The promotional product world looks very different now than it did in early March. It’s not all gloom and doom, but the way we interact with each other and stay in touch with our prospects and clients has certainly changed. Despite challenging times, you still need to promote your products and services, get in front of your target audience and generate new business.
So, what’s trending lately in the promo world to help companies stay top of mind? Let’s look at some new ideas and all-time favorites.
Pens have been my all-time favorite product because they appeal to almost every audience. With the focus on everything being fresh, clean, and sanitized, a new pen is a coveted item. Antimicrobial pens are popular because they help fight off germs – plus, many come individually wrapped in cellophane to avoid any contamination.
Personalized golf balls are a crowd pleaser and they’re a cinch to customize. Just add your charity or business’ logo, message or photo, and voilà, you’ve got a unique and memorable giveaway. Some may even become collector’s items! Since golf is one of the few team sports that’s ‘open for business,’ many golf events are still on. Yet another reason customized golf ball remains a top choice!
If you’re like me, you probably want to drink more water, but always forget to pack your water bottle. Problem solved! Give your prospects and clients branded water bottles that they can’t forget! Water bottles are a health-focused promo gift that your target market can use every day – and the benefit is that your name is always front and center. Want a few ideas? Check out my client’s favorite water bottles.
With everyone going back into the workplace, hand sanitizers are a necessity. If you thought customized hand sanitizers were a popular handout before COVID-19, they’re now one of my best sellers. Hand washing is serious business, so much in fact that the CDC has an entire section on keeping your hands clean. There’s even a “Life is Better with Clean Hands Campaign”. Piggyback on that for great PR and to do your part to keep America safe.
Why Promotional Products Now?
Business is coming back and the same problems you solved before the pandemic, you’re still solving now. Don’t stop marketing. Let your clients and prospects know you’re well and alive and open for business. Promotional products that are reasonably priced and customized for your business, let the world know – “I’m here. How can I help you?”
Rachel Leone is president of Leone Marketing Solutions, a women-owned promotional product and apparel firm. She helps big brands and small brands stand out, get noticed, and generate leads through her promotional products and services. Thousands of new products are launched every day, and one of them may be just right for you, click here to browse her website. For more information or a complimentary brainstorming session contact her at 781.740.3171 or email@example.com.
non-extravagant consumer goods products that can be shipped/delivered
moderately priced services that can be accessed virtually/online, such as the ability to take a class or be coached virtually
services and products that are a necessity, despite their cost. Examples of this would be services to repair a plumbing issue or a leaky roof or a new washing machine to replace one that broke
you offer a product or service that has a lengthy sales lead time, i.e., target audiences — whether they be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) — tend to conduct a lot of research and take a number of weeks or months to make a decision to make a purchase of said product or service. Many individuals have more free time on their hands right now because of freed-up work commuting time and a significantly reduced number of social engagements. So, if they have a large future purchase in mind, it’s highly likely they are gathering information related to their probable purchase now. Examples of purchases with long lead time could be project management software or systems to be used by an employer or elective surgery to replace a hip.
you’re a nonprofit seeking donations to support your efforts to adapt or continue to offer services during COVID-19. Whether you have a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant under which you can execute such advertising, or you’ll need to pay for your own advertising, with the lower average cost-per-click we’re witnessing, Google Ads may be a very cost-effective fundraising tactic.
Be forewarned that the price of Google Ads and other forms of pay-per-click advertising, such as social media advertising, is expected to rise again — and perhaps rapidly — post-pandemic because of pent-up demand by organizations to promote their products or services. That’s why if you meet one of the requirements above and you’ve always wanted to test the “paid search” waters but believed the media (advertising buy) cost would be prohibitive, you might want to consider implementing a Google Ads campaign as soon as possible vs. waiting until things seem back to normal (or as close to normal as is achievable in 2020).
We are trying to “give back” as much as possible during these challenging times. We are glad to help any non-profit organization apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant for free. We’re also offering the following special. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your pandemic or post-pandemic marketing challenges and opportunities. It’s never to early to start planning!
Running a business these days is no joke. The global pandemic has put many small businesses into a tailspin. No one’s seen anything like this before and everyone’s talking about “pivoting,” but what does that actually mean? What does a pivot look like for you?
