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How Do Small Businesses Master Marketing?

We often hear from our customers that it had always been their dream to own a business – whether that’s opening their own store or starting their own restaurant. Like most entrepreneurs, the goal is to turn a passion into a career.

However, many people are held back by the fear that they won’t be able to manage their business successfully. It takes a leap of faith to open a new business, and it takes business savvy to keep it open. In a series of posts, I’ll explore common challenges small business owners face and how to solve it.

One of the first hurdles a small business owner faces is getting the word out about her new business. Or, if the business is established, growing the business and attracting new customers. At the heart of driving sales is marketing. For business owners without marketing experience, this can seem overwhelming. The good news is there is a lot a small business owner can do to market a business easily and efficiently.

Do you take your social media efforts seriously? Seriously enough? Almost 100% of small businesses use Facebook and nearly 75% are on Twitter. But not all of these businesses are getting the quantity or quality of consumer interaction they can be. To make sure your efforts aren’t being wasted, consider adding these elements to your social media campaign.

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6 Ways to Master Marketing For Small Business:

  1. Define your unique value proposition (UVP): The first step in marketing a business effectively is understanding your capabilities and the white space your business is filling in your industry.Inevitably, you will face competition, so take the time to outline what sets you apart from your competitors. Become as informed as possible on your industry. Sign up for industry newsletters; read relevant trade publications, and consider participating in industry events. This will allow you to identify trends, and stay up-to-date with important news. It will also help you identify your competitors. Take a close look at what they are doing and how they present themselves to potential customers.
  2. Strive for Compelling Content: If your content isn’t compelling, you’re just going through the motions. What you’re looking to post is relevant, accurate, and useable information that will inspire readers to respond, share your brand, and ultimately become new or repeat customers. What is it that customers and prospects like about your business? It could be expert knowledge or shared interests or something else entirely. Capitalize on that.
  3. Make the Conversation Interactive: Even if your content is compelling and interesting, you still need to give readers that extra nudge to respond. Post questions for them to answer, or conduct surveys. Another great way to enhance your presence is to conduct “tweet chats,” where a pre-set topic is announced and the conversation begins at a scheduled time. Don’t forget to offer modest giveaways for those who respond to questions, participate in your surveys, or post product reviews. Even if it’s just a small discount or free shipping, social media customers love freebies!
  4. Hire a Specialist: If all this has your head spinning and no one else in your organization can take on the job, hire a specialist to streamline and maximize your social media efforts. To find someone reputable, ask peers in your industry and other business owners outside of it for recommendations. Also, ask the candidate to provide detail on specific campaigns run for other businesses, including results.
  5. Consider paid content: The paid aspects of social media can also be a great way to boost your business’ profile, and get in front of new customers.

    For instance, you can target the exact type of customer you are looking to attract with advertising through Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns, based on the information individuals have shared on their profiles. If you have the ability to incorporate this tailored approach to your budget and cash flow, it is an option worth exploring to supplement your free social media efforts. Sometimes a small campaign can make a big difference.

  6. Track Your Results: This should go without saying, but in order to determine how effective your strategy is and which social media platforms are paying off, you need to track results. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. HootSuite, for example, allows you to track and analyze traffic on a range of platforms and costs only $9.99 per month after a 30-day free trial.

Mastering your marketing is an ongoing struggle for business owners. This is especially true for social media. If you’ve been in business for a while, making the adjustment may be a stretch, but it’s a necessary one. Marketing via social media is intrinsically different from outdated forms of marketing, such as direct mail and the yellow pages. It can be less expensive, and with the right approach, readers will not only become customers but will also share your business with their social networks. Think of it as word-of-mouth marketing gone viral. If you pair an intelligent approach with the time and effort, marketing via social media will launch your business to new heights.

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at Cosimocreatesbuzz.

Check out my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

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5 Ways to Enhance your Brand’s Twitter Strategy

Social Media is constantly evolving. Every day, week and month, there are new strategies put into place to keep readers’ attention and stay ahead of competitors. Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, and Twitter are always evolving and growing to meet the demands of their members and the marketplace. Out of all the social media platforms out there today, Twitter is one of the most popular and most used on a daily basis.

In order to stay ahead of your competitors, your brand must stay engaging and provide value to your readers.
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Here are 5 Ways to Enhance your Brand’s Twitter Strategy in 2017

