Getting Your Ducks in a Row | Using a Marketing Calendar

By: Michelle L. Cramer

So, now that 2015 is nearly behind us; do you know what to expect from 2016? Have you planned your events, specials and marketing efforts for the year?GSGDucks


Chances are, you have an idea in your head of what your marketing efforts look like. And you probably even have a few dates floating around when you plan to implement certain things. But it’s likely that it’s all just a disorganized jumble… and maybe on a slew of sticky notes scattered around your desk and office (or maybe even a Google calendar reminder or two).

Set Things in Stone

A marketing calendar is really a necessity for staying on task with your marketing goals and seeing your business grow. However, we’re not oblivious to the fact that putting a marketing calendar together for the first time can be intimidating. Start small; you’ll be surprised at how it soon comes naturally to effectively plan ahead.

“The starting point would be just putting when you events are on your calendar and making sure to set up an email broadcast to go out to customers two weeks before your event – one email is a good start,” Ali Reynolds, our co-founder and sales manager, advises. “Give yourself a reminder two weeks before your event so that you can get the email written and sent out in a reasonable amount of time.”

Ali also believes that having a Facebook page for your business is a good way to start toward a full-fledged marketing calendar, because posting to social media should be a part of your efforts. “And reach out to a marketing company and ask for a free consultation – most companies will do that and there’s value in that, even if you don’t end up hiring them,” she says.

Help is Available

The Get Smart Group, of course, offers free consultations. Beyond that, however, we can assist you in the process of getting your marketing calendar fully established for the rest of the year. We have a couple of options when it comes to full-involvement:

  • Managing Your Marketing Calendar – This starts with an in-person meeting where we come to your office and sit down with you to establish your marketing calendar for the year. We examine your deliverables and make a corresponding plan, broken down by month. Then we provide you with a proposal for the monthly management of your marketing calendar and take it from there. You put the work in our hands.
  • Kick-Start Day of Marketing – The second option is for us to come for a planning day, lay out a monthly plan for the year and simply charge a fee for the planning process. You take it from there and implement all of the strategies throughout the year.

With either option, The Get Smart Group feels it’s important to have face-to-face time to implement a strong strategy. “Some people have marketing departments, but they just need help getting organized,” Ali says. “Having us there in person is a really great way of getting stuff done fast.”

When we’re managing your marketing calendar for you, we do a monthly check-in call to touch base, give results for the previous month, verify what’s planned for the next month and see if there is anything else you’d like to add to the calendar. “This gives us a little bit of flexibility for last-minute opportunities, but without the last-minute rush and panic,” Ali says. “This built-in room to breath means a higher quality marketing campaign overall.”

Implementing the Plan

Once you have your big events and sales on the calendar, you can fill the rest of your marketing slots by breaking down each of those items. Map out an email campaign, social media posts and advertising, blog posts and landing pages on your website, Google Adwords promotions, print ads and radio spots – when they will need to go live and when the materials will need to be ready to make that happen. Whatever you do, Ali advises that visuals be included. They are very important for grabbing attention.

Even if you don’t use The Get Smart Group for piecing it together – or any outside help for that matter – implementing a marketing calendar will take the success of your business to the next level. Take the time to plan out the rest of 2015 and you’ll quickly see what a difference an organized strategy will make.

High-Flying Loyalty: How to Keep Customers Coming Back

By: Nathan Evans

In the hit NBC show The Office, there’s an episode where Dwight, the office manager’s slavish devotee, has a potential job offer at a competitor company. “I feel like what I’m getting paid for here is my loyalty,” he says. However, in an aside to the camera, Dwight intones gravely “But, if there was somewhere else that valued that loyalty more highly…I’m going wherever they value loyalty the most.”

Jokes aside, many of your customers may feel the same. You can build a business on manipulations (incentivizing people to buy your loyaltyproduct or vote for you or share your content) but real loyalty comes from a totally different place. To get someone to complete not just one transaction with you, but two, five, twenty — to come back over and over and over — you have to have more than a nice jingle or a discounted price.

