Take a second and look around. You are probably at your desk reading this blog post or you are reading this on your phone. My bet is you have a few promotional items around that you may not realize are there anymore, but for one reason or another you kept it nearby. Me? Just at my office, I have an acrylic cup from one of my favorite vacation spots, a cup from the World Championship Goat Cook-Off, a couple of coasters, one representing my Longhorns, koozies from numerous clients, a client’s calendar and too many pens to count! At home, I have so many chip clips that I am never hurting for one when in need! Do I use them all? Yes! That’s what makes them effective. Even the notepad that I love so much I use it daily has the company’s logo on it.
I’ve noticed more and more lately that writing is sort of “last week.” It’s old school. Blame it on technology, if you like. Pick one: whether it’s cell phone texting, word processing auto correct, or spell check they’ve all contributed to the slow demise of a basic skill. Sometimes I wonder if a person realizes that they’ve sent me a business email that ignores the basics of spelling and grammar. When I get those emails IDK. I’m def not ROTFL. It’s okay to smile, we’ve all done it.
When is the last time you sat down and wrote something? Some of us write daily emails to clients, friends and colleagues, but are they well written? Do they sound professional? When is the last time you sat down and really tried to put your thoughts down, or explain something clearly and concisely? Well, the same technology that may have stolen our ability to write is also pushing us back in that direction.
As a graphic artist, I’m often asked to design logos and even web pages for entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their new dream businesses. They’ve got an idea and are so enthusiastic and passionate about getting started. When I ask what their web content will be like, their eyes glaze over for a second and then you can see it dawn on them that they’ve got to come up with (zoinks!) content? Panic! Words? Write something?
Do you blog? Do you keep your websites dynamic? Are search engines finding your page? Do you have printed marketing collateral like brochures? Do you need to send newsletters or sales letters? Do you need help?
Thankfully, there are still people who like to write and do it well. It’s a resurgence of the copywriter. These professionals can write just about anything. It’s what they do. Many of them are small entrepreneurs just like you. They’re easy to work with and can really make a difference for your business. We know the best and most creative folks who feel as passionate about what they write as we do about what we design. Ask us for referrals if you need help with a big job, or a small one.
Introducing the Lunar Cycle: All marketing wheels need to be in orbit!
*Note: Our model is to serve as a summary of good marketing practices.
To be successful in business, you have always needed a marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy has always needed to promote your brand while protecting it at the same time. And the result of a truly successful marketing plan is a well recognized brand of a profitable business! Smaller businesses struggle daily to keep up with their marketing and branding. It’s easy to get focused on one particular method and forget about the rest. I am writing this blog today to stress that marketing strategies have not changed and as a business, you can’t survive on just one approach!
Print doesn’t substitute your networking activities and web doesn’t substitute your print materials and social media does NOT substitute for all of it! Instead, you will want to make sure that they are all working together, in unison, promoting your brand and communicating the same message.
There are five different marketing wheels and each one orbits around your brand. Each of the five, have their own moving parts. We will be expanding this blog into several posts in an effort to start the conversation of each of the wheels and the components it is made of.
It all starts with your Company Culture. Developing a strong company culture will ensure that your company’s mission is brought to the forefront and that you are getting the Word of Mouth marketing that you want.
Next, you have your Activities. These activities consist of Special Events that you hold as a company, Charities or Non-Profit organizations that you and your company support, local Chambers that you are a member of, Professional Associations that make sense for your company and employees, Sponsorships that promote your brand to the right audience and Tradeshows that will help you get in front of your audience.
Your printed materials will consist of creative Ads, Direct Mail, Stationary, Brochures/Flyers/Pushcards, Promotional products and Presentation Materials. When engaging in your Activities, it’s always helpful to have printed material to support your brand. What printed material you have at each activity should be relevant and impactful.
Moving to the digital world, you now need to have a website. Your website should be clean, inviting and engaging to your current clients and prospective ones. Features of your website that should not be overlooked include a Blog, Newsroom and Email sign up form for your newsletter. In your Blog, you’ll be the expert and offer advice, your Newsroom will keep people abreast of the “goings on” in your company, and your Email newsletter will be a place for special offerings and information.
Expanding into the digital world, we find Social Media and boy does it get complicated and overwhelming! Social Media is an all access pass to the world. It’s a free medium for you to engage strangers, communicate your thoughts & ideas, and invite people in to really “get to know you” as a business. Social Media is now the gateway to higher rankings from search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Ask. To keep it simple, we’ve grouped Social Media into several descriptive categories…and this just scratches the surface!
