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How to Make Marketing Affordable

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How to Make Marketing Affordable

Is marketing affordable? Just like with anything if you do it right it is!  There are so many ways to market your business and there are so many people that are trying to sell you the next latest and greatest thing.  More and more digital products are coming out of the woodwork and they seem really cool and “forward thinking” but if you don’t have a strong base of basic marketing strategy you can fast forward a little too fast.   Your head can spin from the salespeople coming into your office telling you that you can talk to people on their mobile phones with text messaging, you can be on the first page of Google, you can have your product name delivered to 10,000 homes with a mailer.  WOW that is a lot of “stuff”  Sometimes you need to take a step back and ask yourself, “Have I done the leg work to brand my business so people care who I am in the first place?”   You must realize; they won’t opt in to a text message, or care that you show up on Google, or even understand your mailer if you haven’t told them who you are in the first place and why they should care about you.  You will spend a lot of money trying to make these programs work for you when you don’t have the basic building blocks of marketing.  Here are some tips on making marketing affordable for any business.

  • Make sure you have a clear, identifiable logo and message.  You know the Target® logo and what it represents.  On target style and price-no question.  Does your logo say what you do or what your message is?  Invest the time and money into having a professional logo done with the correct color theory, font, etc.  Your brand message is so important; it should tell someone what they can expect from interacting with you.  For example you have a car dealership, most car dealers use the cliché “One Handshake at a Time” or “Service with a smile”   Those are obvious things that people should get when they do business with a car dealer.  Think of something different, what pain are you fixing when you give someone a great experience buying a vehicle?  Talk about that instead, when you speak to the pain they take notice.  There is a process when coming up with a slogan or brand message and you can’t skip steps on that.  Take the time, invest, and have a strong message.  
  • Use media that brands.  Newspaper, television and radio are all branding media.  There is a right and wrong way to use them.  The most common line I have heard is “We tried it and it didn’t work” Well the first problem is you “tried” it.  Don’t try it, DO IT!  Be consistent, keep your message strong and do it, don’t give up it takes time.  You have to see and hear a message in your daily life in order for it to resonate with you.  When you sit down with a traditional media rep tell them your goal of wanting to brand your business so you can expand into other technology like texting or social.  There is a strategic way to build a brand using radio, and that strategy doesn’t work with TV or Newspaper so be willing to listen to different techniques and strategies of what work.  TV is a very effective branding technique when you can commit to a long term plan, not just a 2 week run of spots.  You cannot afford to do everything, but you can afford to do something well.  Find what something works for your industry and do it well with a well-crafted commercial, ad copy, logo, and brand message delivery.  If you aren’t comfortable buying media, ask for help, invest the money and it will go a long way.
  • Combine the resources.  Every local media company has a website; I bet they get more visitors than your website too!   Find someone you trust to ask the right questions about the website and the traffic it receives.  The numbers can be very deceiving, so know what to ask.  For example if they are trying to sell you on “hits”  that term is used to describe the number of hits to a web server.  For example if a website has 50 graphics on the page every visitor translates into 50 hits.  That is not 50 visits or visitors, see the difference?  Understanding the web reporting is something that very few people can do and do well.  They should understand it and be able to repeat it back to you in language you understand.  If they start talking over your head, they are trying to confuse you and then you feel like you have to listen to what they say because they know more than you do.  Not necessarily, they just know how to talk in terms you don’t understand.  You should understand what you are buying.  Find a trusted advisor or invest in one that can help you make strong decisions and explain things to you in terms you understand.  

Successful branding still takes place offline, but you should have a plan in place to incorporate the online strategy sooner rather than later.  The businesses that will be the most successful in the future are the ones that embrace a model that puts people – rather than technology – at the center of products, campaigns and marketing strategies.  People still buy from people they like, so get out there and market your business!  When the brand is established the “other stuff” can help grow your brand, but invest in the brand first.

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Attack of the QR Codes!!

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We have all seen them, and if you haven’t; start looking they are on the attack!  I am talking about QR Codes or Quick Response Codes. Despite being created in 1994 QR Codes were not popular in the US because our phones lacked the capability to read them. It wasn’t until the influx of smart phones in recent years that they have become more and more popular.  I have ready many articles from people in the advertising industry that don’t think the QR Code is valuable or they just plain dislike them.  I am actually a fan of the QR Code, they area wonderful tool.  I am writing this piece because I love them and I hate seeing them abused.  I will give you some examples of the uses I have seen and why they don’t work, then discuss some ways to use them that do work.

