations . . . ANYONE interested in learning how to use today's online marketing tools more effectively. This is a great networking event, so bring plenty of business cards.
Check out the morning's full agenda and reserve your seat today. Seating is LIMITED and PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Please share this with everyone.
Tuesday, July 30 – 10AM on – Reserve Now! Mass Marketing Resources is teaming up with dani fine photography to offer a PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT AND MARKETING DAY - includes session & CD of images for ONLY $95 (valued at $400+).
Perfect opportunity to improve & update your visual image – on your website, social media profiles, business directories, brochures – just about anywhere it’s important to put your best face forward!
Bring your business cards to network with attendees and chat about your marketing challenges. Be sure to enter our drawings for some great door prizes, including a “4 Point Marketing Check Up” provided by Liz Provo.
For questions & to schedule your session, please call the studio 413-341-3031. Slots are filling up fast–call now to book!
Professional Hair & Makeup available for a separate fee.
Morris Partee wraps up another successful Podcamp!
The 5th Annual Pod Camp Western Mass was held on Saturday, March 30,2013 at The Kittredge Center, Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, Massachusetts. It brought together 120 camp veterans and first time campers for a full day of social media talk. Pod Camp is a homemade soup full of organic ingredients. The “un” conference-style social media and tech gadget workshops are seasoned with an appropriate amount of hot sauce — extemporaneous sessions that are remembered long after pod camp is over. The Western Mass Pod Camp is now the oldest, continuously running pod camp in the Northeast. I have been fortunate to attend all but the first camp.
So what was new for me this year?
Unlike previous pod camps where early social media adopters salivated at the thought of every new platform, tech tool or gizmo, Pod Camp 5 was not as much about the latest and greatest network or tool, at least in the sessions I attended. There was a lot of re-examination of existing platforms and in some cases re-dedication to some forgotten networks. Choosing fewer platforms, making platforms a better fit, and remaining authentic was something that was repeated frequently.
In the first session I attended, Kelly Galinas (@RedHeadedDiva) spent time explaining the ever-changing Facebook privacy settings, as new features being rolled out and the level of confusion that often results. Facebook’s move toward promoted and sponsored posts prompted learning ways to keep them from creeping into our newsfeeds. Unfortunately, more time was spent on personal pages and we didn’t have time to probe Edgerank or delve into business page insights.
I sat in on Jennifer William’s (@verilliance) session on “Don’t Waste Time With Social Media” which focused on the growing time suck of social media and how to find the right mix and maintain our authentic voice. We shared thoughts on choosing platforms that reflect our audience and Jennifer gave us a preview of her Google+ session to follow.
I was looking for new ways to help me assist clients in their marketing and learned a lot in a session on “creating an e-learning course” led by Nunzio Bruno (@Nunzio_Bruno). This was one of the few sessions that moved a bit beyond social media. Unlike a webinar, which is usually a one-time occurrence, an e-learning course is delivered over a period of time using a variety of methods (written content, video, podcasts, live chat sessions, etc.) I will research Udemy as an online host as well as think about using Constant Contact, my email marketing provider, as a good option for the content delivery.
One of the panel discussions I attended focused on productivity tools and apps we’re using these days. In past years I could barely keep up the number of tools and apps being tossed around. My list was much smaller this year, as more time was spent discussing the pros and cons of more established tools like Evernote, or invoicing software like Quickbooks or Freshbooks. I jotted down CamCard and WorldCard, apps that offer easy ways to grab contact information on the go, but haven’t had a chance to compare them yet.
Have we reached a saturation point for jumping on the bandwagon of every new tool? Maybe there are just too many out there performing similar functions. One thing is clear. Our quest for free images is never-ending. Flickr, Zemanta and CanStock Photo were shared, along with reminders on using Creative Commons licensing. There were also some good photo editing tools shared, like Picassa, Gimp, and PicMonkey for users who do not need the advanced capabilities of Photoshop.
In a word – it’s about relationships, past, present and future. Anyone coming to Pod Camp for the first time this year undoubtedly saw a lot of hugging going on and laughter being shared by former campers getting reacquainted. Social media has given me wonderful opportunities to meet people I may never have met before. Being able to take those online relationships offline is so important. Thom Fox (@ThomasJFox) said it best in his session. Look for his slides. If you’re not doing that, you’re only tapping the surface of social media.
You just got an invitation to participate in a trade show and are considering the offer. Trade shows, table top expositions, and organization gatherings are all great places to display your services and products. Space can be very inexpensive, starting around $100. and increase to over $1,000. depending on the venue. Before you decide whether to purchase booth or table space, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of attending?” Do you want to have attendees place orders, increase your mailing list, meet you face to face, or sell your product at the show?
