The official blog of Nancy Marshall Communications
offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

PLEASE NOTE: This blog has been discontinued.
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Think of Your Website as an Asset and Your Marketing as an Investment

I contend that in today’s business world, a website is one of the most important assets a business can own, second only to the customer list. In the eyes of many consumers today, if you do not have a website, it’s as if you do not exist. And without customers, you have no revenues, and therefore no viable business.

Think of Your Website as an Asset and Your Marketing as an Investment

Consumers are searching on their computers, and increasingly on their smartphones, for information of all kinds: a place nearby to get sushi for lunch, the best model economy car to buy, a good beach read, and which school is best for their child’s education. If your business doesn’t show up on the Web, or if it only shows up in the reviews left by other people, then you are missing a huge opportunity to present your business in a positive light and tout the benefits it offers to its targeted audience.

The time and effort you put into improving your website so it is easily findable and relevant to the needs of your targeted audience is one of the most important activities you can engage in as part of growing a business. A website that offers valuable information and educates visitors about the benefits of working with you or buying your products and services will improve your relationship with current customers and attract new prospects that are an ideal fit for your business.

The customer list is a business’s number one asset. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that making repeat sales to existing customers is the most cost-effective way to grow your bottom line. Maintaining a customer list will enable you to market directly to those who already have a proven interest in what you have to offer and make the relationships you already have with these people even stronger. So it’s important to tend to your customer list as you would tend to a garden. The idea is to grow your customer list over time in order to grow your business.

Enabling those who visit your site to sign up for an e-newsletter on your website Home page or offering them exclusive resources and information in exchange for their contact information are some of the ways you can use your website to help grow your customer list.

Other online tools, including social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, can help you engage your customers further so they feel they are part of your business and feel a sense of trust in what you say and do. Always remember, though, that the spirit of the Internet is to provide value to your followers, not to hard sell your company’s products or services. What you post on your social media pages should be educational, informative and engaging, not overly promotional.

Your website and your customer list are closely tied together. Your current and prospective customers will refer to your website for useful information that will enable them to learn more about your company and what you have to offer. Value-added resources you can provide for your customers on your website can include resource articles and how-to videos. The more useful background information you are able to provide to a member of your target audience, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Regularly posting new information and resources will give them a reason to return to your website again and again, helping to facilitate a long-term relationship with customers.

Accountants may argue with me about classifying a website as an asset. That said, if you own a bricks and mortar store, and you qualify that as an asset, I believe a website is as equally valuable to a business, particularly if customers can make purchases from that site.

Finally, just like the upgrades you make to your business’s physical location and the equipment you need to operate, the money you spend on marketing is an investment in the future of your business. All marketing initiatives should start with a strategic marketing plan, and a strategy to maximize your company’s Web presence and website should be at the center of your plan. Like any good investment, your marketing strategy should yield a measurable return calculated by clearly defined measurements of success determined before implementation.

At NMC, we offer our own version of a strategic marketing communications plan, and we call it The Marshall Plan®. One of the features that makes The Marshall Plan® unique is a time-tested development process that engages the leadership of an organization along with the best minds from our agency to collaboratively develop a road map to generate the return on investment your business or nonprofit needs to grow. Please call me if you want to talk more about how a Marshall Plan® can help you improve your bottom line and deliver measurable results that will get your entire organization energized about your growth potential.

Mapping Your Network

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you,
whose presence calls forth your best.”

Epictetus

I believe that your network of contacts is the foundation of your brand. The people who are closest to you, who will vouch for you, who will refer you for jobs or business, and who trust you enough to do business with you are the ones who will help you define who you are and what makes you unique.

Network map

Have you ever considered mapping your network? It might be a useful exercise. It would be something you could post on your wall and look at every day. It would be a visual reminder that you need to ‘tend to your flock,’ and stay in touch with these people to show them gratitude for being part of your life.

You could start with your most inner circle of contacts. This would be your family and closest friends.

The next layer might be the people you work with on a day-to-day basis and the friends you see frequently but who aren’t necessarily your most intimate friends. If you send Christmas cards every year, it might be the people on your Christmas card list. Or it might be your Facebook friends.