The most familiar outlet is the Lifestreams/Microblogs which include Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. Within these Lifestreams, you will find Location Based applications like Gowalla, Foursquare, and Whrrl…great ways to promote your business and interact with the public. When blogging or offering useful white papers, Social Bookmarking is a great way to make sure people find you. Popular methods are Delicious or Stumbleupon. Moving on to more fun stuff, you’ll find the Media Sharing sites like YouTube, Ustream and Flickr. For businesses, it’s important to participate in Business and Niche Networking sites like LinkedIn, Ning & Spoke. And last, but not least, you have the Review based sites including Yelp, Google & Yahoo.
The sixth component of the Luna Cycle is Public Relations. Your public relations strategy should be coordinated with your marketing strategy and pushing the information out to the public. Full Moon Design Group has strategic PR partners in place that we work with frequently to ensure our clients get exposure in all aspects of their business, in as many places where their audience resides.
Direct mail is one of the most cost efficient and effective marketing tools businesses can use to reach their customers. For a small investment, direct mail reaches a large number of people, gets information directly into the hands of its audience, builds brand awareness and incites people to take action. Direct mail can offer incentives and discounts, educate the public, and can also promote other marketing incentives and tools at the same time (think website, social media badges, special online only offers, etc).
We know that money is tight. But does that mean you should stop talking to your clients or looking for new ones? NO! Times like these are your opportunity to stand out from the competition. While your competitors are crawling into the corner, you should be stealing the spotlight! Here are a few tips that will help you gain market share and shine even brighter now.
Attend networking meetings.
The best business relationships start face-to-face. Plus, most networking meetings occur during meal time…and since you have to eat, you might as well be meeting prospects as well. Networking opportunities surround you! The first place to look is your local chamber. Then you will want to ask fellow members where else they network and interact with other businesses owners. Another outlet is to find something that you have a passion for, like a non-profit group or arts group. Get involved and build those relationships. You could network morning, noon and night if you really wanted to! But don’t forget, it’s all about who YOU are (See Tip #4) and what YOU have to offer. What you get in return will soon follow. NetworkInAustin is a great Austin resource to find networking opportunities around town.
Utilize social media outlets. Currently, most social media sites are free. This is a great time and place to establish yourself as an industry expert. First, most companies are still not using these outlets to reach their customers. Those that are, may not be direct competitors. If they are direct competitors, then that’s even more reason to make your presence known. Second, you have friends and colleagues and they have friends and colleagues, and so on. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are all great places to share your knowledge and they are where most people (2010 stats and facts) these days reside online. People are hungry to learn – hungrier now than they’ve ever been before and they usually turn to their immediate networks first to find the information they seek. Make sure it’s you that they are getting their knowledge from! (and having a presence on these sites actually helps your SEO!) Not sure where to start? Call us: 512.428.9072. We can help.
Ask for referrals. This is something that we all forget to do and it should be the easiest task of all! Pick out your top clients – especially if they are always raving about your products or services – and ask them if they can introduce you to some more prospects. You will find that your happiest clients are more than willing to help you in growing your business…You just have to ask! Quality referrals most often come from those with whom you have already done business. Full Moon Design Group knows this and we are rewarding those who think of us and send business our way. We recently launched our 2nd Annual Referral Reward Campaign. Our rewards prove to our clients that we appreciate their confidence in us.
Ensure that you have a memorable identity.
It’s simple – marketing is consistently getting in front of prospects with a consistent look and feel on a repetitive basis. Your business brand or identity is the foundation that you will need to build credibility in the marketplace. If you are going to seek business from your competitors, you better make sure that you look like you have a business. No self-designed business cards that you have printed on perforated stock from your local office supply store…nope…not allowed! You need exceptional quality assets to let your audience know that you can provide that same quality in the products or services you offer. Not sure what I mean by brand/identity? Take a look at Full Moon Design Group portfolio section to give you more of an idea:
Make sure you have a website. If you don’t, now is the time. The web is no longer a luxury for businesses…it’s a must. Times are changin’ folks and your website is no longer your online brochure. It’s a place where people are looking to learn more about you, your clients, your culture. They want to interact and learn from you. Blogging, videos and pictures is what’s hot for websites now. The time and money that you invest in your website will pay off in the end. Think about it…your site is working prospects when you are busy at that networking lunch (see Tip #1) or sound asleep in bed! But websites aren’t cheap, you say… Or are they? Full Moon Design Group has websites starting at just $500 – sites that you can change content on your own (and we’ll show you how!) and blog and feed into those social media outlets of which you are now a part (re: Tip #2). Take a look at a few samples below:
Did you retweet that from her? Just a second, let me add her as a friend. Instagram that picture!