You’re great at running and marketing your business. You’ve got the branding, social media, and your new client funnel down to a science. You’re turning a profit and you can’t believe how far you’ve come since the first days of starting out, but this COVID-19 deal is uncharted territory.
You’re not alone. Sales for many businesses have dropped this month due to the distraction provided by the pandemic, but particularly, due to its associated social distancing practices. Yes, the latter are a matter of national health, but man, are they a pain for conducting in-person sales activities. And, our current world scenario has made all forms of sales and outreach activities far more difficult and far less effective, whether they be in-person, phone, or e-communications ones. That’s why we recommend that your pivot be one that includes relationship building.
What’s the deal with relationships? They will be what sustains you through this crisis and after it is over. By reaching out to potential clients now, you can be certain that you’ll be one of the first people they come to once the crisis has receded. You can establish yourself as a credible, helpful and friendly resource in your field, and even a “thought leader.”
How to make the pivot toward relationship building?
Establish connections online by devoting a half hour to posting and being present on your social media each day. That’s enough time to reply to comments on your posts or to comment on others’ posts. Always make an effort to do this, especially on Facebook and Instagram since that’s part of the algorithm that drives your posts to the top of people’s feeds.
Direct message followers who are your dream clients. Now’s the time to reach out and say “hello” and offer to help or provide information they might find particularly beneficial at this point in time. Most people have more free time lately and are craving connections. If you’re making a practice of extending your olive branch now in a very genuine/authentic and heart-felt way, you’ll be remembered by people for helping make this hard time a little easier for them.
Reach out to people who operate in fields adjacent to yours and who serve the same vertical (target audiences) you’d like to do work for. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you could connect with someone who does graphic design. In the future, when you meet a client who needs a website re-done, you can provide your client with the copy they need, and then refer them to your colleague who will design their fancy new logo or design their new website. If you help nonprofits with marketing, but there are other firms that don’t compete with you that offer bookkeeping services for nonprofits, then why not try to be referral sources for each other? These referrals can go both ways. People in your identical spaces could be competitors but what if you shifted that perspective? What if you turned them into collaborators or work referral sources? Developing a “referral circle” is an excellent way to broaden and strengthen your network and increase your customer base.
Aside from all the business benefits that come along with establishing and maintaining relationships, having these positive, collaborative, helpful relationships just feels really good right now. In this time of isolation, it’s human and healthy to crave connection with others. Making the pivot toward relationship building in your business will not only make your business stronger, but it may help make you healthier and happier as well.
Last week, I went “in town” (traveled from my office on the South Shore into Boston) to meet with a client. As I often do when I make the 45+- minute commute to meet with a client, or attend an industry or networking event, I ran a few errands after my meeting. There’s always a birthday gift or a new book to be bought, right? I stopped at Copley Place/The Prudential Building to buy a couple of ingredients that Sur La Table and Eataly carry, and also visited Barnes & Noble to purchase “The Secret” (a cool treasure hunt guide with a Boston reference).
Initially, I thought I was just having a lucky or “random acts of kindness” day, because employees in each of the businesses I mentioned above were so welcoming, helpful, or kind — something I hadn’t experienced to such a degree at retailers in a while. But, then it struck me on my journey home, how much retailers must be recognizing the need to step up their customer service game if they want to survive in the next year, never mind the next ten.
I’m likely stating the obvious here, but the plethora of online shopping opportunities, particularly, Amazon.com, is causing retailers across the U.S. to close their physical shops/locations in busy downtown areas and shopping malls. Whether it be filing for bankruptcy or completing closing up shop (literally and figuratively), recent victims of the uptick in online (particularly one-stop) shopping include Papyrus, Payless Shoes, Forever 21, Barneys New York, Gymboree, and more. And, it’s common knowledge, that time-honored retail giant, Macy’s, whom families have visited for generations, will be closing numerous storefronts.