Loyalty is Crucial in Downturns

Southwest Airlines has a reputation for low-cost flights and having fun on the job. In the months and years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City, airlines were mauled by a drop in flights and extra security measures. Several airlines filed for bankruptcy. Southwest, on the other hand, was receiving personal checks from people all across the country. Completely unbidden, Americans who liked Southwest’s LUV-ing spirit, were satisfied with their low-cost flights, and admired their way of doing business (or could we sum all that up as loyalty?), were sticking by the company in their hour of need.

That’s loyalty you cannot buy, trick or manipulate.

How does one foster this kind of loyalty?

  • Be authentic. What that means is that every choice you make, every product or service your company puts out, should be in line with why your company exists. As Simon Sinek says in his book Start With Why, “people don’t buy what you do…they buy why you do it.” You can review our Get Smart Group “Why” HERE   
  • Treat customers like people. We’ve all had that customer service person who really made us feel special — so special we went online and wrote a review, or told friends about it. When customers stop being potential marks or conversions and start being living, breathing people we do business with, they will see us as more than vending machines.
  • Be respectable. Think back to a mentor, teacher, boss, or friend who you’d walk to hell and spit through the gates for. Loyalty is the word, but your respect for them is the why. If your customers don’t respect you, they won’t stick with you when someone else offers them BOGO.

One-Offs vs. Long-time Relationships

Some businesses are transaction-based. There isn’t much point in fostering loyalty among voters when you’re running for President, which is why candidates can make all kind of campaign promises (the business term is manipulations) and get away with them. On the other hand, business that rely on repeat customers cannot afford to engage in one-off sales tactics. Take a look at the manipulations the U.S. car manufacturers were using before the 2008 financial crisis. They work in the short-term, but when times got tough, car-buyers weren’t mailing in free checks to GM saying “hey, you were there for me.”

If you’re not fostering loyalty, all you’ve got is a bunch of Dwights.

Are we giving you the kind of loyalty you expect? Shoot us an email and let us know how we are doing.


Google Keep: Note based apps vs. Pinterest…what’s more useful?

About a year ago, I got a text from my old friend Susan. She wrote, “I just followed you on Pinterest.” A few moments later, she followed up with, “I just checked. You’re literally the only man I know who has a Pinterest account.”

Whats the True Potential with Pinterest for Marketing? 

users-of-pinterest -genderWhy did I despise Pinterest so intensely? Maybe I wasn’t born with the tools required to comprehend its complexities. I had known, of course, that Pinterest is dominated by women across all age groups, with something like a 70/30 gender split. But I never considered that my simple lack of estrogen would keep me from being able to navigate an app.

Bad enough I’ve never been able to figure out women, but now I can’t even understand their social media sites. Perfect! 

I originally joined because I wanted an organized place to save online content to revisit later. What I found was a hoarding app and a social-media site rolled into one platform, without being really great at either. One of Pinterest’s many unforgivable flaws is that after pinning something, I would come back later to find that just a thumbnail of the webpage’s main image had been pinned instead of all the content that I actually cared about.

A few weeks after I began my experiment with the image-based social bookmarking site, I closed my account in frustration and Susan again went back to following exactly zero men on Pinterest.

Evernote is Safe for Now – paired with Google Keep – it’s a plus for Men.

Pinterest is wildly popular and growing quickly. But it is flawed as a hoarding app (especially when it comes to saving text-based content) and it doesn’t have the reach of the top-tier social media networks.

Google Keep, is the first platform to bridge the gap between note-taking apps and social media.

As a note-taking app, it enables users to create, collect and save notes, audio, web content images and more, just like Pinterest. It comes with a menu of cool organizational features, which give the impression that Google is attempting to muscle in on Evernote’s turf as the top dog of hoarding apps. But part of Keep’s lure is that it actually works remarkably well in conjunction with Evernote, instead of attempting to replace it. As Lifehacker pointed out, the two were never meant to be in competition, although early comparisons stoked that discussion. The real magic is in Keep’s ability to seamlessly sync with Google Drive.

Google+ and Keep: The Beginning of Social Note Taking ?

As TechCrunch noted shortly after the launch of Keep, Pinterest has more consumer appeal than any social bookmarking site in the world. But since Keep is not social, it poses no immediate threat to Pinterest.

