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Is print dead?

February 05, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Is print dead?/letterbox with a red door background{{}}With the popularity of online advertising and email as marketing channels, the low cost of delivery has made the allure of e-media powerful. But it’s leaving many marketers asking, is print dead?

We get a staggering amount of digital communication each day, and every message is easily replaced by the next tweet, email or status update.

Print, however, is tangible, high-impact and high-ROI — and it stands out in today’s increasingly cluttered online universe. Direct mail provides a tactile response that stimulates the senses, creating more positive brand associations and making the communication more memorable. And it’s impervious to spam filters.

But it’s not about abandoning one for the other. By merging the digital world with the world of print, the success of both increases.   

Print marketing: the secrets of success

In order to get the best return on your investment, your print marketing should contain these three elements: 

  1. A targeted message: You need to know your audience. It won’t matter how well-designed or creative the direct mail piece is if the message isn’t targeted and appropriate for the audience. Using the customer’s name to customise each piece of mail is a good start, but don’t stop there. Use search and purchase history to customise images based on the individual’s interests, gender, occupation, and point in the buying cycle. For instance, if you know a person has already made a purchase, follow up with a personalised piece that directly refers to her recent behavior.
  2. A compelling message: You need to understand your customer’s needs and present a compelling solution and reason to act. How does your message help your customer or prospect? It needs to be extremely clear why and how she should contact you. This correlates with the personalised message we just talked about. In any follow-up correspondence thanking the customer for her purchase, you could include an offer to refer a friend, a reminder to purchase a complementary item or flag up an upcoming sale.
  3. An interesting or interactive format: Your print piece needs to engage the customer with images and messaging that demand interaction. This can be achieved through innovative folds, personalised messaging and attention-getting post-press finishing, such as foil stamping, die cutting, embossing, UV coating, metallic inks, scratch-off and dimensional mailers. For instance, Kohl’s has had success by sending postcards with scratch-off coupons and Staples distributed a back-to-school piece that featured a die cut stapler that doubled as a coupon.

The companies that are the most successful at integrating print into their marketing mixes are masters at crafting a cohesive campaign across all marketing channels with personal, relevant materials.

Andrew Field is the ceo of PrintingForLess.com.

Four marketing must-dos for 2014

February 04, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Four marketing must-do's for 2014/To Do List{{}}I love the fresh-scrubbed feel of a new year. It’s a great time to set goals and it inspires me to charge ahead.

I do more looking forward this time of year than looking back, but it is important to pause and take stock of where I’ve been. It helps me avoid making the same mistakes twice, and reminds me of things we did that worked well, so that we can try to repeat them.

To that end, here are my top four marketing must-dos in 2014: 

1. Define your marketing goals

With clearly defined goals, you have something to aim for and a way to measure your progress (or lack thereof). Throughout the year, I can easily analyse the numbers and see whether I’m on track; if I’m not, I know I need to address any problems.

Goals include how many followers or connections you’ll gain on your social media networks, and how many new subscribers you’ll sign up for newsletters. Sales may be a number you take into account, but remember — sales are the result of a comprehensive strategy of which marketing is just one component. 

2. Develop your own marketing database

Building a database with email addresses and relevant information about former, current and prospective clients is absolutely essential. It allows you to communicate with them, reminding past customers of all you have to offer; strengthening the confidence of current customers; and encouraging prospective customers to move toward a sale.

If you’re just getting started, create a database of all the people you know who might be interested in hearing from you including friends, family and all your business contacts. Your communications should not be sales pitches; they should offer valuable, helpful and relevant information.

Grow your database by including a “call to action” on your website — an invitation for visitors to share their contact information in exchange for something that benefits them. That could include free reports, how-to videos or subscriptions to your blog posts.

3. Maintain your marketing budget — even when sales slump

The first thing some people do when income declines is minimise expenses by whacking their marketing budget. Huge mistake! In fact, you need to pay more attention to marketing when sales drop off.

The new prospects you develop today, and the prospects you’ve been establishing relationships with, will be your paying customers tomorrow. If you allow that stream to dry up, you’ll be in even more dire straits a few months from now.