  1. Humanization Becomes Key to Success on Twitter: Twitter is used for instant news. Due to its 140 character limit, it can sometimes be hard to portray your message. Don’t stress, simplify!   Know your message well as it will help you find the best way to promote it. In addition, cut back on 1) the automation, 2) scheduling a week of tweets on a Monday and then never logging back in until it’s time to schedule more tweets, and 3) the hashtag-stuffed tweets. When you promote on Twitter, take the time to enhance your tweet with an infographic or picture that also helps enhance the message you are trying to get across. Make a schedule of tweets but tweet them yourself and ensure that they portray the message you want it to say before you send it. Hashtags are good things for your post but don’t become obsessed with them. Use one or two that most relate to the message you are sending.
  2. Twitter Marketers Shift Focus From Driving Traffic to Creating Connections: The recent changes Twitter has made, including the addition of an algorithm, mean that Twitter is the social network marketers most need to change their approach to. It’s time to go back to the days when Twitter wasn’t just automated noise. Twitter can still be used to drive traffic but is becoming even more effective as a connection tool.To adjust, marketers will need to tweet less but with more quality, with the goal of tweeting to connect with others and create interaction.
  3. Twitter Becomes a Content Destination: Twitter has grown exponentially in the last few years. Two of the most promising markets are Millenials and Generation Z. More information on marketing to Millennials More information on marketing to Generation Z:  Fueling this growth will be the continued rise in content consumption directly within the Twitter platform, a focus on improving the Twitter feed algorithm, and marketers winning with quality over quantity. We’ve already seen some of this come to life when Twitter reached a live streaming deal for 10 games with the NFL. Twitter also made a great move to allow people and brands to go live directly within the app, without having to download Periscope separately. All of this leads up to Twitter becoming a content destination, rather than a means to an end.
  4. Twitter Focus on Live Video Across the Board: Over the last few months there has been a rise of video marketing and the effect it has on the younger generation. Many companies are finding that traditional marketing no longer works on the millennials and generation Zers.   To enhance your companies brand online and keep the attention of the most influential generations so far, you need to use video marketing. It’s new, interesting, and best of all interactive. Interactive marketing has been proven to create value for your brand and/or product and keep your customers attention.
  5. Keep Tweets Under 110 Characters: 

    Twitter’s legendary character restriction seems short, but if you’re maxing out your character count, your tweets are too long.

    Shorter tweets with around 110 characters get 17% higher engagement, and there’s a reason for that. When you leave room in a tweet, it makes it easier for people to retweet you and add their own commentary.

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at Cosimocreatesbuzz.

Check out my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

Rohampon, J. (2017, January 3`). 5 Social Media Trends That Will Dominate 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimmyrohampton/2017/01/03/5-social-media-trends-that-will-dominate-2017/#324aa866ffe8

Jenkins, L. (2017, February 15). 12 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2017 From the Pros. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/12-social-media-marketing-predictions-for-2017-from-pros/

Lanoue, S. (2017, April 5). Social Media Strategy for 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-strategy-2017

How to Create a Successful Mobile First Strategy?

E-Marketer predicted that 2016 would be the year that mobile ad spending eclipses desktop ad spending, and account for nearly a quarter of total media spending. They were right. By 2019, the researcher predicts that mobile ad spending will rise to $65.49 billion, or nearly 70% of total digital ad spending and close to 29% of total media spending. Now, mobile-first strategy has emerged at the forefront of new marketing trends that marketers in all industries need to be prepared for.

What is Mobile-First Strategy?

The official definition is: A trend in website development where designing a website for smartphones, tablets and mobile devices takes priority over desktop web design.

In other words, everyday as phones get more advanced and do more, marketers and businesses need to focus on getting all their online marketing to work on mobile as well or better than they do on desktop. One of the fastest way to lose potentially new customers is when they look up your website on their phones and it not load properly or take too long.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to ensure your site has a mobile first strategy.

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The rise of the ‘mobile-first’ mindset – the increasing lifestyle trend in which people turn to their mobile device as their first point of interaction for most of their communication, information and entertainment needs. Our devices have given us amazing power to interact with our favorite people, brands and service providers in personalized ways, and to get what we want, when we want it.

An estimated 28 percent of sales are now conducted on mobile devices, estimates CIO. Unfortunately, in the rush to engage consumers, brands often fail to follow best practices or even develop a clear strategy.

Putting mobile at the forefront of your strategy bears careful consideration over whether it is actually right for your brand. Here are just some of the things to keep in mind when going mobile-first: The screens are limiting and small; your marketing must be less interruptive and get consumers to opt in; if you’re going with apps, they need to have utility; mobile must be regarded as part of a larger marketing whole; and most of all, your brand must be suited to a mobile-first approach.

Four Steps for creating a Mobile-First Strategy:

