Friday, February 26, 2016
Pro-Tips For Rocking Your Next Trade Show
This year, with some careful planning and a little creativity, you may be able to grab people's attention and keep them engaged without resorting to assault and battery. Obviously, the lengths that you go to create interest at your booth may be limited by your budget, so it's important to think about what this trade show means to your business and how engaging 10, 50, or even 1000 target individuals may bring more work your way in the coming months. Once you've got your budget ironed out, you can start getting those creative juices flowing.
Get Out Your Lasso
You know from experience that the hardest part of working a trade show booth is getting people to look at you, right? What if your booth looked like they just stepped into the hottest casino in Vegas? Or, they're stepping into a game show hosted by loud and enthusiastic individuals? Being active and/or unconventional is key to attracting attention. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, and here are some favorites to get your mind flowing:
o Superhero or celebrity photo ops. Invent a superhero to represent your company and have him or her available for photo opportunities with booth guests. It may seem a bit corny, but it works. The same is true for celebrity look-alikes. Be sure to get their card so you can send them the pic after the show.
o Wheel of Fortune. Nothing screams "come here now" than the chance to win fabulous and exciting merchandise (or your services).
o Create a treasure map leading to your booth. This may require some cooperation on the part of the venue, but placing arrows or words on the floor that lead people to your booth can create intrigue and bring people in.
Whatever you decide, make it fun and interactive. Think Disneyland for adults.
Build Excitement in Advance of the Show
Regardless of what genius idea has emerged from your mind, it's important to create a sense of anticipation among your clients and prospects. Sending out formal printed invites or periodic emails revealing a little something more about what's in store for them when they visit will get them chomping at the bit to visit your booth.
Have Quality Informational Products to Hand Out
You get very few chances to make an impression once you get people into your booth. Once they're there, make your efforts count by providing them with unique, high-quality informational products that will not just stay in the bag in the closet when they get home.
Follow-up After the Show with Everyone
Hopefully, your venue will provide a mailing list of all of the participants so you can send out follow-up correspondence to those you saw and those you missed. If no list is provided, be absolutely sure you get business cards from the people you talk to and connect with them ASAP! The more opportunities you have to make an impression, the better.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Print Marketing - What Was Once Old is Now New Again
For the past two decades, digital media has been rapidly replacing many of our formerly traditional ways of doing things, from watching television, reading the newspaper, to yes...print marketing. With the democratization of information that the internet has brought, more and more people are consuming this information digitally. Social media and search engine algorithms target our interests and bombard us with advertisements directed at those interests, to the point that we've become immune to the ancillary advertising "noise" that surrounds the article that we are reading online. Ad-ridden blogs and online media are now considered traditional.
Getting Attention With Quality Print Marketing Materials
A well-designed print marketing device can effectively break through the noise and grab your customers' attention. Print marketing can take on many forms, including:
oBusiness Cards: Different shapes, sizes, die cuts, and formats grab people's attention and make for some great talking points that help build relationships.
oInvitations: Having a grand opening or special occasion? Send out printed invitations and make people feel they are connected.
oPostcards: Whether for direct mail purposes or periodic sales or coupons, postcards can bring in a surprising amount of business.
oMenus of Services or Products: Printed on high-quality paper with excellent design and copy, these types of marketing products add personality to your business.
Poke Your Customers Periodically to Keep Yourself on Their Minds
Marketing doesn't end when the sale is made. Customer retention is a key part of a successful marketing plan. Following up with the customer can increase retention and build loyalty. Sure, you could send them an email, but really, email is where messages come to die. Consider instead a few timed mailings to keep them engaged, such as:
oThank You Cards: Sending out a card thanking them for their purchase and providing a time-limited discount on their next purchase makes customers feel appreciated and welcome.
oSeasonal Postcards: Consider seasonal postcards with loyalty discounts on relevant seasonal items.
oReferral Cards: Create loyalty and more business by sending out referral cards to encourage your customers to spread the word. You could also offer a discount to both the existing customer and the new customer they bring in.
oStickers: Put your logo, tag line or a branded and relevant inspirational quote on a sticker to put on cars, computers, water bottles, and other personal gear.
Obtain Thought-Leader Status With Print Magazines or Newsletters
While many of the more traditional news magazines are transitioning to digital-only formats, the fact of the matter is, 80% of individuals who read newspapers read them in print. People actually trust written content more than they trust online content. This is true of both information and of advertising. So, depending on your industry, it may be a good idea to create a periodical print magazine or newsletter to give your customers or prospects informative and entertaining news and information that they will be excited to get each month, quarter or year.