Whatever your reason, you need to prepare
Every trade show will provide vendor information regarding booth size, signage and backdrop, availability of tables, skirting, chairs, electricity, WI-FI, dimensions, and a layout of booth spaces. Read this information carefully and be prepared to purchase items as needed. Don’t assume – always verify what’s provided and DON’T miss deadlines.
YOUR BOOTH: The object is to draw visitors INTO your space. Where you place your table and chairs can invite prospective customers, or provide an ultimate barrier to engaging with you. Consider how your booth can handle traffic and provide visual, engaging marketing material that will attract and retain interest if you are distracted. DON’T stand behind your table, as the table becomes a barrier. DO stand next to or to the side of your table. I’m not a fan of sitting, but if you do need a break, a stool that puts you at eye level, is better than slumping behind a table any day.
DISPLAY MATERIALS: Here is where preparing in advance is key. You will need to “stage” your booth. Must haves include brochures, business cards, table top or floor sized banner, products, sell sheets, giveaways, and don’t forget your MAILING LIST SIGN UP SHEET.
VISUALS: Consider using videos or image slide shows, PowerPoint loops, or virtual albums to entertain visitors should you be with another potential customer. Screens should change frequently to grab attention.
HELP!!!!!: Really, I mean help for your booth. Will you have someone to help you set up and tear down, give you a break to walk around and chat with other vendors, or allow you some down time (especially needed if the show is long or held over multiple days)? You need to remain fresh, so if it means calling in extra help, it may be well worth it.
Oh, and one final thought……
BOOTH ETIQUETTE: I visit lots of trade shows and table top venues and hate to see businesses who have invested in booth space that goes unnoticed. Here are my biggest booth turn offs:
In newspaper jargon it’s called “above the fold”, where top interest stories live and where every business and event wants to be. Getting that coveted position can challenging for small businesses who have no staff on hand to develop relationships with the press.
To get your information into the right hands, it starts with a press release. I have to admit, I don’t enjoy writing press releases. Of all the marketing tasks I do — newsletters, social media, blogs, video, and coaching, creating a press release for a client or event I’m working on gets put to the bottom of my “to do” list. It’s not that I can’t write one, it’s that I never know if I’m reaching the right source or merely sending the message into the abyss, hoping for it to stick against the wall.
This week I decided to brush up on my press release writing skills and attended a workshop called “Press Ready 101″, hosted by Easthampton City Arts. I especially wanted to go because it was led by a local journalist, Sarah Platanitis, Here was a chance to listen to what journalists want from us when pitching a story. Most of the attendees were artists, interested in getting better at the marketing and business side of their craft, some looking for local help, others aiming for national exposure.
Here are some of my takeaways:
Self-promotion can feel uncomfortable and it’s sometimes helpful to work with someone who can help you manage the marketing and event planning details. Preparing in advance is key to a successful event, product launch or new service offering. So, here’s hoping to see you “above the fold” real soon!
On Thursday, February 21, 2013 Liz Provo of Mass Marketing Resources will be a guest speaker as part of The Women Business Owners Alliance “Round Table Topics”.
“Marketing Should Be Fun, Not Painful”
It isn’t enough to know that you NEED to market yourself, your products and services – it’s HOW to do it and keep yourself SANE. Good marketing starts with a plan that is well thought out and manageable and lets you BREATHE.
Liz will provide helpful ways to move from “planning” to “doing”, designed for the busy, somewhat technically challenged entrepreneur to manage marketing tasks and grow her business naturally.
Good marketing starts with a strategic marketing plan. The marketing calendar controls the larger picture while the editorial calendar pulls it all together.
Guests are welcome – you don’t need to be a member of WBOA to attend, although new members are always welcomed. The breakfast meeting is held at The Yankee Pedlar, Holyoke, MA, from 7:45 – 9:30. Cost: $15 (in advance) or $20 at the door. To register, follow the link to MeetUp.
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Privacy vs. Growing Your Business – How To Tame Facebook
October 19, 2012 By Liz Provo Leave a Comment
Most businesses realize the value in having an active Facebook page, but not every small business owner is anxious to have a personal presence on the giant social network. Operating a small business where you ARE your business can result in some privacy challenges – from mapping your business on Google to sharing personal information on Facebook. So how can a small business use Facebook without sacrificing personal privacy?
It’s true that Facebook gives businesses the option to create a fan page (ie. business page) without first establishing a personal account. This may not be the best solution for sole proprietors where “you” are your business, as it severely limits your ability to grow your business through your personal connections. You can, however, set up a personal account with strong privacy settings. This option allows you to interact with friends and create a separate public business page. The Wall Street Journal provides some great tips on how to effectively lock down a personal page which I’ve shared with you here. Hover over each image to find additional tips:
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.