4. Use every marketing tool available to you

Today we have more tools than ever for communicating the value of our service or product. Many of them cost you nothing. Today I can jump on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and the other social media networks and reach a potentially far larger audience for free.

Speaking engagements may be old school, but they’re still effective; personal, face-to-face experiences create lasting impressions. Traditional media — radio, newspapers and magazines, and TV — are also still powerful and carry the additional benefit of giving you credibility. That implied endorsement from journalists can set you apart.

Creating a great website accessible to millions of potential shoppers doesn’t have to break the bank, and you can ramp up its value by using it to showcase your publicity.

Use everything at your disposal to share your message.   

Marsha Friedman is the ceo of EMSI Public Relations and author of Celebritize Yourself.

Why you should write a business book

February 03, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Why you should write a business book/e-book key on keyboard{{}}Everything has a story behind it, but if that story isn’t told, who cares? If no one had written down the tales of Camelot, King Arthur and the Round Table would be unknown today. No matter how great a story is, it doesn’t pass itself down on its own merits. Someone has to share it.

Your company’s story is no different: It must be told to make an impact. And leaving behind a legacy isn’t the only benefit — there are a number of ways it can help your business now.

Putting yourself out there

One of the main objectives of any business is to build trust with potential clients and partners. Not only does writing a book give validity to your expertise, but it enables prospects to learn more. A book can also provide added revenue through sales.

It’s important, however, to tell the right story about your business to succeed. Here are two ways to find the best angle: 

  • What do people want to know?
    Research the most common questions and issues people have regarding your field. You can use Google Trends or survey your customers; you can also run test posts on your blog to see what grabs attention. 
  • Filter topics based on your knowledge
    Determine which issues most align with your expertise, and find a way to add a unique perspective through case studies or personal experiences.

Doing it right 

If you’re going to put the time and energy into writing a book, you might as well do it right. Keep these things in mind:

  • Personal experience: Readers want a story they can connect with on a personal level. 
  • The good and bad: Don’t write only about successes. Show what you’ve learned through mistakes. This makes your story — and company — genuinely human.
  • Be honest: Don’t sugarcoat the truth. If you sponsored a charity for exposure and not the cause, tell us. It helps us better understand your story and lends the credibility that comes with honesty.
  • Reach: Expand your audience by making your lessons applicable to a wide range of readers.
  • Takeaways: There has to be something gained by reading your book. Otherwise, what’s its value?

However, avoid writing about others (especially if you can’t cast them in a positive light), getting uncomfortably personal, or supplying boring information.

By crafting the right story, you’ll find new opportunities at your doorstep. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk ( author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World) and Dave Ramsey (author of EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches) both became New York Times bestsellers. While they were undoubtedly successful before, their stories propelled them to titan status in their fields.

So start looking for your company’s sword-in-the-stone moments. You just might end up the King Arthur of your field.

Nicolas Gremion is the ceo of Free-eBooks.

Seven ways to stay ahead of the competition

January 30, 2014 by Andy Preston

Seven ways to stay ahead of the competition/123 track to get ahead in business{{}}Whenever I’m talking to business owners, a question I’m often asked is, how can I ensure I stay ahead of my competitors? So here are seven things that you can do to ensure you stay ahead of your competition for 2014 and beyond.

1. Ring-fence your existing accounts

The first thing you need to do is ring-fence your existing clients. More and more businesses are looking to replace lost revenue and profitability through acquiring new clients — and some of the new business your competitors are targeting will include your existing regular clients.

As a lot of businesses have got complacent. They’ve tended to neglect existing accounts — and those are now the ones that have been taken by their competitors, or the ones most at risk.

What are your relationships like with your existing accounts? What about the ones you haven’t spoken to for a while? The ones you don’t get on as well with? Would they tell you if they had been using a competitor’s services? And if they did, would you keep the business at the same price or would you have to price match to keep it?

2. Target your prospecting

The quality of your prospecting will be one of the biggest factors in how successful you are (or not) in 2014. As the individual salesperson is asked to do more and more, it’s vital that the time you spend prospecting is time well spent.

