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How aggressive marketing tactics can backfire on businesses

After considering how aggressive marketing tactics in our company could backfire, I offer you two examples of how aggressive marketing dissuaded me from purchasing a product I would likely have purchased otherwise.

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aggressive marketing tactics

Example one: aggressive magazine marketing

My subscription to a magazine I’ve subscribed to for a decade is approaching expiration. Every month for the past 6 months I’ve been getting paper direct mail letters asking me to renew, and wrappers on my magazines. Keep in mind this is something I’ve been a subscriber to for 10 years. I like the magazine, but this year, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to renew it (I’m cutting down on paper). Still, there was a chance I would renew. The barrage of paper really turned me off, as it kept coming with increasing urgency.

Then my last issue arrived. The cover wrapper screamed: LAST ISSUE. RENEW IT OR LOSE IT!

Hmmm. Perhaps I was reading too much into a cover wrap, but my knee jerk reaction was to skim through the magazine, rip out two articles I wanted to read, and toss the entire thing in the garbage. That’s what I do with the dozen or more paper magazines I get. I don’t have time to read them cover to cover, so I skim, rip tearsheets, and file for future reading. Toss the magazine.

Well this particular ultimatum sealed the deal. I can get what I need online from this magazine, so I won’t be renewing. I just don’t feel like it now.

Example two: educational webinars

I am constantly taking real estate courses, some designation courses, some not. I took a non-NAR designation class and I actually learned a lot. I signed up for the monthly webinars and was totally turned off when the leader gave us current market info each month, a technique or two to help the business, and then hammered over and over that more/better info would only be available for another fee, to get a higher level of the designation (the advanced version). I enjoyed the preliminary education and materials. But I didn’t want to pay the additional monthly fee to have the right to the advanced designation.

So when the year came up and it was time to renew the designation, I decided to pass. The emails kept coming: renew your designation OR ELSE. The OR ELSE started out friendly enough, positively listing all the benefits of being in their designation circle. Referrals, knowledge, online directory, database of info. Then, as the weeks went on, it got a little ugly. The final few emails were borderline threatening: if you don’t renew now, you must stop using our logo and our materials. Gee. Great. I don’t use logos on my marketing for all the designations I have anyway! No big loss.

Then I received a final, borderline angry email stating I was no longer a designation holder, and to immediately remove all marketing materials referencing their group from my business cards, flyers, website, etc. The implication was that printing new business cards and flyers would be more expensive than sending them their $99. All I could wonder was did this threat work on other people? Did some fall for this threat and see printing new cards more hassle than sending in the fee? I deleted the email.

How this applies to your business

Now, to get to my point – how are you marketing your services? Are you turning people off by threatening them that using your product or services is more dangerous than NOT hiring you? For example, I overheard a conversation between a home buyer agent and his client. He was asking the buyer to sign a buyer’s agency contract and said, “If you don’t sign this, I don’t represent you. I technically represent the seller. You don’t want me to represent the seller, you want me to represent you and your best interests. Otherwise, I won’t be able to look out for your own best interests in this deal.” Maybe that’s a true statement, but doesn’t it come off a bit like a threat?

I’ve seen ads and marketing on websites where fellow real estate agents list the negatives (rather than the positives) that come off as aggressive. They list what NOT listing with that agent will do to the seller, and what bad things could happen to FSBO sellers, for example. They list the dangers in being an unrepresented buyer. In creating urgency to sign that buyer’s agency form, they may unintentionally be scaring the buyer away from using their services, or at least turning them off.

Take a look at your marketing. What does it say about you and your services or products? Is it written in a positive, upbeat tone? Or an aggressive, threatening style? How would you respond if someone tried to sell you on their services using a threat?

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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