Market with Intention

Would you plan the details of a trip without first choosing your destination? Would you study flights, decide on a budget, choose activities, restaurants, and modes of travel while you’re there – without knowing where you were going?

Of course not!

In fact, it would be almost impossible to do so. Frustratingly so.

The same principles apply to your marketing efforts. Choosing your tactics – billboards, advertising, websites, direct mail, trade shows, Google ads – before you have a solid, intentional marketing strategy is much like trying to plan a trip before you have a destination in mind. You’ll be wasting your time and your money, not seeing the results you want. And that adds up to major frustration.

So, how do you get started?

Marketing Strategy Image2Begin by setting goals. Understand where your business is now, and decide where you want it to go. Write it down. Does it make sense? And perhaps most important of all – is it realistic?

Use your plan to focus on your customers. This way, you aren’t using unrelated tactics – an email here, an ad there – but a coordinated marketing plan to drive the message you want to the audience you want to see it. Picture targeted ads, coordinated with an email campaign that ties into direct mail and other efforts. That’s how you make marketing work for you.

Let your plan help you stay on track and keep you accountable. In today’s marketing world, there’s always something new you could be doing. When you’re acting intentionally, you can say no to things that will take you away from your strategy. You can also use your plan to make sure you’re making your goals. If you’re not, it may be time to reevaluate.

Wondering what’s next? We can help! At The Get Smart Group, we’re experts in helping businesses like yours craft creative, intentional marketing strategies and put them in action for amazing results. Contact us today!


Embrace Your Summer Bucket List

You need a vacation! You manage and delegate and manage some more. You fill in the gaps, work longer hours than anyone else, and desperately need uninterrupted time with your family. And if it weren’t for that darn digital marketing, you’d be on vacation by now.

Oh, wait, you have someone to take care of that for you! And when you have someone you can trust to do something so vital to the success of your business the right way, getting away with your family for a few days to reconnect seems entirely plausible!

Summer-Bucket-List

Here are some things you can add to your summer to-do list because you no longer have to worry about managing your digital marketing:

  • Take the family to an amusement park like Six Flags to see who throws up first after all of the roller coasters.
  • Go camping for a weekend… so far out in the middle of nowhere that there is absolutely no cell phone service. Better yet, go in the middle of the work week just to see what that feels like.
  • Leave the kids with grandparents and spend a weekend with your significant other… being crazy together in Las Vegas. Remember, what happens in Vegas… has absolutely nothing to do with managing your digital marketing (other than Snapchatting all the fun you’re having)!
  • Just go on an actual vacation. As in, leave for at least a week with your family. Go to Disney or to the beach or wherever you’ve been wanting to take them for ages, but worrying about all the posting and email marketing has kept you from following through on.

The world is your oyster — or however the saying goes — now that you’ve released the big time-sucking task of digital marketing into our capable hands. No more managing multiple social media accounts. No more fielding website inquiries through the right marketing funnel one-by-one. No more stressing over the right words for your digital ad campaign or informative blogs. We’ve got this and you can rest easy because we’re the experts.

You have enough on your plate between running a business and having a home life too. Let’s tip the scales a bit to create a better balance by removing digital marketing from your to-do list and adding “time with family” in its place.


Give your customers a peek behind the curtain

Curiosity. Some say it’s what killed the cat.

But truthfully, it’s what leads to growth and discovery, to new adventures and inventions. Curiosity is what keeps the world turning ‘round – and your customers have it in abundance. Tapping into that natural human desire to know more, and channeling it into a desire to know more about YOUR business or product, is a tried and true marketing method.

Curtain GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

In fact, giving your customers a “peek behind the curtain” has been around so long, it’s known as the 100 Year Old Persuasion Strategy. Look it up sometime – it’s a pretty interesting story of how Schlitz Beer went from fifth in the market to first, by making the manufacturer’s process the center of its ad campaign.

