Marketing Options

Market Your Business: Unplugged

Everyone’s pushing online marketing today — and with good reason, since being seen online is a crucial part of any effective marketing strategy today. There’s just one problem with this online focus: unless it’s paired with other offline strategies, it’s not as effective as it could be. See, here’s the thing: sometimes in the name of search marketing, email marketing, social media and the like, companies lose sight of offline marketing opportunities that can be just as effective, particularly locally. Does this sound familiar to you? Is your company all about online marketing but neglecting offline methods? Are you effectively tapping into the market right in your area, or are you missing out?

Whether or not you’re already utilizing offline marketing strategies, here are some key ways to consider promoting your business off the Web. To get the word out about your company and draw new clients, here are some ideas to try:

Hand Out Business Cards

Sure, they seem old school, but business cards are still useful for this: they give you a fast and easy way to hand out your contact info. Ways you can use business cards are only limited by your imagination: leave one with a tip at a restaurant, stick them on community bulletin boards or give one to someone any time your profession comes up in conversation. Pick an eye-catching design that stands out in order to make the most of this marketing tool.

Attend and Speak at Events

Whether it’s at a trade show or a local business networking event, meeting more people in your community can be a powerful way to build business relationships. Likewise, speaking publicly is a great way to address a new audience and gain authority in your field.

Partner with Other Companies

Find sister companies in your area that agree with your company philosophy and/or supplement what you do. If you’re a fitness center targeting health-conscious professionals, you could partner with a juice bar down the street. If you’re an accounting firm working with small-business owners, partner with a marketing business in your town. Finding other companies you can direct clients to and that will direct their clients to you expands both of your businesses.

Hold Events

Make your events informative, fun or otherwise beneficial for attendees and encourage them to bring their friends. Local events can be great for building community with your client base, not to mention great for bringing in referrals.

Use Promotional Products

Give your prospects branded promotional products, and you leave them with a positive impression of your business — not to mention an easy way to remember you every time they use that item. To be most effective, promotional products should be legitimately useful (think shirts, bags, USB cords and drinkware), attractive and branded with your logo/name front and center.

Use Direct Mail

Target a certain demographic through good old snail mail, whether that means coupons for your home décor shop to new homeowners or newsletters about your daycare to families with small children.

Sponsor a Local Team

Become a recognized name in the community by sponsoring a local sports team like a little league baseball team or an adolescent football team. When you sponsor the team, you often get to put your logo on the team’s jerseys and/or in signage at games.

Contribute to a Fundraiser

The next time there’s a fundraiser for a local school or nonprofit, donate a gift certificate for some of your products or services as a reward. Not only does this build goodwill in the community, but it also can expose your business to new prospects as they look up your business to learn what they could win.

Offer a Local Discount

Whether you give 10 percent off to all college students or a buy-one-get-one-free option for members of the armed forces, when you offer a discount to some local group, you can bet word will spread.

Practice Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing, also known as unconventional marketing, is all about using outside-the-box ways to promote your company. So beyond the specific ideas already outlined in this post, think bigger and bolder to identify other, nontraditional ways. Think flash mobs and publicity stunts. Imagine scavenger hunts and undercover marketing. The name of the game with guerrilla marketing is creativity, so get together with your team and brainstorm like the sky’s the limit.

Do the ideas listed above get your mental wheels turning? There’s never been a better time to start boosting business than right now — so begin implementing some of these ideas as soon as you can! With a little creativity and strategy, you can build an offline marketing strategy to complement your online efforts powerfully and effectively.

Beginners Guide to Infographics

The Beginner’s Guide to Designing Infographics

Maybe you’ve noticed, the type of content that gets shared by businesses has changed. It’s all about the visuals. Pictures, graphics, videos, whatever it is it better be interesting and it better be shareable. Few things are as shareable and have as much potential to drive traffic to your site as an infographic. But before you hop aboard the infographic train, you need to know that there are a vast amount of infographics out there. Your infographic needs to be majestic.

Erm, what exactly is an infographic? Simply put, infographics are images that visually represent information. They break down complex data into easily digestible pieces that are appealing to a wide audiences.Hopefully, your infographic is so interesting/shocking/funny/relatable that people will feel compelled to share it, spreading your brand far and wide (great for both brand awareness and SEO!). No matter what niche you’re in, there is always a way to make a generally appealing infographic.

