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I Knew It Wouldn’t Work

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Get Your Pom Poms Ready

I market to a small walkable neighborhood with a hyper-focused blog. It’s my own little petri dish. There are all forms of real estate – SFR, town houses, lofts rentals. There’s also a variety of restaurants, a chain grocery and coffee shops.

The task: Become the face of the community.

The question: How?

The solution: Recruit.

Surprise

I thought I was going to get kicked out on my keester, but I approached the businesses with a cheer: Reciprocity! R-e-c-i-p-r-o-c-i-t-y! I’ll market you – you market me. Something totally unexpected happened. They said yes. Huh? What? Yes, we’d love to.

Remarkably it wasn’t just the sole proprietors. The chains are jumping in too. And guess what? The big daddys have marketing departments. See the vision?

You go into a shop or restaurant in this little pocket carrying a discount card that I’ve delivered and sign your check with a pen with my blog address on it – oooh, I can hear the clicks on my blog now. They’ve tripled. Business yet? Nope. I’m not discouraged. I’m expanding to another neighborhood.

Get out there and network – make friends. This will work in your neighborhood too.

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    August 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    There are all kinds of ways you can do this, not just with restaurants.

    Rock on!

  2. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    August 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I LOVE the idea of reciprocity! I believe that other businesses that rely on referrals and word of mouth are the most understanding of this concept- hair stylists, maid services, interior designers, veterinarians and the like. Thanks for the inspiration, Vicki! 🙂

  3. Vicki Moore

    August 11, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Daniel – Out with it. Share your ideas man!

    Lani – I agree completely. This marketing project is one that I’ve had the most fun with. These businesses have been amazed that I want to help them – but it’s mutual. The first question they ask is how much. I also think that the economy has opened up people’s minds to new ways of growing their business.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    August 11, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Vicki – My broker actually just went with a similar idea for business cards. Our in house guy makes them cheap and they have 4 different discounts on the back…its a multi-use coupon basically. The only thing that stopped me from ordering them was the quality of the companies involved. I didn’t see the people I want to work with having a need for discounts at the places offered. Of course, this gives me an idea to strike out on my own and do some of this. I know of a couple of places in my local neighborhood that I think would be accepting of this sort of thing…and I could make it hyper-local at the same time. As Lani said, thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Brad Shaffer

    August 11, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    I absolutely love this idea. I am getting ready to launch two hyper-local blogs and websites with plans of incorporating restaurant and business reviews for the local area. This is a great way to further market your blog at a minimal cost. Fantastic!

  6. Paula Henry

    August 11, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I love success stories! This is great Vicki – chalk up another for ingenuity:)

  7. Vicki Moore

    August 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Matt- I’ve seen those cards and thought about them too. The company I looked into required that you recruit the businesses yourself. That’s a way to get who you want on the card.

    Brad- That’s fantastic. I hope you’ll come back and share your experiences with it. I think you’ll find that the businesses will appreciate your help.

    Paula – Thanks. I hope you’ll give it a shot too.

  8. Upstart Agent

    August 11, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    That’s a great idea! It’s always nice to not be flat out rejected all the time. You’ll have to let us know how it works out & if it brings any business.

  9. Mike Taylor

    August 11, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Good on you! I think there is a lot of power in these hyperlocal blogs. Keep at it, the business will come.

  10. Holly White

    August 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Fantastic work Vicki! The idea is to become a household name in the neighborhood and it looks like you’re on your way. High five!

  11. Vicki Moore

    August 11, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks guys. I don’t want to be alone in this. Let’s all do it! — or maybe you want to see if it works. 🙂 It’s only been about two months – about 4 impressions.

  12. Jamey Bridges

    August 11, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Vicki,
    I like it! I think it’s grass roots ( a little viral too) and I always think that those out in their farm and have a blog can have some of the greatest impact. I look forward to hearing about your conversions next 🙂

  13. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    August 12, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Think about this: what are the most popular entities in your community? They may be restaurants, but they may be rec centers, or they may be museums, or they may be farmer’s markets, whatever. Promote THOSE things to the rest of the community. Establish relationships with those who run or coordinate for them. Those are the folks who are most plugged-in to what is going on, and who know the most (and more importantly, the right) people.

    Take a page out of the Jeff Turner book and go and interview those folks, talk about them on your blog, share their stories with people. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and everyone who runs a store or a community center, or any sort of entity that relies on the community wishes that they could get their story out to more people. Use the voice you have to help enhance theirs.

  14. Ines

    August 12, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Love it! I did something similar but your idea is more clever. I wrote about the restaurant on my blog and in return asked for them to put a cling-on (one of those sticker-like thingies) that reads miamism.com to put on their front door or the approach to the restaurant.

    I find that many people find the restaurants from the blog, but not vise versa…..the reciprocity is not all that great. Thanks for the idea!

  15. Vicki Moore

    August 12, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Jamey – Ooo. Viral – I think I like the sound of that.

    Daniel – I like it. Gotta get out that Flipcam.

    Ines – I heard you mention that cling-on thing before – I think that’s brilliant. I hope this idea is something you can add to what you’re already doing so successfully.

  16. Matthew Rathbun

    August 16, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Awesome! Way to go get ’em

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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Business Marketing

7 simple tips to boost your customer loyalty online

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Without a brick-and-mortar store, building rapport and customer loyalty can be a challenge, but you can still build customer loyalty online.

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Man and woman at kitchen table online shopping on laptop together, boosting customer loyalty.

With many businesses – both big and small – operating online, there are less opportunities for building those face-to-face relationships that exist in brick and mortar stores. According to smallbizgenius, 65% of the company’s revenue comes from existing customers.

It’s important to keep in mind the different tactics at your disposal for increasing customer loyalty. Noupe recently released a list of actionable tips for increasing this loyalty. Let’s examine these ideas and expand on the best.

  1. Keep your promises – Stay true to what you’ve agreed to, obviously contractually, but stay true to your company values as well. Even if you feel you’ve built a good loyalty where there is room to take a step back, don’t rest on your laurels and be sure to remain consistent. If you’ve provided a good experience, keep that going. The only change that should happen is in it getting better.
  2. Stay in communication – In addition to the ever-so-vital social media platforms, consider creating an email newsletter to stay in touch with your customers. Finding ways to have them keep you in mind should be at the front of your mind. By reaching out and being friendly, this will help retain their business.
  3. Be flexible with payments – No, don’t sell yourself short, but consider installment plans for pricier items or services. This will help customers feel more at ease when their wallet’s health is at stake.
  4. Reward programs – Consider allowing customers to accrue loyalty points in exchange for a freebie. The old punch card method is still an incredibly popular concept, and is a great way to keep people coming back. The cost associated with giving something away for free will be minimal in comparison to loyalty you receive in order for the customer to get to that point. Make sure that what a customer is putting in is about equal to what they’re getting out of it (i.e. don’t have a customer spend $100 in order to get $1 off their next purchase). If all of this proves successful, this can eventually be expanded by creating VIP levels.
  5. Prioritize customer service – A first impression is everything. By prioritizing customer service, you can help shape the narrative of the customer and how they view your business. This splinters off into them giving good word of mouth recommendations to friends and family. Be sure to keep positive customer service as the forefront of your mind, as giving a bad review is just as easy – or even easier – as giving a good review.
  6. Value feedback – Allow customers a space to provide their feedback, either on your website or on social media. Find out what brought them to you and gage how their experience was. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and take it into consideration. Feedback – both good and bad – can be vital in helping shape a business.
  7. Avoid laziness – Stay sharp at all times. Don’t treat all customers as nothing but currency. Include personalized touches wherever you can. This will make all of the difference.

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