The above are phrases that have become almost every day terms. Social media now almost dominates the internet, so it’s not silly to assume it dominates the online advertising field. It leads many to wonder: “Is email even still alive?” Many businesses now wonder if email marketing is even effective anymore, as teens have grown away from it and gravitated towards other social media outlets.
Hold the procession line – stop the bagpipes; email is not dead. In fact, email is very much alive, as it not only has territory on the internet, but on mobile phones as well. It is no secret that email has lost its appeal with teenagers, as the percentage of teens with email accounts dropped from 84% to 73% in the last eight years, but email still remains very effective in reaching adults and senior citizens. In fact, 75% of internet users aged 64 and older use email as their primary source of communication. With the addition of smartphones into the market, email has become much easier to access – some could argue it’s much easier to access and navigate than certain social media websites. In fact, over 80 million people access their email through the phones EVERY DAY. The world is becoming more mobile day by day, so this number should continue to grow throughout the years. Although it seems somewhat old-fashioned, email is still the primary source of communication for millions of people across the globe.
With its simplicity, accessibility, and speediness aside, email still has many positive qualities that make it a reliable advertising medium.
First off, email is direct. A facebook page for a business can easily get crowded with nonsensical comments. Email, however, can’t get crowded with anything except information. Some may argue that many emails are simply spam; however, many people are still out for the deals that the “spam” contains. Even in deleting the email, most email users will remember the business name in their unconscious mind, which is a powerful asset in the advertising industry.
Email is also very personal. A facebook page or a twitter feed with thousands of followers lack the originality that an email could produce. Since the business email is sent to YOUR inbox, you are more likely to respond to it, as you feel like the business has gone out of their way to email YOU.
Finally, email is extremely adaptable. It has outlived every single one of its social media competitors. The problem lies in the fact that many social media websites thrive off the “fad” effect, meaning they are extremely popular for a short period of time before they eventually fade out of existence. (Remember MySpace?) Email has lived this many years because it provides the one thing still needed by the general public: functionality.
Businesses, when you are looking for an inexpensive and reliable source of marketing, always consider email. It may lack the glitz and glam that many social media sites produce, but it still remains a humble giant in the advertising agency because of its simplicity, speed, and accessibility.
So you can see there is a lot to know about email marketing before you hit the send button. Full Moon Design Group can help you achieve your goals while avoiding costly errors. We can ensure that your message goes out at the right time, to the right people, and with the best possible outcomes. Building an effective email campaign isn’t easy, but we make the process easy for you. We integrate it with your overall marketing campaign to gain maximum exposure for your business and your brand. There is a right mix of elements and we can help you determine what the right mix is for you. Give us a call. 512-428-9072
So, can I have your email?
One of the biggest factors in determining an effective advertisement is its color and the message it conveys. For example, being in a baby store with bright red and aqua might make you a bit uncomfortable, while the typical colors of pastel blue and pink are much more soothing and comforting, which is the desirable atmosphere while shopping for your littlest one.
Different colors convey different messages. Red, one of three primary hues, is one of the most powerful and emotion-evoking colors. Reds can feel sweet and innocent when mixed with white to create pink tones or bring about sharp responses when used in the pure form. With the addition of black, reds can create a darker emotional response, such as anger or convey passion. Light reds can represent fall or color change or even romance, while darker reds represent more passionate emotions. Blues often bring a very serene, calming environment. It can also represent cleansing and renewal.
An advertiser’s choice in colors is often a telling factor on whether the advertisement will be successful or not. Some companies will use vivid, bright colors in order to convey an excited, enthusiastic company. Toy companies are probably the biggest example of this, as they use bright colors and whacky animations to create a fun, youthful atmosphere. An upscale clothier, however, would use more neutral colors to ensure that the focus remains on the products at hand: the clothes themselves. Also, neutral colors like blacks or whites often create a very serious, classy mood, something which very upscale companies aim to do. All of this can be accomplished by simply choosing the right color.
With all of this color talk, most of you are probably now questioning “What IS the color of the year?” Usually, there isn’t a set answer, as opinions will always vary; however, marketing experts can often agree to choose a couple standout colors. Probably the most talked about color is emerald green. If you look on store shelves or at online websites, you will see emerald green just about everywhere, and it’s not at all for St. Patrick’s Day. Green, specifically emerald green can be used to create a wide array of emotions. One of the strongest feelings that green conveys is balance and harmony, as it is almost always associated with nature and more natural ideals. A company that uses green to brand its items will appear to be more natural, thus seeming more “people-oriented” and “in touch.” Also, green conveys a very safe and secure environment. Dollar Bills are dark green and are associated with security, specifically financial.