My aforementioned shopping experience in Boston leads me to believe that many retailers are now coaching and requiring their sales staff to deliver exceptional service in hopes of maintaining a strong physical vs. online consumer following. So what were some of the stepped-up customer service tactics I experienced at the retailers mentioned above?
lots of smiles from individuals working on the floor of stores or at the registers
being greeted when I walked in the door
being asked by more than one employee if they could help me find anything or if I was finding what I was looking for
being offered food samples
being given double the portion of the food item I was purchasing (but only paying for the original one portion) and being alerted to that by the employee
displaying interest in my needs, my life, what problem I was looking to solve, etc.
engaging me in a lengthy conversation related to a product I was purchasing and why I was excited about it, and sharing in my enthusiasm
Based on the way I was made to feel noticed, valued, and important, I will definitely revisit all the physical stores of these retailers again. I’m someone who enjoys chatting with salespeople at stores, window-shopping, and being able to feel, test, try on, etc. a product I’m hoping to buy. Part of that may be due to the fact that I work out of my home office and all my co-workers are virtual. I welcome getting away from my office once in a while and excursions that provide opportunities to socialize. I know this does not hold true for all consumers, though — many don’t want to have to socialize with salespeople or leave their home to run an errand after a busy workday.
I’ve shared all of the above as a reminder and warning to anyone who is responsible for sales at their particular organization, regardless of the organization’s nature. Great customer service never grows old or goes out of style! It’s as relevant — in fact, it may be more relevant — than it was in the 1800’s (hence, the exaggerated dinosaur reference in my blog post title) when Brooks Brothers, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Bloomingdale, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barnes & Noble opened their doors. While I do hope this stepped-up customer service effort will keep the retailers I cited from losing their brick & mortar presence, I wonder if such an effort might have kept them from being where some of them are today — close to closing up shop.
As I continue to talk and work with clients and prospective clients related to driving target-audience traffic to their website, via a variety of digital marketing activities, I’m regularly reminded of a phrase spoken by the leader of a webinar I attended last year — “your website should be your work horse.” Whether you spell it as one word or two, as shown below, the phrase “work horse” indicates someone or something that consistently, and endlessly, accomplishes a difficult task.
Now, for the second horse reference — “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Technical SEO, paid search ads, and social media posts & ads are all effective means of driving traffic to your website, but if your website isn’t your work horse, or doesn’t cause a horse to drink, all the other digital marketing tactics in the world won’t help your organization generate more leads and sales. In almost all instances, an organization would serve itself better, from a lead- and sales-generation standpoint, if it invested time and energy to support its website being its workhorse — prior to investing in and launching other traditional or digital marketing activities to increase website traffic.
In many cases, your website will provide the first and only impression an individual or organization has of your organization. Your website should reflect that:
you pay attention to detail
you care about your organization’s reputation and image
you care about accuracy
you strive to make your visitors’ life easier and you don’t want to waste their time
your clients and customers can expect great things from your products and services because, well, you’re a top-notch, well-pulled-together organization
you are relevant and current
you are able to make — and do take — the time to ensure your website’s information is current and links and any interactive tools on your site function properly
Steps to make sure your website is your work horse, and that will ultimately contribute to your being the “dark horse” in your industry or niche:
Make sure there are no misspellings/typos on your site and your writing adheres to good grammar principles. It’s easy enough to spellcheck and grammar-check content/copy in MS Word or other software before you load it to your site.
Check your site regularly for broken links, particularly links that point to another organization’s website, since these external sites may remove or move content to which you’ve pointed.
Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. I won’t name any names of content management solutions (CMS) or free or inexpensive website creation tools or hosts. You tend to get what you pay for, and sites using cheap or free tools often end up looking cheap too — particularly when they allow for a website that is small and hard to read and not sized to work well on your desktop or laptop computer.
Related to bullet #3 above, be sure to launch your site on a CMS that allows your website to be “responsive”, i.e., respond to the device which accesses it, whether it be a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop or laptop computer.
Be consistent with where and how you use fonts and colors throughout your site. For example, use the same font and color for page headlines throughout your site.
Make sure your site has a “cohesive” feel and certain pages don’t look like they belong on a different planet than other pages.
Make sure your site is secure. Any website should be an https:// site vs. https:// site. Horses can sense danger, and nothing is going to cause a horse to bolt faster in this day and age of identity and privacy theft, than an indication from their browser that your site is “insecure.”
Forego any kind of over-the-top dynamic video, photo, and graphic displays that are going to cause your site to load too slowly. Horses want to keep moving forward. Any kind of roadblock could cause them to take an undesired detour.
Pay attention to current website trends, and when your existing site strays too far from those trends, update your site’s look and feel, so it feels fresh and relevant. Likely, you’ll need to do this at least once every five years.