Exhibit A: Here’s an infographic created by a tax services company on the history of food trucks. Is anyone interested in taxes? No. How about food trucks? Who isn’t! See what they did there? They took a tangentially related topic, food truck taxes, and made a widely appealing infographic that people are actually interested in.

History of Food Trucks
History of Food Trucks Infographic by Liberty Tax

That’s interesting and all, but why should I spend my time and energy on shareable digital images? Sure, infographics are fun for audiences to look at, but, from a business standpoint, are they effective? The basic answer is: Yes. In fact, businesses who utilize infographics in their marketing strategies see a 12% growth in web traffic over those that don’t. Why? As described in this handy infographic about infographics, infographics are successful because they:

• Educate and inform their target market about their brand.

• Appeal to the 90% of the brain that is designed to process visual information.

• Increase search visibility.

What is an Infographic?
Created by Customer Magnetism.

You sold me. So, what makes a majestic infographic? Data and design are both absolutely critical for success. For an infographic to be successful, it should include:

• Accurate data from reliable sources. If you can procure your own data from a survey or other study, great. If not, using a dependable source is critical (think government surveys, think tank reports, data released by large corporations, etc.).

• A clean design that combines easy-to-read text and a combination of bold and muted colors.

• Data that appeals to your target market and is relevant to your niche.

• An easy to follow flow – start with the basic, wider information and funnel it down to the details as you go.

• White space. Your infographic shouldn’t be so crowded with information that viewers are overwhelmed and immediately click away.

The example below, by a company specializing in caring wildlife control products shares in-depth information relating to the exotic pet trade. It presents data and statistics that matter to individuals interested in a manner that’s easy to read and comprehend. The use of white space adds to its effectiveness. Watch and learn. But what about my business? Is anyone really interested in sharing content about flux capacitors? (Answer: yes. Always)

Perhaps you’re unsure of whether infographics would be right for your business. The simple, basic truth is that any business can find an idea for a highly sharable infographic in their niche. Take a look at how a car parts dealer used their infographic. The infographic doesn’t focus on car parts, but cars in general. By focusing on the most and least ticketed cars, it becomes relevant to every person that drives a car, not just those that care enough about their car to seek out specialty replacement parts.

Please include attribution to with this graphic.

The Most and Least Ticketed Types, Makes, and Colors of Cars


So how do I come up with these intriguing, widely-appealing topics? The key to a successful infographic is relevancy. For an infographic to be interesting enough to motivate your target audience to share it across the web, it must be relevant. This means that in order to develop an infographic topic, you should:

• Consider the interests of your audience. What matters to them?

• Think about your business. What products and services do you provide? How can these be influential in creating a useful graphic?

• What information could you easily collect data on? For an infographic to be successful, accurate data is critical. What news sources and industry leaders do you pay attention to or monitor? How can you impart this information to your target market?

• Chances are, you’ve positioned yourself as an expert in one area or another. What questions do your customers regularly ask you? The more complex answers could make excellent infographics.

• What’s happening in your industry? If there’s a news topic that could use some explaining or something you’ve heard discussions about lately, use it!

I’m done with my infographic! What was that you said about sharing it? Infographics exist to be shared. The more majestic your infographic, the more it is begging to be spread far and wide across the interwebs. Try these some of these tactics:

• Share the infographic on your website and blog. You want to drive traffic and to create a permanent home for your new creation.

• Post links and previews to your infographic on your social media pages. This allows you to get in front of your fans and followers in real time.

• Ask your followers to share your infographic and make it easy to do so. Be sure that social share buttons are available on your brand’s website.

• Don’t forget your email lists. Your email lists and social media followers may be different groups.

• Make sure your infographic is branded with your company logo; you want your infographic to be shared elsewhere, but you don’t want to lose credit for its creation.

Creating an infographic doesn’t have to be a long, confusing process with unknown results. If you pay attention to this comprehensive guide, you’ll have your very own majestic infographic in no time.

Customer Service

Customer Service: How has it changed in the Digital Age?

