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.

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.

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.

What Can Your Business Blog Do for You?

Many small business owners will start a business blog because they think they have to or maybe it was just included in their web hosting service. What inevitably happens when someone is not fully “bought-in” is that they let it slide. Before long, it becomes an afterthought and eventually, the blog just sits there collecting digital dust. And, in today’s content-driven marketing world, that dust can start to gather within weeks!

Invest Yourself

Like anything in life, the more invested you are in your blog, the more you will get out of it. You have to be willing to commit the time or resources to do it right. Those resources might be an in-house staff member assigned to manage the blog and other content/social media activities. Or, it may be paying an outside provider like NextGear Marketing a nominal fee to run a high-quality weekly blog for your business. Hint, hint…

The Benefits of Blogging

If you are fully invested in your blog, you will see the benefits in numerous ways. Some of the advantages of a well-written and strategically focused blog with once-a-week posts include:

• Increased organic SEO potential

• Social media engagement

• More site visitors and return visitors

• Increased customer conversion

Don’t these attributes sound like something your company could benefit from? Of course! These are just a few of the major advantages to starting a blog and maintaining it with consistent content.

How Often Should You Post?

Whether that means bi-weekly posts, weekly posts or twice-a-week posts, you need to start somewhere and you can always ramp up the frequency over time. The important thing is to get it working for you and be fully invested in it as one of your online marketing strategies. When you do a blog right, good things can and will happen for your business.

To learn more about NextGear Marketing’s blog writing and management services for small businesses, contact us today.

 

Are You Responding to Customer Reviews?

Getting customer reviews online is an important part of today’s business culture. In a way, it is free advertising—even if you are paying extra for “premium” business accounts on sites like Yelp. People are voluntarily writing testimonials for your business. Unless you are doing something really wrong, most of these reviews will be positive. If they are routinely negative, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach to service.

Reviews Are Going to Be Written

In the social media marketplace, people are not shy about sharing their opinions on just about every subject under the sun. Millennials are now the most influential consumer group and the next generation is on their heels with an even more candid style of sharing everything about their lives on social media.

You should be pushing customers to write authentic reviews. Even if you don’t, plenty will still be posted and you have to pay attention to what’s being shared on social media and online review sites.

How to Respond

Next, you should get in the habit of writing personal responses to each review that is posted on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other relevant site for your business. I recently took over this task for one of my clients and it is a very powerful thing you can do.

Most reviews will be positive and you don’t need to write much. A simple “thank you” message is fine. Reiterate some of the positive comments they may have made about your staff, your product or your services. If there are any special messages that you can include such as a warranty or return policy, do so without pushing too hard. Keep it light, direct and friendly. Those reading these reviews will easily see that you are a business that cares about its customers.

What if the Review is Negative?

It’s almost unavoidable that you will eventually get a negative review. Unfortunately, these negative reviews are almost always longer and more detailed, which helps them get picked up by the algorithms on sites like Yelp that display the “most relevant” reviews on the main page rather than the most recent.

A negative review might even be a fake from a troll, spammer or petty competitor. Oftentimes, these reviews discredit themselves if you read them closely enough. Maybe there’s an inappropriate comment, a lot of grammar errors or it’s clear that their complaint really isn’t relevant to your business.

How you respond to these negative reviews can be tricky, but it is something you need to do. You have to be tactful. You have to defend yourself without being defensive. You have to be friendly even while calling them out on any inconsistencies in their story. You can read more about this approach in a previous article I wrote on this exact subject, but the biggest key is to maintain a friendly and helpful demeanor in your response. Just remember the response is not necessarily for that reviewer, who will not likely be a repeat customer. It is for anyone else reading that review. A thoughtful response to a negative review can actually work in your favor because it will show others that you care.

To learn more about online review response writing services from NextGear Marketing, contact us today.

Finding the Right Mix for Your Social Media Marketing

This subject may be a bit controversial and, truth be told, there is some gray area when it comes to social media marketing. I talked a couple weeks ago about the benefits of outsourcing website and blog content. However, social media is a different beast. Some things may be best outsourced while others should be kept in-house for the best results.

Hiring an Outside Provider

Many small businesses choose to hire an outside social media provider, which is fine and recommended. They keep posts frequent, organized and on time. It’s important to have regular, consistent activity on all your social media accounts. Outside social media providers will be especially good about providing general content, running contests, doing promotional posts and marketing your products and services. Their experience in target marketing and budgeting will also be vital if you are running any sort of online ad campaign or boosted posts on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Those are all very good reasons why you might want to hire an outside social media specialist to run the marketing side of your social media campaign. An expert will generate more exposure for your business and create more click-through opportunities with eye-catching posts.

Keeping Some Things In-House

On the other hand, however, there are advantages to keeping certain social media activities in-house. Beyond just exposure, social media should be about engagement. You want to start conversations while also getting shares and likes. You want to show what your company is all about. The marketing side of social media can convey a strong brand message, but the social side of social media needs to display your company’s personality.

This can be difficult for an outside provider to truly achieve because they are not at your place of business day in and day out. They aren’t directly interacting with customers and employees the way that someone who works in-house will. There is a lot to be said about these kinds of firsthand experiences.

Daily Activity

Perhaps the best example of this when it comes to social media is Instagram. Obviously, engaging photography is the key to success on this platform. Interesting photos posted every day will generate likes and spark comments that can lead to full-blown conversations. Someone working at the business every day will be much more in tune with daily activities that can inspire good Instagram photos. An outside provider posting stock photos or old photos you provided just won’t be able to accomplish the same kind of engagement.

Perhaps you are having a birthday celebration for an employee or you encounter a really cool success story with a customer. Perhaps you get in new products that you want to feature or maybe there is something interesting happening on a particular day (unusual weather, funny situations, holiday sales, etc.). Having someone there interacting daily and posting on social media can really show your company’s personality and that will help create stronger engagements on social media.

The Right Social Media Mix

As social media becomes more advanced and diverse, so too does the need for social media marketing. If you have the means to hire a full-time social media expert to work in-house, that is the ideal solution. Unfortunately, this is not in the budget for most small businesses. In these situations, the best approach is often a blend of outside expertise and in-house activity. This will give you the right combination of marketing exposure and social engagement.

To learn more about social media marketing and content management, contact NextGear Marketing today.