  1. Get local: It’s critical to understand how mobile search intent is different from desktop search. Most mobile searches are conducted away from the home or office. Mobile searchers are seeking an immediate answer to their most pressing questions, be that a list of afternoon movie times, whether your coffee shop is open late on Saturdays, or which car repair service will respond fastest with a tow truck. Local search optimization is essential for mobile search result visibility.
    Next, consider the other reasons why people search: local information in a new city/state. Once you’ve covered the basics of local mobile search optimization, keep an eye on your content. How can you make your site content more friendly for mobile searchers? Keep an eye on regionally trending topics and use local news stories as “hooks” for creating searchable content.
  2. Optimize for mobile viewing: Remember that smart mobile design is about more than just optimizing your site for mobile viewing with larger text and touch-friendly buttons. You also need to optimize your content structure. A short paragraph on your website can look like an endless novel on a smartphone.
    Get straight to the point with your content and stick to 1-2 sentences per paragraph at the most. Use bullets, subheads and numbered lists to keep your content interesting. Consider consumption context: if your customers can’t scan your content quickly at Starbucks, they may never read it.
  3. Define mobile-friendly conversion points: Think about the most common conversion points in your existing sales funnel. Most of these points, like signing up for a newsletter or downloading a white paper are not realistic conversion points for mobile customers. That’s because these conversion points typically involve longer forms that are not naturally mobile friendly. If you do want to keep these as conversion goals, simplify the forms to require only an email input and use HTML 5 keyboard shortcuts (like an @gmail.com button) for faster input.
    Alternatively, think differently about your conversion goals. For example, maybe you want to engage in-store shoppers by encouraging them to download a mobile coupon. Make the process as easy as possible! Remember, the more steps in the conversion chain, the more likely you are to lose your customer along the way.
  4. Don’t forget about local listings. Don’t neglect the importance of local search sites like Yelp. Don’t fail to claim your local listings with Yelp, Google, and Bing. Since these sites auto-generate listings for local businesses, these listings are prone to inaccuracies. Take the time to claim your listing so you can manually manage listing details like physical location, store hours (including special holiday hours), and even add product photos.

Focus your efforts on continuing to better position your business via mobile search, local rankings and engaging, Geo-targeted content.

City Map With Pins And An Intelligent House

Having a Mobile first strategy is key to engaging your customers in today’s market! Before you get started creating one, prepare with these five steps:

  1. Do your research: Research trends and practices in your industry. Even if no one is doing it right now, doesn’t mean you can’t be a trend setter and be the first!
  2. Cost: Figure out your budget that you want to dedicate to this project. Can you afford it right now? Do you have the necessary knowledge or do you need to hire someone who does? Do you have the software? One you have an idea on all the costs including potential hidden ones then continue.
  3. Create a Plan: Figure out a time-frame for getting the project done. If you already have someone on your staff or yourself has the skills then its easier to start. However, if you need to put aside time to find and hire someone with the skill set or purchase the software then do so.
  4. Implement your plan: Work though your plan, ensure all deadlines are met and nothing delays your progress.
  5. Evaluate: Once your strategy is completed and implemented, take some time and evaluate how it has worked for your business or brand. I would recommend after one year of operation. Statistics show that most digital marketing strategies take a year to implement, grow and show the best results. Make changes as needed.

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at Cosimocreatesbuzz.

Check out my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

Hughes, B. (2016, February 24). How to Create a Mobile First Marketing Strategy. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-hughes/how-to-create-a-mobile-fi_b_9299316.html

Clark, M. (2016, August 25). Engaging the ‘mobile-first’ consumer: New opportunities. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from https://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/aug/25/new-opportunities-engaging-mobile-first-consumer/

If Google Has a Mobile First Strategy, So Should You. (2016, July 6). Retrieved April 28, 2017, from https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/07/mobile-first-strategy.html

Morrison, M. (2016, February 22). Is a Mobile-First Approach Really Best? Retrieved April 28, 2017, from http://adage.com/article/digital/a-mobile-approach/302774/

6 Ways Chatbots Can Benefit Your Marketing Strategy

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are one of the top trends in digital marketing for 2017. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the use of artificial intelligence or chatbots across all industries. Chatbots are used almost exclusively in apps such as Siri or Amazon Echo due to their adaptability and versatility.

You could say that chatbots are the new customer service reps, not to mention the new support system for marketers. In future, more people will turn to chatbots to manage their daily chores, be it ordering a ride or a pizza.

In fact, the rise of bots could be plainly attributed to increasing usage of messenger apps. According to Forester, people spend a staggering 85% of their time using the top messenger apps including Facebook Messenger, Kik, Slack, and Whatsapp. So, businesses lately have come to realize that building a chatbot on one of the popular messenger platforms could be more viable proposition than developing a specialized app.

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6 Reasons Chatbots can benefit your business:

  1. Customer service: How often have you sat on the phone, listening to boring recorded messages (that you tune out after the first dozen times), waiting over a half hour for a customer service representative to pick up the phone and answer your question, which takes you five seconds to ask? We have a younger generation, used to being able to do everything online — ordering food, doing banking tasks, shopping and more. This is especially important, in light of the fact that most customer service calls and complaints are simple to resolve. This is where chatbots come in. Instead of having to call and sit on a phone waiting to ask a five-second question, you can simply message a customer service chatbot and get your answer in a flash.By providing this option for customers, you will lower the stress of dealing with customer service and increase customer satisfaction with your brand.
  2. Chatbots Come Mobile Optimized: Chatbots come mobile optimized so you don’t have to go through the additional trouble of getting them mobile-optimized. More importantly, they are easy to implement. Say, for instance, Taco Bell’s TacoBot app. The chatbot integrated with Slack – which one of the world’s leading work chat platforms – that lets employees chat, order and pay directly from Slack. Additionally, Tacobot answers questions, offer recommendations and also organize group office orders. On top of it, the chatbot boasts of witty personality – a unique trait associated with Taco Bell.Lawrence Kim, Taco Bell’s director of digital innovation says:

