Happy Holidays from NextGear Marketing!

This will probably be the last blog article I post this year. And unlike usual, this one will be short and sweet. This is always a busy time as I prepare for holiday travel and work extra hard to make sure all my clients’ projects are taken care of before I hit the road for a few days to visit family during Christmas.

I just wanted to take this opportunity wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Thank you to all my clients, friends, family and vendor partners for your support throughout 2018. It isn’t easy getting a small business off the ground, but each year is better than the last and I appreciate anyone who has helped with referrals and leads. On that note, if you know anyone out there in need of marketing help, especially when it comes to web content and blogging services, let me know or give them my information. Anyone can contact me directly through this site or you can email me at keith@nextgearmarketing.com

Otherwise, I hope everyone out there has a safe, happy and memorable holiday season and here’s to making 2019 our best year ever!

Is Print Marketing Dead?

Though most of my focus these days is on content marketing and digital media, my background is in print marketing. I still help many of my clients with their print marketing needs, including brochure designs, direct mail campaigns, print advertisements stationery, business cards and whatever other print pieces they require.

Print Marketing is Not Dead

Though it’s definitely now a digital world we live in, print marketing is far from dead. In fact, I know a lot of small businesses that still generate a lot of customers through direct mail campaigns and print advertising in local publications.

The biggest key to effective print marketing for a small business is to have specified target audiences. Just as Facebook allows you to hone in on specific demographics when placing an ad, you have to think the same way when it comes to who sees your print pieces. It cannot be a shotgun approach or you will waste a lot of money.

Direct Mail Strategy

Direct mail is a prime example of this point. It would simply not be cost-effective to send out a weekly mailer piece to everyone within a 100-mile radius. That would be nice, but it would be really expensive and the return on investment just wouldn’t be there to justify the exorbitant costs to run such a massive direct mail campaign.

You can create your mailing lists based on more localized geographic factors (certain neighborhoods or zip codes with residents who represent your desired target audience). Or, you can generate lists based on other factors, such as people who have opted in on your website or purchased lists based on various demographic profiles. However you generate your mailing list, the idea is to be more focused rather than just sending out postcards willy nilly and hoping for good results.

It’s also very important to be consistent. Too many people make the mistake of sending postcards to one list for a month and then moving onto a different list the next month. If you jump around from list to list, you will never establish a strong brand presence. Direct mail often takes time. It’s a cumulative impact of someone seeing your mailers often that generally gets them to eventually take action. Be careful not to panic and keep changing your target because you won’t get anywhere with that strategy.

Print Advertising

The same goes for print advertising. Look for publications (or specific sections in the newspaper) that attract consumers who are more likely to be interested in your products or services. Then, run targeted ads and keep them running consistently to build brand loyalty over time. Again, if you keep jumping around, then you’ll never really establish anything meaningful in their minds.

Though you should always keep an eye on your results and adjust things based on trial and error, you have to have patience. Print marketing is a matter of commitment and consistency. When done right, however, it can still be a very powerful business-building tool. When done in unison with effective content/digital marketing, you might be amazed at the results you can achieve.

If you need help with your marketing—print, digital, content or otherwise—NextGear Marketing is here to serve you. Just let us know how we can be of service with affordable marketing solutions and powerful results. Contact us today!

 

5 Time Management Tips for the Holiday Season

The holidays are a fun, yet often hectic, time of year. This is especially true when it comes to managing your workload. Many of us travel and we all get certain holidays off, which forces us to condense our schedules. That usually means having to get the same amount of work done in a shorter amount of time. And, there’s nothing worse than having unfinished business sitting over your head when you are supposed to be relaxed while enjoying Thanksgiving dinner or the other holidays with your loved ones.

I usually try to stay ahead of schedule when I can, and during these last few months of the year it’s even more important to stay ahead. Unfortunately, the NextGear Marketing Blog has had to take a bit of a backseat as I work on my clients’ projects, but that’s fine. Prioritizing the workload is a key to managing it effectively.

Here are some helpful tips for getting ahead of the game this holiday season:

1. Prioritize

I already mentioned the importance of prioritization, but when you do it right, it will really help you get your work done. When you make sure the most pressing things are done first, it puts a lot less stress on getting the less important things done.

2. Incrementally Add More Work

Staying ahead of schedule during the holidays is largely about condensing more work into fewer days at the office. Start off by adding one or two small extra tasks per day to your to-do list and then incrementally increase that amount as the weeks go on. You’ll find it more manageable this way and you build up to more productive days. If you wait and try to scramble at the last-minute, it will not go well.

3. Proactivity, Not Procrastination

I’ve been known to procrastinate from time to time, but I hate the stress of having to get something done under the gun. The more proactive you can be in your planning and work activity, the less stressed you will be. Also, consider outsourcing certain tasks. Say managing your blog, for instance.

4. Reward Yourself

The ultimate reward when you get ahead of schedule is to not feel as stressed out during your holiday time off. You will have earned a break and you should be able to enjoy it. Still, giving yourself small rewards while working is another good idea. Maybe you get one extra Christmas cookie after you’ve done a certain amount of projects in a day or you buy yourself a holiday gift if you’ve earned an extra monetary bonus because of the work you’ve put in. If you are a manager, find ways to add incentives for people getting more work done this time of year.

