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.

Making Mountains Out of Molehills

We’ve all heard this saying: “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” It’s good advice (most of the time) to not overreact or blow things out of proportion.

I’m getting ready to embark on a vacation to the Lake Tahoe area along the California/Nevada border. It’s right in the middle of the Sierra Mountains and it is truly a beautiful place. So, you could say I have mountains on my mind right now and that’s the inspiration for this post.

The Problems with Overreaction

When it comes to marketing, it is very important not to overreact to negative occurrences or to build something up as bigger than it really is. However, you can eventually make mountains out of molehills in a marketing sense. I’ll explain that later, though. For now, let’s look at the problems with overreaction as it relates to managing a marketing campaign for your business.

First, there is the concern of overreacting when something bad happens (or nothing happens at all). You put out a good marketing campaign and work hard to put good strategies and materials in place. However, you get one negative response or no responses immediately. The worst thing you can do is panic. Remember, most marketing is a long-term process that takes time to build up and catch on.

If you overreact right away by pulling the plug on the campaign or changing to a radically different direction, you may never see the results you are looking for. Yes, it is important to study the data and responses that come in to see what is working and what is not. Then, you can fine-tune and adjust your marketing efforts over time to produce the best possible return on your investment.

Blowing Things Out of Proportion

Next, there is the hazard of blowing something out proportion. Let’s say you are just getting started on your social media campaign and building up your Facebook following. It will take some time and a lot of effort to get as many followers as you desire and to keep them engaged. However, a good Facebook campaign will not be all you need for a successful business. It is just one facet of your overall marketing plan. In other words, don’t invest all your time in just one direction. Today’s marketing is all about diversity and reaching potential customers from as many angles as possible. Put the work in to make your Facebook page great, but be careful not to overlook all your other marketing opportunities through various media. Good marketing takes both a “big picture” perspective and a “small picture” attention to detail to be effective.

How to Make Mountains Out of Molehills

Lastly, I mentioned that you can actually make a mountain out of molehills, and that ties in directly with my previous point. A good marketing campaign will incorporate many different media and a comprehensive strategy. If each component of your marketing plan is considered a “molehill,” you can eventually build them up together over time and you’ll end up with a “mountain” of a business. McDonald’s began with just one little burger shop and look where they are today.

This will give you all something to think about while I am away enjoying the mountains. If you have any questions about marketing or need help with your online or print marketing campaigns, contact NextGear Marketing today. We’re here to help you take your business to the next level.

It’s Time to Play Ball!

Today is Opening Day in Major League Baseball! It is one of my favorite days of the year, and it’s pretty much a national holiday in my eyes. Spring training is complete, the rosters are set and the teams are ready to take the field (weather permitting in some parts of the country).

April is Already Here!

From a business perspective, the start of the baseball season is a stark reminder that we’re already a quarter of the way through 2018. Three months have passed! It’s a good time to think about all your New Year’s Resolutions and your business plan. How well are you doing on those goals? Where is there room for improvement? What do you need to do to make the next three quarters as successful as possible?

Swing Hard

When it comes to your marketing plan, now is the time to make sure you get off the fence and onto the playing field. Perhaps that means being more active on social media. It may mean starting a business blog—or at least ramping up your efforts on the blog you started at the beginning of the year yet has already fallen by the wayside. It could be time to revisit your website content and assess how everything have performed so far in 2018.

The point is it’s time for you to play ball and position your business for success in April and beyond. Don’t let another year slip by without positive steps forward. Take a hard look at what you’ve done so far this year, re-assess your goals and take action to achieve them.

Your Marketing Coach

If you want professional help with your business blog, web content or marketing strategy, we’re here to help. Contact NextGear Marketing today for a no-obligation consultation and marketing review.

What Are Your 2018 Marketing Resolutions?

New Year’s Resolutions don’t just have to be personal goals like losing weight or quitting smoking. If you are a small business owner, you should have resolutions to make 2018 your best year ever. That means it may be the perfect time to rethink your marketing strategies and implement new ideas.

Let’s look at some marketing resolutions you can make for 2018:

1. Solidify Your Brand

Branding is so important to your success. Your brand should be consistent across all platforms. It should be evident in any design pieces in terms of a visual brand that is recognizable to your customers. It should also drive any content in print or web marketing. This is what we’d call your “brand message.” All branding elements should work together for the best results.

2. Update Your Web Content

When is the last time you went through your entire website and made some content updates? Content easily gets stale and outdated. Take the time to freshen it up and update as needed. You will experience a natural SEO boost in the process.