All that could change, however, if Google merged the “social plumbing” it has built with Google+ into the foundation of Keep, which it easily could. More than 10 million people have downloaded Keep, and the more content they collect, they more likely they are to want to share it. If Google merges Plus with Keep, Pinterest will be squared off against a sleeker, simpler version of itself — one that is backed by the Google brand and gazillions of Google loyalists.

Then, I’ll finally have an easy, time-saving place to store the recipes I’m never going to cook and the workouts I’m never going to do. Just think of all the spare time that will leave me with to try to figure out women.

New Kid in Town: Slideshows are the New Infographics

Although most people had never heard the term “infographic” in 2008, it wouldn’t be long before the wonderful little picture explainers would revolutionize content marketing — and for good reason.

Infographics show information instead of telling it. They are fun. They are compelling. They are easy to digest. They are shareable. They make a direct appeal to the human brain’s insatiable craving for visual learning.

A (Really) Brief History of Infographics

Early humans created the first infographics on cave walls 30,000 years ago in modern-day France and Spain, using pictures of animals to convey data about hunting. But the real genesis of infographics can be traced to 1992, when Microsoft released PowerPoint version 3.0. Although installing and using the software was only slightly easier than killing saber-tooth cats with spears, regular people could now create compelling digital graphics without a design team.

By the start of the second decade of the 21st century, content was king, and infographics were the kings of content. The use of images to convey data had grown by 9,900 percent between 2007 and 2013 — a year that saw infographic production rise by one full percentage point every single day.

Content marketing had reached its pinnacle — everyone loved infographics.

But as our cave-dwelling ancestors learned all too personally, a newer, better, more highly evolved version is always just around the corner. In 2013, Forbes called Slideshare “the quiet giant of content marketing.”

professional audience

Slideshare: Infographics — and So Much More

Forbes had a point.

With 60 million unique visitors a month and 215 million page views, Slideshare is in the top 120 most-visited websites in the world. Everyone from Mashable to the White House uses the social slide-hosting site — and they should.

Slideshows give you all the best qualities of infographics. They present information visually, instead of through boring text. They can reduce enormous swaths of complicated information down into digestible chunks. They are easy to create (again, thanks PowerPoint!) easy to share, they drive traffic and people naturally retain their visual content.

But compared to flat, static infographics, Slideshare presentations are just so … well … alive.


Purchased by LinkedIn in 2012, Slideshare quickly evolved into an important business tool. Today, Slideshare receives 500 percent more traffic from businesses than YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn. Mobile views jumped 223 percent in just one year between 2013 and 2014, and 20 percent of Slideshare visitors arrive there directly from Google searches.

It is also far more comprehensive, versatile and all encompassing. With Slideshare, you can incorporate webinars, presentations, videos, documents, PDF files and, of course, infographics. So you don’t have to give up your first content marketing love just yet — but you might, once you feel the power of slideshows.

Slideshare presentations today are doing to infographics what infographics did to plain text articles — making them look like they belong in a cave.

How We’re Converting Leads From Facebook

Over the past several years, we’ve been working with our clients in the Backyard Recreation industry to promote live events (tent sales, home shows, spa expos, etc.) via online advertising including both Google Adwords and Facebook.  Every time we do a show, we go back and look at what we can learn and how we can improve for next time.  We’ve learned a lot, and I want to share some of that in this post.  I’ll cover Adwords another time, but this post is really focused on Facebook.

First, a few numbers:

  • Over the most recent events we’ve done (late July through mid August, 2015) we’ve spent over $20,000 advertising on Facebook.
  • On average, our clients are getting qualified leads (name/email/phone) for right around $40 per lead.
  • The recommended total investment per show is ~$4,000 (this includes our fee and advertising dollars)
  • At the show itself, at least $30,000 worth of product sold is directly attributable to Facebook (and usually in excess of $50k)

How do we do this?

We hear all the time from prospective customers that, “There aren’t any good leads on Facebook” or “Facebook doesn’t convert to real customers”.  I think that both of those statements can be true but only because most people don’t build a full lead capture structure.  While it may be great to see your “Likes” go up or people commenting on a post, it’s an entirely different beast when you’re able to capture a person’s name, email and phone number right off of Facebook.  Let me explain.

