Cutting Corners Can Hamper Growth. Why you need to Invest in Your Marketing.

When owning or running a business, you want people to purchase what you’re producing! Many small business owners underestimate the power of a good marketing plan. Time and again, marketing is cut it out of the budget completely or a family member/intern is tasked to “take care of it with minimal spend going toward talent and advertising.” Understanding YOUR target market is crucial when creating your Website, social media voice, company logo, location of ads, etc. Handing this off to someone without experience is incredibly risky when you are trying to make a name for yourself.

You need a solid game plan if you are stepping into the ring of digital Marketing. Think of this as the ABC’s of your plan of attack. Consumers and/or businesses need to be Aware you have a Website and social media pages, in addition to a Budget so you can properly get your message out there and create targeted Content to convert “clicks” into “customers”. A website will not automatically generate income, a Facebook page will not automatically acquire followers, and banner ads need to reach the audience you are looking to attract by directing them to landing pages designed to KEEP their attention with.

We constantly remind our clients that in order to see results, they must stick to the marketing plan and budget that was put in place specifically for them. In general, companies should expect to spend 8-10% of their annual gross revenue on marketing and advertising. Even though digital marketing has sped up the time it takes to see results, companies should not expect miracles to happen overnight. It is important to give the marketing process time to resonate with their intended audience.

Learning to love your data…

Setting up analytics on your website provides intelligence on what is working, when it is working and with how many people—very important when you are spending hard-earned money. Reviewing your analytics regularly makes it easier to make informed decisions about your campaigns. You can change your target audience, your artwork and your messaging as often as you like, and analytics will provide you with the insight needed to do this with more success. Even with all of these tools available why are so many business owners still not investing in their brand?

But where do we start?

There are so many places to put marketing dollars that it can be overwhelming. Branding, PR, advertising, a new Website, SEO, events, social media, email, CRM systems…knowing how much to do and spend is crucial. Without a thought-out plan, ads won’t perform as well. The same is true with mailings, social media, etc. It takes more time to come up with messaging on the spot, or for random social media posts, than putting everything down on paper and in a schedule.

Fear of commitment?

Launch meetings are used by agencies to educate business owners on why and how marketing budgets are vital and also to set expectations for the company. Amy Zucchi-Justice, Founder & Managing Director of The Karlyn Group explains; “We build in a research/set up period to make sure we are all on the same page from the beginning. We have met with many businesses that aren’t serious about their marketing. They haven’t spent money on marketing at all, and as a result, do not grow, or remain in business for long.” Why would you want to skimp on your brand? A poorly designed website can lose customers before they even leave the home page. A website without the right user experience is throwing money out the window. There are similar disasters with a bad logo, an unclear mission statement and ads that simply direct traffic to a generic home page.

We aren’t sure if it is the fear of spending money, or just the lack of knowledge on the importance of hiring an expert. There are so many options when hiring a marketing expert that don’t involve committing to a full-time employee with benefits, which will help you save considerably. Companies can work with a consultant, a freelancer or an agency and pay per project, per hour or on a monthly retainer. There are solutions for every business owner, and you can control your spend month to month if need be. To find out more about pricing, contact us here. A consultant can create your entire marketing strategy and run it, or just provide the blue print for you to run on your own. They can create content for blogs and articles, or just post for you on your social media pages.

Getting organized is a good start.

A marketing plan will help you to bring everything together in one document that you can follow and adjust as needed. It will keep you on track and hold you accountable to your commitments. It should include a timeline of marketing activities and budget so you can plan for the year. Your plan should include:

  • Target market and secondary market
  • Mission statements and taglines for campaigns
  • Website build/update schedule with site map
  • Campaign timelines for email, social, mailings, newsletters
  • Follow up/drip campaigns
  • Social media calendar
  • Event schedule and possible speaking engagements
  • A budget assigned to activities

Marketing requires patience and dedication. It goes beyond social media and should contain a multi-tiered approach that works together. With access to data and analytics available at your fingertips, companies should make it a priority to review them monthly to make better marketing decisions. Hiring the right marketing help is very important when so much is at stake. Investing in your business should be a priority.

