Cintia Miranda

Cintia Miranda

edge contributor

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With so many marketing channels available and competing for your advertising dollars, it's hard not to fall into the trap of marketing fragmentation. Each advertising channel will offer a 'better solution,' with a 'higher ROI,' and 'guaranteed exposure.' These offers are, of course, very appealing to business owners and marketers coming out of a recession with an enormous thirst for business growth.

In reality, 'integrated marketing' is simply what good marketing should be! The over-use of the word 'integrated' has turned it into another buzzword. Any good marketer knows that consistency is the most important ingredient in a successful marketing campaign.

To test how integrated or effective your marketing program is, take a look at all of your campaigns and see if they are all communicating the same message. Marketing integration is a lot more than using your brand's colors, logo and tagline. As a matter of a fact, unless you're Apple, Google or IBM (the top three most recognizable brands in the world, according to an Accenture report) most people will not remember this information if asked on the spot to describe your brand.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:44

Marketing spring cleaning

According to research conducted by Forrester Research, B2B firms have seen an average increase of 6.8 percent in their allocated marketing funds this year as compared to 2011. This budget expansion is a reassuring sign that the economy is picking up and B2B organizations are beginning to see substantial growth in revenue giving their marketing efforts an invigorating boost of capital.

After a few years of marketing budget drought, the new challenge for B2B marketers is figuring out the best ways to invest their funds. Although an increase of 6 percent or more may sound amazing, some of these budgets had been slashed to the bone and even with the increase, funds haven't yet returned to the point they were at five or six years ago.

As an agency, we suggest that our clients begin by taking a close look at their marketing activities. Nothing works better than developing a fresh marketing plan to assess where your business stands versus where you want it to be, and how you'll get there. This exercise is invaluable. Having a realistic view of where your business is positioned in the market in relation to your competition is the best reality check.

Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:39

Analyzing the success of your SEO program

Having a well-designed website doesn't mean that your organization has secured a visible web presence. In order to ensure that your website is highly 'discoverable,' you must invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website in search engines via 'natural' or unpaid ('organic') search results.

SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time deal, and it requires maintenance in order to remain effective and ensure a return on your investment. Measuring the success of your program on a regular basis will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as ways to address them. Therefore, it is important to run regular stats reports on your website's traffic so that you can compare its performance each time you make any changes to your program.

Ultimately, as with any other marketing undertaking, the goal of an SEO investment is to increase conversions whether your goal is to sell a product or service, recruit followers to a cause, or distribute news.

Pinterest is a fast-growing social platform that can be used to store and share images associated with your brand. It can be also helpful in driving traffic to your website, and can serve as a powerful link building technique to support your current SEO program.

The cool thing about Pinterest is that it is overwhelmingly positive in nature. People don't pin complaints, or negative interactions - they pin their passions.

According to a research conducted by Internet Marketing Inc, 80 percent of Pinterest's users are female. Seventy-five percent of all users are between 25 and 54 years of age; they are well educated (85 percent have some level of college education), and with an average annual household income of $50k or more.

The U.S. economy is getting better I can tell. After four dry years, business is finally picking up, and small business owners are able to invest in marketing once again. That is not to say that as a country we're fully rolling - but there is light at the end of this long recession tunnel.

The best thing about tough economic times is that we are forced to learn how to become more frugal and use our dollars more wisely. This is also true when it comes to marketing your business. 2012 marketing budgets are not at 2007 levels yet, but they have been steadily increasing.

There are many creative ways to effectively stretch your marketing budget in order to gain more exposure. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

I recently read and shared on my Facebook page an article by Janine Popick on Inc. Magazine about business meeting etiquette. The time of the article was serendipitous, because I had just attended three consecutive seminars where a great number of people in the audience seemed to be elsewhere rather than fully present at these meetings.

When I read Popick's article, I felt relieved as I realized that I wasn't alone in thinking that the more gadgets we acquire, the more socially inept we seem to become. The basics of business etiquette should be applied in every business occasion (including in-house meetings or in any informal business context). When exactly did we stop being courteous during meetings? Here are my pet peeves:

Arrive on time Being punctual is a simple matter of respect for the presenter and your fellow attendees.

Make eye contact If someone is speaking, look at them. Don't stare at your cell phone or iPad or doodle on your notepad or napkin.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 16:42

QR Codes: How much is too much?

The over-use of QR codes has become something of a running joke around our office. We have seen them on TV commercials (we're still trying to figure out how anyone has enough time to launch an app and scan a code that only appears on-screen for a few seconds) business cards that have no information other than a logo and a QR code (which give the prospect no incentive or context to encourage them to learn more), mattresses tags with a QR code and no price (which creates a higher barrier to entry for customers), and the best of all QR codes that do not work at all (which nearly guarantee a prospect will not make a second attempt).

So, I have been asking around: How many times have you scanned a QR code from a TV ad? Do you prefer to receive a business card with a QR code, or does that trendy boxed code become a barrier to sales conversions? Not surprisingly, the results of my survey mostly conducted on friends over a good glass of wine indicate that many organizations might be overusing QR codes. Perhaps this happens simply because they are currently 'cool' and in-vogue, and businesses want to capitalize on a growing trend.

Small business owners and sales people are usually very good at summing up the benefits of their products/services in a way that triggers the start of a more in-depth conversation. This skill, also known as "the elevator pitch," has been in practice for many years, and it can pave the road to successful business development that is, if you have a winning message.

The main purpose of an effective elevator speech is to capture your audience's attention quickly. Following are some ideas to help you craft a new elevator speech or check if your current one is as good as it can be:

1. Always begin with your name, job title and affiliation

2. Explain your business offer and how your audience could benefit from it think value or solution to a need.

3. Explain with carefully chosen words what sets your business apart from the competition what makes you unique, and why should the listener care?

There is a belief in the business world that if you give too much information to potential customers, they will not have a reason to inquire about your products or services, which in turn might lead to a decrease in sales.

Another fear some organizations have is in regard to delegating content marketing to a third party. They feel that their content needs to be on-topic and written by an expert in the field. However, because content writing is time consuming for their staff, new marketing content is rarely produced.

In reality, a good content writer can write about nearly any topic. In my career as a marketer, I have often been amazed by the quality of content that gifted writers can produce in fairly short notice. Skilled writers are capable of doing the necessary research and writing with a fresh and engaging perspective, leaving out the jargon and technical acronyms frequently used by people highly immersed in a specific topic.

In today's increasingly social media-driven world, user endorsement is key. Sure, a well-targeted and attractive advertising campaign can increase your brand's exposure and promote growth, but nothing inspires action in a person as well as an endorsement from their friends, family or co-workers. In fact, it's one of the primary ways people differentiate between truly valuable content and spam in an online realm that has become saturated with promotions, promises and often-desperate sales pitches. This is the principle behind viral marketing and business growth: Users share content through social networks and content aggregators, and that content becomes popular because of already-established trust between the people sharing and the people seeing what their friends have shared.

Facebook, understanding that user-driven connections have the potential to produce more successful advertising campaigns (and therefore happier advertising customers) than general targeted ads, expanded its feature set to include what they call Sponsored Stories. But how do they work? How can you best use them to promote your brand? In order to answer those questions, we need to take a look at the four types of Sponsored Stories Facebook offers: Domain, Page Like, Page Post, and Check-In stories.

Domain Stories are intended to drive traffic to your business's website. When a user is logged into Facebook, visits your website, and 'likes' it, Facebook generates a sponsored news feed (or sidebar) story announcing the 'like.' Because Domain Stories take users directly to your website, they are a great way to boost online sales and generate leads.

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