First off, if you want to know all of the crazy details that go into a show promotion campaign, check out our detailed description here.  Our team puts in over 30 hours of work on every show (yes, for just three days of advertising) which really is the key to making this kind of promotion successful.

Landing Pages

For every show or event we create a custom, mobile friendly landing page with a couple of key items:

  • The offer:  What do they get?  Dollars Off?  Great financing?  Something to entice someone to get in touch.
  • Show details:  Locations, days, times, pictures, etc.
  • Options to redeem:  Fill out our form, call us or print out the page and bring it in.
  • Google map: Easy to access directions on desktop or mobile

Every landing page is custom for every event and we use one of our great custom URLs to separate you from the crowd.

Something that has absolutely shocked us this year is that 96% of website traffic from Facebook is coming from a mobile device.  This is why it is absolutely critical to have a mobile friendly landing page so people can quickly and easily get in touch.

Landing Page Examples

Here are two different landing page examples.  You can see both the Desktop and Mobile version of each one.

Example #1

Mobile landing page #1
Desktop landing page #1

Example # 2


Desktop landing page #2
Mobile landing page #2


The single most important metric in the world of Facebook is called “Engagement”.  While Facebook tends to be a bit vague with exactly how they calculate engagement, a rough calculation includes the number of Likes, Comments and Shares that your posts and ads receive.

Our team has gained a ton of knowledge in this area and we really know what is going to make your audience react positively (and hence, engage) with your posts.  We’ll edit and crop a photo just right so people HAVE to click on it to see more – this will redirect them to your landing page (see above) and convert into a lead!   I’ve added a few examples of what you’re looking for with engagement below:

Engagement-3 Engagement-2 Engagement-01

The great thing about Facebook is that it is super easy to share a post with friends.  All someone needs to do is start typing their friend’s name and it will auto-fill the rest and notify the friend.   Much easier than forwarding an email or remembering to tell someone about it later…

Follow Up

For every show we provide you with real time lead information directly to your email or via text message.  This gives you and your team the opportunity to immediately engage leads as they express interest in your event and products.

In addition to real time follow-up, we’ll also setup an automated followup sequence that will email these leads a few more times over the next couple of days following your event.

What are you waiting for?

With a proven ROI hovering around 3-5x (assuming 30-40% margin) working with us to promote your shows and events should be an easy decision.  To get started, you can either contact us here, give Tim a call or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch ASAP.

PPC vs. Social: One Landing Page Does Not Fit All

Landing pages are not good multi-taskers.

Every landing page is built to do just one thing, and is designed to guide just one type of visitor toward NIce-landing-pageone type of action. Get a social visitor to sign up for an email list. Convince a PPC buyer to purchase something. Entice an inbound email source to click through to another page.

But so many businesses — even some large, established brands — continue to use a single set of landing pages for both social and PPC. Don’t cut this corner. If you do, you’ll never achieve the number of conversions or level of ROI that comes with dedicated landing pages. This rule applies for all entry points, but most dramatically for social and PPC.

Why, you ask?

Opposite Ends of the Funnel Do Not Attract

When visitors land on a page from social media, they are usually coming from at or near the top of the sales funnel while in the discovery phase. Pay-per-click visitors, on the other hand, are arriving from at or near the bottom of the funnel.

What does this mean?

It means that PPC visitors have probably already decided to buy. They’ve hit all the touchpoints on the ever-tightening funnel during their purchasing journey from discovery to click. They’ve done the research, read the blogs, joined the affinity groups and scoped out the competition. They are waiting for the right time — and the right price — to pull the trigger. Social visitors, however, probably just discovered you. It is likely that they are not at all familiar with your brand or product.

A single landing page can not possibly accommodate both of these visitors.


Start With the Basics, then Tweak for Social

Like all landing pages, social LPs should:

  • Mirror the language, layout, design, images, fonts and color scheme of the ad.
  • Be clean and uncluttered with no navigation bar.
  • Contain short, powerful headlines that summarize brief, concise copy.
  • Convey a clear value proposition.
  • Contain obvious, compelling calls to action that stand out and contrast.