The next layer might be all the associations you are part of: your professional memberships, your church congregation, your school and community groups, and perhaps even the residents in your neighborhood.

Then there might be another layer with people whose names you recognize, but who you might not know very well. You might make it a goal to get to know these people better.

I recommend you create a network map, and you hang it on the wall near your desk. You might want to include an affirmation such as: “These are the most important people in my life and I am grateful for my relationship with them.” Or it could even be as simple as “These are my peeps!”

Your Website is the Centerpiece of Your Marketing Program

When you are setting a table for a formal dinner party, you place something beautiful in the center of the table like candles, flowers or a bowl of colorful fruit. This centerpiece ties everything on the table together.

This infographic comes from our good friends at the Caliber Group in Arizona. Both our agencies are members of the Alliance of Marketing Communications Agencies. Thanks to the Caliber Group for sharing! www.calibergroup.com

Your website is the centerpiece of your marketing program. It helps you connect with your targeted audiences and ties all of your marketing efforts together. It contains all the information about your product, service, place, organization or brand that people need in order to connect with you or do business with you. Visitors come to your site to get more information, to evaluate your products and services and to assess your brand. By looking at your site, they decide whether they want to connect with your brand….or not.

Your website is the focal point of your brand, and the foundation of your marketing program. Every aspect of your marketing should point back to your website, including press releases, ads, business cards, brochures, flyers, rack cards, banners, direct mail and social media.

Nancy Marshall, principal of Nancy Marshall Communications

When people go to your website, they will immediately get a sense of your brand. If your website looks amateurish, people will think your business is amateurish.  If it is beautiful and full of useful information that draws people in and keeps them there for a while, then your website will build your brand and convey an image of professionalism.

It’s important to be sure that the centerpiece on your table and the centerpiece of your marketing program are consistent with the image you want to convey to your guests, whether they are coming for dinner at your home or coming to learn more about your organization online.

How To Connect Your YouTube and Google+ Pages

You can link your Google+ page to your business’s YouTube channel to gain advanced channel management features. You will be able to let multiple people manage your YouTube channel, as well as manage multiple YouTube channels from a single login. No more sharing passwords to personal Google accounts, or setting up fake Google accounts just for YouTube!

Here are instructions for linking Google+ to YouTube. You must already have a Google+ page set up for your business, and the Gmail login you use to access YouTube must be an administrator of the Google+ page.

1.) In YouTube, under account settings, click the “advanced” link

2.) Click the blue button that says “Connect with a Google+ page”

3.) You will be presented with a few options for what you can connect your YouTube channel to. Select your YouTube channel from the list and click next. Follow the additional instructions and your YouTube channel will be linked to your Google+ page.

4.) Now any of your Google+ page managers will be able to manage your YouTube account. When they log in to YouTube, they can use the “switch account” feature to select the Google+ page and the connected YouTube channel.

Contributed by Matthew Rideout, NMC Interactive Marketing Manager

 

Eventbrite Changing the Way You Buy Tickets

NMC Account Assistant, Erika Bush

Hi, Erika here! It seems that every event I’ve been invited to in the past year has been linked to Eventbrite, and for good reason—it’s free! That’s right, completely free to create an online event.

Planning an event is stressful enough, without having to worry about ticketing, too. Another great feature of Eventbrite is that if your event is free than so is their service—they provide the perfect platform to promote it within your area without paying a thing.

The fees only begin when you start selling tickets, and what you pay for them to take all the stress out of online ticketing is minimal:

Eventbrite Fee

2.5%  plus $0.99 per ticket

*Cap fees at $9.95 per ticket for organizations

Processing Options

 

Standard Credit Card Processing Fee: 3% of ticket value

 

Paypal: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction

 

Google Checkout: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction

 

Authorize.net: rates vary

Kevin and Julia Hartz, husband and wife co-founders of Eventbrite

Since Eventbrite’s inception in 2006, the company has slowly been taking over the ticketing industry. They recently received a $50 million investment that makes some believe they could begin competing with larger sites such as TicketMaster and StubHub.

The first sign of them being ready to step it up comes from their recent partnership with Facebook’s “Buy Tickets” feature—a partnership that occurred within 48 hours of the new feature’s launch.  This seamless connection comes from the relationship that was already in place between Eventbrite and Facebook from their work together on Open Graph, which helps people tell stories about their lives through the apps they use.