Regardless of what type of print marketing you use, telling people a good story or giving them useful and entertaining information will make them loyal customers.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Endurance Can Make All the Difference
He should know. Walt Disney achieved some of the most spectacular success anyone has ever reached in cinema, winning 22 Academy Awards and more awards and nominations than anyone else in history. He did so by overcoming rejection of his ideas and doing "the impossible."
Disney's most profound idea, the notion of feature-length animated films when nothing but shorts had ever been done before, was widely criticized as foolish and destined for failure. He persisted, though, and we all know how that turned out. Disney's endurance in the face of blanket rejection made the difference. By comparison, what a sterile and vacuous world we would have had if he would've listened to his detractors and bailed out on his plans.
Long before he was laughed at by Hollywood studios, he learned the value of endurance from other so-called failures that might have derailed an otherwise imaginative career. Early on he was fired from a newspaper for not having any original ideas and for lacking imagination, of all things. His first feature-length animation was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it became the most successful film of 1938, earning the equivalent of 134 million in today's dollars. That's not too shabby for someone who lacks imagination. The world is far better off because he had the endurance to see the project through.
Distinguished writer Malcolm Gladwell outlined a theory that it takes 10,000 hours of work on a business to really know what you are doing, to make it a success. That is five years of full-time work--in other words, endurance.
David Weber and Kenny Lao hatched an idea for a food bar built around dumplings as a primary menu item. Their idea actually placed second in a New York University Stern School of Business competition, after which they launched the brick-and-mortar Rickshaw Dumpling. Becoming a bit too ambitious, they launched a second store and stretched their resources far too thin. Nearing bankruptcy, they abandoned the second site and started a mobile food truck, instead. This proved quite successful and saved their business, becoming a well-known icon in New York City. Their endurance--as well as their ingenuity--provided them the vehicle they needed to succeed.
In business and in life, we can allow rejections and other circumstances to rule us, or we can take charge and continue unhindered by those circumstances. An anonymous line states that calm seas do not a skilled sailor make. The rougher the sea, the more practice you get at handling problems. Walt Disney, David Weber, and Kenny Lao stuck it out. The example provided by people like this is an inspiration for us all.
It is said of mountain climbers that they do what they do simply because the mountain is there. But, without endurance there would be no successful climb. In business, the best formula for success involves the endurance of a mountain climber--just because your goals and objectives "are there." Endurance can and frequently does make all the difference.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
The Power of You: Keeping Things Personal in Business
Putting the "Relations" Back in "Relationship"
To boil this concept down to its essentials, think for a moment about how irritating it is to write an impassioned letter to a business expressing some important concern or criticism that you have only to receive a standard form letter in return. You poured your heart and soul into this issue, making sure to detail every last grievance you had and that every word got the importance of your message across loud and clear. In exchange, you got a letter that has been sent out 1,000 times before that was probably sitting on a server somewhere, just waiting for an intern to swap out [INSERT NAME HERE] with your actual name.
It doesn't make you feel good and it certainly doesn't make you feel appreciated. It might even make you think twice about doing business with that particular company again. Though this is a simplification of the issue you face when you keep everyone at arm's length, it is actually quite an apt example and is something that you absolutely need to keep in mind moving forward.
"You" and the Customer
There are a number of different things that you can do to help deepen this emotional connection, even if you aren't actually speaking directly to someone. It's all about the language that you use and how you're using it. Consider a promotional poster outlining all of the great features that a particular product brings with it into the marketplace. You could have the best product in the world, but if you're just listing features in a series of bullet points it will still come across as a bit cold and distant. That emotional connection just won't be there.
Now, consider what happens when you re-frame the exact same message to directly address the reader. "X feature helps YOU solve Y problem in your life." Suddenly, you're sending forward the exact same message, but in a way that doesn't seem like he's being recited by a faceless corporation. It sounds like it's coming from a friend. Ultimately, if you want to instill loyalty in your customers, that's exactly what they need to think of you as - a trusted friend that they know they can depend on and turn to in their time of need.
We believe that this is one of the many ways that "you" will come in handy. Remember that everyone you deal with, from the customers who buy your products or services, to the vendors and suppliers that you depend on, to your own employees and more, you're dealing with unique individuals who always deserve to be treated as such. It doesn't require a lot of work to keep things personal in the world of business, and the benefits will pay dividends for a lifetime.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Email Marketing: Is it Right for Your Small Business?
The most famous quote by cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead is, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Dreams4Kids is this kind of forward-thinking small group, and its success is directly linked to its marketing campaigns. While Margaret Mead's quote bears remembering, it is also true that the engine that drives such successful enterprises is marketing, and with non-profits, donors are the spark that runs the engine.
Marketing through email has been around for quite a while now. It is basically the online version of a direct mail letter--the electronic counterpart to postal letters, fliers, and brochures that have been used and are still being used so successfully. Combining your print marketing with your email marketing just makes sense.