I was recently in a local restaurant downtown with my husband, after a wonderful meal with a glass of wine, great service and just an overall exceptional evening, we get our check. My husband pays the bill and we get our receipt back, I notice a QR Code printed on the receipt so of course I scan it with my phone.  It takes me to their website.  Great, what am I supposed to do on your website?  I am sitting in your restaurant, what on earth could your website offer me that I can’t get while sitting in your place of business?  Am Ito look at the menu I just ordered off of, or maybe read about the wine I just drank? 

Unfortunately this is a case of a good marketing idea gone badly.  The business owner was probably so excited to have a QR Code that they wanted somewhere to put it but didn’t think about the whole experience.  Instead of taking me to your website, maybe have me go to a page on your website where I can leave a review?  I just had a great experience,why wouldn’t you want me to tell people about it?  Or maybe send me a text with that QR Code that allows me to come back within 30 days and get a free glass of wine with dinner.  That would allow for another great experience!

Another misuse of this wonderful tool is when the consumer scans it, the end destination is a non-mobile website.  What good is your large and clunky website on my smaller screen?  I can’t view it;click on the buttons properly or really read it.  Using a QR Code to send someone to your non mobile website just tells the consumer that you don’t really care about the end experience, you just wanted them to see you website.

At the beginning of the article I said that the QR Code is a great tool in your toolbox of marketing. It is just that, a tool that should be well thought out when you use it and make sure that you consider the destination of the QR Code more than the placement.  The placement of the QR on the restaurant receipt was brilliant, the destination was dull.  When our clients ask us for a QR or we suggest one to incorporate in the marketing, we talk in length about the destination and where we will place the QR Code.  Is it going in print, where, who reads it,what should they experience when they scan it? Most of all what is going to make them scan it?  After that discussion we design the code to fit the medium.  You should be cautious about the padding (or white space) and the color.  After the campaign has launched we track it.  If you can’t track it, then how do you know it is working?

This leads me to my last and final point.  The free QR Code Generator, there are quite a few out there and business owners love to use them.  There are some fundamental problems with the free generators.  First, they are not track able.  You should be able to track your code and how it is performing.  This will help you determine the placement of the code.  Second, they are usually only good for a certain number of scans.  What I mean is you generate a code for free, but it can only be scanned 300 times, so after the 300 scans the code is worthless. Third and most important, they are not dynamic.  All the codes we generate through a software program allow our clients to be dynamic with the destination.   For example, when you scan the code on the restaurant receipt this week it gives me the text for a free glass of wine, when I come back in to enjoy my offer, the same code takes me to their website to leave a review.  Same code- no need to reprint- different destinations.  This makes the code and the experience for the consumer dynamic.

The QR Code isn’t going anywhere; in fact they are becoming more and more prevalent.  This is great for all business owners and consumers alike, just use them don’t abuse them.  Remember they are a tool in your tool box of marketing and the entire process, experience and placement should be thought out to give customers a dynamic experience.  It will keep them scanning for more!

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What Exactly Is Hybrid Media?

