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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?

Written by Cintia Miranda

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.

Wednesday, 04 April 2012 15:20

How to craft a winning elevator speech message

Written by Cintia Miranda

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.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 14:46

How to create a memorable tagline for your brand

Written by Cintia Miranda

The job of a tagline is to communicate what your brand represents in a clear and concise manner. Therefore, creating a memorable tagline is very important step in positioning your brand and of course, it can evolve along with your business to reflect changing market trends and industry focus.

Taglines are extremely valuable. An effective one can be a great marketing tool that helps keep your brand on peoples' minds. A few examples of memorable taglines include:

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 13:36

Does your marketing agency deliver what they promise?

Written by Cintia Miranda
The marketing world is changing at very fast pace, and many organizations - including marketing agencies - are struggling to catch up. I recently attended a marketing seminar where I noticed that many of my peers were talking about being challenged by their current and prospective clients about cost and performance.

It seems that being a marketer has become fashionable - perhaps even a fad - lately. People with little or no qualifications have opened their 'agencies' (often in their homes) and are promising the world amazing returns - typically via social media. But how can a customer have confidence that they are doing business with qualified professionals if a marketer has no credentials? Of course, one can learn on the job, but would you trust a doctor without credentials? How about a lawyer? Prior to becoming a marketer, I spent eight years of my life in a university classroom pursing my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and have continued to invest heavily in my professional development over the past 15 years.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:57

Excessive charges ultimately lead to loss of revenue

Written by Cintia Miranda

We all hate being nickel and dimed by service providers. I am one myself, and yet I still cannot see a justification for excessive charges. I often tell people about my experience with a daycare center in Massachusetts. This particular facility had a late pick-up fee charged in increments of 5 minutes, no questions asked. If we were late for any reason (stuck in Boston traffic, or if there was a car accident in front of us) even if we called and explained the situation the owner of the daycare center would promptly place a bill for the late fee in my child's cubby the following morning. It drove my husband and I nuts, as we both had extensive commutes to and from work and made every effort to be timely.

In the past, I have struggled with a few service providers over the high charges they levy for emails and phone calls. If you ask someone a question via email, does their response merit an invoice (sometimes for a full hour at their going rate)? You would think not and yet many providers do just that. It seems to me that this behavior teaches customers not to reach out to their service providers for fear of excessive charges, which in turn leads to less work for those same providers.

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 09:20

Website Design and Development 101 Series Part 3

Written by Cintia Miranda
Demystifying rich media

The first two articles in this series covered traditional HTML/CSS websites and content management system (CMS) websites. If you missed the past two articles, you can find them under the Biz section of The Maine Edge online. This week, we'll cover the strengths and weaknesses associated with using rich media on your website. Ian Marquis, Pulse Marketing's web designer, is the major contributor for the articles in this series.

Text has always been the primary means of transmitting information on the web. After all, HTML was initially conceived as a means of formatting and displaying documents. But the web has grown, and copy is no longer the only way to convey ideas. As browsers improved and connection speeds increased, a whole host of rich media (including video, audio and Flash) emerged as viable means of augmenting your website - and they are only becoming stronger with each passing year. But how do they stack up? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Read on and find out.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 10:34

Website design and development 101 series part 2:

Written by Cintia Miranda
All about content management systems

Last week, we talked about traditional HTML/CSS websites (if you missed that article, you can still read it online), and why they still have a place on the web. In that article, we touched on some of the areas where newer technologies have allowed for more streamlined control over your content and assets, and the use of more powerful frameworks. This week, we're covering content management system (CMS) websites. Ian Marquis, Pulse Marketing's web designer, is the major contributor for the articles in this series.

First things first: What exactly is a content management system? In short, a CMS is a platform that allows a website to be managed by one or more non-technical users, with varying degrees of access. It is a 'back end' to a website - a side that only internal staff see. A great many popular websites are built upon CMS frameworks (such as WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, and Mambo), and the technologies are only becoming more polished and refined as years go by. But what can you do with a CMS? What are the strengths of building and maintaining such a website? Let's have a look:

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