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How You Can Find New Customers by Capitalizing on Big Events

With this post, I am referring to not marketing your own event, but rather taking advantage of big events around you. Grand Rapids has many great opportunities for event marketing, but my favorite one is Art Prize. Art Prize is a 19-day event where many artists display their art throughout the city. The event was created by Rick De Vos, and this was the 9th year for the event. The event is free and each year approximately 500,000 people visit the city. Many restaurants, stores museums, etc. host pieces, actually 175 venues are participating this year!

There are many different ways to market your business including sampling, literature drops, handouts, and giveaways, but before you try any of them make sure that you check out local laws and get necessary permissions. Work with the event or venue to make sure any branding you use is correct, and that you have permission to use logos, hashtags, etc.

Why should you piggyback off other events to market your business?

Interacting with a large local event is a great way to connect with new audiences and to be able to wow them with their first impression of your company.

The core principles of marketing are connecting with the right audience at the right time. The event is a great way to make that initial connection. While this audience may not be at this particular event to find your business if that first impression was memorable and you give them a reason to return you will have a gained a loyal customer. If you are able to capture contact information or Facebook likes you have the perfect opportunity to continue the conversation with your new audience.

Ok, so how can you capitalize on this big event?

Most event organizers have created Twitter and Instagram hashtags for their events. To capitalize on this hashtag you could do something like offering 20% off dinner during the event when the customer shows the tweet that says #event. You have now reached your audience as well as anyone who is looking for information on that event by searching the hashtag. Instagram hashtags can allow you to do similar promotions, but with a more artistic and visual flair. I would recommend making sure that whatever hashtag you use is that it is not trademarked and unavailable for use by anyone outside of the organization or that the hashtag has been banned by the platform. Always be sure to follow platform rules when it comes to offering discounts, prizes or contests.

Take advantage of using your own social media channels to promote the larger event and let everyone know how you are participating in it. If I were one of the venues hosting an art piece I might document the installation, interview the artist, allow the artist to take over my Instagram page, or offer opportunities to meet the artist. Think of ways to promote the event and draw people to your location. I also like to recognize my audience that has been with me for some time. This could include inviting them to a small, intimate get together with the artist or offering a deeper discount that is being offered to new fans. The event is a great time to capture email addresses or ask an entirely new audience to follow your social channels, and then for you to be able to provide your new fans with amazing content and information.

There are certain events that swag with your company name would be used and seen by almost everyone at the event. More and more events are requiring that any bag that is brought into the venue must be clear. If you are able to hand out clear backpack in the parking lot of the event, many people would choose to use that to bring their belongings in. How would many tailgating fans refuse a can koozie with your logo on it? Events such as car shows, bridal shows, and even Art Prize have many handouts for those that attend. A nice drawstring bag will be used over and over again allowing for an even more expanded reach of your brand.

If you would like to do a mini-event within the event (such as the street party mentioned below) let the media and any local influencers know. Invite the influencers to attend and offer to cover admission or travel expenses to the event. Check to see if there are local social calendars such as Experience GR here in Grand Rapids and get the event featured on these calendars. Keep in mind that many local TV and radio stations and news outlets have calendars that you can add your event to. Here again, utilize your social media channels such as live-Tweeting or creating a Facebook event which is updated often to create excitement leading up to the day. Thank your attendees and vendors after the event and respond to all comments on your post. These actions will show Facebook that your posts are relevant and timely which will give your posts a boost without having to pay for boosting or ads.

Outstanding Marketing Examples from Art Prize 2017

There have been some great examples of businesses promoting themselves in tandem with the event this year. Founders Brewery has been creating a special brew that celebrates the festival for many years, and this year they created Green Zebra which was quite different from the typical Founders beer in that it was a gose-style ale brewed with watermelon and sea salt – yes I took that directly from Founder’s website. This was a delicious beer that we are trying to get our hands on again before it disappears. Wheelhouse Kitchen created an Art Prize menu including drinks, appetizers, and entrees that were inspired by the works of art that were displayed at the restaurant. Another favorite of mine was that Sundance Grill hosted an Art Prize Street Party that featured Green Zebra, craft cocktails from Long Road Distillery and live music. Long Road Distillery is outside of the typical Art Prize zone but found a great way to participate in the event and get their name out into the community.

Whatever forms of marketing you choose, have fun and create a memorable experience and your audience will grow and return to do business with you.

How to Craft Killer Product Releases That Make Your Reporters Thank You

If you read my post regarding Press Releases, one of the takeaways could be that it can be a pretty informal document.  This is true if you know the reporters you are reaching out to.  Since you have cultivated personal relationships with your local reporter you know what their likes, dislikes, and needs are and can craft your release to meet those needs.

