Adding up Google+

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You already know Google is important to your company, but as social media continues to transform business practices online, it’s no wonder that Google+ is beginning to dominate marketing trends.  As the second largest social network with over 359 million active monthly users, Google + is an SEO goldmine.  With more and more businesses focusing efforts on social platforms, Google+ is becoming more of a necessity than an option.

Growing exponentially at rate of 33% per year, Google+ offers more flexibility, personalization, and visibility than any other social media platform.  Taking the time to build your business page now, will impact your brand presence in the future.

Google+ takes sharing to the next level by targeting posts specifically based on user behavior.  This makes it easier for businesses to reach their ideal consumers.  Google wants information to be found, so it uses Google+ to impact search results.  If you post something about a new product you are selling, Google already knows who is interested in that type of product and is able to target them directly using your business profile.

Followers can share your company with anyone not only on Google+, but also on networks such as Facebook and Twitter.  This allows for added exposure and brand awareness.  Post a comment or question encouraging further engagement, and respond when people reply.  Don’t miss an opportunity to let people know you are out there and that you care about what they are saying.   Plus, unlike Facebook and Twitter, posts can always be edited or updated so you have added piece of mind.

Facebook and Twitter restrict Google from accessing much of their data, limiting their SEO effectiveness.  Google+, on the other hand, was created to work with Google’s crawlers to boost SEO.  Search for yourself.  See what is being said, what keywords are used.  Do the same for your competitors.  Look over every aspect of the page for accuracy and consistency not only for the sake of customers, but for keywords and phrases.  Be sure to think about what is attractive to your customers.

Ask yourself if it’s bragging about how great your business is, or if it is engaging prospects to take action.  Social media is for attracting and driving leads to your site, once at your site, you can educate and inform them on what you have to offer.  The goal is to get them interested enough to want to get more information.  Don’t give it all to them in one place, give them a reason for them to keep you in their mind.

Have a catchy tagline, cover photo, and introduction that tells your story.  Include keywords in both, but be natural about it, Google frowns upon keyword stuffing.  You only see the first 5 words of the tagline when someone hovers over your profile, so make them count!  Take advantage of visual branding with bigger cover photo opportunities.  Showcase your products, company culture, or events using images to attract attention and peak interest.  Animated GIFs are the most engaging type of post.

Embed links throughout various sections.  Drive traffic to your website and other social media sites and be sure to link back to Google+ from them!  These links will help you get found in Google searches and show your latest status update in the search.  Add them in your e-mail footer and have an interactive badge allowing people to add you to their circle without having to navigate away from the page.  When you add this badge to your website, an active follow widget will appear next to your search listing making it even easier to circle you.

Register for Google Local.  This has replaced Google Places and is more critical than ever before.  With mobile devices consuming business searches, having a defined local presence can make or break your company.  Here customers can leave reviews, add photos, and write details about your business.  Remember this is regardless of whether you are active on it or not.  Users are prompted to leave reviews if they search for you on Google, so make sure you give them a positive impression.

Create a strategy and measure whether or not you are reaching it.  Google+ has greatly impacted the nature of content marketing.  Remember different strategies target different audiences, so always keep the consumer in mind and don’t be afraid to take diverse approaches.  Add value and entertain your audience so that they want to come back for more and then keep it fresh and up to date so that they have a reason to.

Use Circles to separate followers into distinct groups, target relevant content, or launch personalized campaigns.  Network with followers and give them a motive to connect with you.

In Communities you can discuss topics of mutual interest, build relationships, share expertise, and meet key influencers in your industry.  You can even create your own community to generate consistent excitement and news about your business.

With Hangouts you can talk directly with your following and share videos, promotions, instructions or even troubleshoot customer issues.  By connecting Hangouts with your YouTube account, content can be archived for future viewing.  This is a free alternative to investing in online meeting software or hosting a webinar.  While only 10 participants can actively participate at a time, you can stream the video to an unlimited number of viewers using YouTube.  Use it for private meetings, interviews, or small discussions.