Why was this so successful, and why can the same basic strategy be good for your business? It’s simple, really. It builds trust. Whether you’re proving to beer drinkers exactly why you can claim the brew they’re drinking is “pure” 100 years ago, or you’re showing your customers exactly how much care goes into preparing a delivery of your product today, it has the same result. Customers feel they’re seeing a previously hidden part of the process. And if that part – that secret, behind the scenes stuff – holds up to what you say and show every day? You’ve built trust.

And Trust = Sales.

So how do you do it? Start by telling stories – on your website, in your social channels, in your advertising. Think about the things your customers don’t typically get to see, and then think about how you can show them. What goes into producing your product? How much care do your employees put into packaging it? Take some photos, make a video, capture the action and share the tale.

Just remember, this is about your customers, not you. Keep the focus on them, develop a strategy and you’ll knock this one out of the park. And, most likely, save the cat, too.


Creativity is King – Make it Work for Your Business

Creative process

Your mom probably told you nothing worth having comes easy. She likely tossed that one at you when you were begging for a new, expensive bike or maybe a pricey shirt from the mall. Then she either told you “no,” or told you to earn the money and purchase it yourself. And you probably didn’t like that answer at all.

She was right, though. Nothing really does come easy – in life, or in business. You’ve got to earn it. But in business, there’s an added complication called competition. Not only do you have to earn what you need, you have to fight someone else for it. (In truth, most people don’t really like that, either.)

But wait. There’s a secret.

A little … something extra.

Something that can give you a little “leg up” on your business competition.

Creativity!

Yes, we’re serious. Here are three reasons why creativity is king, and how it can help you in your business:

  1. It teaches you to try new things. Being creative in your business is about experimenting and pushing your boundaries. Will all those new ideas yield immediate success? Probably not. But that’s OK. Some will, and the others – you’ll learn from those to find even more success in the future.
  2. It’s fun. Allowing yourself and your team time to feel relaxed and happy on the job leads to creative success and gets the ideas flowing. Teach yourself and your team that it’s OK to have some fun at work. Your business will reap the rewards.
  3. It gives you fresh insights. You can’t run a successful business without data. But sometimes, you need to step beyond it to really grasp what your customers want and need. How can you get closer to your customers to better understand them? Creatively solve this problem, and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.

So how can you practically apply creativity in your business to stand out from your competition?

  • You know that relaxed, creative environment you fostered? Use it to generate amazing customer service. Remember, happy employees = happy customers.
  • Develop something new. A new product or product package. A new service. Something that no one else offers. Get close to your customers and find out what they need – then fill that need in a unique new way.
  • If you don’t already, blog. First of all, it’s a great creative outlet. But it’s also a wonderful way to float your new ideas and share them with the world.

The ideas are never ending, really. The only limit is, well, your creativity. ;)


Educate Your Customers to Make the Sale

GSG Customer Ed

A door-to-door salesman stopped by the other day, selling educational books. You can’t purchase them online or even from a store, only through the salesman on your porch. He was nice and the books were impressive, but a decision had to be made right then and there. Our “no” came down to the fact that we just didn’t have enough information.

In a google-search driven world, a simple sales pitch will no longer suffice for closing the deal. Customers don’t want you to convince them that what you have to offer is the best, they want to learn for themselves. They want statistics and substantiated information that show them why your product or service is necessary for their lives, and why yours is the best.

Show Them Why They Need It

Educating your customer begins with showing them why they need the product or service you offer in the first place. They’re not going to just take your word for it. If Sally wants beautiful flowers in her landscaping, she can probably justify going to a big box store to buy them and doing it herself.

You have to educate her on why a landscaper is necessary. Show her how many DIY landscapers end up replacing plants in the first year because they have the wrong hardiness or don’t care for them correctly. Don’t just show her pictures of your own completed landscapes, but show her those same landscapes two, three, five years after completion. Substantiate your purpose.

Distinguish Yourself From Others

So you’ve made a believer out of her and she sees the appeal of a landscaper. But you don’t necessarily have the sale yet. Educate her on why your landscaping business is better than all of the others in your area. Have you received formal training or certifications? Do you have proper business documentation from municipalities and insurance? Do you have clients she can actually call to get feedback on your work (rather than reading reviews on your website that could be doctored for all she knows).