3. Get More Out of Your Blog

Speaking of SEO, your business blog is a great way to maximize your site’s organic SEO appeal through regular, targeted content. If you don’t have a blog, start one. If you have a blog but don’t post often, make a concerted effort to be more active with it. If you have a regular blog but aren’t seeing any benefits of it, it’s probably time to rethink your strategy. The content you write, the way you write it and other ancillary facets of the blog like SEO keywords, titles and tags can all make a major impact.

4. Take Advantage of Social Media

It’s hard to have a successful business these days without a strong social media presence. Make the commitment to be more active with social media and learn how to use new and evolving platforms to your advantage.

5. Be More Proactive

In all forms of marketing (print, web, blogging, outdoor, direct mail, social media, etc.), use the New Year to revitalize your commitment. Be more proactive with planning and follow through on those plans to make your marketing campaign as successful as possible. Revisit existing marketing materials and programs to see where adjustments can be made. Marketing should always be evolving. If you sit back and rest on your laurels, you will quickly fall behind the times.

These are just a few of the New Year’s Resolutions you can make to get more out of your business marketing. For more ideas or to discuss blogging, content updates or any other marketing needs you have, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Is Direct Mail Dead?

Obviously, most of my articles center around web content and blogging, but NextGear Marketing does marketing and advertising of all types. In fact, my marketing career began at a company that specialized in direct mail campaigns, so it is a subject I am very familiar with.

For some companies, the concept of direct mail has become obsolete thanks to social media, emails, landing pages and blogs, which are all generally cheaper to utilize and offer many powerful benefits in today’s consumer market. However, direct mail is still a very viable strategy for some businesses, and it can be a part of your overall marketing strategy if done right.

Who is Your Target Audience?

First, you have to consider who your target audience is. Will direct mail reach them and pique their interest? If your ideal consumer is in an older age range, then direct mail can be quite powerful. If you are primarily going after millennials, then you may want to keep your focus more on digital avenues.

I am personally in the Generation X age range, which means I fall somewhere in between. I get a lot of direct mail and some of it will catch my eye. I also spend my fair share of time on social media, as well as other online sources to make my consumer decisions. The more research you do, the more you’ll probably discover that most of today’s consumers will respond to all types of marketing. And that’s why you want your marketing strategy to incorporate a decent blend of approaches, possibly including direct mail.

What Are You Selling?

Next, you have to consider the products or services you are trying to sell. What is the best way to communicate their benefits to your target audience? What will generate the most response? Social media advertising and targeted email campaigns are essentially the same idea as a direct mail campaign. You narrow your focus and send messages that you hope will generate a direct response from the people who see/receive them.

When it comes to direct mail, most people will still pay more attention to your message when they are physically holding something in their hands (i.e. your direct mail postcard, flyer, pamphlet or letter). It’s human nature. Emails are easy to ignore or filter out as spam. Social media ads are often overlooked amidst so many other things happening in someone’s feed.

It’s true that 99.9% of all direct mail pieces will end up in the trash or shredder, but you can still make an impression on the way from the mailbox to the garbage can. It could just be furthering your brand message in that consumer’s mind as they see your mailers time after time, or the offer may catch their attention just enough for them to take action. Either way, there is some impact that you may not get through digital channels.

Is Direct Mail Right for You?

If it makes sense for your business and your consumer audience, you can still utilize direct mail (as part of a balanced marketing campaign) for great results. Just look in your own mailbox every week. The shear volume of “junk mail” shows that it is far from dead as an effective marketing strategy.

The one big downside of direct mail is that it is not cheap, especially if you compare the costs of printing and postage against social media marketing, blogging, SEO and other digital strategies. It’s all about finding enough return on investment. If your direct mail campaign isn’t generating enough business to pay for itself, then you need to focus your budget elsewhere or rethink your direct mail approach. The medium may not be the problem. It could be your designs, messages or mailing lists that need to be rethought.

Direct mail is just one medium to consider when developing a comprehensive marketing campaign for your business. For more information and a free marketing consultation, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Bullseye! The Value of Target Marketing

There are two ways to approach marketing. There is the shotgun approach, where you try to get your message out to anyone you can. In other words, you are throwing a handful of darts at the board and hoping some of them hit. Then, there is the targeted approach, where you hone in on a specific audience and make more strategic efforts to connect with only the people you want to reach. Bullseye!

A Big Picture Perspective

To the untrained marketer, it may make sound like a good idea to use a shotgun approach because you want as many people to be exposed to your brand, products and services as possible. For some massive companies, it kind of makes sense. Take Coca-Cola for example. They spend millions (if not billions) of dollars every year in marketing and their brand messaging is just about anywhere you look. Why? Because people from just about every demographic like to drink Coke. And don’t forget they have a massive marketing budget that allows them to advertise everywhere.

