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Trade Shows – A Great Networking Opportunity

Posted on March 14, 2018 at 11:07 AM Comments comments (0)
When I first started my career in marketing, large industry trade shows were the norm. (Remember Comdex anyone)? The software and other high technology firms I worked with attended an average of one show per month – which required a lot of effort and expense – but provided great opportunities to meet clients, prospects and potential business partners.

Today, while there are still some large industry events, they are fewer in number, as smaller more-focused conferences and seminars are more efficient and cost-effective – and therefore popular. I recently attended a user group meeting with a client for example, and found the camaraderie and cooperation between both the firms presenting their wares, and the attendees looking for solutions, to be very positive indeed!

This is a refreshing change to the early days of large trade shows, when companies would be trying to best each other to see who could “score” the highest number of leads every day. It seems that we have finally learned that it’s the quality of relationships established – not quantity of superficial tallies.

Anyone who has ever presented at or attended a trade event knows that successful shows don’t just happen; they take great planning and execution. As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Appearances matter – so be sure to put your company’s best foot forward (as well as your own) and ensure a great first impression through professional dress and decorum.

As Stephen Key points out in his column, ‘13 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Trade Shows,' "If you have a product idea that you want to license, you should consider attending a trade show. There are people at trade shows that you would have a remarkably difficult time reaching otherwise. An entire industry is gathered in the same place for two to three days! But attending a trade show that's out of town can get expensive, fast. To make it worth your while, you need a battle plan."
Mr. Key’s trade show attending advice includes:

  • Vetting the various shows carefully to ensure attending the events right for your business
  • Registering in advance to save money
  • Optimizing networking opportunities by staying at the hotel associated with the event
  • Making a plan - arrive early and map out companies to visit
  • Dressing appropriately for the show & wear comfortable shoes
  • Bringing business cards & your firm's literature & pick up theirs
  • Approaching booths when they are crowded is bad timing – come back when less busy
  • Letting sales people engage you (they will)
  • Take it seriously - work the show
  • Follow up a week after the show - very important to establish & maintain relations

Trade shows are great ways to get to know a company and its people – as a possible solution provider, or potential lead or partner. There are no gatekeepers with which to contend, and people are there for the express purpose of making contacts (and sales of course). Plus, since shows are often several days in length - there are frequently events before and after standard show hours providing more in-depth and conversational networking opportunities.

Carpe Diem!

Be a Branding & Content Marketing Superhero

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Batman - everyone instantly recognizes his iconic symbol. High-profile branding of this type is, of course, what companies strive for in their marketplace. It takes time and diligence to establish and maintain noteworthy presence with clients and prospects. Building momentum that captures attention and encourages people to take action – is the Holy Grail of marketing.

Building brand recognition through eye-catching imagery and captivating content is what marketing communications is all about. Presenting your firm’s product and service offerings in the best possible light; gives you a leg up over your competition. However, ongoing marketing efforts involve both continuous content creation as well as keeping up with the latest online technologies – daunting tasks for many businesses…

A big part of marketing strategy, planning and implementation involves having access to the right resources for the job, and having them close at hand when needed (think Batman’s utility belt). Having a professional content marketer in your corner that provides knowledge of social media, (and other online tools & technologies) with copywriting skills; will help you reach (and hopefully exceed) your business goals.

Powerful and timely writing enhances lead generation and branding efforts by continually attracting the attention of a company’s desired audience. And by “timely writing” we mean continuous if you want to make progress with Google and other online resources. Intermittent postings will make both your audience and search engines think you’re irrelevant. “Always on Marketing” is essential.

Powerful prose on your web site is crucial, particularly in the News and Blog sections as these are most often updated and therefore generate the most SEO opportunities. But website content has other goals as well and needs to be posted to other online avenues to be discovered. Once found, content needs to engage the audience to action - tempting them to click through to your website – for either immediate purchase or lead capture for future action.

But remember, with great power comes great responsibility…oh, wait – that’s another superhero…

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Evolving & Integrating Content (& Influencer) Marketing in 2018…

Posted on January 23, 2018 at 1:33 PM Comments comments (0)
As we approach being the end of January 2018, marketers and other business professionals are wondering what will be the prospecting and customer-centric trends this year that will keep them in good stead…

Advertising, retail trends, technology and content strategies are ever-evolving; and B-to-B/B-to-C marketers are scrambling to put offerings in the best possible light. For instance in his piece, ‘9 Content Marketing Trends to Look Forward to in 2018’ influence marketer Neil Patel, speaks to the fact that businesses are realizing increases in effectiveness in their content strategies over a year ago. However he says, “But in order to maintain that growth, marketers also have to stay tuned into the ever-changing landscape of content marketing.”