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Forward thinking marketing companies use this term as more than just buzzwords. They really have meaning, and a philosophy. Hybrid media is the strategic use of traditional and new media to communicate your message in a more effective way. For example; your company may have a great Facebook page that is set up wonderfully–but how are you getting traffic to that page?  Or perhaps you have a fantastic website with tons of information and great deals that really entice people to do business with your company when they visit the page—but how are you telling people about it?
In our initial consultations with customers, the conversation usually turns to, “How are you telling people about your great page or website?” Clients tend to look at us with a blank expression and say, “Well we didn’t think about that.”  Doing business in today’s tech-savvy and electronic environment isn’t like “Field of Dreams”; where if you build it they will come. Social media doesn’t work that way.
In looking at this from the traditional perspective, let’s use an example of a client who is proud of their TV or radio commercial that has a call to action of “call us at 555-1234”. While this sounds great to owners, there in an inherent problem: The call to action is only speaking to the people who are in market right now for their product. What are you doing to connect with the people who don’t need you right now? Those customers are still listening to the radio and watching TV, they just don’t have a need for your product at that moment. But they don’t mind taking some of their time to learn more about you or your company, provided the message makes sense. So why not drive everything to your website and let the customers who can take advantage of your product now do so, while allowing the ones who don’t to make a connection and remember your website for the future?
This is why having a hybrid media strategy is so vital in today’s market place. The fact is you can drive yourself crazy trying to do everything, and be everything, to everyone. So stop and think. What is your current message and is it utilizing anything with new or social media? If not, you need to rethink your message. If you have a social or new media presence, what is your strategy to tell people about it? Remember, you can get better results using the two forms of media together.
Marketing can be very confusing and scary for business owners right now. There are so many “new media” avenues like QR Codes, Facebook Pages, Blogging, and Text Message Marketing. Think about how frustrating it must for businesses that haven’t figured out the correct way to use traditional media and now they have to learn all these new media—let alone how to use them together.
The best strategy your business can have is to look at whatever marketing you are doing and ask yourself, “Does my traditional complement my social/new media?”, or “Have I used traditional media to tell anyone about my great social/new media platform?” Plan your traditional media by figuring out what your message should be, likewise, before you jump into new media figure out what platform is the best for your industry right now. Then consult a professional in the industry to help you put them together.
Just like with cars, the hybrid strategy will work wonderfully when properly designed; saving you money, and a whole lot
of energy.


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Facebook Alone Is Not Enough

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Facebook Alone Is Not Enough
There has been a recent surge of businesses being advised that Facebook is the only strategy you need.
I have spoken to  a few businesses in the past few weeks and they have been told that a company alone can increase their sales with just Facebook.  What?? I recently spoke on this at a seminar and I will drive it home again.  You must have a combination of both social and traditional and it must be strategic.  There are a few things that Facebook can’t give you.

  • A constant branding message. The only way to accomplish this is to post 7-8 times a day with the same message and then you will be what I like to call “spamtastic” and soon be blocked.
  • Fans don’t just flock to your page.  You can’t just build it and they will come.  If you build a great page with all the right elements, how do you get people to become a fan?  There are so many ways, but one of the worst is for the person who is managing your page to spam all their friends into liking your page.  (That is something else that has been very unprofessional lately) You have to use a form of traditional media or interactions with customers to gain those fans.

Let me be very clear that I am a huge advocate of social media and it is extremely effective I just think there are some very confused small businesses out there that think Facebook is the cure for the problem.  Sometimes it is a part of the solution, but it is not the only answer.  If you are struggling with the best thing for you and your business reach out and ask someone who has a proven track record for help.  Ask them after they build you a great page exactly what is the strategy for gaining fans and keeping them?  If the strategy includes “oh I have 500 friends I will ask them to become a fan” turn and run!  That is not a strategy.  Look for them to tell you new ways to ask for fans using current customer experiences and traditional media.  Keep you head up about the social game, it is constantly changing and evolving so align yourself with people who change and evolve with it.  Till next time!
Making It Make Sense,
Erika Jones
Owner, Synergy Marketing Consultants

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You Can’t Buy Your Audience

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I hear a lot of business owners say, I can’t afford to
advertise. Ok I can understand that you have a “limited budget” but you aren’t
buying your audience, you are speaking to them and that can cost you as little
or as much as you are willing to spend.
If you think that you have to go to the most expensive medium to speak
to your audience then you have it all wrong.
It’s not always the most expensive that delivers the best results.  Sometimes it just takes looking at an
alternative to the most expensive and doing it really, really well.  For instance if you can reach a smaller
audience more times with one media, is that better than reaching a larger
audience only one time?  That will all
depend on what you are trying to carry out, again with the question what does
success look like to you?  But remember
no matter what, spending a ton of money doesn’t mean you bought your audience,
it just means you spend a ton of money for an opportunity to speak to
them.  If you don’t have something
interesting to say to them, you didn’t get anything out of that.  Plus, if they didn’t hear you because you
only said it once that doesn’t do you any good either.  There are so many ways to get your message
out effectively without spending a fortune on advertising but it takes some
careful planning and very creative messages to speak to that audience, don’t
buy them.  If you want some creative ways
to get your message out on a “limited budget” give me a call and we won’t buy
your audience, we will speak to them.
Till next time…


