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The next big trend in social media marketing is something you already do

(MARKETING) All signs point to the next big trend in social media marketing being something you’re naturally adept at doing, but are you doing it well?

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We’ve had our finger firmly on the pulse of social media marketing since before it was even called social media.

We were excited to read “Why personalization is the next big trend in social media marketing” recently, detailing how the next must-have strategy for businesses is to focus on tailoring their messaging to their clients. The author provides a lot of great advice for how to go about doing this, but the sentiment behind this “emerging” trend may sound familiar – customers are more likely to engage with a brand that they feel values and remembers them (my words, not theirs).

This idea, of placing the user’s experience and needs, is a foundation not only of solid marketing but a cornerstone of excellent customer service in any industry, across the ages.

During high school, I worked at my small town’s public library. This was at the beginning of the 2000s, at the transition point between the old-school card catalogue and digital circulation systems. In this “analog” world, whenever someone came to the desk to check out their stack of books, we still ruffled through a cabinet to find their library card and could see a list of titles that they had taken home before.

We didn’t use the terms “user data” or even “database” back then, though that’s essentially what our record system was. Each patron’s file was almost a haiku of their interests in Dewey decimal. You could look over the card and discern whether someone was a fan of detective novels or gardening guides, but that intel wasn’t seen as marketing, we were just doing our job.

Over the year or two that I spent stacking shelves and checking out books to the families and friends that came through the doors, I got to know the various tastes of each patron. Knowing these interests allowed me and the other library workers to provide personalized recommendations. It was pretty reasonable to assume that if someone was into the Harry Potter series, they’d probably enjoy an author whose stories also involved teenagers, special powers, and faraway schools like Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books.

As a bookish girl (and let’s face it, I’m still a bookish woman), providing these individual suggestions was not only a professional service, but also an excellent retention technique. Generally, if you were able to get someone who liked reading to continue to reading (and feel excited about telling the person behind the circulation desk what they liked or didn’t like about the story), you could count on them coming back in a few weeks, thrilled to see what other adventures they could find among the stack. It was an effective, and touching, sales technique.

Our COO Lani Rosales had a similar experience as a teen, working at her family’s independent bookstore. Instead of having a patron’s book record to peruse, she independently kept track of customers’ preferences, birthdays, and other information they told her, using post-its. She tells me that she would even send handwritten thank you cards to customers, and these personal touches led to lasting relationships with customers who felt special, recognized, and known by the business.

The tools that we now use to keep track of this consumer data have grown more sophisticated, just as surely as the digital circulation system has replaced the card catalogue, but the basic concept remains true: people appreciate when others take the time to get to know them.

In an increasingly complicated and technical world, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that paying attention to your customer allows you the opportunity to be agile and provide the best products and services for them. But before the CRMs and apps that you may be employing to collect this data, before you even drafted your business plan and thought about how to design your logo, I would hazard a guess that you were already paying attention.

You’re smart, so you were able to see that there was a need or desire that wasn’t being addressed properly and then you had the drive to go out and fill that market. Keep listening, keep learning. Your customers will continue to love you if you do.

AprilJo Murphy is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of North Texas. She is a writer, editor, and sometimes teacher based in Austin, TX who enjoys getting outdoors with her handsome dog, Roan.

Real Estate Marketing

Open Design – rarely used in real estate, but boosts earnings

(OPERATIONS) Innovation is what keeps the industry alive, and Open Design improves the process, boosting the bottom line.

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As you begin executing your business goals set at the beginning of this year, it isn’t too late to considering embracing an emerging trend to help accelerate your innovations – Open Design. This refers to the practice of being transparent about the process of building products and services (without giving way too much of the final product).

It’s similar to the practice of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in higher education—sharing information and problems about your expertise, for free, with an interested community.

In many ways, Open Design aims to break down siloed industries and workers. By sharing information about how and why your business does what it does, Open Design actually reduces the amount of work your employees may have to re-do. The open access of the design system allows them to work beyond the traditional confines of their roles.

As creative and often specialized fields like design become increasingly open, the amount of “tedious” work that used to require attention is lessening.

Some of these mechanical tasks are becoming automated as a result of collaborative efforts in Open Design across industries and other times it is the result of interdepartmental collaboration within individual corporations.

open design

This evolution makes sense: if your web team gets feedback from your sales team that a certain process isn’t intuitive and that difficulty creates a bottleneck—they’d act on that feedback and eliminate the blockage.

Abstract reports that companies that focus on the streamlining of their design systems have revenues 32 percent higher than those that adhere to conventional methods.

Taking advantage of Open Design systems would allow your entire team to focus efforts on higher level problems rather than recreating the wheel with mechanical (and often easily programmable tasks) each time they need to begin a project. These cumulative, increasingly efficient efforts, can help your business scale.

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Real Estate Marketing

Can the ‘Blemish Effect’ improve your closing ratio?

(MARKETING) It may feel awkward to use the Blemish Effect, but it could mean more money in your pocket.

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Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible; if your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself.

Delivering something inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Real Estate Marketing

This AI robot wants to find leads for you

(MARKETING NEWS) It comes as no surprise that companies are figuring out ways to use AI for marketing. Let us introduce you to Albert, the AI marketer sure to help business boom.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the making its way into every sector, including marketing campaigns. One tool in particular has found a way to simplify modern marketing by taking over menial tasks to run completely autonomous and successful campaigns.

Just ask one of their major clients, Harley Davidson, who raised their sales leads by over 2000% after switching to AI marketing.

Albert is the self-described first ever AI marketing platform and enterprise. Albert learns as a company grows, and autonomously analyzes data and optimizes campaigns to gain new leads.

Although many other platforms like Google and Facebook offer their own autonomous marketing systems, our pal, Al, can work across all channels. That means no more checking every separate channel to get an overview of marketing insights.

Not only does this save time, but it also saves money.

In the present digital age, it makes sense to let AI do the heavy lifting. When it comes to marketing, AI software is able to use online interactions to determine possible leads. For Harley Davidson, Albert generated leads from a large pool of potential customers that made purchases in the past, added items to their cart through the online shop and spent a significant amount of time on the site.

From this larger group, Albert developed smaller groups of “lookalikes,” or potential buyers, and tested out campaigns before implementing them.

This allowed Albert to predict appealing headlines and visuals, while also making adjustments to language that had tested better.

For example, Albert replaced the word “buy” to “call” as a call to action sent in emails and newsletters for customers to find out more about Harley Davidson’s top products.

As Harley Davidson experienced, AI marketing like Albert have the ability to make more accurate decisions that increase revenue and save time. Unlike traditional marketing tactics, Albert can make decisions based on actual data versus just guesswork. Without the ability to analyze online behavior, companies end up underestimating their potential buyer demographics.

Our pal, Al, is able to widen that figure, finding leads that were not even considered, and thus generate more business. The best part is that it is all done autonomously.

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