The way the new “Buy Tickets” feature works is that when someone creates an event using Eventbrite, they will be given the option to “Publish to Facebook.” After this is done, the event will be on Facebook and they simply invite people to their event, or make the event public for the “Buy Tickets” button to appear.

The new feature will allow Eventbrite users to seamlessly link their events to Facebook.

Sharing events on Facebook happens every day; it’s coordinating where to send the money for these events that gets messy. You have to either be directed to another site to pay or you show up to the event and hope there are tickets left. Taking out the middle man makes sense. Kevin Stone of the New York Times quotes Eventbrite CEO Kevin Hartz saying, “Events are naturally social. You are certainly likely to share with others what conference you are attending, what club event you are going out to or what class you are going to take.”

Eventbrite has been growing steadily since its founding in a small one-room office in San Francisco back in 2006. It took off in 2010 and by 2012 it had more than tripled in size. Much like Pinterest, Eventbrite doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon, and is the one to watch when it come to online ticket sales.

Websites and Social Media: Why Use Both?

Hi, Erika here. Recently, we featured an article about the value of having mobile-friendly websites and it got me thinking…

You have a website for your customers and it’s even a mobile-friendly website, but what about social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest?

Websites focus on business and sales

Today, more than ever, people judge your business based on its online presence. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Disney World, you are going to Google them. When you do, you will find their website, Facebook, and trip ideas in the immediate results. Why? Because they want you to know that you can trust them to make your experience as easy and fun as possible; they take the stress out of it.

Facebook focuses on people

Think of your business as Disney World. No, you don’t have to dress up in costumes or invest in a magic Kingdom, but you should dress up your business with an awesome website and invest in the magic world of the Web through a social media site like Facebook.

Pinterest categorizes interests of Disney visitors

The easier it is to find your business, the more likely people are to give you their business. You take yourself and your business seriously, so express that on your website. Your website should be based on informing potential customers about what you have to offer, and it should be sales driven. The use of a social media site, like Facebook, is your way to make your business human.

Twitter provides a live stream of information

Think of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as the cafeteria in high school. It’s where people discuss the latest gossip and juiciest rumors. You want to be involved in those conversations, especially when it comes to your business. Join the conversation. It not only increases awareness, it makes you more likable and if there is one thing we know for certain—people buy from companies they know, like and trust.

So how do you know what social media sites are right for you?

Facebook: This is the truly universal site when it comes to promoting your business. It’s a classic that never seems to go out of style.  It is well established, has the most online users, and people trust it.

Facebook makes it incredibly easy to connect with hundreds of people in a single post and features private messaging options that are great for handling customer complaints and/or concerns.

Twitter: Twitter is also universal, but is usually most effective in driving traffic to another site or post. It can be great for reaching out to new clients or business professionals. You can retweet their posts to get their attention. The only problem is making your message clear in 140 characters or less.

While Twitter is great for spreading a message and starting conversations, it offers the owner of the page very little control once a Tweet has been made.

Pinterest: Do you work in an industry or offer products that are best demonstrated by images? If so, then Pinterest could be a great resource for your business. It makes it easy to share images, and you are easily able to link images to your site. You can also follow other local businesses and re-pin their pictures.

Pinterest is a great tool for creating streaming images that are easy to update and can even be used in an e-commerce market by linking images to your website order page.

Blog: If you are an expert in your field a blog is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge. You can offer weekly features and develop a high level of readership. Blogs are a great tool for forming a better relationship with your customers/consumers.

Blogs can easily be linked with ANY of the social media sites listed above, as well as with your company website.

 

No matter the exposure your business needs social media is well-equipped to make it happen!

 

 

Photographer Joe Carpine Scrubs In

This week’s Friday Fab Foto features photographer, Joe Carpine, all scrubbed in and ready for a client photo shoot.

Photographer, Joe Carpine at our latest client photo shoot.

Renee Black, one of our account executives, accompanied Joe to a client’s pharmaceutical location, where they took photos of the client creating chemotherapy medications. On any given day at NMC, we get involved with a variety of exciting things, all aimed at helping clients achieve their strategic goals. Sometimes it’s a photo shoot and sometimes it’s building a website, but usually it all starts with a Marshall Plan which outlines the goals and the specific tactics to achieve those goals.