Include user-friendly navigation that calls out in clear language the topics that visitors would expect and want to find on a site that offers the types of products and services you offer. Related to this, create and include content & interactive tools that will ensure that visitors can accomplish what they want and need to do on your site. This should ultimately lead to sales and lead generation for your organization.
In keeping with bullet #10 above, use clear “call-to-action” buttons (that link to appropriate page of your site) throughout your site that pertain to tasks your target audience(s) will wish and expect to accomplish when visiting your site, such as “subscribe to our e-newsletter” or “schedule a complimentary discussion.”
Make sure any text is properly aligned and there are no extra spaces between words or inappropriate spaces between paragraphs or large blocks of text.
Remove outdated documents and content, such as pdfs with information that is no longer accurate or relevant/timely.
Delete events that have long since passed from your events calendar.
This is Marketing/Branding 101 – but be consistent as to how you refer to your organization throughout the site and with logo use.
Don’t make your site a dumping ground. Less usually is more. On any one particular page, don’t include so many call-outs and links to pdfs or other pages of your site, or so many graphics and images, that it’s impossible for your visitor to know where to focus.
As is obvious from the above, while well worth the effort, making sure your website is your work horse and, therefore, will lead the horse to drink is not for the work-shy. If the tips above, have you saying “hold your horses!”, we’re always ready to “saddle up” and get you moving in the right direction quickly!
I was prompted to write this post because of recent exercises and discussions in which I engaged related to how an organization differentiates itself from competitors. Earlier in the week, related to an opportunity I was pursuing, I needed to express in writing what makes me and my organization different from (well, really better than) other marketing consultants. I also had a discussion yesterday with a prospective new client — one in the very initial stages of creating a brand/identity — about the importance of calling out in marketing activities, including branding, what made his shop different from competitors.
Q: Why Should Your Target Audience(s) Choose Your Product or Service Over That of A Competitor?
Answering the above question is no easy feat! In certain industries, and with particular product and service offerings, it can be extremely difficult to identify a differentiator, particularly if your organization operates in a highly regulated industry where certain product and service features are limited or mandated by state or federal regulations. I’ll give an example from my corporate marketing days. I worked for two health plans who served individuals qualifying for state-funded health care coverage, such as Medicaid. The states in which the health plans operated had very specific guidelines regarding what plans could and couldn’t offer members related to the various healthcare coverage programs for which they were contracted. This made it very difficult to create and execute program benefits, features, services, etc. that stood out from competitors. For example, on the customer service and coverage front, state-contracted health plans were required to achieve a mandated level of customer service and coverage. One of the ways plans attempted to stand out was to offer tangible wellness benefits such as free car seats, bike helmets, etc.
Despite the type of challenge described above, I believe each and every organization can and should identify what makes them unique/special/different (in a positive way!) from competitors. To aid you in landing on a “differentiator with details”, i.e., an explanation that has some “meat” to it and isn’t vague or general, I’ve outlined steps and questions to use as you brainstorm individually or with others at your organization about how and why your products and services outshine your competitors, i.e., why your organization rocks!
STEPS FOR DETAILING YOUR DIFFERENTIATOR
Step One: Identify Broad Differentiation Categories In Which Your Organization Falls
Determine the broader categories on which your organization can differentiate its products & services. Note that there will likely be some overlap and your organization will fall into several categories.
convenience (location, online/website user-friendly tools & apps, hours of operation, portability of service/product; ease of use of product or service)
product features (consider how they speak to the various senses: taste, feel, appearance, sound, smell)
less tangible benefits, such as free assistance on certain topics or activities or ongoing e-communications that educate client on topics of importance to them
customer service (hours, days, quality, free vs. cost – does client have to buy service package?)
speed (how much turnaround time to receive service or product post-order/engagement?)
depth of expertise (# of years in business, in a particular industry, on a particular topic, background of organization leadership, etc.)
price/value (this can be tricky to promote, and often isn’t the best way to differentiate yourself, unless you know you are the lowest-cost provider, and that “low cost” won’t be associated by your target audiences with being low quality)
quality & durability of work, services, or product (materials used, how long something will last/be valuable)
breadth of offerings (can your organization meet several needs or pain points of clients immediately, or if needed in the future?; do you offer one-stop shopping or connections to experts when needed?)
organization size (what does your size allow for — more personal attention, less overhead equating to lower cost, more services and diverse staff experience?)