Google+ Authorship creates a visual tie between you and the content you publish.  By claiming your authorship, readers can identify your content at a glance, helping you to build authority and influence.  This also enhances your searchability and positions your company as a thought leader in the industry.

Google+ Dashboard allows you to chart and analyze your traffic, growth, and engagement all in one place.  In addition to that, they have many add-ons and extensions for other measures you might need.

Google+ offers many ways to interact with the community and build a following.  Take advantage of them to improve your search rankings and track user engagement.  If you make it worthwhile for followers, it will be worthwhile for your business.

 

~ Written by Marketing Consultant Christine Herrick.  Follow her @cherrick08 or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/christineherrick ~

 

How to Ensure Your Trade Shows Trade Up

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After driving 10 hours to spend 2 at a trade show last week, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really worth it.  How often to you attend an event, go in prepared to impress, and walk out without any potential leads?  Events like trade shows may not always go as planned, but if you make the best of it, you are sure to at least walk away with a connection or two. 

Whether or not you land a qualified lead, your priority should always be networking.  You never know who could link you to whom.  Be sure to have a clear message so you don’t waste their time, or yours.  Know what you want to say and how to get your point across in as few words as possible.  Make a conversation.  Listen to where they are from, and try to find a way to connect.  If they aren’t interested, thank them for coming by, but don’t force any collateral on them. 

Make friends with your neighbors early on, and introduce yourself to the sponsors.  Every positive impression counts.  Offer an incentive for visiting your website or for following up with a sales-person within a certain time frame for more information.  Make conversation cheat sheets for you and your team on what to emphasize, top phrases, or answers to FAQ’s.

Create personalized messages and flyers for the specific show.  Generate buzz before and during the event on your site, through emails, and on social media.  Promote a unique hash tag and engage with the event sponsors on social media.   Have signs at your booth for people to tag themselves or take pictures with you.  Make it fun, and connect with the crowd.  Hold a drawing to gather business cards then announce and congratulate the winner.

Remember that your booth presentation represents your company.  Keep your area clean- boxes, display cases, coats, and personal items can generally be hidden under the table.  Bringing a large tablecloth in your brand color is always a good idea in case one isn’t provided.  Even consider bringing flowers or plants to hide things you don’t want to be seen.  If food or drinks are served, make sure empty or dirty plates and glasses are removed and out of sight.

Keep your collateral and giveaways orderly and alluring.  Bring necessities like extension cords, paperclips, rubber bands, tape, and scissors.  Pack a memory stick with your files on it just in case you need to print more or email them to leads.  At the end, keeping everything organized and labeled will ensure less stress for the next event.

Avoid sitting the entire time, being on your cell phone, or leaving your booth empty.  Try to stand in front, look approachable, and make eye contact.   Even having a few icebreakers or questions to ask people as they pass by can help.  The general “how are you” tends to fade after so many times. 

Take a few laps around to look at competitors and take note of what you like or don’t like.  Look at what booths and areas have the best traffic flow and what location you may want to request in the future. 

Follow up with personalized emails and mailings thanking those for stopping by and letting them know you are there for their future needs.  Have a note pad on hand so you remember your detailed conversation with each person after they walk away, then refer back to it later.  Keep in mind you will probably encounter multiple people from the same company, so putting post-its on their business cards may help differentiate who they were. 

Events such as trade shows are important to market before, during, and after their occasion.  With so much effort involved, make the best of it and come away with every possible connection.  Have a plan going into the event, know what message you want to promote, and clearly track each and every conversation you have.  Make it a fun experience so people want to visit your booth and have something to offer those who take time to stop by.  Most importantly remember that things will probably go wrong, and that’s okay, but learn from them, and make it worthwhile.  

 

~ Written by Marketing Consultant Christine Herrick.  Follow her @cherrick08 or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/christineherrick ~

Why Marketing Is Important Now More Than Ever Before 101

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Marketing continues to evolve, but have the core values behind it changed?  As your company works to stay relevant in this digitally driven race, how often to you go back to the old school values of Marketing 101?  Well, in case you misplaced that overpriced text book, or sold it back for 5% of what you paid, here’s an updated refresher.