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Keeping It Fresh

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Lately we have got asked a lot about what we do and the answer is  A LOT!  However our services have been updated lately to meet a lot of the requirements of our clients and I started to wonder – are my clients updating their services with the changing climate?  What is something your competition isn’t offering, should you offer it?  Is there something that you see a need for in your industry environment?  Sometimes it is as simple as education, or maybe changing the way you tell clients about what you do.  Either way it has been said that the only constant thing in life is change; so are you constantly changing?
We recently held a free seminar on our hybrid strategy of traditional and new media and had small business owner and even people from the different media outlets join us and some people thought I was crazy for telling them how to do a hybrid strategy effectively.  My answer was simply that I saw a need for this kind of education so that is now a service we give at Synergy Marketing Consultants.  Free education to our clients and even the clients of our competitor ~ why?  Because if my competitor doesn’t then I will and it makes me stand out.  So think about your business and the industry you are in and ask yourself what is something your consumers need or want and can you offer it to them better?  If the answer is yes, then update your services and Keep It Fresh!


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How to aviod the “knee-jerk” reaction in your business

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I recently had a client who had an off week in business and sent me and email sort of freaking out.  It went a little something like this:
“We need to bring people in quickly with a loss-leader and once I bring them in I can hook them on my other product.  So let’s discount the heck out of the product sell it cheap cheap cheap and that should increase our business.   Run the sale!!!!”
So that is the Cliff notes version but you get the point.  How many of you have done this in your business?  Probably a lot if not all of you.  It is common and easy to do, you get scared and think I will bring a bunch of people in and they will love me so much they will become loyal.  That is not really what happens though.  When I got this email I first thought “What the heck?”  That is not the direction they want to go, they are scared.  So I responded by asking them the following questions:
1.  What plan do you have in place to convert the people who are coming in to get your super cheap product?  This particular customer is down one staff member and the rest are pretty busy as is so will they really be able to give all the “new” people coming in the best possible experience to make them a loyal customer?
2.  Who are you going to tell this message to?  You can’t just send this out in newsletter form and tell it to your existing customers who have paid full price all along, that will really tick them off.  Besides, the point of this is new customers, not just existing ones right?
3.  Typically the best way to get a “sale” message out is Radio or TV, you hit it heavy and hard and bring in TONS of people.  Great!  But………now these “new” customers associate your brand with “Discount” is that really how you want these new customers to view your product or brand is discounted?  You are training them from the beginning of the relationship to expect a discount or wait until you lower your price.
After asking them these questions they thought about this “sale” and decided against it.  We held steady and the traffic has leveled out.  Sometimes being still is the best thing for your business but do you have someone telling you that?  Most agencies would have picked up the phone and placed the order for the radio or tv schedule, but I knew that wasn’t the best thing for the client.  Do you have someone working with you in any part of your business that will be your level-headed thinker when you want to have a “knee-jerk” reaction?  If not get one, if you can’t think of one, call me.  I love what I do because I am not going to tell clients what they want to hear, I am going to tell them what they need to hear and knowing that I am making a positive impact on their business is the best payoff I could ever want!

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The Most Important Question No One Ever Asks You

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We all know that you can’t just go into something and hope that it works.  I have said this before and I will say it again no good strategy ever includes the words “hope and pray”.  So don’t do anything that you can’t measure.  Some people in marketing will say well then you need to include a call to action message if you want to measure a media to see if it works.  I say wrong!  Before you ever try to measure anything you should define what success looks like to you or what exactly you are trying to accomplish and consider it successful.  Depending on what you want your success to look like then that will determine a part of your marketing message.  What if success looks like opening a second location to you?  What kind of message do you send and to who?  It’s not just about an immediate response because anything immediate that you can measure right away eventually will wear out its welcome.  Most things that give you an immediate response are a discount, coupon or sale of some kind.  Now while those can be beneficial, is that going to get you to your second location?  So you will buy a radio campaign, run a sale then tell your radio rep that it didn’t work.  Why?  Well, because to you success was opening a second location not an influx of customers.  Most business owners haven’t ever really sat down and thought about what success really looks and feels like to them probably because no one has ever asked them.  Well I am asking you, and if you want to find out what that success feels like then contact us at Synergy Marketing Consultants.  Till next time….
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