Step Two: Evaluate Which of Your Broad Categories of Differentiation Matter to Your Target Audience(s)
Ask and be honest with yourself about the following:
“Does/do my target audience(s) value what makes me different/is my differentiator important to a prospective customer?”
“Does my differentiator speak to a particular pain point or several pain points that a prospective client is likely experiencing?”
“Are you able to communicate your differentiator quickly/efficiently in a language your audiences will understand?”
At a minimum, you must be able to answer “yes” to #1 and #3 above if you plan to market your differentiator and have it resonate with target audiences, and ultimately support sales and lead generation.
Step Three: Build Out The Details of Your Differentiator
Hopefully, the above exercise landed you on one or two broad categories of differentiation that will be meaningful to prospective clients. Now, it’s time to build out the details. Let’s use size as an example. The “About” page of my site includes the following reference “Our small size means our Principal, Gail Snow Moraski, will be directly involved with your account, providing the experience and attention ALL clients deserve.” If your organization is a large shop, and you believe prospective clients will benefit from that, elaborate on why being large is beneficial. Your details around your large-size differentiator might reference the diverse, extensive experience of staff, the one-stop shopping you offer, the many, varied services you offer, or even the stability of your firm and the likelihood it will be around for a while.
Another differentiator example from our my own organization. Our tagline is “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I hope and believe that it expresses to prospective client audiences that I won’t encourage them to execute or continue any marketing activities that don’t generate leads or sales for them. And, that our tagline conveys that we are a data-driven, analytical shop. I consider my research and analysis skills a differentiator from some fellow marketing consultants who offer certain marketing & communications services, particularly writing- or creative-related ones, but don’t necessarily know how to determine in advance what marketing vehicles or activities (employing content or images/graphics they’ve created) should work as far as generating sales go, or how to go about analyzing what worked in the past. On the other hand, some marketing consultants have differentiators or skills that I don’t have, such as an artistic background/eye or experience creating and laying out sizable documents, such as annual reports.
In sum, the key to identifying and promoting your differentiator(s) is knowing which of your strengths a prospective customer will value most, and then, making it clear through understandable, concise statements what that differentiator is and how your target audiences will benefit.
We always welcome a good marketing brainstorm, so if your organization is struggling with determining your differentiators, which to promote, and how to effectively communicate them, we hope you’ll reach out.
Social media is no longer a new and innovative marketing tactic. So, I thought it might benefit my readers to look back at the 10+ years this tactic has been used by organizations and share what I’ve observed and learned.
Roughly 10 years ago, as a contractor, who eventually assumed permanent marketing manager and director roles at a large New England health plan, I was a big champion of social media. At that time, social media use by organizations for business purposes vs. by individuals for social purposes was starting to gain momentum, but there were still a good number of business organizations who had yet to launch a social media presence. I worked diligently to educate senior leadership in the marketing and communications department where I worked, as well as across the entire organization, about why we needed to dip our toes in the social media pool. I’m sure my reasons at the time for pushing my employer to establish a social media presence on one or several social media platforms included several, if not all, of the following:
by not having a social media presence, our organization looked dated and irrelevant
our competitors were taking advantage of this new marketing tool known as “social media” and we were missing out on the opportunities they were having to connect and communicate with our mutual target audiences: 1) direct users of our services aka members (individuals who qualified for state-funded healthcare coverage programs); 2) healthcare providers who served our members, and 3) nonprofit organizations serving our members who could refer them to us
other than employee time to create and share posts, social media was “free” and could help us make the most of our marketing budget
through the sharing of thought-provoking and informational posts, my employer could establish itself as a subject matter expert
we could drive traffic to our website via posts that contained links to various website content
we could create goodwill with other organizations by sharing their posts
we could speak to our members and prospective members via one of their preferred vehicles of communications; therefore, not only could we market ourselves using social media, we could keep our members informed
I eventually got buy-in to launch a social media presence for my employer and how we used the platforms and which platforms we used evolved during my time at the health plan. And, five years post my departure, I’m sure the health plan’s use of social media to promote itself, create goodwill, and communicate with its members, providers and the community continues to evolve.