That means knowing who is a good prospect for you. Most people think they know. But often they don’t. There will be certain specific criteria that make certain prospects more ideal than others. If you don’t know what they are, you need to find out — and fast. Take a look at your existing client base. What was it that made them stay with you at the moment they did?

3. Increase your activity

The next thing you need to do is crank up the volume. I’m a big fan of a high level of activity — as long as that activity is good quality and is done with the right mindset.

The more deals you have in your pipeline, the more you can afford to lose. If you only have just enough in your pipeline (or close to), then you’re always going to be struggling as you’ll be counting on every deal converting, and it’s devastating when any of them drop out.

Just by increasing your activity, you increase your chances of success — and therefore increase the amount of money you can earn.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?

4. Become a valued resource

Some of the best salespeople I know are a valued resource for their clients. They’re someone whose opinion their clients respect and who they turn to first to get information about purchasing decisions. They’re someone that has a high level of credibility and clients trust their advice.

Not all salespeople are in this position however. A lot of salespeople complain that their clients ignore their advice; that they don’t listen; that they don’t take their calls or see them when they pop in. What bigger signs do you want that clients don’t see you as a valued resource?

In order to be seen as a valued resource, you have to earn it. You have to give value first. You have to get updated on industry trends, technological advancements and understand the impact that these could have on your client’s business. You have to be able to hold a business conversation with the level of decision makers you’re meeting. Invest the time to do things like this, and it will pay you back tenfold.

5. Plan your attack

One of the best ways to get ahead of the competition in 2014 is to win some customers from them. This is a great way of distracting them from their own new business efforts, plus it’s a great motivational factor for you and your team.

If you’re in field sales, why not map out competitors’ accounts in your territory? Then create a call plan for getting to see them and focus on winning their business.

If you’re in internal sales, make notes on the prospects that are currently using your competition, then filter the data by competitors name. Then you can create a phone campaign designed specifically to convert their customers to your customers instead. Dedicated and focused approaches have a far better chance of success — and they put a big dent in your competitor’s confidence.

6. Develop consistent motivation

We all know that motivation is important for a salesperson. But it’s the salesperson’s ability to be consistently motivated that will help them stand out from the rest.

In order to be motivated on a consistent basis, the salesperson has to take charge of their own motivation, rather than waiting for other people (or things) to motivate or de-motivate them. They need to have compelling reasons for doing what they do, especially the tougher jobs such as cold calling.

7. Sharpen your sales skills

If you really want to stay ahead of your competition in 2014, you’ll need to sharpen your sales skills.  This means getting up-to-date, relevant sales tips and advice from trusted sources.

Internal training at your company is great and hiring an external trainer or motivator is even better. However, you don’t have to spend money to keep your sales skills updated — there are articles, videos and podcasts that are free to access and there are plenty of seminars you can attend.

Just make sure you put into practice what you learn.

Andy Preston is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a leading expert on sales. His website is at www.andypreston.com.

How to get press coverage in 2014

January 29, 2014 by Amanda Ruiz

How to get press coverage in 2014/PR on wooden cubes on newspaper{{}}If you run your own business you need to juggle many balls — the financials, stock, display (online and offline), networking, social media management, staff… the list goes on.

But one thing that all entrepreneurs must try to keep on top of is brand awareness — so that new customers can discover you easily and so that your existing customers feel good about seeing your company getting mentioned in the press. This kind of visibility will encourage customers to pick up the phone and order your product or services again.

Press coverage is free editorial — not paid-for advertising. If you haven’t tried to get press coverage to date, here are 12 essential steps that will help you get your company some valuable media coverage in 2014.

You will need to roll your sleeves and go for it, because if you don’t employ a PR agent (either in-house or on a contractual basis), then no one is going to do it for you. The fact that you are passionate about your product or services is a great start.

So let’s dive straight in and get some press for 2014.

Create the right mindset

1. Have a thick skin and be persistent: you could get plenty of push backs, but keep on trying, don’t be put off by rejections from journalists, the next journalist you call may love your product.

2. Be creative: try and think outside of the box to come up with interesting angles for your media approaches.

3. Have confidence: pick up the phone. If you believe in your product and are passionate about it, that’s half the battle.