A Product Release should be a more formal document and should include several key pieces of information.  Your Product Release is often sent to national, industry-specific publications that expect certain information to be available to them.  So how can you craft a killer product release that your reporters and editors will thank you for?  Try to include the following:

  1. A killer headline.  Everyone has a new widget, and everyone’s is the best or new and improved.  Why is your new product worthy of a press release?  What is it that makes your product special?  Call that out in the headline.
  2. Who is it for and how does it help them.  For example, explain that this new machinery is going to cut production time by 20%  and reduce the chance of error by 15% for the garment industry. This will allow for a more consistent product to be sent to consumers and the supplier will be able to meet demand quicker. This information should be your first paragraph.
  3. Now back it up – your claims that is…  What testing has been done? Are there any case studies that can be included? Here is the tough part – don’t fill the release with industry-specific jargon.  You need to be able to communicate your new item so that the average person can understand it.  As a communicator, you need to know this information as well as the engineer.  Take it from Einstein:

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

  1. Include a story.  Make your product relatable to your target market. For example, an unknown designer has a successful showing at Fall New York Fashion Week. Unable to keep up with demand from Nordstroms, he purchased our machine to help cut fabric at a quicker pace, with more accuracy, allowing him to fulfill the order and exceeding expectations. 1800 pieces were delivered within 3 months.  Had he employed old methods, he would have only been able to deliver 300 pieces in this time frame.
  2. Specs and technical information.  Include this information as well, but don’t give away any trade secrets!  Keep it is as simple terms as possible and double check for accuracy.
  3. Include company information.  There is typically a paragraph at the end of a release that gives background information.  This should be consistent across all releases and all departments.
  4. Contact info.  Make sure it is right and make sure that person is available and the correct person to be talking about this product.

 

There you have it!  Reporters want to tell your story, and if you make it easy for them to find the information they need and to be available for follow-up questions, you will have crafted a killer release that reporters love.

Crafting the Perfect Press Release

Every business has a story to tell and it should be told, but sometimes crafting the perfect press release is a daunting task. Should I write it or pay for someone to write it?  What should be included?  What format does it need to be in?  Who should I distribute it to? Am I going to reach the right person who will want to pick up my story?  These are all valid questions, but the most important one is left out.  

Is it NEWS?

If your story is newsworthy it will practically write itself.  Trying to find an interesting way to say that you have hired a new business manager is going to be agonizing because unless you’re a Fortune 500 business, no one cares that much.  Well maybe the new manager’s mother, but that does not warrant a press release.  This type of news may get you a mention in the local paper’s business section or a local business publication, but that information can be sent to the publication in a quick email. There’s really no need for a press release, but still be sure to include all relevant information.

Who is going to pick up your story?  That’s not that hard to figure out either, but it does take time and relationship building.  How do you do this?

Get to know your contacts

Small businesses typically operate within a certain market.  Pay attention to who writes about your industry or who reports about your industry in your market.  Get to know them by doing things that are as simple as following them on social media and interacting with them, or inviting them to coffee just to get to know them.  Pick their brains and find out how they like to receive their information.  Do they want to be contacted via email, text or social media?  Don’t pitch your story on the first meeting – just build a relationship with them. And in the future, don’t take advantage of that relationship you have created.  Pitch your story and let the reporter decide how she is going to run with it.  She may find a different angle that she thinks her readers will find more interesting.  Go with that and be as helpful as possible providing accurate information in a timely manner.  Remember she has a deadline.  Oh – and know what those deadlines are.  A local paper is going to have a much shorter turnaround time than a national monthly publication that is planning content 4 months ahead of time.

Is there a perfect format?

Not really, unless you intend to submit the release to an organization such as PR Web or PR Newswire you don’t necessarily need to adhere to a specific format.What you do need to do is make sure that it is well written and without errors.  If the story is newsworthy, is sent to the correct person that you have created relationships with, and is engaging, your story should be picked up by the media.  Provide information that is clear and concise,  in either paragraph or bullet points, whatever makes sense to you and your reader, and include good quality photos or video in a vertical format as the vast majority of users view video this way.  Most phones do create high enough quality for this purpose. Be sure to include contact information and be available to answer questions.

Now, go out and tell your story.

How Small Businesses Benefit from Digital Marketing.

The goal of marketing has always been to connect with your audience in the right place and at the right time.  With people spending twice as much time online as they did 12 years ago, that meeting place is online. With that realization, businesses should be embracing at least some forms of digital marketing. What exactly is digital marketing?  Digital marketing encompasses all of the digital channels available to you including the social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (yes Pinterest), email marketing, your website, inbound marketing, blog posts, digital advertising, white papers, infographics, SEO and everything that is earned through public relations and social media mentions.  Hubspot  That is a lot!  But, you don’t have to dive in and try to do it all.  Do a few things, do it well, and then add on to your digital marketing portfolio.

Two of the biggest benefits of digital marketing are that it can be done at a low cost and second is that the measurability of digital helps you decide what is working for you, lets you know where to invest your dollars, and allows you to pivot to make changes that are not costly. Digital marketing is always about testing and repeating so results may not be quick, but they can be impressive.

What other reasons are there for investing your time and resources into digital marketing?