When choosing colors for future advertisements, you should always consider the current color trends. Although emerald green is currently dominating the marketplace, it will eventually shift to something new, as all previous color trends have. Choosing a color for a brand is almost as crucial as the product or slogan, as it can convey a sometimes unconscious message to potential buyers.
I have had quite a few posts recently touting the benefits of social media. While still in its infancy, social media and social networking are incredibly powerful when executed properly and when companies use them to bridge the communication gaps between themselves and their customers, clients, and core audiences. But while just about everyone is at least dipping their toes into social networking these days, it is important to realize a couple of important things about those old tried and true methods: direct mail and email marketing.
1. The social market is just one more component in the Wheel of Persuasion. Direct mail and email marketing are
tools on the wheel as well, and in order to have an effective campaign, all elements must be considered,utilized and executed properly, and then measured to receive the maximum ROI.
2. While there is a mass migration to social media and so many companies are advertising and selling their “wares” on social media sites, they are forgetting about direct mail and email marketing; thus these avenues may actually become more effective. Direct mail and email marketing can also be just as cost effective as a properly planned social media campaign. By using all of these avenues to reach your targets on multiple levels and multiple locations you are reinforcing brand recognition and messaging, and creating a stronger campaign as you go.
3. Email marketing may seem easy, but there are a lot of very strict laws out there that prohibit businesses from sending unsolicited messages. If you are caught doing this without following the rules, it can be costly on a number of levels. (A.) You can be given a pretty steep fine and in this economy can anyone really afford this? (B.) You lose the trust of your audience. When you send spam, you are bringing your company and your campaign down to the same level as those businesses (is that what they really are?) that send out the latest discounts on male enhancement drugs. Is this really the category under which you want your message to be filed? No. Marketing professionals are very aware of these laws and it is in your best interest to consult with them before you try to send anything out.
One thing to remember about using social media to promote your business is that it takes time to develop relationships and gain the trust of those people you are trying to reach. Then once you reach them, often the messaging is not perceived in the manner in which you intended it to be conveyed. But remember, perception is reality from each person’s standpoint. Full Moon Design Group is experienced in reaching audiences using techniques that limit those variations in perception and truly get across the meaning in the light our clients want to be seen in.
Consistency is the key. Direct mail, email marketing and social media can actually be used to cross promote each other. The point being is that marketing effectiveness does not happen in a bubble. They should all be a part of your overall campaign. They strengthen your brand, your image, your message and get you in front of your customers. Let us help you develop a strategic overall marketing campaign and design the right mix of all of these elements that is right for your company. Contact us today: 512.428.9072
A little over a month ago, I headed to Dallas with a very good friend. Since it was a girls’ weekend, we decided to pamper ourselves and stay at Hotel ZaZa. I had not heard of the boutique hotel before this trip, but after staying there for two nights, I’ll never forget it! From the interior design of the hotel, to the coasters in our room, to the vibe at the pool, Hotel ZaZa made sure you remembered to “Stay ZaZa”.
>From the moment I entered the lobby I was engulfed by youthful luxury and style with magnificent chandeliers, velvet curtains, marble floors and vivid colors. Our room had a balcony filled with oversized furniture and overlooked the pool. I felt comfortable and spoiled!
When exiting the lobby for dinner and drinks that evening, we were met by the hotel’s very own car service. It’s a sleek black SUV with their “Stay ZaZa” tagline on the side doors and the skull of some horned animal on the grill. Complimentary car service again offers a luxurious and carefree feeling.
Having a room booked at the hotel that night was like having the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. We were automatically VIP status…or as Hotel ZaZa puts it “ZZIP”. The pool and restaurant area turned into one of the hottest night clubs in Dallas and we had front row seats! Once again, the hotel was a true destination.
Saturday brunch was incredible in their elegant restaurant. When it was time to pay the check, we were handed a promotional card that featured quotes from media write-ups about the hotel and a “Stay ZaZa” pen.
While walking out, we found a matchbook and mini notepad once again with the famous tagline reminding you to “Stay ZaZa”.
Daytime at Urban Oasis was definitely the place where you went to be seen. Poolside cocktails and a free popsicle made me a happy camper! As the day went on, the pool grew smaller and smaller as more and more people joined the party. And Hotel ZaZa likes to host a party.
Around 2:30pm beach balls started flying from a 2nd floor balcony. I can’t believe how crazy I went over a beach ball. I even tried to take my new prize back to the room and was stopped and ask to leave the ball behind. When I inquired as to why, I was told that they were protecting their brand and didn’t want their logo to “end up somewhere they didn’t approve.” I respectfully gave up the beach ball!