Get your tool kit straightened out

4. Good images, both high and low resolution, are essential.

5. Strong copy: make your words punchy and to the point in order to catch attention.

6. Prepare your website: add a new page with links to your images and the news you are promoting.

Do your research and find an angle

7. Buy the target magazines or newspapers or read them online to find out more about their approach and to get the key contacts details.

8. Follow journalists on Twitter: You will see up to date information on what they are covering. You can also check out these two hashtags:  #journorequest #PRrequest.

9. Identify your story: Is it a product launch? Profile piece? Case study?

10. Come up with a grabbing headline and use this in your email subject box and as the title for the press release.

11. Use statistics where possible, this gives credibility to your story. Provide a quote and if possible get one from a satisfied customer as well.

12. Always say thank you to the journalists when they publish your story.

Good luck and go for it!

Amanda Ruiz is the founder of www.amandaruiz.co.uk, a marketing and PR agency.

Posted in PR | Tagged press coverage, PR | 0 comments

Five key retail marketing trends in 2014

January 27, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Five key retail marketing trends in 2014/group of fashion on window model{{}}The past year has seen the rapid rise of personalisation in marketing, with brands using data in increasingly sophisticated ways to develop tailored content and target customers based on their preferences and online behaviour.

The amount of data available to marketers and retailers will reach critical mass in 2014, so insights from new technology and previous campaigns will give businesses the insights they need to make new decision based on true ROI.

Brands will need to create the perfect marketing mix to reach customers at the right time, and across every device with relevant content. In light of this, here are five trends marketers should be aware of for the coming year:

1. Rewarding the modern purchase journey

Nowadays, shoppers take time before deciding to buy; they visit various brand touch points both online and offline — in fact, 40% of people in the UK have admitted to ‘showrooming’. To reflect this changing purchase journey, there will be a shift in industry-standard attribution in affiliate marketing. We will see a move away from “last click wins” models to more dynamic models so that all parties in the shopping journey are rewarded. This means that each publisher contributing to a phase of the purchase journey will profit from a sale.

2. We’re not all clickers

Despite changes in online shopping, most metrics for display advertising are still based on click-throughs and impressions. Modern measurement techniques are now emerging, particularly because not all shoppers click through on ads. By delivering ads with relevant, dynamic and website-like capabilities, brands can foster high engagement. Consumers are much more likely to interact with an ad when it doesn’t take them away from the page they’re browsing. According to AdKeeper, 61% of shoppers say this is the main reason why they don’t click. Measuring this engagement is much more reliable as brands know when and what part of their ad has generated a reaction.

3. Shoppable content

We expect to see the rise of content-led publishers as brands seek to differentiate themselves with premium, visual and dynamic content. Shoppable content can be editorial, video and even scrollable images. Video will play a huge role in this as online video users are expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2016. Market research shows that users who watch a video of a product are 85% more likely to buy it. The ability to shop anywhere on the web is likely to become a reality and as a result, premium content will become a “walled garden” for prestigious publishers and brands.

 4. Super-targeting of individual customers

While targeting customers over multiple channels, brands need a complete picture of their shopper. Many retailers are now trying to take a single customer view, ensuring that the pieces of their marketing campaign are working more efficiently together. The use of first and third party data to “super” target the customer base will grow in the coming year so that brands can change the way they engage with customers as individuals. Everything from acquiring new customers, to re-engagement with dormant customers and existing active customers will mean that brands can market to individuals based on real insight.

5. Brands going global

Recent data from OC&C Strategy Consultants and Google, found that international sales growth is set to dramatically outpace domestic activity to make up 40% of total online sales by 2020. Breaking into new markets is challenging for unknown brands but by focusing on the market you want to reach and those customers’ preferences, you can find the right publishers and networks to work with. By partnering with a well-known and trusted Australian style blog for example, a UK fashion brand can widen its reach to a huge new audience of local fashionistas. The outlook of brands will become more global, with many looking to strategic partners across the world to help them expand in the coming year.

Mark Haviland is the managing director of Rakuten Marketing.

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