Make this information readily available to potential customers, whether on your website (such as your certification and business filings) or by noting that it’s available upon request. When your potential customer has the information available but has to make a slight effort to get it, that first shows their interest and also gives them the satisfaction of deciding for themselves, rather than being vulnerable to a sales pitch.

Yes, in the end, you’re still marketing and selling something, but when you give your potential customers the opportunity to feel like they’re educating themselves, they’re more confident in their decision to hire or buy from you.


You Have a Lead – Now What?

GSG new customerLeads: we work so hard to get them. The bread and butter of any business is generating more leads and transitioning them to paying customers. But, once you have the lead in the palm of your sweaty hand, how do you get the sale? How do you nurture him/her into someone that believes in what you’re selling enough to actually buy?

Build Trust

We actually can’t emphasize this enough: you’re never going to monetize a lead if he never trusts you or your business. So, where does that trust come from if you don’t have a working relationship yet? It comes from an authentic desire to share value with leads. Give them tidbits — things to chew on that show them you’re an expert at what you do and can educate them well.

For example, if you’re in the swimming pool business, create an active presence online sharing bits of information about caring for a swimming pool. Through blog posts and email campaigns, give your leads just enough information to make them feel like you’ve shared something important with them (such as basic maintenance tips). Make yourself available for questions, even if they already have a pool through someone else.

When you show that you genuinely care more about the person than you do the sale, then you’ll eventually get the sale too (they might start coming to you for chemicals for their pool, and a couple years later, they ask you to do their pool remodel). Remember though, you have to actually, genuinely care about the person more. If you don’t, they’ll see right through you.

Be Consistent

If you’re going to do an email campaign, then actually do an email campaign. Whether you hire us to help you with it or do it on your own, set up a system that will generate emails regularly and consistently so that the lead can count on it.

The same goes for social media or your website’s blog. If you’re going to do it, do it right; otherwise, don’t bother. If you’re only posting once a week on social media and your small number of followers have no idea when that will happen, then you won’t gain more followers and the few leads you did have will lose interest. If your blog is only updated every few weeks, you’ll see the same negative result. As with anything you want to be successful at, consistency is paramount.

Toss in a Call to Action

Every once in awhile, you need to call your leads to action. Remind them in your blog posts that whatever you’re teaching, you can also do for them so it’s one thing less they have to worry about. When they call for help with their green swimming pool, give them tips, but also offer to come clean it up for them. Share information that will help them, but also offer to make it easier by enlisting your service or your product.

Trust, consistency and action: you can do it! Of course, if you want some help nurturing those leads, we are here for you.


Social Media Savvy – Tips & Tricks for Sharing Social Content

Social media sharingYou, your spouse or significant other, your friends – you’re on Facebook, and maybe also Twitter, right? Professionally, you may use LinkedIn. Your mom’s likely using Pinterest – ask her. Your kids, nieces, nephews? Snapchat and Instagram. Everyone uses YouTube, at least once in awhile.

So if everyone you know is using social media that means your customers are, too. And that your business needs to be there. But honestly? Just being there isn’t enough. You need to be there in the right way, sharing content that fits each specific social channel so you aren’t just lost in the shuffle.

Facebook

79% of internet users, use Facebook. That’s … amazing. But that’s also a lot of noise to break through. How do you get your customers to interact with you? Try these tips:

  • It seems pretty obvious, but post when your followers are online. Use Facebook Insights to determine when most of your customers are typically checking their feeds, and schedule your posts for those time periods.
  • Include images. Posts with images typically get DOUBLE the engagement. Just don’t break any copyright laws!
  • Include a call to action. Ask your customers to do something – RSVP for an event, comment on or share your post, etc.