  1.  Engage with your customers.  Your customers are online, in fact as of May 2017  there are 1.94 billion active Facebook users per month. Zephoria Your customers expect you to be there as well.  Having a website that is not up to date or informative is not going to cut it.  The goal is to not just show up but to actively have conversations with your customers.  From here you can find out what they like and dislike, what their interests are, and how you can better serve them.  This can lead to a more loyal fan base and potential new or improved products.   
  2. Play with the big dogs.  This is especially true if you are seeking organic traffic instead of paid.  You can put your name out there and be as recognized as many of the top brands we use everyday.  Ok, so that may be a stretch goal, but if you are consistently being active on social media, creating content that your customers find relevant, informative and engaging, you will become top of mind when someone is looking for a local auto repair shop, real estate agent, or places to go for a staycation.  This type of engagement costs little in terms of dollars, but it does require capital in regards to your time and planning, but the results can be impressive.
  3. Extension of customer service.  Your customers will have questions and even complaints and will want them heard and responded to, and they expect a quick response.  85% of customers expect a response within 6 hours on Facebook and 64% expect an answer within an hour on Twitter. Shep Hyken  I do have a couple tips to help you out.  First only be where your customers are.  Meaning do not try to spread yourself too thin by thinking you need to be active on all social media platforms.  Choose the platforms that work for you and that your audience engages with, then make sure you are there. To help manage expectations you can place notes in your profile stating that questions will be answered during a certain time frame.  Also, be active on the platforms during this time frame.  Your customers will get to know your habits and can feel confident that you will respond to their issue when you return. Finally, don’t be afraid to take it off – line.  If the issue is quite complex or if the customer is becoming harassing, ask them – within the platform – to email or call so that you can work together to resolve the issue.  This shows anyone who is following the conversation that you are willing to put forth the effort to solve issues and not to bury them.

Your digital portfolio should include some of the ideas listed above but do not expect that you can do it all.  Choose the platform that your customers use (remember that Buyer Persona) and be sure to be active and responsive.  Show that you are an expert and gain the trust of current and prospective customers.  This is a marathon and not a sprint.  Be prepared to be in it for the long haul and to manage your expectations for growth.

To receive more marketing tips from Teresa Lynn Communications click here.

How to Find Which Customers Will Buy Your Product

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal and even not so ideal customer.  Why do you need to know your ideal customer?  Because this representation is going to tell you who is interested in what you sell and why – or which customer will buy your product.  What you learn about your customer is going to help you increase sales by getting to know your customer on a more personal level and understanding their experiences, wants and needs.  A Buyer Persona is helpful for all aspects of your business including, marketing, sales, products, and services.  HubSpot.

Now that you understand why you need a Buyer Persona for your business, your first question is likely going to be  ‘How on earth am I going to create this?’  You probably also have questions about finding the information for your Persona, and what information should you include?

I’ll help you with that!

Finding the information needed to bring your Persona to life is not going to be easy and will take some thought on your part, but the effort will be well worth it.  Basic demographics regarding your area can be found online including the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Census Bureau, fedstats.gov, Americanfactfinder.com, and don’t forget about checking with your local Small Business Administration.  

If you have regular conversations with your customers you can make basic generalizations and can weave in certain questions during your conversations.  

Looking for more than a few questions answered?  Consider sending your email list a short survey.  Survey Monkey has free options and paid options if you require something more detailed.  Be sure to keep your inquiry short and simple so it does not seem like a hassle for them to complete.  Are you interested in reaching out to a group of people you do not typically interact with or do you have a more detailed survey that needs to be answered?  Response rates can be increased by offering small incentives such as gift cards or discounts.

Don’t forget about unsatisfied customers or non-customers.  They may be able to provide insight into new products and services you could offer or ways in which your business could be improved.

Already have social media accounts?  Facebook and Twitter provide basic demographic information of your followers.

If you are conducting interviews you might be curious about how many you should do.  There is no magic number to reach, just continue interviewing people until you begin to receive the same answers.  Once you start seeing these repeats it is ok to assume you have the information you need.

What type of questions should I ask?  This is, of course, dependent upon what you want to learn and your industry, but be sure they are open-ended questions.  Yes/no answers do not provide much insight. Some ideas that you may want to look into include:

  • What challenges the customer is facing with your product?
  • What social networks they use to find out information regarding products similar to yours?
  • Describing a recent experience with your product?
  • What publications does your customer read?
  • How would they prefer to interact with your email, FB, Twitter?

Gather the information and start looking for similarities to help build your primary avatar. Once that is complete, look for other Personas you can create.  Your customers are not all the same, so give equal attentions to each ‘type’ you can think of.

Finally, do not discount the information your employees can provide.  Your employees interact with your customers on a daily basis.  Have they received the same questions over and over?  What do your employees know about your customers on a personal level?  Is the customer struggling with finances or a family?  All of this information can be helpful.

To receive more tips from Teresa Lynn Communications click here.