Based on my approximately 10 years’ experience overseeing the social media presence of corporate employers, clients, and my own organization, Results Communications and Research, here’s what I’ve learned about social media use by businesses to create awareness and generate leads and sales. I call out these last two objectives, because ultimately those are the biggest desired end results of organizations who develop and implement a social media strategy.
Organizations should never put all of their marketing & communications $$ and efforts into their social media basket. Regardless of an organization’s nature and the nature of the products and services offered, some members of one or all of an organization’s target audiences may not be active on social media; therefore, you need to leave some $$ and time to reach those individuals who aren’t fans or users of social media via another form of communication that may be preferred by them, such as e-mail marketing, search engine advertising, or print advertising.
Even if it’s limited, organizations should maintain a social media presence to establish and maintain relevancy. Organizations don’t want potential clients or existing customers to make the assumption you won’t be up-to-speed on other issues because you’re viewed as “behind-the-times” by not having a social media presence.
More is not always more. Sure there’s a large # of social media networks/platforms out there: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and others. That doesn’t mean your organization should have a presence on all of them. It’s hard to maintain a strong, effective presence on one or several platforms if you dilute your social media energies too much across too large a range of social media networks.
Each platform has distinct audiences, benefits and limitations. Here’s our observations on the platforms we’ve used most to promote our own organization as well as others’:
LinkedIn – because it was built for business and professional networking purposes, each & every organization should have a profile page on LinkedIn; a lot of really great conversations happen on LinkedIn via post comments and LinkedIn’s messaging capability
Twitter — as with LinkedIn, this is where we see business conversations happening most, regardless of the nature of an organization, but particularly when it comes to business-to-business conversations and services
Facebookand Instagram – based on our experience, business Facebook and Instagram profiles work best for organizations offering business-to-consumer services or products vs. business-to-business services or products. A restaurant or hair salon may benefit from having a business Facebook or Instagram page, but a business offering services to another business, like insurance, likely won’t benefit as much. And, if you’re not an organization who wants to or can regularly take and post new photos, you shouldn’t bother with an Instagram account since Instagram is all about serving up a steady stream of interesting photos
Pinterest – consumer goods companies, such as food or other retailers will benefit from having a presence here, but there don’t seem to be any applications for organizations offering services. As with Instagram, if you’re going to maintain an effective presence on Pinterest, you need to be able to constantly take and post new photos or graphic images
YouTube – organizations need to think of YouTube as a search engine — since the YouTube search tool receives the second largest search volume after Google. Regardless of its nature, any organization should benefit from establishing a channel and sharing videos here
Google My Business – while some may not view this as a social media network/platform, I believe each and every organization should have such a profile, keep it current and regularly post to it, the way you would any other social media platform. This will greatly improve your SEO — where you fall in search engine results listings for search terms relevant to your products and services
In isolation, social media profiles and posts don’t often directly lead to sales or generate leads. In general, social media strategy and tactics need to be supported by other marketing tactics as part of a much larger, integrated marketing plan. We highlighted this in red to really call out the danger associated with believing that a social media presence will directly promote sales and leads, or suffice as a stand-alone marketing activity to create awareness of your organization and its products and services. In rare instances, social media posts may generate sales and leads, but those are the exceptions. For example, these types of social media behavior may generate a lead or a sale
Posts that promote sales or special offers for whatever consumer goods are currently most popular or the “it” thing
Posts that promote upcoming events, such as concerts by popular performers
Commenting on another organization’s or professional’s post, particularly on LinkedIn or Twitter
Organizations should use Google Analytics to determine where to put their social media $$ and energies. I always suggest giving equal attention — in the form of posting your own content and sharing, liking and commenting on others’ — to two or three social media platforms that make sense for your organization (for several months), based on what I shared about about the platforms’ benefits and limitations. Then, use Google Analytics to determine which of these social media platforms are referring the most traffic to your site. That will help inform where you’ll likely want to put most of your social media energies going forward.