As someone that discusses the importance of branding daily and as a business owner that is working on our very own brand, I was thoroughly impressed with Hotel ZaZa and all they had done to enforce their brand and image.
I’ll be back…and I might take my little dog too!
So you are taking the plunge. You’ve heard it over and over and you are taking the first steps toward getting your business in the social media / social networking realm. Ready… Set… Now What?
Thoughtful planning and consideration need to go into the process, but the effort can be daunting and outright overwhelming.
Here’s a good solid approach that just about any business can follow and be successful with when entering social networking.
1. Make the commitment and decide your time commitment. How much time you are willing to commit to be consistent with your participation? The benefits of social media do not happen overnight. They take time. Making this commitment and sticking to it is the only way to ensure success. Be realistic. If you think you can only commit to an hour a week, then a blog may be the way to go (We like WordPress). Got 2 hours? Why not establish a Facebook page as well. As you become more familiar with each new site, you will find natural efficiencies occur and you will have more time to add more sites to your repertoire.
2. Monitor and listen and follow. Sometimes this is the easiest step and it will get you used to what is being said, by whom it is being said and the intricacies of engaging in those conversations. This is often overlooked, but can be one of the most important steps you should take. It gives you insight to your audience and will give you opportunities to be involved before you start blasting your message. Technorati is a great tool for finding who is talking about what. It’s free and you can search just about any term or group of terms and get a list of blogs or blog posts that pertain to those terms. You can even find blog rankings and other pertinent information so you know who the industry influencers are no matter what industry you are in. Follow the people who you find interesting. Find industry experts and follow their conversations. Learn what they do, what they talk about, who they follow and follow those people as well. The more people you follow, the more you will learn.
3. Define your objectives and determine your measurements of success. What do you hope to gain by becoming active? Brand awareness? Better customer service? Increased sales? Specifically state your goals and you will have a way to measure them and determine if your efforts are worth the time. Will you measure success by the number of “followers” or “fans”? or will measure success by the number of posts or comments to your blog?
4. Do your research. Who is your audience? Where (which sites) do they reside? Why should they listen to you (i.e. what do you have to offer)? Without this prior knowledge and understanding, you are basically taking a shot in the dark hoping to hit your target… oh after you’ve been twirled around until you are almost sick with dizziness. Yep. That’s a good analogy. If you start spattering off about nothing in particular to no one (or everyone) in particular, the chances of people taking your seriously are pretty slim. Or they may just tune you out completely. Take your time to develop the right ideas, but hurry up already… The world is waiting.
5. Establish a strategy or game plan. Don’t just start blasting anyone and everyone with no process or purpose. Develop a schedule. Develop a theme. Get organized. Brainstorm topic ideas that you have knowledge of, have an opinion about, or want to learn about. This last one is important, because not everything has to be about what you know. It can be about what you don’t know! There is nothing wrong with asking for advice from your audience. This can lead to trust and open communication because people want to feel needed and they like to offer their “solicited” advice.
6. Monitor comments/conversations. It’s not just about your message. It’s also about what other people are saying and topics they are discussing when it pertains you or your business. And there are always dissenters out there that need to be addressed. The only way you are going to know about these is to keep an eye on what is happening on the sites where you have a presence. There are easy to use monitoring tools out there. Check out Hootsuite. It’s a good one for monitoring and integration (plus a lot of other really cool tools. We’ll get to this in a later post).
7. Determine time frame for measuring success. I’ll say it again: The benefits of social media do not happen overnight. However, you must track your progress as you go. Remember those goals? You have a starting point. Now, how fast are you going to get there with the relation to the time commitment to which you have agreed? What is working? What is not? What is necessary for consistent imaging of your brand? Will you measure each of these by the week, by the month, by the quarter? No matter what measurement scale or time frame you decide, make sure you are consistently measuring the same thing over a longer period of time.
8. Adjust as necessary. Not every site works for every person or business. Only you can determine how best to use your time and how effective that use of time is on obtaining your goals. Don’t be afraid to start something new, but think twice before you stop participating on a site. Make sure you have used it effectively and for an adequate amount of time. Most importantly: make sure your audience isn’t left hanging.
Of course, not everyone has the time to get in and get started or keep the time commitment to an appropriate level. Full Moon Design Group has professionals that are experienced in helping clients engage with their customers on a variety of platforms. We can help integrate your social media strategy into your overall marketing strategy, no learning curve involved. We can guide you through each step or we can manage your strategy from start to finish. We take your comfort level into consideration and develop the right plan for you and your business.
Want to get started? Give us a call. 512.428.9072