Customer service remains to be a top priority among companies regardless of how technologically savvy the firm is. Customers are the lifeblood of any business. As such, delighting them is one way of ensuring that they will come back and continue doing business with you. Let’s take a look at how customer service had changed at this Digital Age.

Why digital matters

Before we can map out the changes, it would be advisable to discuss the importance of digital channels. Primarily, the advent of these channels dramatically changed the way consumers are searching for products and services and communicating with the companies.

According to John Joseph, co-founder of DataGravity, a data solutions provider, we are living in an age wherein everyone is constantly connected to one another. Technology provides modern firms the capability of corresponding with customers in a more efficient manner.

Thereby, digital channels help in further bridging the gap between the customers and companies. These channels now represent a paradigm shift in making customers 100% satisfied.

What are the changes

1) Customer support

Assistance given to the prospects and customers is limited with manuals, marketing materials and phone and email conversations. In lieu with phone conversations, customers are passed on from one person to another before it reaches the manager. That was before.

Customer Support

Today, there are how-to’s, video demos, buying guides, etc. Some companies offer an interactive experience before the prospect makes an informed decision. In some instances, a customer can post a question on the brand’s Facebook page and receive a response in real-time. No more waiting on long queues in front of customer service booths.

2) Customer feedback

Firms usually disseminate customer survey form and hope for a high response rate. Some firms simply put the form atop the reception table for customers to pick one and answer while there are early adopters that cold call and email blast previous customers. Given the long process, in time the survey results are generated and analyzed, these results would not be as relevant as they would be earlier in the process.

Customer Survey

Presently, soliciting feedback at the point of experience is possible. Publishing reviews – good or bad – is also real-time due to the availability and accessibility of mobile devices. In fact, customers can share their experiences with the brand almost instantly. Further, customers now find an ideal venue to complain about a product or service. On the part of the companies, they are given the opportunity to respond and solve the issue at the fastest time possible. Polls and surveys can be easily administered online, leading to forming real and qualitative insights from the customers.

3) Customer relationship

Relationships are built, and it almost always took several months and transactions to earn a loyal customer. Unfortunately, the relationships built tend to be ‘segmented’ wherein companies contact them again for purely promotional purposes.

Nowadays, brand advocacy is easier now that connecting with the customers on a consistent basis is possible. Engagement at the individual level is much more appropriate in gaining insights regarding what the customers really need and want. With this, modern firms can now offer personalized value at all touch points even without a face-to-face interaction.

Customer Relationship

Customer service is non-negotiable more so today where firms are engaged in a form of digital channel. Most of the aspects of customer service improved especially in terms of cadence and style of interacting with the customers. However, going digital is not an excuse to abandon the traditional customer service channels. There should be a right service mix between traditional and digital customer service provision.


Digital Marketing Article

How to Engage in the Digital Age – Digital Marketing


If engaging clients and prospects through social media isn’t part of your overall marketing strategy, it should be. Social media represents a proven method for communicating with a target audience, building a loyal base of followers and generating leads. When businesses actively engage clients on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media platforms, they’re not only increasing the opportunity to make sales, they’re strengthening brand awareness — the gold standard in marketing today.

Here are suggestions for successful digital age engagement:

Listen and learn

Do you know what your target audience thinks about you? About your industry and competitors? Such valuable information can be found on a variety of social media channels, where people comment all the time, both about your business and your industry. If you’re not doing so already, be sure to regularly check your business Facebook page and see what people are talking about. You can also set up a keyword/hashtag-monitoring stream to stay current on consumer sentiments on Twitter.

Get a conversation going

Of course, listening is only part of the interactive nature of social media. You can always kick-start a conversation by asking questions online — open-ended questions related to your business (and, when possible, tied in to current cultural events).

You’re also in a position to answer questions people pose online, thus demonstrating your willingness to engage with prospective clients on the social media channels where they “live.”  People respond favorably to a business that promptly answers specific or industry-related questions.
The same principle applies to negative feedback. Occasionally, someone will post a comment critical of your product or service. Rather than going overboard with a defensive reply, think of this as a chance to build some goodwill.

“Customers will criticize and complain,” notes Andrew Pressault of Hootsuite. “Every comment and complaint represents a great opportunity, though — an opportunity to fix the problem, and do it publicly. Or, at the very least, show empathy.”