    “The TacoBot Slack integration is the latest step on our journey to make the brand more accessible, wherever and whenever our fans want it. It’s the next best thing to having your own Taco Bell butler… and who wouldn’t want that?”

    taco-bell 

  3. Chatbots Ensure Consistent Brand Voice Across All Social Media Channels: The social media landscape is fragmented. And, with the growing popularity of several social media platforms, it’s become all the more crucial for businesses to maintain a strong brand presence across all major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, among many others. This means businesses have to run multiple campaigns across various platforms and update them regularly. Given their growing audience profile, businesses can’t afford to resort to mundane content marketing efforts, unless, of course, they don’t mind customers making their way toward competitors site. Enter chatbots. By Integrating them across all social media platforms and then having them interlinked, marketers can update brand messages at once across all platforms. This makes sure you have a consistent brand voice across all platforms.Print
  4. Consumer analysis: Chatbots can play a large role analyzing customer data, and optimizing sales and marketing strategies in light of this analysis.According to Forbes, “Chatbots can be programmed to track purchasing patterns and monitor data from consumers. This tells a company which products to market differently, which to market more and which to redevelop for the relaunch.”

    This means that you will save money by not having to hire another analyst and that the analysis will be higher level due to the lack of human error.

  5. Site feedback: Chatbots are great for reaching out to customers via simple questions and the gathering of feedback. This strategy is useful, especially for website optimization. Garnering feedback from customers will help you fix low converting pages and improve your site all around.For example, if you have a landing page that receives huge numbers in organic traffic, but no one is buying, you could have your chatbot reach out with a survey, to glean information as to why people are leaving the page without purchasing.
  6. Proactive customer interaction: Most brands employ passive customer interaction, i.e., they only respond to customers and do not reach out. But, instead of waiting for the customer to initiate contact with your brand, you should reach out. Chatbots are ideal for these “reach out” initiatives. To do this, the accompanying action should be something small, like inquiring whether or not the customer needs assistance — which lets the customer know that the brand is present and available to assist as needed. This alone will boost the customer’s feelings of closeness to the brand.

Chatbots growing influence among businesses is undeniable. Nevertheless, businesses need to adopt a more fail-safe approach is to treat their customers well because of bots, unlike humans, are emotionless machines and won’t be able to offer convincing answers to each and every customer query. The only fail-safe way to keep your customers consistently happy is by making sure that human support is available whenever bots face an unusual question or a query.

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at Cosimocreatesbuzz.

Check out my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz/

Maxin, J. (2017, January 13). 6 reasons Marketers should start using Chatbots in 2017 – Smart Insights Digital Marketing Advice. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/app-marketing/6-reasons-marketers-start-using-chatbots-2017/
Samson, E. (2017, March 10). 7 Ways Chatbots Can Benefit Your Marketing Strategy. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286079

 

Influencer Marketing for Small Business

What is Influencer Marketing:

Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. For example,

Why is Influencer Marketing a good choice for Small Businesses?

With bloggers, Instagram stars and YouTube personalities with a variety of audiences actively courting brands, influencer marketing is a strategy you can utilize on any budget. Research by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth suggests that young people, in particular, are becoming increasingly resistant to traditional advertising. By 2017 it’s predicted that one-third of all Internet users will be using some form of ad-blocker, ultimately diminishing the effectiveness of banner advertising. With evolving user behavior, businesses of all sizes are going to have to be more creative in the ways in which they promote their brand.

This presents an opportunity for small businesses with their smaller budgets and their aptitude for more creative advertising. Every day there are more ways for small businesses to compete with large corporations. New technologies like programmatic marketing that used to be only available for corporations is now open to small businesses as well.

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When you have a personal brand or audience and people see you as a thought leader in your specific niche or market, you have something no one else does: you have people’s attention.

And that, in itself, is highly valuable, not just to brands but to other thought leaders as well. Having a personal brand opens doors of opportunity. Now more than ever we see a rising amount of influencers who are starting to understand their value.