Create unique landing pages not just for social — but for every different social network. The look and feel of your LP has to reflect your ad, so visitors from Twitter can not land on the same page as visitors from Facebook. Each social media network has different best practices for image and ad dimensions, so for the sake of continuity, landing pages have to be unique to the network.


That might sound like a whole lot of very similar LPs — and that’s exactly the point. You get better results with more landing pages. According to VentureBeat, businesses with more than 40 landing pages got 12 times more leads than those with five or fewer. Businesses with at least 30 landing pages got seven times more leads than those with 10 or fewer.

If visitors have made it to your landing pages, congratulations — you’ve done everything right up until now. They noticed your ad. Your content enticed them. Your social posts convinced them. Don’t blow it now by trying to cut corners at the finish line.

Emotion is a Powerful Tool — Use it Sparingly in Your Content

Dry, stale, textbook-ey content isn’t the worst thing on the Internet. People yelling about politics in ALL CAPS on my Facebook wall is the worst thing on the Internet. But lifeless, boring content is a close second.emotion_cartoon

Whether it’s funny, endearing or anything in between, great content triggers an emotional response from readers because it is genuine and compelling. But contrived or exaggerated emotion is never a substitute for depth and quality. Failing to monitor the level of the emotion in your content can make you come off as insincere, disingenuous or fearful that your product can’t sell itself.

Don’t Use Scare Tactics to Play to People’s Fears

Is the shampoo you’re using right now killing your children? Find out at 11.

How many times have you heard a local television news teaser that sounds like the trailer for the latest horror movie? When you play to the fears of your audience and exaggerate what they’re facing, you lose credibility. Desperate politicians run scare ads with ominous voiceovers explaining that their opponent wants to release sex offenders from prison and give them a windowless van full of puppies and candy on the way out.

Keep in mind, no one trusts politicians.

Hopefully whatever you’re selling can help someone solve a problem. Definitely identify that problem so you can articulate why your product or service may be the solution. But the zombie apocalypse isn’t coming, and you shouldn’t try to scare people into thinking it is. They have a round hole. You have a round peg — just make the introduction.

Snake-Oil Salesmen Oversell

Used car salesmen get a bad rap — or maybe they get exactly the rap they deserve.snake-oil-salesman

“She’s a beauty! Look at that Champagne exterior!”

“That’s just beige.”

“This baby is going to tell everyone else on the road that you’re not afraid to take risks.”

“An ’08 Camry? Yeah, I’m one step away from Evil Knievel.”

“She’s certified previously owned.”

“You mean used.”

When you hype something up, people feel like you’re insulting their intelligence, which they resent. Resentment makes checkbooks close very quickly. Authenticity builds trust.

Exaggerating the Problem Dilutes Confidence in the Solution

There is a commercial on television for a product called Flex Seal, which is a spray-on rubber sealant that you can use to fix cracks in things that should be watertight, like flower pots or vases.

To prove the magical power of their product, the salesman shoots a small fishing boat at point-blank range with a giant Civil War cannon until the bottom of the boat looks like Godzilla used it for a toothpick.

Cut to the next scene and — poof! The boat is floating in the water with the salesman on board holding a can of Flex Seal, which he assures us was used to patch up the mangled boat he just massacred with Napoleonic artillery.

His viewers have a puncture in a garden hose or a gap in their bathtub sealant, which I’m sure Flex Seal could fix brilliantly. But I don’t believe that spray-on rubber can mend damage from cannon fire, and when you claim that it can, it makes me suspicious of everything else.

People are smart.

They can see through dishonesty and they can smell tricks designed to play to their emotions. Great content triggers emotion from authentic, inspiring ideas and innovation, it doesn’t use emotion as a weapon.

Accruing Feminine Interest for Your Business Through Pinterest

Pinterest almost always gets overlooked by businesses trying to get in on the social media scene. Facebook and Twitter get all the glory, and Pinterest is often left in the back alley picking up scraps. What causes this is simple: businesses exist to make money — to monetize products or services — and many business owners don’t believe that is possible with Pinterest. What can you gain from free pictures?