Businesses shouldn’t “go dark” on certain social media platforms without acknowledging it or explaining why. Whenever I’m preparing for a meeting with a prospective client, I check out all their digital/online marketing activities, including their social media presence. I’m always surprised by the number of organizations that have social media icons on their websites that link to profiles on social media platforms that they don’t maintain, e.g., haven’t posted to in the last 3 to 6 months or longer. If you don’t have the capacity to maintain an effective social media presence on a particular platform, i.e., can’t post at least weekly to the platform, consider the following:
removing the social media icon link to the platform, in question, until you can give the social media network the attention it deserves
posting to the “neglected” social media platform that you won’t be posting to the platform in the foreseeable future, but that you hope your followers will join you on x,y,z platform instead and include a link to your presence(s) there (assumes you are more effectively maintaining a presence on one or several other platforms)
If you’re going to put time & energy into social media, be sure to capitalize on it. Be sure to put social media icons on each page of your website that link to the various social media platforms on which you have a presence. Also, place such icon links in e-mail signatures, and e-newletters. I’ve seen so many organizations neglect to do the aforementioned, and therefore, miss out the opportunity to build stronger bonds and share additional information with customers and prospective clients.
To summarize our observations, in general, social media shouldn’t be used in isolation by organizations to generate leads and sales. It should be one tactic that is part of a much bigger integrated marketing plan. Organizations should maintain a social media presence to be seen as relevant and to create goodwill with customers, prospective customers, and organizations who might be good business referral sources, but it isn’t necessary to have a presence on each and every social media platform. If you’re going to have a presence on a certain form of social media, be sure to post, comment, like, share, etc. regularly, and don’t just “go dark.” Use Google Analytics data to determine which forms of social media drive the most traffic to your website and focus your energies there, and make sure your website and e-communications share links to and promote your social media presence.
Need help creating or evaluating your social media strategy? Contact us to learn about our social media “audit” and strategy development and “voice” services.
If your organization is offering business-to-business (B2B) services, you’d be thrilled to know what businesses are visiting your website, even though you likely believe that there’s no way of obtaining such data. But, particularly if you are an organization that serves larger businesses — think ones with 100+ employees — there’s ways to get at that data, and we think you’ll likely benefit from using both of the two distinct tools discussed in this blog post. And, the great news is that your organization is likely already using one of these tools on a regular basis!
It’s a digital marketing best practice and no-brainer to have your website linked to a Google Analytics account. That way, you can take advantage of all the rich website visitor demographics and behavior data tracked there, including data related to which businesses are visiting your website. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account set up, you can set one up for free and it only takes about 15 minutes (if you need help, e-mail us).
So where do you go to access business visitor data? Once you’ve signed into your Google Analytics account, access “Audience” from the left-hand menu bar, then “Overview”, and then scroll down the Overview page to the “System” section, and click on the “Service Provider” link. This will call up a list such as the one below Google Analytics generated for our own website.
The service providers referenced are also known as ISPs or “Internet Service Providers.” Wikipedia does a great job of explaining the roles of ISPs and who can operate one: “An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. Internet service providers may be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privately owned.”
When organizations are large enough, such as colleges or universities, they often create their own ISP to meet their internet needs — so voila, searching through your full report of ISPs for the names of businesses that aren’t your standard ISPs (AT & T, Comcast, Verizon, local electric companies, etc.) providing internet services to consumers or smaller businesses — might give you a bunch of new leads to add to your sales pipeline.
If you check this Service Provider/ISP list regularly, you’ll be discovering on a timely basis which large organizations have been visiting your site, and can reach out to them while they are still a “warm” or “hot” lead, and therefore, likely still in research and procurement mode for the particular services you offer.
Similar tools to Lead Forensics may exist, but since we’ve held phone and e-mail discussions with Lead Forensics, and believe their tool and customer service to be good, we will speak to their capabilities related to tracking which businesses visit your website. Their solution allows you to add tracking code to your website that ultimately will allow you to learn the names of business organizations associated with individual device IP addresses that visit your website. In keeping with GRPR data privacy guidelines, no business organizations should be attempting to capture and share the full IP address of an individual/individual’s device who visits their website, but the code that Lead Forensics will provide you with, when you sign up for their services, does not track or reveal a distinct individual’s IP address. Instead, it provides the name of the business and the office location associated with that IP address.
In sum, by using a tool like Lead Forensics, you’ll have access to a new source of business leads — organizations who have demonstrated at least some level of interest in your services. You can follow up with them in whatever fashion feels most comfortable — whether it be calling that business organization’s office and saying that someone at their organization had expressed interest in learning more about your services, or saying that you are able to track what business organizations visit your website and you saw that someone from their organization had visited your site. Hopefully, whomever you phone chat or e-chat with at a particular prospective client organization will be willing to connect you with the right individual with whom you should discuss your services.