Twitter

500 million tweets are sent every single day. While there may not be as many users as Facebook, those who use Twitter tend to use it almost obsessively. To be a successful twitter marketer, try these steps:

  • Again, include an image. Twitter posts with images get 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets. Those favorites and retweets show up in the feeds of your followers’ followers. That’s a lot of extra eyeballs.
  • Share your content more than once. Twitter moves at lightening speed. If you share a link to your blog or info about a sale at 10 a.m. and a follower didn’t see it, they likely never will. Don’t over do it, but don’t be afraid to post it a couple of times.
  • Include some personal content that helps build your brand. Holding an off-site training session for your leadership team at tree top zipline? Tweet out a photo and brief explanation. Twitter loves content like that.

Pinterest

Women use Pinterest at much higher rates than men, and users turn to it for search rather than Google. Interesting, huh? Brands have taken notice, with advertising and accounts on the site. If you think Pinterest is right for your company, consider these steps:

  • Add “Pin It” buttons to your website. This encourages your customers to share your content to their own Pinterest pages, where other Pinterest users can also pick it up and share it, if it’s of interest to them. Pretty cool, huh?
  • Use tall images to stand out. Pinterest is all about the photos, and auto-scales them to width. But you can select the height of your images. So take advantage of that, and make yours stand out from the crowd.
  • Step-by-step tutorials are incredibly popular on the site, as are images with 150-300 word descriptions.

Of course, this only scratches the surface – and we haven’t even touched on Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. If you’re interested in a truly successful marketing program that includes the social networks that make the most sense for your business, contact The Get Smart Group today.


Using Facebook Live to Market Your Business

Facebook LIVEFree advertising is a plus for any business owner. But free advertising that has the potential to truly reach a large segment of your market is actually quite invaluable. We’re talking about Facebook Live here (currently only available from a mobile device), which is fast becoming an extremely effective means of reaching the masses.

Why It’s a Good Move

Whether on your business page or personal profile, Facebook Live works because it’s not only free to use, but Facebook sends a notification to your followers that you’re doing a live video. Which means they don’t have to happen upon it to see it, Facebook automatically directs viewers to you.

Additionally, it’s a great way to establish trust with your current and potential customers. Doing a Facebook Live video shows vulnerability – since it’s live, you may mess up, stumble over words or do any number of things that show you’re a real person. Yes, that involves some risk, but it’s worth it (that doesn’t disregard the need to prepare in some way for your video, of course).

Tips for Success

When you start doing Facebook Live videos, you’re not going to see immediate results. Like anything else, you’re going to have to work at it. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be Dedicated – Whether your following is five people or 500, you need to have the same dedication and commitment to the information you provide. Like with any online marketing tactic, it takes time to develop a following, but your dedication should remain constant.
  • Be Generous – You’re only going to maintain an audience if you’re giving them something of value, typically a piece of advice that conveys your expertise.
  • Be Consistent – Commit to doing a Facebook Live video consistently so your followers can rely upon it. Whether that’s committing to 8 A.M. 5 days a week or every Monday afternoon, your audience needs to be ready and waiting because they know when you’ll be there.

We also recommend that you start by doing your Facebook Live videos on your personal profile. The people that like your business page must be “following” it as well in order to get the notifications that you’re live. However, your “friends” on your personal profile will get the notification unless they have manually removed the follow option. Post your live videos as “public” on your personal profile and then share them to your business page. Establish a strong following with a lot of engagement on your videos (comments, likes and shares) and then transition to your business page if you see fit and ask your followers to come along.

Like many of the other developments in online marketing, Facebook Live is a great resource for your business that you should be utilizing. Always take advantage of the next big thing for your business. Getting ahead of the curve means better results in the long run.


What’s your business brand – and why does it matter?

Brand GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What’s your business brand? Well – it’s everything.

Yes, it includes your logo. That is the most recognizable element of your company, after all. But it’s also your promise to your customers, telling them what they can expect from your business. It’s a foundation for your employees, governing their behavior and expectations. It tells people how you’re different from your competition, it tells them about your business reputation and more.

A strong brand can take you places. A weak brand can mire you in the muck.