Looking Closer

However, when you look closer, you can actually see that Coca-Cola uses a lot of targeted marketing. Different commercials might run on different channels or programs depending on the average viewer demographics. They are using social media to target specific groups of people effectively. Remember when they started putting names on bottles in recent years? That is a great gimmick that has worked with millennials, and even the names they put on the bottles and distribute to different parts of the country are carefully picked to attract certain segments of the population.

So, on the surface it may seem that Coca-Cola uses a shotgun approach, but it’s because they’ve adopted target audience marketing more and more over the years that has made them—and will continue to make them—the world’s leading soft drink brand.

What Are Your Marketing Goals?

As a small business, you do not have a marketing budget in the millions. Targeted marketing allows you to get more bang for your buck. You can identify your ideal target audience and use strategic marketing approaches to reach them specifically.

First, you must identify your ideal audience that is most likely to relate to your brand, buy your products or use your services. You may have more than one target audience, which is fine. Just know that you will be splitting your focus (and your budget) to reach multiple groups. The audience breakdown may be based solely on geography (your town/region) or by demographics (age, ethnicity, etc.).

Once you have your audience(s) identified, you need to develop your marketing materials (print, online, social media, blog, SEO tags, etc.) to speak to that audience’s fears, needs and desires. Then, you need to distribute in ways that will reach that audience more directly. Social media has really streamlined the idea of target marketing. Most platforms make it easy to create very targeted ads and promote posts toward a pre-defined demographic audience based on age, location, interests, consumer habits, careers and more. Use this technology to your advantage and focus your marketing spending to attract the people you want to attract.

Take Advantage of Targeted Marketing

When it comes to marketing, especially for small businesses, a shotgun approach is rarely a good plan. Take a more targeted approach and you will see the difference in response from consumers who are more interested in what you have to offer.

For more information about target marketing and how to develop more targeted web content, email and social media campaigns, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free consultation.

What Are Community Pages?

Last week, we discussed the advantages of setting call-to-action-oriented landing pages to attract new customers and gather contact information for future use. We briefly mentioned the concept of “community” pages, which are a little different in purpose. This week, we want to explore the ins and outs of community-specific landing pages.

So, What is a Community Page?

Like a landing page, it is a singular page that is not necessarily part of your main site’s navigation. It’s purpose, however, is primarily for SEO more than it is about inducing a specific action from the visitor.

A community page highlights a specific product or service that you offer, while simultaneously including keywords and searchable information about each specific community you serve. Community pages are best utilized by a business that is regionally focused.

A Real-Life Scenario

For example, NextGear Marketing is based in Orange County, CA. We actually work with clients all over North America, but for the sake of argument let’s say we wanted to create a targeted community page campaign to attract more local business. And let’s say we want to promote our blogging services for small businesses.

Orange County is a big place and there are many cities here. We can’t include all of them in SEO tags, page titles and content keywords throughout our typical web pages and blog posts. That would be too cumbersome. Therefore, we can create multiple landing pages to promote our blogging services in the various communities/cities of Orange County.

Ultimately, there could be dozens of pages. One for Santa Ana, one for Irvine, Orange, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Anaheim, San Clemente… you get the idea. Each one will highlight some aspects of the city (landmarks, major businesses, district names, schools, etc.) and why it’s great to do business there. Then, we would talk about the features of NextGear Marketing’s blog packages and why they would benefit a small business in that particular community.

Now, you have a page that has very strong and very targeted SEO geared toward NextGear Marketing’s blog services relating to a specific city, not just Orange County, Southern California or North America in general. You can see how this might have a powerful impact if a business owner from that city is looking for localized information about blogging. They have a much better chance of finding NextGear Marketing’s targeted landing page, and when they do they’ll find someone that appeals to their own local focus.

Strategies for Community Pages

It’s important to remember that each community page has different verbiage. Many of the selling points can be the same and the overall tone should be consistent, but you absolutely need to mix up the wording. In addition, incorporate some localized imagery relating to the community being featured. Each page needs to have unique content or you will lose significant SEO potential. It can be a tedious job, but it is well worth it in the end.

There should be strong calls-to-action incorporated into the content and internal links to other pages on your website for more information about different topics. Direct sales can come from a good community landing page. Just remember that SEO is the primary goal with them.

NextGear Marketing offers good package pricing for writing the content of community landing pages. You should talk with your web developer about what it will take to set up the individual pages with a unique subdomain or URL pattern that won’t interfere with your normal site navigation.

To discuss the potential of custom community landing pages further, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free marketing consultation.