I frequently participate in forums on Alignable, asking and answering marketing questions. I occasionally bring bits of the forum here to the blog. Today, I’ll be expanding on an answer I gave to a print company about setting up a business blog.
How can i start a daily blog related to my business and products? should i just do it on Facebook and use my business page as the “blog” or should i create an actual new site for the blog, then share that link on my Facebook/LinkedIn business page?
Like many others, I would recommend integrating the blog with your actual website. If you don’t have a website, or you are looking to revamp, WordPress and Wix are easy to use, very affordable (sometimes free) and have blog integrations. Our current blog and website are set up on WordPress and I love it. It’s very versatile and if you have a bit of time to learn, or a bit of money to hire a professional, you can do some really stuff.
And yes, you definitely need to be sharing your blog posts on social media. You can set it up so that when you publish a post it automatically goes to social channels, but I also recommend manually posting to increase visibility and engagement.
I blog for a print company and have a few additional insights to share.
1) It takes quite a while to see ROI on a blog. I was blogging regularly for about 3 years before I started to see it make any difference.
2) Most likely you will burn out trying to do a daily blog, especially if you have a lot of other responsibilities in the company. I recommend starting with once a week, or once every other week.
3) Pinterest has been the most effective social media platform for promoting our blog. I always put a picture with every post and then put that picture on Pinterest and often get at least 1-2 clicks to our website.
4) In addition to blogging educational articles, I blog about new products with pictures included. I use a lot of key words in these articles and this has really increased our visibility. Many people who call us from the website do so because they saw one of the product articles.
I frequently participate in forums on Alignable, asking and answering marketing questions. I occasionally bring bits of the forum here to the blog. Today, I’ll be expanding on an answer I gave to a childcare center who needed ideas on how to promote a new location opening.
How do you alert others of a new location opening? We are opening a new location of our childcare center – Spectrum Station Barry Road. We are enrolling and hiring new staff. What is the best way you would suggest communicating this with the local community?
Alright readers, 10 points if you can guess what marketing tactic I suggest first. I’ll wait here.
Did you guess direct mail? Of course you did! We are all about direct mail here at One Step Services. But seriously though, direct mail marketing is PERFECT for this sort of thing. A 3 month, 6 month or even year long campaign to residents directly surrounding the new daycare center would be very effective. There are two ways to go about doing this, and you’d have to run the numbers to see what would be most cost effective. The first way is to use the US Postal Services EDDM program. With this program, you don’t address to specific people. You simply pick a carrier route (or multiple routes) in the area you want to target. The pieces are addressed with “postal customer” and every single house on the route gets a piece. The rates for EDDM are lower than first class or standard mail. If most residences in the routes you choose have children, then this is probably the best way to go. However, if there aren’t a lot of residences with kids, the second option may be better.
The second option is to purchase a targeted list. You can set geographic parameters, and also choose to only get addresses of residences with children. The list will have specific names and addresses. With this list, you know that each piece is going to a home with kids. Plus, you can use variable data to personalize the pieces which will give you a better return on investment. You’ll also receive standard mail discounts, which is cheaper than first class, not as cheap as EDDM. But if you are mailing to fewer houses, it might save you money overall.
In addition to direct mail, I highly recommend getting current staff, students and families on board with promoting the new site. I send my kids to daycare and would gladly share about my experience to friends and family on social media. I’d also write a review on Yelp or any other site. But, I’d have to be asked. This is key. Those parents and staff are busy, so you have to ask and then ask again. Send an email, post on the social media channels they follow, put a note in the kids cubbies or folders. And if you really want to amp up the referral game, offer a tuition or registration discount for families that get other families to sign up.
Contests are a great way to engage your audience. Whether you are trying make connections with current clientele, or you are trying to build a list of potentials, a contest is a fun way to get people to notice your brand and take action. Of course, there are hundreds of different types of contests. Below I’ve detailed the four most popular contests you can easily run through direct mail.
Audience: Typically families. Usually kids will want to do the coloring but you need the parents to give permission and fill out the entry form.