The Karlyn Group works with small to medium size companies that want to take their marketing to the next level. Our team can put together a plan and strategy that meets your goals and unique needs. The Karlyn Group is part of your team—we become part of your team. Contact us with any questions you may have.

Building a Brand: Online Advertising Tips

Online Marketing Strategy Branding Commerce Advertising Concept

Online advertising can be a very powerful tool for the construction industry. Companies such as Google and Facebook provide a lot of information about how to utilize their online advertising services. However, as these services have expanded and diversified, they have also become a bit complex. Continue reading “Building a Brand: Online Advertising Tips”

Laying the Groundwork for the Right Website

Concept of construction cranes building a website isolated on white background

Professionals in the construction industry are experts at turning ideas into plans and plans into buildings—as well as other projects that are beautiful, useful, and durable. But the old rules about marketing your skills and services have been upended, and it is no longer optional to recognize the role that websites, social media, and smart technology now play in finding your next customers—or in helping your next customers find you.

Does your company have a website?

Continue reading “Laying the Groundwork for the Right Website”

Hyperlocal Marketing – Just Hype?

When trying to determine the best marketing strategy for the growth of a company, it’s easy for a business owner to become disillusioned by the “mythology” of corporate marketing. You tentatively adopt a strategy, “do it,” and are not sure if it works, and, if it does, you have no idea why. There are so many jargon-heavy terms floating around, it can be hard to parse through what works, and what is just a red herring.

red herring

Larger, online-based companies have adopted the term “hyper-local” to refer to the complicated algorithms and expensive analytics that help them target the customers they want with mobile and online ads. It’s important to remember that for You, the small business owner, “hyper-local” marketing is just plain…Marketing! You are already targeting the right customers at the right time by being in touch with your audience through customer service and sales.

But First, Take a Step Back

How do you communicate your brand to your audience-It’s still necessary, however, to develop a solid understanding of the relationship between your brick-and-mortar or e-commerce space and its online footprint. It’s always important to ask yourself the big questions before deciding where to dedicate your time when building your strategy:

  • What is your brand?
  • What is your brand’s voice?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How do you communicate your brand to your audience?
  • How does this communication turn your audience into customers?

And, in the internet age, importantly:

Where are your customers searching for your product or service online?

(Of course, if you have troubles answering these questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!)

Never Ignore Your Website

It’s easy to misunderstand the importance of a business website when online review sites such as Yelp or Google Business seem to build customers for you. Your website should not be just a sales channel for your product or service, but should work alongside your existing online presence (read: your Yelp reviews!) to be an extension of your company’s brand into the virtual space. Once you’ve created a strong business website, consider the way people are entering it.

  • If people are being funneled through backdoor channels (such as the aforementioned Yelp reviews) are they staying?
  • How well is your website doing in Google search rankings?
  • If you are spending money for online ads, are people clicking on them?
  • Are you using mechanisms like special offers for conversions?

Your Website- Not just a place to put your logo online.

The goal is to be specific with your audience. If you are not sending the right person to the right page, be ready to deal with a high bounce rate. Try utilizing unique landing pages with customized copy when doing local campaigns, so you can geo-target potential customer bases for events or conferences. Once they’re on your site, get them to stay with the key to all successful online marketing strategies: content!

Share what you do with your customers, and your website will become a dynamic part of your marketing strategy, not just a place to put your logo online.

The Right Focus on the Right Channel

Once you’ve built a strong website and begun to establish your online presence, it’s time to start experimenting. Set up Google analytics and test different channels until you start to understand the DNA of your local customers. When you figure out which channel your audience is using to communicate, you can know better where to allocate your resources. Take advantage of all social media outlets, but, depending on your industry, be sure to find the right blend.