Four Tips for Influencer Marketing

  1. Choose the right influencer:  “Micro-influencers” (who have fewer than 10,000 followers) can actually garner more engagement from their audience and are more likely to work with small to medium sized businesses than influencers with millions of followers or celebrities. The first step in influencer marketing is finding the people who are most likely to be enthusiastic about your business. Think about your brand values and the key principles of your business, search for bloggers who share these ideals. For example, if your business has sustainable credentials, green living bloggers would be a natural partnership. If your business is reliant on local customers, you may also want to focus on bloggers located within a similar area, tapping into an audience who may be more receptive to your products and services.
  2. Create a two-sided relationship: When approaching an influencer it’s important to be both friendly and open, just as your would in the real world. Also, everyone is susceptible to flattery so letting them know how much you appreciate their work can often go a long way. Retweeting and sharing their content will help introduce them to your brand before you reach out them over email, turning the initial approach from cold to semi-warm and increasing your chances of a reply. Plenty of influencers will also expect some kind of payment for promoting your brand, but by setting a strict budget and negotiating politely, you can avoid overspending by determining what’s within your budget from the outset. If you can communicate your shared values, influencers will be much more likely to develop a positive working relationship with you.
  3. Experiment with different strategies: Utilize influencers on a smaller test market before committing to a larger influencer. Test different strategies. One month you could engage smaller bloggers and social media users (spreading your budget across a variety of sources), and the following month you could dedicate your whole budget to a solitary influencer with a larger audience. You may also want to try a social media takeover, where an influencer runs your social media accounts for a day. If you have no marketing budget at all, sending free samples or inviting influencers to try out your service is one way to get them to discuss your brand with their audience. When conducting any testing it’s imperative that you’ve defined and set-up the various tracking metrics you’ll need in order to compare results.
  4. Analyzing the results: Remember that not all benefits can be measured in immediate sales – raising brand awareness is more difficult to measure, and the benefits may not become obvious until later. Some of the key metrics to monitor will be traffic to your website, time spent on the site, conversions, and engagement. There are also other advantages, for example, if an influencer chooses to link to your website it will create both referral traffic can boost your visibility in organic search. Tools like Tweetreach and Google Analytics offer great insights into how your campaign is performing. Every type of influencer will have a different reach (audience size), relevance (contextual fit with your business) and resonance (engagement power) and your marketing strategies will, therefore, have varied results. With some experience and careful consideration, you’ll find the ones that are best for you and form long-lasting relationships.

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Remember, just because you are a small business with a limited budget doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Have your marketing associate or manager look up new technologies and tips for small business marketing. Do your research, figure out what will work for your unique situation or business. You can compete at a higher level with larger businesses and corporations not dollar for dollar but with creativity. Larger corporations have a harder time changing their ways and being creative. Smaller businesses have that niche, so use it to increase your brand awareness, sales, and brand reputation.

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at Cosimocreatesbuzz.

Ashby, H. (2016, February 7). Top Influencer Marketing Tips for Small Businesses. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://www.smallbizdaily.com/top-influencer-marketing-tips-small-businesses-2/
Agrawal, A. (2016, December 27). Why Influencer Marketing Will Explode In 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/12/27/why-influencer-marketing-will-explode-in-2017/#7c93942420a9

How will Virtual Reality Change Marketing?

What is Virtual Reality?: Virtual reality is an artificial environment created with computer hardware and software and presented to the user in such a way that it appears and feels like a real environment.

What is Augmented Reality?: Augmented reality is a view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. An example of this would be a smartphone app where you view a street corner through the camera and additional business information appears on the building.

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Virtual reality is one of the latest technologies marketers are trying to wrap their heads around to figure out how to best utilize the tool to achieve brand objectives. While we’re only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of impactful ways to use VR for marketing, several pioneers have found creative ways to do it well and support their unique value propositions. VR is being strategically used as a tactic to:

  • Demonstrate product attributes, features, functionality
  • Communicate the brand’s mission at point of sale
  • Immerse users in a branded entertainment experience and add excitement at pop-up events for social media sharing (Game of Thrones)
  • Help consumers make more informed choices so they’ll be happier with their purchases
  • Add a new, more immersive and exhilarating dimension to traditional print and video story-telling (The New York Times)
  • Show how a brand can fit into an aspirational lifestyle (Mercedes)

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The impact of VR-based marketing programs can be far-reaching because of the viral response they can generate. Some brands have opted for providing the experience in-store or at special events through more durable, higher quality gear, while others have opted to let broader audiences experience VR at home, on cell phones, with Google Cardboard, and on computers.

What does this mean for Small businesses?

Virtual reality is a completely immersive experience where the user feels like they are transported to another world. Augmented reality has been integrated into our lives for as long as smartphones have been around. Virtual reality is just now starting to emerge as a viable business tool to connect with consumers in entirely new ways. Small business owners can now utilize this technology to grow their businesses to new heights.

More consumers are expecting to see the power of virtual reality. According to Greenlight Insights, 62% of consumers say they would feel more engaged with a brand that sponsors a VR experience and 71% of consumers think a brand is forward-thinking if it uses virtual reality.

Allowing the consumer to experience places like casinos themselves from their home is far and away the best way to sell. Consider if you were in the market for a new home, yet online pictures and even video of the available options weren’t cutting it. Virtual reality could transport the buyer to every home that meets their criteria for a bird’s eye view and really showcase the features of each selection. The same holds true for a physical product. To be able to test drive a vehicle without the hassle and time wasted in a dealership may be all that’s needed to finalize a sale. Not only can VR display how a product works but also how it was developed and manufactured. This approach appeals to consumers who are interested in the backstory and origin of the products they purchase. Experiences such as these completely transform how the consumer interacts with brands and how marketers will reach their audience.