Marketing is presenting your company to the world.  Like in life, the impression you give off, is the type of customer you will attract.  You need to give your customers a reason to hire you.  What makes you superior than your competition?  Don’t be afraid to put it out there and get noticed.  It’s better to be prideful and prove what you have to offer, than not be known at all.

Stay in touch by staying ahead.  Without marketing, your company is not moving forward.  As your business grows, you need to adapt to change and take on challenges.  Keep up on industry trends and stay social.  Voice your opinion on what matters to you, even if it is just on a local level.  Become a thought leader on what you know best, this will create a following, establish credibility and build trust. 

You only get one chance to make a positive first impression.  I cannot stress this enough, as much as we hate to admit it, people judge because our minds are conditioned to jump to conclusions.  Once that snap judgment is made, even if it’s one bad experience, one bad review, or one bad comment on Facebook, it’s there forever, and it’s easy to spread, but hard to change.  Have your customers write reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Angie’s list.  This not only gives your company positive recognition, but will boost search engine rankings. 

Marketing is the bridge between proving who you are and what you have to offer.  Focus on your strengths.  Differentiate your company with a competitive advantage and position yourself uniquely in the market.  Deliver value, quality, and satisfaction.  All companies say this, so concentrate on what makes you different. 

Accept that you are no longer in charge, consumers now market among themselves.  Have a clear understanding of your target audience and offer not only what they want now, but what they will want next – always think two steps ahead.  Consumers want to feel that they are in control, at the same time you need to assure them that their risk is low.  Communicate how you will solve their problem in a way no one else can.  Build relationships, keep your promises, and show empathy in order to establish loyalty. 

It’s the little things.  No matter how great your marketing is, if you don’t provide a call to action or customers can’t find you, then you are missing out on opportunities.  There are so many ways to integrate marketing, use it to your advantage.  Communicate, encourage, and persuade a call to action.  From QR codes, to video, and linking social media, there are developing ways to ensure customers remain engaged. 

These tiny differences can make or break your business.  Little things such as customer service, reward programs, or following up on a client takes little to no time, and will make you stand out in the market.  Next time your marketing plan needs some refreshing, go back to the basics, and remember to prove and honor your company’s core values if your want to see ROI.  

 

~ Written by Marketing Consultant Christine Herrick.  Follow her @cherrick08 or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/christineherrick ~

 

The Digital Marketing Mudslide

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We all know that the marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the years, but with the digital explosion in the last decade, marketing as we know it may be changed forever.  Perhaps your company made it this far getting tips online, advice from friends and technology updates here and there, however that’s not going to cut it anymore.

The transformation in consumer thinking has shifted the entire sales funnel.  In order to remain relevant, companies must be able to adapt and structure accordingly.  Every Marketer is a multi-channel publisher now.  If you don’t understand who your customers are, what they want, or where they are looking, chances are they won’t find you.

Your brand is the essence of everything your company stands for.  Brand accountability has become heightened though social media.  Consumers now have a megaphone to voice their experiences, review your product, and take charge of your brand’s reputation.  As the marketer, you have to cope with the idea that you are no longer in control.  If a consumer reacts negatively, you are now publically able to make things right.  Use social media opportunities to engage, build leadership, and promote credibility and value.

Dedicate time to your strategy if you want to see return.  Businesses that are adaptable and quick to react are the ones that thrive.  Opportunities are vast and require analytical and strategic thinking.  Be creative, marketing doesn’t have to be expensive.  Employees of all experience levels and departments can use social media to promote the company from various points of view (remember to have a policy in place).  Each touch point can make a big difference.

Marketing is constant.  With always-on access through mobile devices, your online presence must be able to support these behaviors.  Contents need to be tailored for each device to provide effective and efficient on-demand communication.  Consumers expect optimized content that is relevant and informational.  Content marketing has the ability to attract, retain, and convert leads to loyal customers.  Not only does it need to be unique and insightful, but it must be produced by an individual, not technology, and distributed it across multiple channels.

