It's hard to believe that Halloween is right around the corner. My house is already decorated, my kid has already picked her costume, and we have a ton of candy to give away. And after that, in the blink of an eye, the holiday season will be in full swing. That means a whirlwind of activity, demands and busy schedules for businesses as well as consumers. Here are a few tips to simplify your customers' shopping experience this year (and convert more sales):

Published in The Marketing Edge

There have been many changes in the marketing industry during the past decade. These changes are rapid and demanding, meaning that marketers are continually running to catch up with the evolving environment. Just this week, for example, 'Mashable' published an article about Facebook's latest pitch to convince marketers that click-though rates are irrelevant, and that reach and frequency are more important. Another article from 'Search Engine Land' discusses the death of SEO. At the same time, 'Fast Company's' October issue featured an article by Wendy Marx commenting on the need to change from promotion to education marketing. These are only a few examples of the current challenges that B2B marketers are facing the list is in fact a lot longer.

Published in The Marketing Edge

A key part of any successful marketing campaign is clearly identifying your target audience. Crafting a message that speaks directly to your potential customers is equally important as the manner in which you reach them.

One way to start is by taking a look at your current customer base and dividing it into three columns: 'great,' 'OK' and those who cost you money to do business with (I'll leave it up to you to find a pet name for that group). Now, take a closer look at the list of those you selected as your 'great' customers. What makes them great? How much profit have they generated for your business in the past 12 months? How long has each customer been doing business with you? Do they pay on time? Are they in agreement with your business process policies? Are they willing to be of reference?

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 14:45

Do you have employees or brand ambassadors?

As a customer, how do you feel when you hear 'Next!' at a coffee shop, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, bank or doctor's office? Now, how do you feel when you are greeted with a smile and welcoming words like 'Good morning! How are you today?' The feeling of being welcome at a place, asked how you're feeling and greeted with a smile makes the experience much more memorable.

From a customer's perspective, there are two major factors that contribute to a memorable experience: the quality of your products or services and great customer service provided by engaged brand ambassadors. But what exactly is a brand ambassador?

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 14:47

Business lessons from an 8-year-old

Those who know me personally have heard a lot about my child - my pride and joy, and the source of many of my stories. This spring, I signed her up for Lemonade Day, a program that teaches kids basic business skills through running a lemonade stand. Unfortunately, due to a loss in our family, my daughter was unable to set up her lemonade stand on the designated day in June. Although time had passed since we read the Lemonade Day program book and filled out the forms, she kept the information in her mind during the summer.

My daughter came up to me last Friday with a business plan. Her ultimate goal is to buy an iPad, and as a smart kiddo who knows her math, she'd realized that she would not raise enough money with her lemonade stand alone. She had some ideas in mind to make her stand extra special by offering fresh, homemade lemonade and chocolate chip cookies for $0.50 each. 'With a dollar, you can have one of each,' she said, 'and most people have a dollar, right Mamma?' I was astonished at her grasp of how she should price her products, and her understanding that by making them affordable, she would attract more customers (in this case, our neighbors).

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 15:07

Become close friends with your web analytics

If your business has a website (as by all means, it should), you should be paying close attention to what your analytic reports are telling you. If used correctly, your web analytics can be a great source of insightful marketing information.

You don't have to spend a small fortune investing in costly analytical tools to get important traffic information. In fact, a great number of websites worldwide use Google Analytics a free tool provided by Google. Adding Google Analytics to your site is a simple process: First, sign up for an account. Google will provide you with a small bit of code to insert into your website's back-end (there are free tools to help you integrate the code into your Content Management System; or, ask your website's administrator to make the change for you). Then, you only need to wait a day or so for Google's servers to start recording your traffic.

Published in The Marketing Edge

Jay Goltz recently wrote a very interesting piece for the New York Times about becoming an entrepreneur, covering its pros and cons. To quote Goltz, 'entrepreneurs are definitely not normal people, and entrepreneurship is definitely not for everyone.' So, what exactly drives people into entrepreneurship?

Many factors, including a romanticized idea of freedom and success, lack of available jobs (my own reason for becoming one), creativity and talent that cannot be contained in a cube space, a need for flexible work hours, the over-rated desire to do things 'their way' (even though owning your own business rarely works that way) as well as many other factors. But why do so many of us jump into it, even when we know that the chances of failure are far greater than those of success? Well, Goltz already classified himself and fellow entrepreneurs as 'not normal' and I've known that about myself for a long time!

Published in The Marketing Edge
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 15:59

Making YouTube work for your business

At one time or another, we've probably all been distracted by a silly video of kittens or a quick 'how to' tutorial. From there, it's easy to find another funny video, and another, until 10 minutes later we find ourselves somewhere far from where we began. Based on 2011 statistics (which have likely changed by now) the average Internet user spends around 15 minutes per day on YouTube, with YouTube videos exceeding 2 billion views per day. Because of this, YouTube can be a great marketing tool provided you're doing it right.

The best part about YouTube is that it's free both for you and your viewers. Also, you can brand your channel with your organization's logo and colors, making it an extension of your website.

Published in The Marketing Edge
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