Execution: You mail a coloring page with an attached submission form that asks for basic contact information. Participants can make the form back or drop it off at a predetermined location. You pick the winner on a designated date. Typically, there are a few different winners, one for each age group. You can mail the prize or drop it off. Do not make the recipients claim the prize. The idea is to make entering and redeeming as easy as possible.
Your Benefit: You can collect contact information for leads and follow up with emails and/or phone calls.
Execution: This is a very popular one with our real estate clients. They mail out a flyer that details the prize, which is large and relevant to motivate participation. $500 gift cards to theme parks, grocery stores, and home improvement stores are common. The flyer also has a tear off portion that asks for contact information and also asks for a bit more information about the participant (are they interested in selling, do they want a free market update, etc). Participants can mail the tear off portion back, or drop it off at a local office
Your Benefit: You get more information about people on your mailing list, which you can use for follow up emails and phone calls.
Execution: My son subscribes to a children’s magazine. On one edition, he received a postcard with three spaces to scratch off. He did so, and won a small prize which he claimed by mailing the postcard back to the magazine company. This contest works well if you have a lot of small prizes to give away. If you have many winners, you’ll get lots of great response but you have to be sure you’ve got enough prizes and an inexpensive way to get them to the participants.
Your Benefit: You can take the opportunity to gather more information, or keep it simple and just engage your audience in a positive way that builds brand trust and recognition.
Audience: People that live near your brick and mortar business.
Execution: I’ve seen this one done at restaurants a lot, but it could work for any brick and mortar business. Send participants a scratcher or sealed envelope. Assure them that there is a prize voucher inside but that they have to open or scratch it off in the store in order to redeem. Make sure the prize is something they can use while in the store that day, like a discount or free product.
Your Benefit: Brings people into your store and motivates them to purchase that day. You don’t have to pay for return postage.
One Step can help facilitate any of these contests for you by designing, printing and mailing the entry forms. Just give us a call at 949-587-5301 or email email@example.com to get started.
Not every marketing piece has to be a sales pitch. Sometimes its nice to simply connect with your customer base and wish them a happy holiday. This helps build brand recognition and trust. Our 4th of July postcards do just that. Use our greeting or create your own. Choose from a rustic flag postcard or one that celebrates the nostalgia of childhood summers.
Download the order form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org 4th of July Order Form
About a year and a half ago, my husband and I switched mobile carriers. We did it primarily to save money, as the one we were with was getting crazy expensive. We knew that coverage wouldn’t be as great, but we aren’t world travelers. So as long as we could text and surf the web within the 15 mile radius in which we live our lives, we didn’t care. We wanted to save money.
The actual plan was significantly cheaper. The phones, however, were not. And by the time you added phone payments, and taxes and services, our monthly payments were the same. This was not properly explained to me at the time of signup. Nor was it properly explained to me that at the end of our 18 month “lease” we would still owe quite a bit of money on our phones. On top of that, our data connection was poor and our phones consistently dropped calls even at our house. These little surprises made me angry, to say the least. But after a couple fruitless calls to customer service, I eventually just gave up trying to get solutions.
I read just the other day that it’s not the customers that are complaining that you need to be worried about, it’s the customers that aren’t saying anything. This is 100% true. I never even talked to a rep about the bad connections because I was so peeved at them for scamming me on price. I just wanted to pay off the phones and switch back to my original carrier. And that’s exactly what I would have done. Except…
Today I had to call customer service. And I was lit. The woman on the other end was very professional. She listened to my complaints. Some she was able to resolve, others she explained more thoroughly so they weren’t AS annoying as I had thought. She brought my anger down from a 9 to a 5 (since the insanity that was the 2016 presidential election, I can’t seem to get it down below that). I don’t love our current carrier. I’m not going to start recommending them to all my friends. But one interaction with a competent customer service rep got me to rethink my decision to leave, at least for the time being.
Readers, do not underestimate the power of one positive connection with a client. Every time you pick up the phone, send an email or type a text, assume that THAT is the interaction that could make or break the relationship with that customer. Also, keep an eye on those silent customers. The ones who aren’t interacting with your brand at all, who are placing fewer orders, who aren’t recommending you the way other clients do. Reach out to them and find out what you can do to turn them into brand enthusiasts.