Renee and Joe were both required to “scrub in” for the shoot and this picture was taken by Renee after Joe got all suited up.

 

Do you have any pictures taken in Maine to share?

We want to feature you and your picture RIGHT HERE. Submit your picture to our Facebook page with a brief description of when/where the picture was taken and YOU might be next week’s Friday Fab Foto-grapher!

The Three Essential Parts of PR

Hi Nancy here. I wanted to share my most basic vision of PR with you in this week’s edition of Wednesday Witty Wisdom.

I often think about PR in terms of three basic things:

Message
Medium
Audience

(If only there was an “m” word for audience so I could give you the three “M’s” of PR!)

First, it’s important to define your message. What are you trying to say? Break it down into a sound bite, if possible. A seven-second sound bite is ideal for the media although if it has to be a bit longer to communicate your message, so be it. Brevity and simplicity work best.

Next we are going to skip over the medium right to the audience. Who are you trying to communicate your message to? What medium or media do they consume? Do they listen to NPR? Do they read Smithsonian Magazine? Are they on Facebook or Twitter? Where do they get their information?

Now we look at the second thing, which is the medium, or how you connect your message to your audience.  There may be many things on this list, such as direct mail, e-newsletters, press releases to specific media outlets, special events, etc. but make sure you only list media that are consumed by your targeted audience. You don’t want to use Twitter for 90 year olds who live in nursing homes. That’s an extreme example, but hopefully I made my point.

Does your message go through the right mediums to reach your audience?

If your PR plan breaks down its components into these three basic items, you’ll be well on your way to a winning strategy.

 

 

 

Send us YOUR pictures of Maine to enter our new Friday Fab Foto contest!

Going Mobile: No Longer Optional

Erik Goranson, senior associate consultant at Bain & Company

The world is going mobile!

If you’re as dependent on your smart phone as I am, you know that sense of panic and dread when you misplace your phone.  Every day, people are becoming more dependent on their phones for everything from emails to Facebook updates to gaming and news. People are factoring in that a mobile presence is no longer optional and this week’s Monday Maven Erik Goranson, a senior associate consultant for Bain & Company, an international consulting firm, discusses this trend and the importance of mobile access for businesses.

In our post on PR Disasters, we discussed the evolving media landscape and how fast a single post or idea can go viral. Erik agrees saying, “customers today consume more media and information than ever before and they share that information even faster.”  Even though there is risk in social media and sharing, he adds that if businesses fail to connect socially today they may never be able to reach those consumers again.

His work at Bain includes running the Atlanta office’s Technology Mentorship Program (TMP) with his colleague Just Major. The focus of TMP follows a reverse-mentorship model, allowing the associate consultants to mentor their senior leadership on the latest trends in technology. Goranson says, “when we surveyed the leadership group we found they were most interested in learning more about social media, mobile apps, and search engine optimization (SEO).”

ExpApp allows you to get better seats at your favorite sports events.

This shift to mobile devices and apps is being recognized by Fortune 500 companies and they understand that as this occurs, they are going to need to determine how to incorporate social media into the core of their business models. This is where Bain comes into play. Goranson says, “we live and breathe in a world of data, but we also focus on the qualitative side of the business and social media straddles both realms.” He gives the example that a financial service company shouldn’t be concerned with Facebook likes alone, but in how they can leverage Facebook to better interact with their current and potential customers.

A self-proclaimed fan of social media, Goranson even dabbled in blogging (currently discontinued), but ultimately ended up putting that passion to use with his work at Experience. The company focuses on sports fans and how to improve their experience. Goranson’s role is focused on the start-up’s revenue management and optimization through the development of software, data analytics and strategic price planning.

Screenshot of Experience App on your mobile device.

Since Experience is a mobile-first company, they thrive on page real estate. Erik says that since mobile pages are so much smaller, the key to mobile success is learning to create simple, yet rich Web pages. He believes that a company must have a well-developed mobile page, but should consider an app, too. Goranson says, “apps are perfect, self-contained environments that can handle a lot of back-end processing and offer your customers a better experience.”

