Cintia Miranda

Cintia Miranda

edge contributor

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Like most marketers, I know that audience research is crucial for an effective strategy. So, as I begin working on a campaign, I try to get as much hard data as possible about my client's target market. Most of my clients are able to provide me with some form of information, but sometimes what we receive is not entirely accurate (especially when it comes in form of anecdotal data), or is no longer an accurate representation of what the client's target audience wants from them. In those cases, I try to take things one step further and reach out to the audience directly. After all, research can only be effective if the trends you uncover are truly relevant to your own unique market.

This past week, I had the opportunity to run three focus groups for one of our clients. During the campaign development phase leading up to these focus groups, my team had had access to some great information about our target audience including data from well-known and reliable sources, as well as industry studies available to our client to guide us in shaping our message and creative materials. We crafted some beautiful pieces with strong content. Based on what these studies had told us, we felt that our work would communicate well with our audience and both my team and my client felt confident about the end product.

Every small business owner knows that the key to continued success is the ability to change and adapt to the needs of the market. Business failures can serve as great learning opportunities, and past victories can set the stage for new ones. But sometimes, you get stuck in a rut. You push and pull, but nothing moves. When this happens, many business owners instinctively keep doing what they've done in the past, in hopes that what used to work will continue to work. However, this practice can often lead to a plateau or worse a decline in revenue. Here are some tips for what to do when your company gets stuck in a rut:

Don't be afraid of change 

It's easy for business owners to become complacent. After all, the familiar can be comfortable even if it's largely ineffective. For example, suppose your business sends an email to prospective clients every month. You've been doing it for years despite a relatively low return on your investment, but you keep on with it because the email is quick to update and inexpensive to deploy. But have you thought of trying something new? After all, there are many ways to communicate with your prospective customer base. Regardless of your situation, don't be afraid to change what you're doing if the results aren't there. Try testing a variety of prospecting methods and track your results. Your bottom line will thank you for the extra effort.

I love to play chess. I play it often with my daughter, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing her strategizing against me. Studies have proved that playing chess enhances kids' learning skills in math, science and technology. There is also a huge correlation between chess tactics and entrepreneurial skills. For me, it's no surprise to learn that so many young chess masters go on to become successful entrepreneurs later in life.

The practices of thinking strategically, analyzing a landscape of options, accurately weighing the consequences of each move and thinking ahead about potential moves in the future are all essentially what successful entrepreneurs do. In a game of chess, you learn from your own mistakes and benefit to recognize move patterns and blunders made by your opponent which become strategic knowledge for your own use in future moves.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 21:47

Why Apple's colorful iPhone 5C is a crazy hit

It's almost mind-boggling to watch people go nuts over the new iPhone 5C. Apple's newest device can be pre-ordered now, with an estimated delivery date of Oct. 4 but aside from a minor OS upgrade and better camera, Apple's new marketing model simply revolves around a set of vibrant colors and a plastic case. Now, you may ask, who really needs a new colorful phone badly enough to go as far as pre-ordering one? 

Quite a few people, apparently. In fact, the yellow phone is as much of a hit as the old Sony Sports Walkman was in the '90s it's already sold out for the first delivery date. So, perhaps Apple's focus on style doesn't satisfy a need but it certainly makes a fashion statement.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013 21:36

What is the job of a marketer?

I recently had a professional approach me and ask me what a marketer really does. That question caught me off guard. Before I became a professional marketer even as far back as high school the field of marketing had always been crystal clear to me, and I wasn't really sure how to answer. One of the greatest things about growing older, however, is that moments like this make us stop and ponder an idea without the bias of a young ego. Do people 'get' what I do, I wondered? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Marketing is a challenging profession. Not everyone understands or appreciates the work involved, and many people think they can do it on their own as well a professional can (this is the greatest pet peeve of every professional marketer). What really sets a professional marketer apart from an amateur, however, is the depth of research and data they must devour before creating a campaign. Marketers are tasked with the responsibility of researching and analyzing a market (or multiple markets), prior to creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offers (products or services) that have value to their respective target audiences. In fact, the most important tasks of marketing take place during the research, analysis and strategy phases - way before any advertisement is conceived. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 22:40

Why you should consider volunteer work

Whenever I list all the volunteer positions that I hold, the first response I get is usually, 'How do you find time to do all of that?' And my answer is always the same: I make the time. No, I don't have super powers or time-travel devices, and I don't run on three hours of sleep at night. The truth is, I get a jolt of good energy when I do something for a random stranger with no expectations for any kind of return and that kind of satisfaction is its own reward. 

Volunteering is a great public relations opening but it's also personally fulfilling. I have volunteered in many positions over the years: working with slum kids in Brazil, supporting the community as a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Massachusetts, helping Maine entrepreneurs tackle their marketing challenges as a SCORE counselor, sitting in on a few business/non-profit committees and boards and, most recently, leading a Girl Scout troop (my newest gig, at which I'm having a blast!). And no matter what mission I'm following, it's always an enriching experience. Volunteering makes me appreciate the people around me and the world we live in. It exposes me to different realities, which makes me more aware of and sensitive to challenges I would never have encountered otherwise. Most importantly, volunteer work has helped me become a better marketer, a better business owner, a better mother and a better friend in essence, a better person.

Tuesday, 03 September 2013 22:55

Five ways to boost off-page SEO

Off-page search engine optimization (SEO) plays a huge role in your website's potential to be 'discovered' online. The more relevant, authoritative inbound links you have on other websites, the higher your page will rank with Google and other search engines. All SEO is a process, however, and success doesn't happen overnight. Here are a few ways to get started with an effective off-page SEO strategy:

Create quality, engaging content. Any content you post online be it a blog, article, image or video should be relevant and interesting to your audience. More importantly, it should provide value. Readers engaged by your content will more likely want to link back to your website to learn more about your brand. Don't add content just for the sake of having more pages; focus on adding real value.

Your website is one of your most powerful marketing tools. Without engaging, compelling content, however, even a spectacularly-designed website can fall flat.

Well-crafted website content plays a huge role in attracting and educating visitors, as well as maintaining search engine visibility so that online users can 'discover' you. In fact, your content may be the most important aspect of your website one that can make or break your brand in a customer-centric market.

In the scheme of online marketing, getting people to visit your website is only half the battle. Once they've arrived, you need to keep them there. Effective layout, design and usability are all key to a website that engages your audience and inspires conversions.

On the other hand, a confusing, unattractive or poorly designed website can result in users leaving without exploring anything beyond your home page - and worse, never coming back. Whether you're building a new website or enhancing your existing one, you need to create a positive user experience at both functional and aesthetic levels.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 20:03

10 ways to get the most from your website

1. Know the aim of your site. Are you trying to sell products or services? Provide information? Create a web portal? Whatever your goal, every page on your site needs to serve that common purpose.

2. Lay out logical menus and organization. Great content is meaningless if no one can find it. Take the time to outline your sitemap and menu and structure your pages in the best way possible.

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