To understood Virtual Reality and its impact in the marketplace check out the video below:

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at Cosimocreatesbuzz.

Check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

Greenwald, M. (2016, June 15). 6 Of The Best Marketing Uses Of Virtual Reality. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellegreenwald/2016/06/15/6-of-the-best-marketing-uses-of-virtual-reality/#d7b63c65cff3
Totka, M. (2016, April 14). Using Virtual Reality to Enhance Your Business. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/04/virtual-reality-for-small-business.html
Mcdermott, C. (2016, January 16). How will Virtual Reality Change Content Marketing? Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/01/virtual-reality-change-marketing/

Interactive Content Marketing

What is Interactive Content Marketing? 

Interactive Content Marketing is using content such as an interactive infographic or interactive videos in order to create a unique experience for the user. These experiences are then analyzed through the reaction of consumers in order to gain insight into their current needs.

Since 2014, there has been increased usage of interactive content on the internet, in retail stores and on mobile devices. For example, Sports Chek has now upgraded all their in-store banners and signs for the use of interactive content. There are high graphic and colorful videos with text that appears with different visual effects to catch the attention of customers passing by and coming into their stores.

Why is Interactive Content Important?

Interactive content is the perfect blend of rich media, visual storytelling, and participatory narrative to keep your viewers engaged.

types of interactive content

Brands are coming to terms with this reality, fostering tools that engage their audiences in an activity – answering quizzes, watching clips, or exploring scenarios. It’s the perfect way to capture the audience’s attention from the get-go. It can challenge individuals to think and respond – snoozing is no longer the preferred option.

Successful interactive content allows the user to dive in, interact, enjoy the process, and gain insight without feeling targeted. It requires discipline and a secondary focus on conversion rate optimization.

If you are developing interactive content, it’s best to gauge success by total shares or average session time instead of click-through rate. Just keep in mind that it’s not about you, and it’s not about the direct lead generation. It’s about providing value to an audience. Good interactive content marketing doesn’t use pop-up solicitations or underhanded sales pitches.

Building interactive content is an expensive alternative to traditional blogging, whitepapers, or even full content hubs. Not all brands are built to be publishers, and most brands are not equipped to easily build interactive content. Not only will brands need to come up with winning ideas and create the written content, but interactive content requires design and development expertise. It’s hard enough to keep a consistent flow of good, relevant, optimized content, let alone building interactive experiences. Expect nimble digitally-savvy brands and agencies to be innovative with branded web experiences and interactive microsites in the coming years. Brands and agencies with in-house creative, design and development and the willingness to invest more time and resources into content marketing will stand out and reap the benefits of their experiments.

Brands that are comfortable building for the user and not getting blinded by lead generation tactics will succeed with interactive content marketing.

3 Easy To Use Tools for Interactive Content

  1. Guides.co: Guides.co’s mission is to “connect people who know with people who want to grow.”In an effort to accomplish this, they’ve created a platform for users to create and share interactive guides on whatever they’re passionate about. The guides employ text, images, video, and embedded files to create a rich, participatory experience for the reader.By including a comment field within the guide, readers can share feedback and ideas to fuel meaningful discussions. This feature aims to promote a sense of community and open up a line of communication between guide users and consumers.Guides.co_Example
  2. ThingLink: ThingLink is an interactive media platform that allows users to bring their photos and videos to life through the inclusion of rich media links. By adding multiple engagement points to a photo or video, users are able to create a unique experience that encourages the user to interact with the content for longer. To demonstrate, take a look at how New York Magazine enables mouseover points to make additional content easily discoverable in their weekly roundup:ThingLink_Interactive_Content
  3. Ceros: Ceros is a platform that provides users with the powerful tools they need to create high-quality, interactive content without having to rely on developers. Through the use of a drag-and-drop functionality, Ceros enables users to create six different types of content:-Shoppable Catalogs
    -Lookbooks
    -Magazines
    -Infographics
    -Nanosites
    -Ebooks
    All Ceros designs start simple and come to life through the implementation of interactivity and animations. To get a better idea of what to expect, take a look at these screenshots from an ebook made with Ceros:Visual_Storytelling_3

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas!

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at cosimocreatesbuzz.

Please Check out my website at http://www.cosimocreatesbuzz.com

Check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

Brewer, J. (2017, February 25). Why Interactive Content Marketing is the Future. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/interactive-content-marketing/
Stec, C. (2016, May 30). 7 Easy-to-Use Interactive Content Tools You Should Explore. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/interactive-content-tools#sm.001h9bt4y10stcoyynv1eg1lwrcq2

 

Six Marketing Trends to Look for in 2017

It is March 2017 and a new year and there are many things to look forward to. From self-driving cars to new marketing trends.