So what does Erik say to businesses that are wary of mobile and social media sites? He says, “Bain taught me that data doesn’t lie. My mantra is ABT—always be testing. Data proves that if a current or potential customer cannot find your business online today then you are in serious trouble,” he says.  He adds that consumers are proving to be less brand loyal than ever before. They are quick to bounce to a competitor’s site if they find it more easily accessible. He adds, “you don’t necessarily need to conduct commerce via mobile devices and social media sites, but some sort of Web app or site with strong SEO is no longer optional.”

Erik Goranson is originally from Maine, but currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information or to reach out to Erik feel free to email him at erik.goranson@gmail.com or you can also connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Send us YOUR pictures of Maine to enter our new Friday Fab Foto contest!

Check Your Ego at the Door

How Marketing Can Help You Learn From Your Mistakes 

 Marketing can be a dubious art sometimes. It can often seem like your marketing and advertising efforts are wasted. John Wanamaker, owner of America’s first big department stores, was famous for saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” He was right, and you may be wondering how this ties in with your ego. It’s because in marketing you may fail. You may try something that is part of the wasteful half of your total budget. You may even fail badly. But the important thing is to learn from it quickly, change your course, and find the 50 percent of marketing that resonates with your target audience.

When I started my career in marketing, we didn’t have the benefit of the Internet which is the greatest marketing teacher we could ever dream of. Today we can see patterns of behavior on the Web and adjust our company’s website content often. We can see which pages are most popular and which aren’t holding peoples’ attention. We can add content and change the design to make it more appealing. Metrics like these help people whose ego might otherwise prevent them from seeing the weaknesses of their business. It’s hard to argue with cold hard data, which is readily available from Google analytics. But much of marketing doesn’t have clear-cut facts to base decisions on – sometimes only trial and error will provide you with the info you want. And it is here that your ego can get in the way.

As a business owner, it was my ego or sense of self-esteem that gave me the courage to go out and start my own business in the first place two decades ago. I believed in my dream and was sure others would, too, and luckily, I was right. However, if we are too tied up in our own ego, we are not going to be as willing to try new things since they come with the risk of failing. Yet failing is part of the learning process. Failing fast is key (just pull that Band Aid off!) and learning from your mistakes is paramount; it can be the very reason a business succeeds.

When making marketing choices, it’s also important not to assume that you are the target audience. I used to work for a ski resort where the lift tickets seemed pricey to those of us who worked in the marketing department. That’s because our salaries were a fraction of the average salaries of our targeted audience. We couldn’t make assumptions based on our own budgets or even our own value systems. Many skiers were and still are willing to pay the price because they value the ski experience so deeply.

The same applies to things like pop-up ads. You may hate them, but if people actually click through on them to see what’s being advertised, then they are successful. Again, you are not the target audience, so get your ego out of the way and try new things with your marketing. You may look like a failure one day, but if you adjust your plan and try something different based on your failure, you may be a hero the next day.

I speak to many groups and individuals about social media marketing, and I often hear “how does anyone have time for all of that?  I don’t have time to check Facebook ten times a day.”  Again, get your ego out of the way. If you are not spending time on social networks, you are in the minority. Americans spend on average eight hours per month on social networks and there are a billion regular users of Facebook, including 600 million mobile users who are checking in on their mobile phones. There are now four billion YouTube views a day and YouTube is second only to Google for searching for information online.

New advertising opportunities such as with Facebook or Google are a good way to experiment with your preconceived notions about who your customer is. You can try running an ad that targets exactly who you think will click on it and run also an ad targeting a new demographic, one you might think is a bad fit. You will receive interesting metrics from the ad reports that could illustrate a huge failure or a huge win.

It is a good idea to have a reality check with yourself and your company on a regular basis. Google your business – see what people are saying. Do a search for what you think people will type into their computers if they were trying to find your company and see what comes up. The results may not match your ego-based expectations. It might be a helpful wake-up call, providing your business with a great opportunity to switch things up a bit and experiment with something new and potentially game changing. Marketing is about finding the way to reach your customers that is perfect right now. Remember, it’s not about you! It’s about your customers and what they want.