Before we get to that, let’s look at some numbers.

  • A whopping 85% of Pinterest users are female
  • 42% of all American women with Internet access have Pinterest profiles
  • 72% of Pinterest users live in middle-income households
  • 38% of female Pinterest users are likely to be early tech adopters

As anyone who is familiar with Everett Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations theory, early adopters are the lifeblood of businesses. These are the people who jump onboard with new products or services before they’re popular and provide invaluable and well-meant feedback to the business. And a whole bunch of them are on Pinterest (Remember: 85% of ALL PURCHASES are made or influenced by women).

A rapid and completely unscientific poll of female Pinterest users I know personally revealed the following:

Pinterest appeals to women because it allows them to be “highly efficient” at collecting a virtual scrapbook of new things that appeal to them. Pinterest gives them a synergy of ideas (one woman pointed out that she could collect input from people without having to be connected and interact with those people). And best of all, they could find whatever they wanted, all completely free.

Let’s go back to how businesses can capitalize on this.

For the uninitiated, Pinterest allows users to post images of things they like. This allows for an unhindered exchange of ideas: wedding decorations, DIY household fixes, handy new products, and wish-lists of things users want.  Ask yourself a few things:

What if I pinned…

Pinterest is still underutilized; it’s foolish of businesses to overlook this game-changing asset. Stop looking at Pinterest as a digital bulletin board and use it for what it is: gamified free advertising. It’s not just about Facebook likes anymore. You want your business to be successful? Starting pinning.


Counteracting Invisibility | Adapting to Facebook’s Newsfeed Changes

Photography by Lazyfruit PicturesAlamy

Have you disappeared?

Facebook changed its newsfeed algorithm yet again at the beginning of 2015, resulting in one of the most impactful adjustments for business pages on the virtual site. After conducting surveys, Facebook claimed the overwhelming result was that users wanted to see less from businesses and more from their friends and family. As a result, Facebook practically booted business page status updates from regular newsfeed results.

There is talk around the Internet that this change is a fatal blow to Facebook marketing, requiring business pages to spend money to “boost” their posts, in order for them to be seen. However, that isn’t entirely true to form. Facebook is still very business-friendly, if you know how to play into its hand.

Understanding the Changes

Before you find loopholes, you have to understand the rule. Basically, Facebook is limiting organic content from business pages that comes off as promotional. Again, this applies to organic status updates, not ads. As Facebook advertising expert, Jon Loomer explains, Facebook defines the following as being promotional:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from adsKeep It Conversatioanl

What this tells us is that, if your status updates are conversational in context, you shouldn’t see much in the way of falling views. But if you get promotional with those posts, then the reach for all  of your posts will start to fall significantly because Facebook will flag your business.

Keep in mind that Facebook doesn’t have individuals perusing your page every day to check on what you’re posting. Now, this is algorithm based, which means something that totes the line between informational and promotional could go either way. And trying to argue your point to Facebook is often a feeble effort, since they rarely provide a direct response.

So, if your business page gets throw in Facebook jail for being too promotional, good luck posting bail.

Staying on the Radar

Simply put, your business page status updates, pictures and videos need to remain informational in nature. Steer clear of the word “buy,” for example. Yes, even if you have an amazing special going on that you want your followers to know about. In that case, you’ll need to direct them to the “Specials” button on your Facebook page or even on your website – teach them where to find that information and plug its location rather than the deal itself.

Implement hashtags to make your posts searchable to the general public. Facebook will now allow users to search by hashtags in the search bar (like on Twitter). This could certainly be used to your advantage, if you’re utilizing the right phrases. (That’s another blog post for another day.)

Another option is to regularly encourage people who like your page to follow it too. Under the “Liked” button on your cover photo, they can select “Following” to see your updates in their newsfeed. If they really like your business and you have lots of important things to say, encourage them to select “Get Notifications” from the same drop down menu. Then, every time you post something to your page, that follower will have a direct notification of it, which reduces the risk of missing something important.

Still yet, boosting your page’s status posts is a sure-fire way to be seen by your followers and even their friends who may not yet follow your page. My own, personal experience with boosting Facebook posts has yielded substantial reach, so I can attest to its effectiveness.

