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Happy New Year! 2015 began well, with a long weekend for most of us. Time to pause, ponder and strategize for 365 new chances to grow and succeed! 2014 was an exciting year for social media marketing, and 2015 promises no less. There are many predictions out there about what we'll experience this year. Here are the four most important trends I think we should focus on this year:

Want to play? You've got to pay!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014 23:28

Five essential elements for success in 2015

Written by Cintia Miranda

I am writing this article on a fine Sunday evening, while enjoying a delicious glass of cabernet sauvignon wine. I am on 'vacation' (or something like that). As a small business owner, I never really go on vacation 100 percent, but I knew that was part of the deal when I decided five and a half years ago to become an entrepreneur. As I type these words I can't hide the grin that has been stamped on my face for a few days now. I had a wonderful year both personally and professionally - and 2015 will be even better, as long as I continue to do things right.

Do things right. Isn't that what life is all about? You're probably familiar with Confucius's Golden Rule of Reciprocity - an ethical code of morality that states that 'one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.' This rule can be applied in every single aspect of our personal and professional lives. As I grow older, I am becoming more appreciative of honest feedback, open conversations and blunt reality. The better I can see and understand my shortcomings (or those of my business), the greater my chances are to grow and better serve my clientele. As I take stock of my year and plan for 2015, five essential elements for success come to mind:

Contrary to popular belief, a marketing budget isn't a luxury; it's an essential investment into reaching your business goals. A precise marketing budget, with clearly defined spending strategies, ensures that your efforts make the greatest impact with the resources you have and for that reason, it's an indispensable part of a successful development plan.

A steady customer stream

Website designers know that people aren't going to spend much time on a website that's difficult to use. Good designers, in fact, pay attention to the ways their sites are typically viewed and adjust their work accordingly. In earlier days of the web, this meant restricting a site's width so that people with smaller monitors wouldn't have to scroll sideways to see everything, and avoiding the use of effects that were only available to users of a single browser (for example, Netscape Navigator was one of the only browsers available in the 1990s that supported blinking text).

Beginning in the 2000s with the introduction of large, flat-panel monitors and stable CSS, designers could breathe easy. Sites grew by leaps and bounds and were able to do some amazing things. What's more, a single, static website could serve desktop and notebook computers equally wellas had been the case for years. The rise of mobile browsing, however, has once again changed everything. Today, as much as 40 percent of all internet traffic takes place on mobile devices [Source: Marketing Land], and that number is only going to increase with each passing year.

Tuesday, 02 December 2014 20:52

Valuable marketing lessons from a small bakery

Written by Cintia Miranda

It stands to reason that when prospects finally reach the sale stage after months of careful nurturing, they're pretty well-informed (and confident) about what they're buying. The trick, though, is keeping them satisfied after that first sale so that they keep coming back for more and become brand ambassadors.

Loyal customers stick around because they find value in their experience be it the product or service by itself, convenience, price, customer service or simply a combination of all the above.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 22:11

Remember to shop local this holiday season

Written by Cintia Miranda

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is this week! Thanksgiving can be the most stressful holiday for many people. There's a lot of preparation, travel and anxiety surrounding this traditional American family holiday, plus the ensuing mad dash for holiday bargains before the turkey has even been properly digested. Gift shopping for everyone on our lists, planning the next holiday meal, decking the halls (and trees), all the while trying to keep up with our daily lives. It's exhausting! One way to escape the stress of the season is to make your shopping experience more enjoyable. Why not skip all the crazy, middle of the night, mad sales at those big box stores and replace that chaos with the pleasure of shopping at local, small businesses this season? You'll even have the energy left to savor a nice lunch or coffee out with a few friends and family members! Here are four great reasons to try a new shopping experience this year:

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 12:18

Tips to increase your B2B conversion rates in 2015

Written by Cintia Miranda

Anyone engaged in business to business (B2B) marketing and sales can attest that it is not an easy task. B2B requires research, marketing skills and aptitude, and - above all else - perseverance. As a small business owner, I perform both marketing and sales functions for my agency. This can be both challenging and insightful at the same time, and over the years I've learned a few helpful techniques in courting potential clients and working with them after conversion. Here are a few lessons I've learned along the way in my career:

It's no secret that holiday shoppers spend most of their time online these days if not actually making a purchase, then doing some product research before buying in stores. While an automated checkout may be fast and convenient, though, it doesn't replace the marketing value of personal relationships. In the long run, customers still appreciate a real, human connection over a faceless interaction. The more effort businesses make to treat their customers well on a personal level, the more likely those customers will keep coming back.

Showing appreciation

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 12:54

Watch out for these online marketing trends in 2015

Written by Cintia Miranda

It's definitely not too early to start thinking about your online marketing strategy for 2015. In fact, now that you have your holiday season strategy in place, it is the perfect time to define some objectives for the New Year. Here are a few online marketing trends that you'll want to include in your strategy for 2015:

  1. 1. Social media diversity. Obviously social media isn't going away anytime soon. In fact, there are new social apps being created constantly. Some of them catch on, and some of them don't. Chances are, though, if you're only using Facebook for your business, you're missing out on a large portion of your audience. Additionally, if you aren't monitoring your brand mentions on other platforms, you could be letting negative feedback harm your brand, or missing out on an opportunity to enhance positive feedback. In other words, explore other social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest. While they might not all be right for your brand, chances are branching out to these other platforms could give your brand a boost in 2015.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014 16:49

Get ready for Cyber Monday

Written by Cintia Miranda

Cyber Monday falls on Dec. 2 this year, and online shoppers are already working on their shopping list. How about you, small business owner? Are you ready for the busiest sales day of the year? You better be, or you'll be missing out on sales. Here's a check list to help you get your ducks in a row:

  1. 1) Your website - How easily found is your website? Think about it, the busiest sales day of the year revolves around the internet, so your website is your store and it should be looking splendid (yes, decorate it, too!). Big brands have been working for months now to make sure they show up on the top of search engine page results (SERPs), their best sellers are easily found, and their conversion process is easily completed in just a couple of clicks. If your site is clunky and not easily found, spend some time on it right now (yesterday would have been better) to improve your content, navigation and SEO. Also, it's a good idea to spend some money on Google AdWords to help you generate more traffic to your website. Trust me, people shop online for a reason convenience. They really don't want to work hard to buy from you.
  2. 2) Stock and delivery - If you did well last year on Cyber Monday, you should expect an increase this year as consumers get more adept at using their mobile devices to shop anytime, anywhere. In fact, retailers are expecting sales growth on Thanksgiving Day (while some nap after dinner, others watch football, and many shop!), Black Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Cyber Monday and Tuesday. That's right, six days of sales paradise! Shoppers are armed with their credit cards and primed to buy, but if you run out of stock or fail to deliver on time, your brand will suffer dramatically, so make sure you're ready to shine!
  3. 3) Have a sales plan - Shoppers will be looking for the best deals they can get, so spend some time to figure out how you can be competitive. Here's an example of a six-day promotion to consider:
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