Speak Quietly – I’m Nursing a Colossal Headache.
After a reader read my rant last week, “R U Networking or NOTworking,” he sagely challenged me to try a day of face-to-face marketing. (For those of you who cannot recall what that is, it involves getting out of your chair.) Moron that I am, I accepted his challenge and headed out onto the mean streets of Los Angeles to solicit clients. This is the bizarre story I barely lived to tell:
8:00 am: I pop out of bed. (That’s early for us showbiz types.) After donning my fake designer duds I head out the door of my Hansel-and-Gretel-size overpriced house, jump into my leased Mercedes, wave to my stoned neighbor, try to back over a slow-moving kid (hey – this is L.A., not Iowa – speed or bleed!), and serpentine down Laurel Canyon with throngs of other Los Angelinos who feel that driving should never distract them from texting. Twenty minutes later, I finally arrive at Rite-Aid Drugs, which is practically walking distance to my house.
9:30 am: I run into Rite-Aid to grab a few of the props I will need for marketing: 1. Red Bull. (I do not drink caffeine because my synapses are already challenged, but I must have it visible in my car in order to look cool.) 2. Gourmet dog cookies and 3. Pepper Spray, which the somnolent salesclerk insists they don’t sell. When I tell her I am about to embark on direct marketing and ask if the store sells firearms, she threatens to call the manager. I slip out the door before the manager/actor/bartender/waiter can find me and assault me with a head shot.
Let The Games Begin!
9:45 am: Outside the store a group of people have congregated. With utmost confidence, I approach the group and hand out my business cards, offering to price their homes or answer any questions they may have, as though I am the Oracle of Re-fi. One guy asks me if I will marry him and have his demon spawn, and another turns his back on me and pees on a nearby newspaper stand. (Apparently my pitch needs polishing.) After an old lady with a shopping cart full of broken dolls offers me a toke off her joint, I conclude that this is not my target audience and move on, making a mental note to purchase a bean bag gun.
10:00 am: I walk next door to the Griddle, a popular Hollywood hang for the industry folks. (Yes I would have driven the 50 yards to live up to the stereotype, but in this town, a parking spot is harder to get than a great review.) I chat it up with a friendly crowd who are all waiting for tables. Clever person that I am, I offer their dogs cookies whenever a furry head pops out of a gazillion dollar purse. Eventually I come out of the closet and announce that I can satisfy all their real estate needs 24-7. That’s right, my new BFFs, I am a virtual CNN of Real Estate!
All of a sudden, the group collectively breaks into riotous laughter. A few actually bend over, grasp their sides and guffaw. Noticing my baffled expression, someone in the crowd finally wheezes, “We’re writers and actors – mostly unemployed. We can’t afford s__t!”
“But your expensive dogs…and your Tag Heuer watches…,” I weakly protest.
“We’re dog walkers, lady, and the watches are swag from luxury parties where we host or tend bar…”
“But, but…the Prada bags…”
“Gorgeous, huh?” one coiffed guy squeals, “Isn’t mine divine? I may be unemployed, but I look HOT. Image is everything,” he intones, as though it’s a moral imperative.
Feeling a bit defeated, I slink away with my Ebay bag and my unwanted business cards, still determined to find my audience.
Fools Rush In
10:30 am: The HUB (Hollywood Unemployment Brigade) continues to laugh as I crawl into my car, which is now covered in crow crapple, and drive away. I pop a can of Red Bull and chug the evil beverage as I drive past them, just to let them know I’m hipper than I seem.
I make my way to the Santa Monica Freeway and head for a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, confident that I will find my target group. While speeding along the freeway at a neck breaking 10 miles an hour, I manage to get two dates, one donut tossed through my window, and a Lane Four Nap.
12:00 pm: I arrive at the Sheraton refreshed and ready to hustle. By now my lips are stuck to my teeth as a result of a 7.5 Richter Scale Red Bull rush, and several people are moving back from me to keep a safe distance. I am sure I hear someone call me, “Sybil,” as I inadvertently do my impersonation of Jim Carrey in The Mask. With one perfectly manicured thumbnail, I manage to peel my lips off my teeth and forge on.
After a quick meet and greet, we all sit down to a “healthy” luncheon that actually scares me… I’m told that the red mass on my plate is a beet, tofu and egg white quiche, but I am convinced the chef accidentally severed an appendage and bled into the egg whites. After biting down into what has to be a finger, I push aside my swill and get down to business.
How to Close a Deal With Minimal Blood Shed
I am proud as I press hands and put a personal face on my business plan, as opposed to social networking from my reclusive inner sanctum. I am amazed at the flurry of cards being tossed into the center of the table like chips in a high stakes poker game. There are cards with color, embossing, gold edging, photos, corners burned with a match for effect (seriously), and even one with a pop-up cake. (Mine is a simple little tri-fold, four color number with a hologram of me holding a sign that says I’ll Hustle My Bustle For Your Biz. If you press the bubble next to my sparkling teeth, the card plays Hooray for Hollywood! You may have noticed that I am never subtle.)
The girl across the table reads my card and suddenly stiffens. Her eyeballs dilate as her body screams, “OMG – ANOTHER AGENT!” Several more bodies at the table stiffen in rapid succession. Only one man, a judge, seems unfazed. All eyes turn to the hapless judge in hunger. He clutches his heart, shrinks in his chair, and prepares for the assault. I know it’s going to be a pissing contest that no one will win. A scarred veteran of Agent Wrestling, I forfeit the game. As I prepare to leave, Short Sale Sally, who is sitting next to me, shoves me aside and practically squeals at the thought of one less jackal on the judge’s carcass.
“Here, you can have my quiche,” I say as I leave, “And I am giving you the finger, too.”
Mea Culpa, I Havta Gulpa
4:33 pm: After another road trip home that is so long it practically requires an airdrop food mission, I drag my sorry self through the door. There, in peaceful Laurel Canyon, I kick off my shoes, change into my refugee clothing, and fire up my computer to wait for my social networking friends to check in. Gleefully, I talk to a thousand people via Twitter, Facebook and Agent Genius, and no one threatens to pee on my leg.
Slowly, carefully, I eat most of my words about the evils of social networking and admit to my war torn self that I simply must find a happy medium between FTF and KTK before I am KIA.
6:42 pm: My fingers mechanically type the following phrase: Mea Culpa, Ima Dopa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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