Have you ever had an encounter with customer service or an account rep completely change your view of a company? Tell us the story in the comments below.
I’m a little late to the party, but I finally saw the live action Beauty and the Beast last weekend. You guys, I’m OBSESSED! The costumes, the music, the scenery. Emma Watson and that spunky, kind, fearless personality. Dan Stevens with that voice and those eyes! I love it more than a grown woman probably should but, whatever. The world is a dark place, just let me be happy.
So why am I gushing about a Disney film on a marketing blog? I’ll be honest, I was actively looking for an excuse to research the movie and listen to the soundtrack while at work. BUT ALSO, it occurred to me that remaking a movie is a lot like rebranding a company. And since the remaking of Beauty and the Beast was successful, I figured there were some lessons that could be applied to rebranding a company, something we do a lot of here at One Step Services.
Make new friends, but keep the old. I’ve watched enough bonus features to know that without composer Alan Menken and lyricist/executive producer Howard Ashman, Beauty and the Beast wouldn’t have been the blockbuster that it was. So it makes sense that they brought Menken back to rearrange original songs and compose new ones for the live action remake.* The new songs fit seamlessly with the original and the movie is once again a musical masterpiece.
When rebranding your company, think very hard about what elements you want to keep and what you want to ditch. Then decide who of the “old friends” is going to help you maintain this new vision, and who is going to detract from it. And whether you’re keeping the old or hiring the new, make sure everyone is loyal to and passionate about the brand. You’re going to have a hard enough time getting clients on board with this new brand, you don’t want to also be fighting employees, vendors and business partners.
If it’s broken, fix it. As a child, Beauty and the Beast was perfect. But rewatching it as an adult, I notice a couple of plot holes. Like, why exactly does Belle fall in love with Beast? She was terrified of him and angry, and all he has to do to win her over is save her from some wolves and throw a snowball at her? It sounds more like Stockholm Syndrome than love. Apparently I was not the only person who had this thought because the character of Beast is much more developed in the new movie, as is his relationship with Belle. There were several other plot holes that were patched up in the remake.
Before you rebrand, it’s important to know what’s working for your company and what isn’t. The rebrand should fix the things that aren’t working. Perhaps your logo looks outdated. Maybe your customer service policy needs to be changed to better fit your new customer database. Maybe your company mission has changed and you need a new slogan to reflect that. Maybe you are recovering from a major PR fiasco. Whatever the case, look at the rebrand as an opportunity to fix what is broken.
Test your audience. In an interview, Dan Stevens explained that he was originally topless when he transformed back into the prince. However, the test audience said that was inappropriate for a kids movie.** So they reshot it.
Once you decide what needs to be fixed and you come up with a solution, you need to make sure that solution is going to be effective for you. You’ve got to test it. Obviously, you can’t please everyone, nor should you try. But it’s always a good idea to run tests to make sure you are getting things right with most people.
If you’re ready to rebrand yourself and/or your company, give One Step Services a call at 949-587-5301. Come in for a free consultation with our graphic designers who can help create a new visual representation of your new brand. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to Evermore one million times and cry at my desk.
*Side Note: Howard Ashman died 8 months before the original animated Beauty and the Beast was released. The story of how his battle with AIDS affected his creation of Beauty and the Beast is fascinating and heartbreaking. Another interesting tidbit, the lyricist for the new songs on the new Beauty and the Beast was Tim Rice, who worked with Menken on songs for Aladdin. So, still an old friend of Disney. See? I told you I watch a lot of DVD bonus features.
**Boo! Those people are no fun!
This month’s Tip Tuesdays are all about improving ROI. ROI stands for Return On Investment. The success of most marketing campaigns is determined by ROI. Did you make more money than you spent? Did you make enough money to make the investment of resources (time, money, manpower) worth while?
Improve ROI with a clear call to action and enticing incentive. Why are you running this particular marketing campaign? Do you want people to visit your website? To call you and set up an appointment? To refer you to their friends? Whatever action you want people to take, be very clear in telling them what that action is. Every postcard, flyers, email, social media post should have a clear call to action. It also helps if you have an incentive. This could be something big like a discount or free gift. Or something simple answers to their questions. Don’t just tell them to do something, give them a reason to do it.