How?

A strong brand builds trust, while a weak brand creates doubt. When your business has a professional appearance, customers are more likely to trust you and give you their business. Conversely, they’re more likely to question their interactions with businesses that seem less professional – when the showroom is a mess, when the salespeople aren’t professional in appearance and demeanor, etc., it makes them wonder if they can trust not only your company but the products you are selling. It may be a mostly emotional response, but that matters.

A strong brand improves recognition, while a weak brand is forgettable. This begins with your logo. Not only should it instantly give customers the impression of your company that you want to convey, but it should be consistently applied across all your marketing and communication materials. Signage, vehicles, stationery, website, social, advertising, uniforms – everything. Your logo is the face of your brand. Make the investment in having one professionally designed. A poorly designed logo, or one that appears in different variations across your business materials, becomes confusing and misses the opportunity to cement your brand in the mind of your customer.

A strong brand inspires your employees. A weak brand does not. When your brand truly communicates your company’s mission, it gives your staff focus, pride, and desire to reach the goals you’ve established. When your employees don’t know what your company stands for, they don’t have a common cause to rally around. A solid brand gives them something to believe in and work towards.

A strong brand builds your business. A weak brand can destroy it. A well-branded business that provides good services, lives up to its promises, inspires trust and generates referrals. If your customers have a good experience with your brand, they’ll tell their friends. While advertising is an indispensable part of the marketing mix, word-of-mouth referrals are the Holy Grail. With a weak brand this is nearly impossible to achieve and in fact, you may generate negative referrals. No business wants that!

A well-crafted brand tells the story of your business. So look around. What story is your brand telling today? And what story do you want it to tell? If those aren’t in alignment, contact The Get Smart Group today.


Launching a New Product? Spread the Word!

Justin Gammon GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s a risky business, launching a new product for your company. All the time and funds invested in its development – and the emotional investment – strengthen the desire (dare we say, need) for it to succeed.

So how do you make the launch of your new product start generating returns? It’s all about marketing and, more often than not, digital marketing platforms are going to provide you with the most quantitative results.

Email Marketing

If you don’t already have an email marketing campaign in effect, then you certainly need to. Capturing email addresses for your current and potential customers is a great way to keep them engaged. For the record, if the idea of an email marketing campaign overwhelms you, or your company just doesn’t have the time or manpower, that’s certainly an area that The Get Smart Group can help with.

Regardless, when it comes to a new product, you want to make sure you send out an email blast to your customers – not just once, but a few times during the first year of your product’s launch, so that it’s at the forefront of their minds until the time is right for them to buy. Incentivize your launch for a more responsive call to action; include something like a 10% discount if they mention the email.

Social Media

We’re going to presume that you already have a Facebook business page or Instagram/Twitter account and that you’re actively posting there and have a following (if not, that’s a whole other blog post).  Utilizing these platforms to promote your new product is critical, since so much of any customer base is active on social media. We do recommend that you focus the majority of your efforts on the platform that yields the most response for you, but we’re going to use Facebook as our example because it tends to be the most widely used medium right now.

Among your regular posts on your Facebook profile, sprinkle in posts about your new product at least once – maybe twice – a week for several weeks, and then at least a couple of times a month. With each post, highlight a different feature of the product and then direct your customers to a place on your website where they can learn more (such as the product page or a blog post – which absolutely must exist as part of your digital media marketing strategy). Incentivizing here isn’t a bad idea either. Coincidentally, TGSG can help you with scheduling consistent Facebook posts too, if that’s something you need.

Use the post boosting feature to get more engagement about your product – it’s a small marketing investment that yields great results when you target the correct market. We also recommend an occasional Facebook Live video about the product, showing it in action or explaining one of the features. Facebook literally notifies your followers (for free) when you go live, working to create an audience. You can’t be free advertising! For even more reach, go live about the product on your personal profile too!

Spreading the word about your new product is key to generating sales, and digital media contains the most versatile and successful marketing platforms available right now. Don’t skip it!