5. Don’t Overdo It

This may seem contradictory, but the key to getting more done is not to wear yourself out early on. Take breaks and prepare yourself mentally. Prioritize your to-do lists and incrementally add a little more each day. You’ll be amazed at how much extra you can get done without feeling overwhelmed. By the time the holidays roll around, you will be able to actually relax and enjoy your time off. Doesn’t that sound nice?

These are just a few simple time management tips. The biggest advice I can give is to just be prepared mentally. This can be stressful time of year for many of us, but it doesn’t have to be. If you approach your workload with the right attitude and aim to stay ahead of the game, you’ll be amazed at the results. These are tips that can help you stay organized and prepared throughout the year, but the holiday season is when they may be most helpful.

If you need help with your marketing projects now or in the future, contact NextGear Marketing today. Sometimes, finding the right help will make all the difference in removing stress from your schedule!

Turning Luck into Opportunity

With a lot of unpleasant things happening in the country right now, it’s easy to understand how everyone has gotten caught up lately with something as fun a lotto fever. We all like to dream of what we’d do with hundreds of millions of dollars (or $1.6 billion in the case of the crazy MegaMillions jackpot the other day). Though the odds of winning are obviously astronomical, it’s still a fun escape from the day-to-day drudgery.

Luck vs. Opportunity

A few weeks ago, I posted an article that talked about the concept of luck when it comes to marketing. Though luck (or fate, if you prefer to look at it that way) can happen, you cannot depend on it to grow your business. You have to get out there and create your own opportunities.

However, there is something from the lotto experience that does indirectly apply to marketing, and there is a slightly different way to look at the concepts of luck or fate. Please bear with me. First, let’s think about the “luck” involved in winning a lottery jackpot. Some people do always play the same numbers, but I’m really thinking about the majority of us who just get “quick pick” tickets with random numbers drawn. In this case, it really is a matter of being at just the right place at just the right time for the machine to spit out the exact numbers that will later get spit out randomly (well, we’d like to hope) by a different machine the night of the drawing. That’s pretty much the definition of luck because, in theory, it’s completely random.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is not random. In fact, it takes a ton of strategy to get your brand developed effectively and then positioned in front of your target audience through various media. Yet, in a way, you are still aiming to get your marketing message in front of the right person at the right time. When they decide to purchase your product or service being advertised, you may be putting a little bit of luck on your side.

Often, marketing has an aggregate effect on consumers. They see your brand in multiple places, they hear good word of mouth or they see your products or services being used. Maybe they are a past customer that keeps coming back because they like what you have to offer. Over time, they develop a positive association with your brand that ultimately compels them to buy.

The Right Place. The Right Time.

Even in the aggregate method, it’s still a matter of being seen at the right places at the right times by the people who are most likely to be interested in your particular products or services. Then, there will be other cases where the first time someone sees your marketing, they are immediately hooked and sold right then and there. These instances are much more rare, but they can happen with an effective marketing approach. This is especially true in the world of direct response marketing when you have a strong call to action that sparks a decisive response from the consumer.

How you get your marketing messages out there is a different topic for a different day. I highly recommend you go back through this NextGear Marketing Blog archives and you’ll find plenty of articles on a variety of strategic marketing topics that cover many different media outlets. The point is, when you get the word out there a lot (and that word is appealing to your target audience), you have a better chance of turning the concept of luck or fate into real business opportunities.

Coincidence, Fate or Plain Dumb Luck?

So, a weird thing happened to me this week. On Monday morning, I noticed I had no hot water. When I went to go check on the hot water heater, I found it was leaking pretty badly. My landlord was on top of things and had someone come out to replace it the next day, though I am still working to get the closet all dried out and cleaned up.

This morning, I went to get a glass of water from my water cooler and noticed it was out of water. So, I put the new jug in only to hear a heavy dripping sound coming out the back of the cooler. Somehow, this stupid thing had also sprung a leak! Thank goodness I already had a lot of towels out from the other mess I was cleaning up earlier in the week.

So, within a few days of one another, both my hot water heater and my drinking water cooler had major leaks and got water everywhere. These are two completely different and unrelated pieces of equipment, though they perform similar functions (one making water hot, one making water cold) in my condo. What are the odds of this?

Can Luck Lead to Success?

It gets me thinking about things like luck, fate and coincidence. Sure, luck is sometimes involved in success. Happening to be at the right place at just the right time can be very beneficial. Whether or not you want to call that fate is more a matter of how you choose to look at things.

Ultimately, however, you have to go out and make your own opportunities in life and business. Just sitting back and waiting for things to happen is generally not going to get you very far.

Getting the Word Out

A lot of people think they can start a small business, set up a nice website and the business will just roll in naturally. This rarely happens unless you get the best word of mouth ever. You have to be proactive and get your name out there, whether it’s through digital marketing/SEO, social media, blogging, print advertising, billboards and so on. And yes, it helps to have really good word of mouth, too.