Trends are important in the marketing industry as they tell marketers what customers are looking for and what they need. Marketers spend their whole careers studying consumers and their views, buying patterns and needs. Then they combine the research with their ideas and try to fulfill those needs to best of their ability.

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Six Marketing Trends to Look for in 2017:

  1. Interactive Content: There’s content you can read, and then there’s content you can interact with. The second variety tends to be more popular. Think of ways to get readers to actively participate instead of passively consume. Interactive content can include assessments, polls, surveys, infographics, brackets and contests.
  2. Mobile Video: Have you looked at your Facebook feed recently? Chances are that 95% of it is video. And here’s a fun stat: mobile video views grew six times faster than desktop views in 2015. In fact, in Q4 of 2015, mobile video views exceeded desktop views for the first time ever. We now live in an age of mobile video, and it’s time we embraced it.
  3. Virtual and augmented reality: One of 2016’s biggest highlights was watching a screen-afflicted population carry their mobile devices out into the world to catch, yes, Pokemon. The biggest takeaway from this phenomenon was augmented reality’s ability to drive real business results. This has become a seriously viable option for marketers looking to bring the online into the real world.
  4. Mobile First Strategy: The future is mobile. Internet traffic is now coming more from mobile devices than desktops. If you’re not catering your content, ads and online experience to a mobile user, then you are missing a massive opportunity. And remember: It’s not just about “optimizing” for mobile; it’s also about making sure that piece of content gets integrated with a user’s lifestyle on the go.
  5. Chatbots: For those of you that don’t know; Chatbots is a program designed to simulate conversation with human users. Chatbot technology has become much more sophisticated. A great example is Facebook, which invests a significant amount of resources into bot programs that provide users with news updates, personalized responses and more. Are you talking to a human or a bot? If you can’t tell, then the bot is working as intended.
  6. Influencer Marketing: What’s more effective than an ad in selling your product? A lovable social media personality speaking highly about your product to his or her fans and followers. Influencer marketing is on the rise, because people tend to trust recommendations from people they see as thought leaders. The right influencers establish credibility through each social media post or advertisement. When they work with brands, it’s because they genuinely believe in them, and that trust is passed on to consumers.

For more information and ideas regarding digital marketing trends of 2017 Check out the video below from the digital marketing institute.

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at cosimocreatesbuzz.

Please Check out my website at http://www.cosimocreatesbuzz.com

Check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

Agrawal, A. (2016, December 16). 17 Marketing Trends To Watch Out For In 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/12/15/17-marketing-trends-to-watch-out-for-2017/#7d87341928ef

Marketing your brand on Stumbleupon

StumbleUpon is a “discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.” (stumbleupon.com)

StumbleUpon works by using a type of programmatic marketing to show you content that you are interested in. This content is based off collaborative filtering (an automated process combining human opinions with machine learning of personal preference) to create virtual communities of like-minded Web surfers. Rating Web sites update a personal profile (a blog-style record of rated sites) and generate networks of Web surfers linked by common interest. Works similar to mutual friends on Facebook but with interests like hiking or baseball. These social networks coordinate the distribution of Web content, so that users “stumble upon” pages explicitly recommended by friends and peers. Giving a site a thumbs up results in the site being placed under the user’s “favorites”. Furthermore, users have the ability to stumble their personal interests like “History” or “Games”.

stumpleupon

StumbleUpon’s marketing potential is based on content. Content is key! If your brand or company produces relevant content that users are interested in, then your efforts will be successful. The opposite is true as well. Check out the video below on tips and strategies on how to create content for your social media platforms.

Before your start creating your own content, check out the 5 tips below:

  1. Have a strategy: Without a defined strategy and objective the program will not have a focus. Here are some questions that should be answered:
    a) What is the objective?
    b) How often should I evaluate the progress or success?
    c) What is my budget?
    d) How often will the content be produced?
    e) What is the subject matter?
    f) What format will the content be?
    g) Where will it be published
  2. Know your Audience: This is probably the most important commandment of all!  Too many brands create content and expect customers right away. WRONG!!!  If you don’t know your audience, your content won’t have an impact.  Here are the questions you should ask before embarking on the program.a) Who are you targeting?
    b) What do you need?
    c) Have you asked them?
  3. Create Fresh Content: As a content creator, you need to be tasked with creating new content on a regular basis. That’s the best way to attract readers and keep them coming back. However, coming up with new ideas can be tough. Look for inspiration in your life. Be aware of new trends. Talk to your competition, to industry leaders. Consults online forums and blogs. Many big companies miss opportunities by ignoring the voice of the consumer.
  4. Promote Content: Not promoting your content is like putting dinner on the table and not telling anyone it’s ready. Don’t post content and hope people find it; instead, help people locate it. Use paid media to amplify it and email to cross promote your content.  IZEA has seen 10x the engagement with influencer promoted content on social media vs. brand promoted content.
  5. Consult Your metrics: Content marketing starts with a good strategy, but is perfected through metrics. Don’t start a content plan, hit go and not look back. Look at the number of visits, engagements and other social signals, like shares. Use those numbers to your advantage and improve your content. The truth is in the data. Analyze your content for what is working and what isn’t. See what is being shared, what is resonating with people? Survey your customers to see if you are meeting their needs. Did you know that 72% of impressions are generated in the first month with 28% afterwards, so monthly stats need to multiplied 1.4x to get a true measure of the response of the content created. A good example of an metrics system for first timers is Google Analytics. Its easy to use and learn.