BOOSTS(1) Recently, boosting a status update on a client’s page for a mere $5, spread over two days time, resulted in over 3,000 views of the post. This particular page has less than 150 “likes” and rarely reaches viewing capacity with a regular status update. Figuring in a $5 budget per week to boost one status update means a Facebook marketing budget of merely $20 a month, and the possibility of doubling (or more) your reach.

Visibility is, of course, the goal here. Whatever your method for being seen, gone are the days of passively posting on your Facebook business page.  Well, truthfully, those days were never here in the first place, but if your social media management was half-hearted before, it certainly can’t be now.

Post with intention in order to be seen.

To brainstorm your own business Facebook strategy with The Get Smart Group – give us a call for a free 30 minute consultation! CLICK HERE to request your consultation now.

Photography by: Lazyfruit PicturesAlamy

Developing Your Brand | Hook Them With a Story

By: Michelle L. Cramer

One of the most popular television comedies in recent years is How I Met Your Mother, which concluded in 2014 but, much like Friends or Seinfeld, will likely run syndicated for years to come. The whole premise of the plot was that the main character, Ted, was telling his teenage children a very in-depth, nine season story of how he met their mother (who wasn’t introduced at all until the end of season eight). What it turned out being was more of an extended story about his best friends and their interactions during their 20s and 30s.

During that process, viewers got to know the characters and have expectations for their approach to the world around them. Because that’s what stories do – they connect us, drawing us in to someone else’s world and making us a part of it.

And that’s why it’s critical for your brand to have a story. When customers know where you come from and what you’re motivations are, it draws them to your company, connecting them to your products and services in a deeper way than if they simply grab them off the shelf.

Where it all BeganWhere It All Began

“Founded in 1987” just won’t cut it anymore. Your customers need details about the formation of your company. Maybe not eight seasons worth of back story, but enough to give them the feeling of how important this company is to you.

Make sure there is an About Us page on your website. Be sure to fill in the About section on social media profiles too, such as your Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram accounts. While the latter don’t give you a lot of room to work with, pull one sentence from your full company bio that embodies where your motivation comes from. And as far as Facebook is concerned, the About details offers as much room as you can use, so you might as well put the same information there as is on your website.

When you’re forming your company’s story, answer the following:

  • What were you doing before you started the company?
  • When did you start the company?
  • Why did you start the company? Don’t be vague with something like “I saw a need.” Elaborate on why it was important to you to meet that need.
  • What milestones has your company reached since its formation? When did you know that you had something successful and were on the right path?
  • Have you won any awards? List them!
  • What is your company focusing on achieving right now?
  • What are your goals for the future (say, 5 to 10 years from now)?

Bring on the Character References

Having testimonials and reviews from your loyal customers adds to the story you’re conveying about your company. You don’t want to just toot your own horn and have nothing to back that up. When a customer sends you a thank you email, post their words on your website. Add them to the end of your about page or create a page just for testimonials.

And there is nothing wrong with reaching out to satisfied customers and asking for a little feedback on your company and your products/services. Send out an email or post a status update on your Facebook page requesting reviews. A little incentive (a freebie or discount) will go a long way in getting the feedback you’re looking for too.

Keep Your Story Current

Your brand’s story doesn’t stop at your creation tale and old reviews. Update your About Us details to tell customers about new developments and milestones in your company. Bump old testimonials (unless they’re really good ones) and replace them with more recent ones. If the most recent testimonial of your company is from 2006, potential customers are going to think you’ve lost that competitive edge.

Also, remain active on social media. Update the status on your Facebook page daily and let customers know what you’re developing, new products in the works, projects you’re currently doing for customers, etc. Post pictures on your company Instagram account showing your team in action, fun things happening around the office each day, on-the-job happenings, products out for delivery, and generally every non-secretive aspect of your business.

Allow your story to be continual and customers will begin to feel like they know you. Knowledge equates to trust in your company and your brand. And trust goes a really long way toward success.

And make sure your story doesn’t have a plot twist that splits the masses like the ending of How I Met Your Mother.