My point is don’t count on luck, fate or whatever cosmic forces you believe in to generate your business for you. And if you have a run of bad luck like I did this week, don’t let it get you down. Stay positive, get out there and make things happen for yourself!

Here to Help You Succeed

If you need help with your marketing campaign—especially when it comes to web content and blogging—NextGear Marketing is here for you. Contact us today for more information and to set up a no-obligation marketing consultation.

Be Willing to Adapt, Evolve and Try New Things

Last week, I was down at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA. I was invited down there with a group of golfers to test out some new pieces of equipment. If you follow golf at all, you’ve probably already seen GolfBoards advertised. They have become reasonably popular in recent years. They are basically a single-rider motorized skateboard (with a handle) that will hold you and your clubs. They are fun to ride and I tried them out some time ago.

GolfBoards came along to break from golf tradition of walking or riding in a typical two-person golf cart. In addition to the GolfBoards, La Costa was also having some of us try out the newer Phat Scooters. These are basically two-wheeled motorcycles/mopeds that have a rack on back to strap your clubs onto. It’s a similar concept to the GolfBoard, but they are a bit easier to ride for people that may be older or less coordinated. At the same time, they are probably more dangerous because of the less stable two-wheeled design and heavier overall weight.

What’s the Point?

Anyway, the point of my story is that golf courses are starting to embrace these alternative modes of on-course transportation. It’s a way to generate some new business and revive interest in a sport that has struggled economically in recent years. Time will tell if these more “fun” rides will boost business, but at least they are trying something new in a sport that is generally stuck in its old ways.

This is a lesson that can be applied to any part of life. You should be willing to adapt, evolve and try new things. It’s what helps you grow, learn and keep a fresh perspective on things.

Applying the Same Philosophy to Marketing

This is also a very important marketing strategy to adopt. Just look at how the marketplace has changed in the past 10-20 years thanks to technology. Social media, smartphones/tablets and other innovations have completely changed the way a lot of consumers process information. This will only continue to evolve along with the trends and technology.

As a business owner, you must be willing to try new things and keep adapting the way you do business—as well as the ways you market your business. Stay on top of trends and try small-scale campaigns using different types of media and approaches. Eventually, you will be able to keep refining and maximizing your results. Odds are, by the time you perfect one strategy, a whole new marketing idea will come along and you will need to keep shifting your approach to keep up with the times. If you are proactive in embracing new ideas rather than reactive, you will see the difference.

The Time is Now

So, look at all the opportunities around you and start trying some new methods of generating business. They may not all work for you, but I guarantee some will work really well if you are committed and willing to adapt to ever-changing trends.

For a free marketing review, contact NextGear Marketing today. We’ll be happy to look at what you are currently doing and help you explore ideas about what you could be doing in the future.

6 Types of Hashtags You Can Use in Your Social Media Campaign

We all know social media is very powerful in today’s consumer marketplace. There are many strategies you can use to maximize your social media impact. One is how you implement hashtags to generate more followers, get more likes and, ultimately, draw more attention to your products or services.

There are many different types of hashtag strategies you can use on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, you do want to be somewhat judicious and not load up your posts with a ton of hashtags. Select the most relevant to your message or goals and then include those. If people are making comments, you can maybe work in a few more with each response.

Instagram is a little different and you can go a bit more hashtag crazy. It’s usually best to put the hashtags at the end of the post (after your main comment) or sometimes you can put them as a comment underneath if you don’t want your main message to get lost.

Here are 6 of the most common hashtag types that you can utilize in your social media campaign:

1. Brand Hashtags

You should always be looking to build up your brand identity in all types of marketing, and social media is no exception. Your business name, key product names, slogans and other mantras are all good to use repeatedly in as many posts as you can to help boost your brand message.

2. Calls to Action

Hashtags that provoke an action are very effective. Start off a hashtag with an actual verb and people will feel more involved. #talkabout_____ #learnmoreabout_____ #get_____

3. Chat Hashtags

Chat-related hashtags are very popular when you have a recurring subject and you want to keep the conversation going over multiple posts. Using a chat hashtag will keep followers involved and they will start sharing the hashtag themselves to generate exponential response on a particular topic.

4. Content-Specific Hashtags

Hashtags relating to content in your posts are very helpful in terms of SEO and general “searchability” on social media. They give people a better chance of finding you if they are looking up information on certain products or topics. Content-specific hashtags are especially helpful when you have a regular blog that you link to on social media.

5. Geographic Hashtags

Geographic-based hashtags are often underrated when it comes to social media marketing, but they can do a lot for you if you have a locally focused business or want to target a specific region with your posts. Cities, counties, states, regions, town nicknames, etc. are all easy tags to include that will help you with your geographically targeted marketing efforts.

6. Trending Hashtags

Sometimes you can start the trend or join on a trend if it relates well to what you are posting. Some trending hashtags will stay hot for days or months. Others may only trend for a few minutes. Either way, if you can tap into some trending topics in a natural way, you can see some residual attention coming your way.

These are just a few of the hashtag approaches you can use in your social media campaign to increase your exposure and grow your business. To learn more about social media marketing and content marketing, follow the NextGear Marketing blog or contact us today for additional insight.