He advocates, as do we, a multi-pronged marketing approach – spreading content tactics into many facets of marketing, and across many channels, into cohesive and consistent messaging. Today’s well-rounded content teams need to have members with expertise in video production and editing, graphic design and illustration, advertising, communications and branding, and of course, content creation, distribution, promotion and optimization - across multiple formats.

Targeted personalized digital content will continue to grow in 2018 as marketers look to leverage technology to tailor messaging directly to consumers based upon their particular wants or needs. Evolving AI capabilities will be even more tightly integrated into social media and other channels; giving businesses the ability to directly reach their targeted audiences – anytime, anywhere – via Smartphones.

For example, as Holly Pavlika writes in Forbes 'Influencer Marketing Can Expect Another Wild Year Ahead,' "One retailer taking advantage of its clout is Target. The company was named Internet Retailer’s "most effective marketer in online retail" award last year and recently announced integration with Pinterest’s visual search tool, Lens, into its apps, as well as increased ad spend on the platform. Nike unveiled a partnership to sell products on Instagram. This was only scratching the surface — in 2018, brands will increasingly use their ad-spend power to partner with social platforms, even enlisting them to teach their traditional creative teams to develop social content."

Adapting evolving online search, social media, video and voice recognition technologies (such as Amazon’s Alexa) into content/influencer marketing strategies is instrumental to companies that want to best serve their customers and get the attention of prospects. After all, you’ve got to keep up with today’s innovations in order to be ready for tomorrow’s introductions.

Inspirational Copywriting – for Thought-Provoking Marketing

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

A clever turn of phrase makes for memorable marketing. Creatively positioning a firm’s offerings to customers and prospects through inspiring prose is eye-catching – and helps prompt calls to action – which is, of course, the goal of business writing. But finding the inspiration to write creatively is not for everyone. Which is why finding a copywriting resource to work with to help drive traffic both online, and in-person, can make or break your business.

Creating quality content for blogs and web pages – as well as for marketing vehicles such as emails and newsletters – often gets lost in the shuffle as business owners try to keep up with these demands on their own. Hiring an outside resource, that keeps to a content production schedule, ensures that fresh content continuously gets in front of customers and prospects – to stimulate sales, build a brand and create goodwill in a firm’s offerings.

Why Blog for Business?

Once the collateral materials for a firm’s offerings are created, blogging, along with ongoing media releases, newsletters and email campaigns; provide the vehicles for ongoing marketing ‘touches’ to your target market. Informing clients and prospects about product and service enhancements, new offerings and other timely company and product information; keeps your business in front of them, tells them you care, and highlights your competitive advantage in the market.

Think about the pages on your company’s web site. How often does the content change? Probably not that frequently. But, your web site’s blog page is a place where you can present content on a weekly or even daily basis – highlighting your experience and expertise in your chosen marketplace. According to marketing firm HubSpot in ‘Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketing,’ frequent blog updates provide many benefits to your firm. It helps:

  • Drive traffic to your web site
  • Convert that traffic to leads
  • Establish authority in your field
  • Create a long-term web presence

Hiring an experienced copywriter to create relevant and SEO-friendly blog posts, as well as other collateral materials, can make a big difference in the outreach and lead-generation efforts, and results, for a company. Professional content enables a firm to put their best foot forward – and in the best position to get noticed – and capitalize on their marketing efforts. Here’s to your success!

Why Blogging is Important for Your Business

Posted on July 17, 2017 at 11:56 AM Comments comments (0)

Perspective clients ask me all the time, “Why should I blog for my business?” This question usually comes up when we’re going over the marketing pieces that should be in place to best highlight a firm’s offerings. A great many business owners either haven’t considered blogging – or just don’t have the time.

A blog offers a business a great many marketing & sales advantages including better online search visibility and therefore increased leads and sales. It provides a great way to spotlight the products and services a company offers through targeted content designed to show how your firm has the knowledge and experience to best address a client’s needs.
Inbound marketing and sales platform HubSpot posts in 'Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketing' that blogging as a marketing tactic has many benefits:

  • It helps drive traffic to your website
  • It helps convert that traffic into leads
  • It helps establish authority in your marketplace
  • It drives long-term results to help your company’s bottom line

Jayson DeMers contributor on writes in ‘The Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website,' "As a business owner who has built a successful business in large part thanks to blogging and content publication, I’ve seen firsthand the difference it can make in terms of search visibility, leads, and sales. I’m a huge advocate of investing heavily in a content publication strategy, and that strategy begins with the company blog."

Blogs have many secondary uses as well that are beneficial to businesses. For instance, a blog may be used to get insightful feedback from clients and prospects. And as a PR avenue, blogs are a great way to inform your audience about new and upcoming products and services. Marketers also may use blogs as a way to test audience reaction to proposed campaigns.

Blogging on your businesses’ web site is one of the best ways to set your company, and its offerings, apart from your competition. It provides a venue for a unique perspective - and a place to showcase the experience and expertise that your firm provides to its customers.