Make it easy to follow your business

Your various social media profiles should be prominently displayed on all of your communications and websites, from email newsletters to your “About Us” page. This makes it easy for clients and prospects to “like” or follow you. It’s also a great way for them to share your content with their own social networks.

Another tip: When responding to a blog post or client comments, be sure to include a link to your site at the end of your reply. Someone who likes what you have to say — or has a new interest in your product or service — can easily click on the link and go where you want them to go.

Offer content of value

It should be clear by now that social media is not the venue for blatant advertising or self-promotion. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule, making 80 percent of your content relevant and useful to your target audience, and 20 percent reflecting your key marketing message.

Content of value includes “how-to” posts, commentary on industry trends, “5 Ways to …” articles — whatever helps improve the lives of users. Not only does this generate goodwill in the social media realm, it helps build your reputation as an industry thought-leader.

“Posts that are rich in content reflect well on your company and have a higher probability of being shared on the social networks of your users,” notes Colton Matheson, SEO & SEM Coordinator at the University of Utah. “This can help increase your referrals and strengthen your online business profile.”

Share content from others and engage with influencers

Social media etiquette doesn’t preclude mentioning other businesses (and competitors) on occasion. When you come across valuable content from other sources, don’t hesitate to share it with your network. People appreciate getting useful information and will remember whom it came from.

Also, look for industry influencers and work on developing a relationship with them online. Such a relationship can open up a completely new audience for your business. Aligning your brand with respected voices in your field can help establish social proof and build brand awareness.

How do you engage with influencers? “For instance,” says marketing specialist Matthew Collis, “you can share some of their posts you like, answer any questions they post to the community, and closely monitor their social channels so you can see which subjects and issues matter to them, and then engage with them about those things.”

Don’t neglect email marketing

Email marketing is still a productive method for engaging with prospects and clients. It’s cost-effective and generally has a stronger response rate than direct mail. And it’s a great method for pinpointing your ideal demographic. When inviting people to subscribe to your email newsletter, you can (depending on the questions you ask) learn a lot about their age, what part of the country they live in, their unique interests, etc. — which helps refine your message to best meet their needs.

Traditional marketing remains a useful tool for businesses, but the results pale against the vast potential for client and prospect engagement in the digital age.

web builders

Top 5 Free Web Builders for Small Business Owners

In these rough economic times it is important to find effective ways of marketing your business with minimum expense. An attractive and informative website has the potential to bring you customers like no other form of marketing or advertising can. However, not every savvy businessman is a software expert or artistic designer.

The good news is you really don’t have to be because there are dozens of programs out there that can provide you with an excellent foundation for your site. Given enough time and patience you can you can learn some neat tricks of web designing through Adobe training and be able to run an effective website by yourself.

Here are five of the best free online web builders that can provide you a great foundation to getting your site going, all of which are free:

1. Moonfruit

Moonfruit Web Builder

This UK based web building company is one of the most popular around. Moonfruit’s “Drag & Drop” templates are quick and easy to use for more amateur site builders. It utilizes basic point and click interface and as of the end of 2012 it has been responsible for the creation of over 5.5 million websites.

2. Ucoz

Ucoz Web Builder

This site builder features 246 different design templates, a mobile version you can access from your phone, and a user webtop that allows you to easily maintain control of all of your different sites from one panel.


intuit web builder

Specializing in financial and tax organization software, Intuit is one of the more optimum choices for those in finance businesses such as accounting, banking, and stock trading. Founded 1983, it one of the oldest and most successful website builders out there. For the past several years, Fortune has consistently featured the company on both it’s list of “America’s Most Admired Software Companies”.

4. Weebly

weebly web builder

Every site element of Weebly is “Drag & Drop” and is compatible with Macs OS, Microsoft Windows, and Linux computers. For business owners that like to keep separate blogs or run multiple businesses this builder would be very convenient as it automatically creates a mobile version of each website once it is completely set up.

5. Wix

wix web builder

Wix also uses “Drag & Drop” tools to help you create HTML sites, mobile sites and even allows you customize Facebook pages which can be another effective way of marketing your business.

All of these website builders are free, easy to use, and are constantly evolving to help site owners portray their business in an attractive, marketable fashion. They also have great personnel to help you out with any complication you might encounter in designing your site.