For more information on creating your own content and content marketing check out my blog at https://cosimocreatesbuzz.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/10-commandments-of-content-marketing

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at cosimocreatesbuzz.

Please Check out my website at http://www.cosimocreatesbuzz.com

Check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

Brand Awareness and Benefits For An Online Business

Today, the world is changing. Many of the Old Crowd (our parents and grandparents) are trying to get their children to follow the old way 0f life. This being go through school, focus on grades, get into a good college or university and work for the rest of your life and retire on 40% of your income. Some parents are more open-minded than others and allow your children some freedom but traditionally this is the case.

With the world economy is trouble and less jobs out there for our recent graduates, it falls to these graduates to do one of many things.

  1. Get a job in their field if they are lucky
  2. Get a job in another field
  3. Be Over-Qualified for their job
  4. Start a business, creates jobs and be their own boss

makemoneyonline

For those, who have the entrepreneurial spirit and went into business for themselves either online or with a physical location or those who have been debating it for a long time, this blog is dedicated to you.

 Building Brand Awareness For Your Online Business

For many business owners, building brand recognition, awareness and online presence is the key to being successful. With today’s unemployment rates, it’s definitely a blessing if you have a day job in the first place, but if you’re not doing what you love, it’s hard to get excited to get up every morning and start working. It’s unfortunate, but there are many people who hate what they do, but feel that they are stuck in their current job because they need to pay the bills.

If you’re really passionate about a certain subject, area, or hobby, why not turn it into a business? There’s so much potential out there – and using the power of the internet, you can reach the world with your ideas, services, and products.

steve-jobs-quote

In my previous blogs I have mentioned many ways to build brand awareness. Here is a small recap:

  1. Produce and Distribute Great Quality Content. Creating and distributing quality content is the best way to gain visibility online. It is one of the most effective marketing strategies to promote your business and create brand recognition online. Creating quality content has become essential to any successful marketing strategy today.
  2. Social Media. Social Media Marketing is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote small businesses and enhance the visibility of your brand. Social Media Marketing promotes visibility, brand loyalty, recognition, and can also grow your sales. In addition, social media marketing allows small businesses and established ones to compete with an advantage. It enables businesses to reach worldwide audiences.
  3. Start a Blog. Having a blog can enhance brand visibility and improve your chances of success. In fact, blogging is one of the most effective ways to improve the visibility of your brand online. Blogging greatly improves your search engine rank, establishes validity in your brand and increases reach. In addition, blogging helps to cultivate relationships with customers and other influencers.
  4. Build credibility: People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Email gives you the ability to build credibility with your audience by sharing helpful and informative content.

For more information on building brand awareness in a variety of ways check out my blog  at https://cosimocreatesbuzz.wordpress.com/blog.

Check out the video below for some ideas to start your own online business:

 

Benefits of Having an Online Business

  1. You can do what you love: Having your own business is an amazing opportunity. It allows you to do what you love and potentially make some good money at the same time. Starting out will be hard. You will have to wear many hats and be able to balance a somewhat lax schedule but if your put effort and time and have the right mindset you can be successful.
  2. Flexible schedule and rules: If you are like me, you like to keep busy. However, when you have your business, you have some days that you are not. Having a flexible schedule allows you to plan your day, make a list of goals that you want to accomplish everyday in order to grow your business. When you have a flexible schedule, it’s easy to make time to see family or friends, because you can meet them at odd times you normally wouldn’t be able to.
  3. It’s relaxing: I find working from home to be extremely relaxing. Without a crazy commute, crazy co-workers, or a crazy boss, I have incomparably more energy for my family and friends. (Having plenty of “alone time” while I’m working from home definitely agrees with my introverted self.) Also, I can sleep in a little bit if I need to, I can take a nice relaxing walk if I want to. It’s much easier to take care of your health because there are more opportunities to fit in your fitness schedule.

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas! I always welcome new ideas.

Please follow me @cosimocreatesbuzz on Twitter and on Google+ at cosimocreatesbuzz.

Please Check out my website at http://www.cosimocreatesbuzz.com

Check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cosimocreatesbuzz

Dennis, A. (2015, September 15). Building Brand Awareness Through Improved Online Visibility. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://www.semrush.com/blog/building-brand-awareness-improved-online-visibility/
Gilbert, K. (2016, October 15). 7 Pros & Cons of Running An Online Home Business. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140627204122-117684287-7-pros-cons-of-running-an-online-home-business
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