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Freelancing – Do What You Can Do & Not What You Shouldn’t Do…

Posted on June 2, 2017 at 12:04 PM Comments comments (0)
As the ole saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.” We’ve all fallen into the trap of trying to help beyond the scope of a project – and been bitten by it.

Now I’m not advocating not helping your clients – but we, as freelancers, need to be paid fairly for our time. (A show of hands for those of us who have lost money on projects trying to satisfy an overly demanding client who’s always requesting ‘one more thing.’) In my experience, there are those who will never be satisfied; and do you really want to work with them anyway?

This column may be coming off as a bit negative – which is not my intent. The idea here is to acknowledge and support the notion that we all need to focus on the positive aspects and clients (vendors too) in our businesses – while minimizing the impact of the negative. Or, as the song goes, “Ac-cen-tuate the Positive.”

Personally, I went into marketing for two reasons; one, it enabled me to express myself in business in a creative way, and two, I’m able to assist clients in crafting their visions for their business – and see them come to fruition while helping them grow their firms.

And what could be more positive than that?? 

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Building a Better Business through Creative & Innovative Marketing

Posted on February 8, 2017 at 8:28 AM Comments comments (0)
When people think of innovation, all too often they think strictly of technological innovation, and thoughts of a lengthy and costly process begin to manifest themselves in people’s minds – bringing the whole process to a screeching halt. But there are myriad kinds of innovation; many of which are easy to implement, with very manageable costs associated with them.

Any business can foster an environment of innovation – just as everyone can innovate. Innovation simply means coming up with new ways of doing things. Bringing innovation into a business can save time and money, and give a firm a competitive advantage to grow, and more quickly adapt in the marketplace.

"Creativity goes hand in hand with innovation. And there is no innovation without creativity. While creativity is the ability to produce new and unique ideas, innovation is the implementation of that creativity - that's the introduction of a new idea, solution, process, or product," from 'The Importance of Creativity and Innovation in Business' by Siyana Sokolova.

When it comes to marketing a business; innovation and creativity are key elements to the ever-evolving process of adapting to and addressing the changing wants and needs of consumer behavior. Understanding your audience - and creating targeted messaging that makes them aware that you understand – is an ongoing endeavor that successful business people know must not be overlooked.

"Effective digital marketing requires that brands have the ability to adapt to change, and to grasp new opportunities. Being able to innovate allows brands to conceptualize new ideas and put them into practice," - from '5 Examples of Innovative Marketing Strategies' by Pat Hong

Great marketers are always experimenting - leveraging innovative and creative marketing content and campaigns to help their company, or client’s, stand out from the crowd. Capturing the attention of and steering an audience towards a firm’s offerings takes creative content and innovative ideas. And done well – can help build a business and lay the foundation for long-term success.

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BlackBerry Brandy...

Posted on January 26, 2017 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)
…or the journey to become closer to one’s grandfather

When I was a kid growing up on the west coast, my maternal grandparents were in New Hampshire, so we didn’t see them all that often. Annually we’d get together – they’d fly to California – we’d fly back east; but there wasn’t the continuity of an ongoing relationship.

Then, when I was ten years old, we moved to Maine as my father had received a promotion which required a transfer as well. Moving to New England as a California kid was quite the culture shock at the time. But it did allow us to see my grandparents much more frequently. And consequently I got to spend a lot of time with my grandfather, who taught me the other side of life – the non-city, non-rushed side of small town America.

At first I was resistant, thinking that, of course, city life was much better than being in “the middle of nowhere.” But he was patient, understanding the impulsive nature of children. He took his time with me, teaching me how to fish, work with my hands (a bit) as he was a carpenter by trade, and showed me how to enjoy the great wonderland of winter…

One of our snowy treks combined both fishing and snowmobiles, as we made our way to a frozen lake for some winter angling. Ice fishing, as I came to discover, is not only a freezing-cold-weather endeavor; but also a lot of work as you have to dig holes in the ice with augers to get to the fish! (Why not just wait until spring – and ‘plunk’ your line in?!?!)

On the way to the lake, bundled up in snowmobile suits with multiple layers of clothing concealed beneath, we encountered what turned out to be a semi-frozen creek. As we started across, the ice began to break up, causing the snowmobile to almost be lost in the water. My grandfather gunned the engine, getting us to shore, but the sled we were pulling (that he had built) containing all our gear, wasn’t as fortunate – smashing into the shore as we climbed out.

The sled’s front skies were gone, and the body was damaged but salvageable, but the issue was how to repair the little caboose – otherwise we’d have to abandon all the gear that we couldn’t carry on the snowmobile. Well, my grandfather examined the problem for a few minutes, and I could see he had an idea. He cut two saplings off a tree as makeshift skies, and using rope (that I believe he carried everywhere) and with me helping, tied them to what remained of the framework underneath; and to the top of the front panel of the sled.