Some of the advantages email marketing has are obvious. Emails are fast and cheap. They can deliver your message almost immediately at almost no cost, and have literally no negative environmental impact. That is quite a bargain. But there are some less obvious benefits, too. With email, you can track whether your mail is getting opened or not. That is valuable information for any marketing campaign. After all, the trick is still getting your message opened and read. If you can determine which messages are getting opened, you have a head start in adjusting the campaign.
What actually works?
How does a non-profit like Dreams4Kids successfully market using email? They follow some easy guidelines that any small business can employ.
1. Decide what kind of campaign you want. Emails can be regularly scheduled newsletters or more sporadic announcements linked to specific events. Both are beneficial and should be considered. But, if you try the latter, be sure your timing is appropriate. The reader must have time to react, but not too much time.
2. Know your target audience. This is an important step in getting those emails opened and read. Whatever is in your email, it has to be relevant to the clients' interests or you are wasting your time.
3. Provide value. Once it is open, your email must provide something valuable to the reader, whether it is a discount coupon, an announcement of a product launch, or some other information that the client has an established interest in. This is where the mantra comes from: Content is king. The content must have value. Determine what your customers' questions are and then answer them before they are asked. That provides value.
4. Be brief and to the point. Rambling messages rarely get read completely today. One such email could doom all your subsequent emails to the delete button without being opened.
5. Use images to attract the reader's eye and maintain interest. A picture really is worth 1,000 words.
6. Use a mobile-friendly email template. If you still think today's technology is mostly limited to desktop computers, think again. Technology statistics website Statista.com says that Apple Computer's iPad sales top $1.6 billion quarterly. Worldwide tablet sales by all manufacturers are now over 50 million units quarterly. The days of the desktop's supremacy are now well behind us. Your emails have to be easily read on tablets and smartphones or your campaign is doomed from the start.
Using email in conjunction with your print marketing really can work for you so that your business becomes part of your customers' conversations. If Dreams4Kids can effectively use email to attract donors, you can use it to attract and keep customers for your business.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
From Puce to Cerulean - What Your Brand Colors Say to Your Customers
Besides being associated with love, energy, and vitality, the color red stimulates our appetites. Itâs no wonder fast food chains such as McDonalds, Carlâs Jr., KFC, Wendyâs and Popeyeâs have integrated the color red prominently in their logos and trade dress. If youâre developing a logo and brand identity for your restaurant, food or beverage products, incorporating red may not be a bad idea. Caveat: Remember when your parents would ask you, âIf Jimmy jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?â I know, some of you said yes, just to be obstinate, but donât doom your product to a lifetime lost in a sea of sameness just because the research says itâll make people hungry.
Starbucks founders Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker clearly didnât follow Jimmy off the cliff when they created their iconic green and white logo. Their caffeinated clientele arenât looking for any more stimulation beyond that which is provided by the aroma of ground coffee beans in the air. What they are looking for, and what the color green represents, is harmony, tranquility, and calm. The foundersâ goal was to create an environment that would encourage people to sit back, relax and drink their coffee with friends. By luring customers in with the green and white siren and surrounding them with warm, natural tones, they created a movement.
Trust Issues Anyone?
Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, AT&T, Forbes, Ford and countless other corporations all use the color blue predominantly in their brand identities. Itâs not just because blue is hands-down the favorite color of the majority of men and women, but rather, blue is associated with calmness and peace. Psychologists have found that when people view the color blue, they feel confident, comfortable and trusting. Of course, healthcare providers, purveyors of information, and one of the oldest car manufacturers in the history of man would want people to associate their products and services with trustworthiness and dependability.
Plucking Personality from the Rainbow
The colors that you choose for your brand need to reflect not only your productâs personality but also the personality of those you wish will buy your product. You want them to feel a certain way when they think about your product, and while not all colors will universally affect everyone in the same way, statistically speaking the odds are ever in your favor. With that said, here are some handy guidelines to understanding color when picking your brand colors.
â¢ Yellow â" evokes feelings of optimism, clarity and warmth
â¢ Orange â" brings up feelings of cheer, confidence, and friendliness
â¢ Red â" arouses the senses with excitement, passion, and love
â¢ Purple â" imagination and creativity are the hallmarks of this color
â¢ Blue â" tells a story of trust, strength, dependability, and calm
â¢ Green â" associated with health, nature and peace
â¢ White â" linked to purity, calm and balance
Additionally, colors like gold, silver and black are often associated with luxury items because they conjure feelings of sophistication and wealth.
Remember, always keep your audience in mind when choosing your colors and avoid getting caught in the sea of sameness.
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