The rise of technology, tools, and platforms continues to evolve digital marketing.  By engaging with their consumers, companies are now able to use “pull” marketing compared to traditional techniques that focused on “push”.  Keep in mind that technology constantly changes, but people may not change at the same pace.  The key to staying relevant is being able to adapt, align, and optimize strategies though innovation, and understanding of your audience.

 

~ Written by Marketing Consultant Christine Herrick.  Follow her @cherrick08 or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/christineherrick ~

Is Print Too Old School for the New Media World?

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Many people argue that print is a dying medium.  But in many ways, it is one that will stand the test of time while evolving to compliment advances in technology.  Without print, many companies would not be able to visually communicate their ideas clearly.  Print is economical, efficient, and trusted.  Its many benefits are undeniable, yet reliable in a world that is constantly changing.

Print is a traditional and critical part of marketing.  Brand consistency is crucial across all platforms and often one of the first touch points for clients.  It must be visually inviting, engaging, and transform your message into concrete, relevant information.

Proven time and time again, print is dependable.  It offers brand experience that cannot be replicated online, while establishing brand recognition. Versatile, tangible and non-intrusive, print is able to attract customers and prospects without the overwhelming feeling of being bombarded by messages.

Consumers tend to perceive print as being more credible, especially in publications they are familiar with.  Messages appeal to the reader’s emotions while targeting a specific or loyal audience.  In addition to this, magazines and journals are passed around, staying in circulation longer, leading to greater readership.  Print can exit where electronic media cannot, and there is no dangerous spam or viruses associated with it.

Advances in printing have revolutionized marketing.  Variable data can now personalize mass mailings and tailor campaigns to each individual buyer based on their behavior or demographic.  This added touch goes a long way in standing above generic materials.  Many times prospects are even able to prequalify themselves just from viewing printed information or advertisements.

Print is more than paper and ink.  It includes promotional materials and giveaways such as pens, key chains, or tape measures.  In addition to this, many printers supply everything from apparel to signs and vehicle wraps as well.  Best of all, print offers the least expensive cost per impression and gives you control over visibility, size, and budget.

Integration with modern technologies makes print a timeless medium in marketing.  With so many ways for consumers to connect, print is able reinforce where they can find and identify with your brand.  QR codes added to print collateral allow readers to engage with technology and be easily directed to your web and social media pages or campaigns.  In the future NFC, or Near Field Communication, may replace QR codes, sending direct signals to the consumer’s mobile device, eliminating the need for scanning.

This traditional, yet unique outlet should not be overlooked when considering market strategy.  It will continue to evolve, but always offer reliable results and ROI.  Keep it classic, appealing and consistent with your strategy and brand, and don’t forget incorporate a call to action and where you can be found online.

 

~ Written by Marketing Consultant Christine Herrick.  Follow her @cherrick08 or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/christineherrick ~

Is Age More Than a Number in Marketing?

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Market segmentation is an important part of any marketing plan.  But what if you are targeting the “mature market”?  Are approaches different? Is age more than a number?

I recently participated in a discussion on this topic.  Many marketers had mixed feelings, so I thought it might be valuable to share my insight and get your opinions.

Although it may be necessary to segment the “mature market”, it’s important to keep in mind, that they all have different influences affecting their knowledge of current media.

This audience does (potentially) carry more experience, wisdom, understanding, and a greater likelihood to voice opinions.  In return, this can lead to a lower tolerance for ‘unacceptable’ behavior and a greater ability to tune out and desensitize their selves from whatever does not conform or align with their beliefs and interests.

They may be hungry for change, excited for innovation, or desperate for ways to make their lives easier.  It’s thrilling to watch how products, services, media, and marketing continues to change over the years.  At the same time, they may be easily frustrated by things that they don’t understand- new trends and innovations, or changes in traditional ways.