Improve ROI by cleaning your list so you don’t mail to unresponsive addresses. It costs money to send emails and postcards. So don’t waste money on unresponsive addresses. Regularly go over your databases and delete addresses that are unresponsive, or that have asked not to be contacted, or that no longer meet the qualifications of your target audience. You’re marketing campaigns will be much more effective if they are being seen by people who are likely to respond to them.
Improve ROI by personalizing your mailings with variable data. Variable data is data that changes based on the recipient. It can be something as simple as a first name. You send out a letter that is exactly the same for every person except that the greeting changes, ie Dear Molly, Dear Matthew. You get the idea. The use of variable data can actually get very complex . But if you have the data, agencies like One Step Services can get it onto a card for you. Why variable data? People respond much better to messages that are personalized to them. We are almost constantly bombarded by marketing through email, social media, television, print and mail. We have learned how to tune it all out. But when something uses our name or other personal information, we pay attention.
Improve ROI by targeting your mailing with a specific message meant for a specific audience. You need to know who you are marketing to, and you need to know what messages are relevant to them. For example, if you are mailing a postcard to a farm filled mostly with young families living in town homes, an effective postcard would be one that talks about the benefits of upgrading to a larger house. You would not want to send this postcard to a community of retirees. Send relevant messages, through direct mail, email, social media ads, etc, and you’ll get a better response.
Improve ROI by branding all your mailers and including your name and photo/logo. People do business with people they trust. The more people see your branding, the more they’ll begin to trust you. Every time they are exposed to your marketing, the chances of them contacting you increase. Case in point. I sent a series of 3 branded emails to a list of nonprofit organizations. About half the list opened the emails but did not contact us. So I sent them a sample packet. From that, I got one response (so far). People need repeat exposure before they act.
In order to be successful with direct mail marketing, you need to be consistent. If you find yourself low on funds, you may be tempted to skip a mailing. DON’T! This will lead to inconsistency and loss of the momentum you’ve already gained. Instead, consider cutting costs with these tactics.
- Convert color postcards to black and white. You can convert one side or both. Many people choose to just convert the back to black and white, since most of the card is taken up by text and address anyways. At One Step, this one change will save you about 8 cents a card. You can also convert both sides to black and white to save even more. Just be aware that some of the design may be compromised once the color is taken out. If possible, tell your designer ahead of time that you want the postcard to be able to print well in black and white so that they can design accordingly.
- Check for quantity discounts. At One Step Services, we offer discounts for 500+, 1000+, 1500+, 2000+. In some cases, ordering more will actually save you money. For example, if you are ordering 475 full color 8.5×5.5 postcards, you’ll actually save about $10 if you bump your order up to 500.
- Clean your mailing lists. It’s a waste of money to send a mailer to bad addresses. A bad address is any address that doesn’t fit into your target market. For example, if you are a real estate agent looking for listings, you won’t want to send the postcard to renters. You also don’t want to send to people who have asked to be taken off your list, or to addresses that are undeliverable. Regularly clean your list to make sure you aren’t wasting money.
- Order smaller postcards. At One Step Services, we have a lot of different postcard sizes. If you need to trim your budget, consider going with a smaller postcard, especially for mailers who’s main job is to simply build brand awareness and trust. For example, perhaps you go with an 8.5×5.5 postcard for your mailings about community events and testimonials, but go back to your 10.5×5.5 for your Just Listed card so that you draw extra attention to it.
Don’t let a tight budget keep you from doing your marketing. The more you put your name out there, the more business you’ll get. Call our friendly customer service reps at 949-587-5301 or email email@example.com to discuss specific ways to cut costs on your next mailing.
Download order form for March Content Ready Postcards
St Patricks Day Postcards
Use the luck of the Irish to help generate listings with these St Patricks Day themed direct mail postcards.
Time Change Postcards
Longer days are just around the corner. Because the date of the time change changes every year, most people really appreciate a reminder to set their clocks forward. These postcards are a simple way to touch base with your farm or social list and give them some information they’ll appreciate.