Well what do you know – it worked like a charm all day. We continued to the lake, dug our exhausting (at least to a kid at the time) auger holes – and fished all day. When we had the holes dug and our camp set up, he pulled out a bottle of blackberry brandy. He said to me, “You did good back there boy. You didn’t panic, were helpful – and we got through a bit of a sticky situation without any real harm.” Then he handed me the brandy bottle from which I preceded to take a swig – enjoying the moment.

Looking back on it today; I’m very fortunate to have been exposed to both the fast-paced concrete city of Silicon Valley, and the often rural nature of New England. I have my parents to thank for one, and my grandparents for the other.

You may ask yourself what this has to do with marketing. Well, maybe not much. Except that marketing is all about making connections with people, isn’t it?

As the Economy Improves – Make Business Growth Your 2017 Resolution

Posted on January 17, 2017 at 3:13 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello & Belated Happy New Year Everyone!

As the page turns from 2016 to 2017, we look forward to a healthy, happy and prosperous future! The US business outlook for the year ahead is predicted to be one of mild growth according to several key resources including Forbes as quoted in their article titled, ‘U.S. Economic Forecast 2017-2018: Mild Rebound:

"The U.S. economy will enjoy a mild cyclical rebound in 2017, and then return to a lower growth rate more in line with long-term potential. Gross domestic production, inflation-adjusted, grew at fairly tepid rates over the past three quarters. But jobs are increasing at a moderately good pace, with unemployment below five percent. Some of this year’s negative factors will turn around, enabling the rebound next year."

Capitalizing on the economic upswing (a rising tide lifts all boats) should be a priority for business owners in 2017. Getting your marketing communications ‘ducks in a row’ to maximize your outreach and branding will put your firm in the best position to be ready when the rebound happens.

So what does this actually mean in terms of a basic tactical marketing to do list? Here are some ideas to help you prepare:

  • Web Site & Blog – your firm’s ‘face to the world’ so ensuring that content is current, easy to navigate and informative is imperative to a good online user experience
  • Media Releases – a valuable tool to show that there’s always something ‘going on’ at your firm
  • Email/Direct Mail – the means to approach clients & prospects with offers/call-to-actions
  • Newsletters – informative & entertaining (hopefully) ways to keep your audience apprised of your firm and offerings – as well as stay on their radar
  • Social Media – many channels for promotion such as Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook

There are, of course, many more marketing communications channels including video, printed materials and other more lengthy written pieces such as articles, case studies, success stories and white papers; but the above tactical marketing list is meant to be accomplished more easily and efficiently - for both faster turnaround - as well as audience response times – and provides a good base to add to later if so desired.

Once again – here’s to the New Year – may it be a prosperous one for us all!

We Call Them Geckos

Posted on November 1, 2016 at 2:27 PM Comments comments (0)
When we lived in the Northeast, we had a balcony overlooking a pond with a fountain. It provided a great place to relax and unwind – the sound of the splashing water putting one in a restive state of mind. Every couple of days, there would be about a half dozen spiders on that balcony that had to be cleared away. It was amazing how they appeared without fail in a very short period of time.

Jumping ahead to present day, we now reside and Florida; and while you’d expect the insect issue to be much greater (as everyone thinks), the reality is with more insects comes more predators. In the case of the spiders in the seating area – we have anoles – or as my wife and I refer to them ‘geckos.’ They wander all over the place outside, able to crawl pretty much anywhere. Only a few inches long and harmless to humans – they go after any bug they can get their mandibles around – in other words, we really like them!

They each have their own personalities and levels of curiosity. When I venture outside in the evening for my after-work libations of scotch and cigar; the geckos are there accompanying me. Some run and hide, cautiously peering out from a safe distance; while others will boldly sit next to you and keep an eye out for competitors, mates or an evening snack – eat those bugs!

My wife (who has no aversion to picking up almost any creepy crawly thing including snakes), will get the occasional gecko that intrudes into the house back outside by carefully using a broom if they’re near a door; or with a container and piece of paper otherwise. Back outside – eat more bugs!

We have a friend from the UK who has a severe aversion to our little anoles. Whenever she comes across one when visiting – she jumps and quickly heads in the opposite direction. She better hope global warming doesn’t affect the climate in Great Britain enough to support their invasion into that country…

The brown anoles/geckos we see all the time here are apparently an invasive species from Cuba that have driven out the native South Carolinian green anoles. The ground-dwelling browns have bullied the native greens onto higher elevations – where they now make their habitat in the branches of bushes and trees.

I have yet to see any green geckos (not being much of a tree climber since reaching puberty) but it seems they’re propagating just fine – and even adapting to their new environment by growing bigger feet – the better to cling to branches. Now that’s getting a leg up in life!