This can all impact how marketing is perceived. They tend to become defensive when ideas are introduced that don’t make sense.  Some are weary and skeptical, while others are too trusting.  In addition to this, they can have higher expectations for value and quality adding to the complexity.

Finally, decisions can either be fast, based on emotional drive for change and adventure, or drawn out due to fear of change or need for research and price comparisons.  Peer reviews can also weigh heavily for those who aren’t internet savvy.

You need to know their shopping patterns, where they are most likely to be, and who they are most likely to ask (if anyone).  E-mail offers can be a great form of promotion, but only if they open their e-mails.  Same with direct mail and publications- they may be more likely to read the newspaper, or take notice to an advertisement in their favorite magazine, but it might also just go into junk mail.

For me, much of this comes from observation of my completely opposite parents.  Although they are both considered to be in the “mature market”, they are very different in their buying behaviors.  I have a shopaholic mother that barely uses a computer, and a father who mutes commercials and rarely enters into stores.  I also know a nearly ninety year old grandfather with a smart phone and iPad.

I suppose, it’s all in the media they surround themselves with.  It will depend on the product you are marketing and what other markets you may be able to expand into.  Other factors such as pricing, usability, and accessibility will all play a role in how the market responds.

In the end, you must have a clear marketing plan, and understand your audience.  Develop personas, analyze their traits and behaviors, where they are, and what is important to them.

 

~ Written by Marketing Consultant Christine Herrick.  Follow her @cherrick08 or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/christineherrick ~

A Celebration of Leadership

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With President’s Day coming up, we honor those who have represented America and stood for our nation’s vision.  We celebrate their integrity to unite, support, and empower us.  These presidents all exemplified qualities of leadership that are critical to business development.

Leadership is taking a stand, guiding, managing, and influencing through strategy and confidence.  For some it comes naturally, for others it develops with time and experience.  Business leadership combines unique abilities with fundamental characteristics.  Below are some key qualities that every good leader should possess and learn to emphasize.

Character

When electing a leader, people have expectations of what that leader will represent, as well as the example they will set for those who follow.  Honesty is fundamental, especially when representing a company or brand.  Core values and beliefs promote and encourage standards in the workplace, but need to be a part of everyday culture.  Leaders should guide by example and uphold these values with genuine integrity.

Not only do leaders have to be honest with others, but they must be honest with themselves.  They should have self-awareness of their strengths and what complementary strengths they may need from others.  Have respect, pride, and commitment.  Passion cannot be taught.  They should find what motivates them, and stay focused on the objective.  Once they begin to see progress, their drive will grow.  Leaders need to stay positive, and remember its okay to find humor in struggle.

Management

Confidence is an important element of leadership.  I always say “whatever you believe, you need to believe in yourself first.”  True leaders aren’t afraid to take chances or make mistakes.  They may make unpopular decisions, but they trust their instinct and have the courage to risk it all.  Having the confidence to say “I don’t know” is a powerful skill.  But along with confidence, there must be humility.  A leader must have understanding and the ability to admit when actions require consequences.

A leader cannot lead without communication.  They must be able to share their vision and strategy with those around them.  Along with this, they must be able to listen, take advice and criticism.  Having the ability to collaborate and compromise will promote engagement.  Delegating tasks is also essential in businesses for efficient workflows.  The leader should be adaptable and able to transition and support multiple projects at a time.

 Mindful

The strongest, most effective leaders not only care about business, but about the people involved and impacted by their company.  They acknowledge the talented people that they work with, and show compassion through their words and actions.  It’s their simple acts of kindness that inspire others.  This can be critical in the early stages of a start-up.  The leader must encourage others to believe in their vision and invest in their dream.   Generating morale can go a long way.

Successful leaders never forget that they are part a greater whole.  With today’s work environments becoming more demanding and stressful, those who lead need to take time to acknowledge their company’s progress and success.  Celebrate leadership in your business, and let someone know that their work is appreciated.

 

~ Written by Marketing Consultant Christine Herrick.  Follow her @cherrick08 or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/christineherrick ~