Let us know how we can help you take advantage of the two lead-generating tools discussed above. We can’t wait to hear if and how you used them to grow both your sales pipeline and actual sales.
While I’ve done contract marketing and market research work in the past — during times when I was looking for a permanent position in my field — it’s been about six months now that I’ve devoted my energies full-time to making consulting work my permanent employment.
Trying to get a consulting practice started is not for the weak of heart, particularly a marketing consulting practice. Part of the reason for this is many organizations I approach about the expertise I can offer already have a marketing agency or consultant in place. If they are an organization that’s been around for any length of time, marketing is essential to their well-being and it’s likely they’ve already solicited outside help to optimize marketing efforts. In fact, many have long-term contracts in place with marketing agencies that can’t be easily severed. And, I’m also finding the newer, start-up businesses are difficult to identify and many use family members or friends to help them out on a pro bono or low-rate basis while in start-up mode.
Bottom line of all the above is that, in order for me, or any business offering consulting or other services to make a successful go at it, we have to be skilled at networking. It’s imperative that we use our connections or the connections of our connections to get our feet in the door. Being more of a strategic behind-the-scenes person, that’s a challenge for me, but I’m rising to the occasion and I’m glad my business is causing me to grow this skill for a couple of reasons.
First, as a marketeer, even if I didn’t need to be out there trying to make sales and there was a sales team in place whose work I supported with marketing materials and activities, it’s very beneficial to understand the challenges, roadblocks, questions, concerns, etc. that a sales team faces on a daily basis. Secondly, the need to network is causing me to reconnect with individuals with whom I worked closely and had strong friendships with at different points in my career.
I’ve been working in the Boston area now for about thirty years. Thirty years. After studying in France my senior year and graduating from UCONN with a French degree, I attended the Katherine Gibbs’ three-month entree program. I always refer to it as a program that gave liberal arts majors the office skills they needed to get jobs. I will say attending the program served me well. After completing the program, I was able to obtain temporary office work at great organizations like Stone & Webster and Dana Farber, and soon landed permanent jobs at BayBank Harvard Trust and Fidelity Investments. After obtaining my M.B.A., mostly at night, I’ve been employed at Market Facts, Berklee College of Music, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MA, Bay State Federal Bank, Best Doctors, Network Health, and BMC HealthNet Plan.
I list all of the above because it’s a good reminder that I’ve worked a lot of great places and made a lot of strong friendships and working relationships throughout my career — of which I should never lose sight. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people (since I’m a transplant from CT to MA, many of my closest friends are former co-workers). The need to network has caused me to reconnect with some of the many individuals with whom I haven’t stayed as closely in touch, but with whom I really enjoyed working. It’s been so much fun learning what former colleagues are up to, both professionally and personally. So, I’m grateful that networking has prompted me to “catch up” with these people. There’s nothing like tight schedules, heavy workloads, and what seem like impossible challenges for forming strong bonds. I’m really enjoying revisiting those bonds. If you aren’t already doing so, I encourage you to reach out to former co-workers. I know you’ll benefit in a variety of ways from the experience.
Note: Since I wrote the piece below the video referenced has been removed from YouTube.
I loved it the first time I saw it and I don’t get tired of it. Despite all the confrontation in Haagen Dazs’ commercial for its Stracciatella gelato, I doubt there’s a woman out there who doesn’t find herself entranced by the extreme passion and romance played out in this commercial. It makes you think of the intense love of Romeo and Juliet, in Dr. Zhivago, or a Bryan Adams’ song, and that combined with the opportunity to be transported to Italy for a few minutes via the language and physical appearance of the actors, is the stuff of women’s dreams. Yes, you could argue that men yearn for great romance too, and some will be moved and prompted to take action after seeing this commercial too, but I feel comfortable in stating, firstly, that this commercial is primarily targeting women, and secondly, its emotional appeal WILL cause a rise in Stracciatella gelato sales. I know one target audience member who was prompted to buy and try some and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed in my purchase. The gelato was as delicious as I expected to be, and I felt so luxurious just eating it. It’s just plain creamy good. So, I’m giving Haagen Dazs double kudos — one for great target advertising and another for making sure that the product promoted in its advertising delivers!