Understand the DNA of your local customers

  • Don’t waste money on Facebook ads being seen by random audiences.
  • Don’t direct people to a webpage that’s not targeted to them.
  • Don’t spend hours on your Twitter account if your customers are talking about you on Yelp.
  • Don’t have an Instagram account just…because you feel like you have to have one.
  • Don’t spend money (& time!) to find customers instead of spending money for customers to find you!

The beauty of online is that you can switch things quickly if you see it’s not working.

Join the Conversation & Develop Your Voice  

If you are doing a good job, allow your audience to speak for your business. Your continued great online reviews give strength to your online presence.

Allow your audience to speak for your business

If you don’t like what your customers have to say, however, join the conversation! If you engage your “haters,” you still have an opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive one. When you delight your customers, word of mouth will spread quickly. When it does, be ready with a solid website and brand presence! The combination of your active efforts as well as the inactive work done by your adoring audience will build the best representation of your business online.

Let your “hyper-local” marketing efforts go global and turn curious converts into lifetime customers.

 

A Happy Customer is Yours for Life

How to get new traffic to your store (or site) and grow your loyal customers.

Today’s customers want it all – competitive pricing, value, and high quality service. What’s more, loyalty levels are declining leading to higher turnover rates. A customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor because of service quality as opposed to price (Bain& Co). Thanks to social media – the ultimate in word-of-mouth communication- individuals decisions to switch can have rapid and widespread consequences (Accenture).

75-customer-service-facts-quotes-statistics-10-638

Providing your customers with useful information will build loyalty.

Content marketing is all about creating and distributing relevant articles, information, videos, etc. – to attract and engage a clearly defined target audience. The end goal is to drive profitable customer action.The idea is to create interesting content that speaks to clients and prospects without selling them anything overtly. Packaging and disseminating useful content in a thoughtful way also positions your store as a thought leader and showcases your expertise. Modern consumers are more shopping savvy than ever as the internet provides easy accessible information about your product and those your competitors are selling. While determining what customers are looking for is crucial, meeting their needs is not enough to keep them coming back.

It is important to build loyalty through time and build trust.
Learn more about your most loyal customers and enthusiastic promoters, those who love doing business with you and sing your praise to others. Invite your top clients back to your store using feedback surveys and conversations. Highlight your unique strengths that attracted them in the first place.

Ensure the support of senior leaders and managers to help ensure that all team members recognizes the importance of your customer service philosophy. Empower your staff to make decisions in-line with your customer service culture. “Our standard return policy was 30 days but the owner always told us we can break the rule when we felt it would make customer service sense,” Tina, a sales associate at Moss and Me, told us. “I knew giving back a customers money would have her spend more in the store, and she did that day!” Success requires cultural change and commitment to permanent customer service values first.

Unknown

Recognize that not all customers are the same. While customer value and profitability are key elements of the company’s retention tactics, set rules around customer service means you are more than likely not adapting to the needs of each customer. Listen to a individual needs and provide a solution tailored specifically to the situation.

Always stay on your toes. Older businesses are in danger of becoming complacent, allowing their innovative capacity to die off. When long-time consumers are only contacted for business they are likely to see your relationship as a formality and take their business elsewhere. Remember, competitors are courting new customers just as often as you are, if not more. Bringing new benefits to your customers and making the business relationship about more than a discount will keep your old buyers coming back. A good way of doing this would be to:

  •  Work with agencies like the Karlyn Group to create a newsletter for your clients which highlights the differences between products or services.
  •  Have a productive website which encourages repeat business.
  • Offer informal classes, book signings, and demonstrations by vendors.

No matter what stage your business is in, there are simple ways for you to build your relationship with your consumers and continue to thrive.

Social Media: Everyone Else Is Doing It…So Can You!

Social-Media-Amy

It is no secret that companies across all industry segments are adopting social media into their marketing plans. Yet, social media remains an undeveloped territory for a large portion of the construction industry. By increasing your social media efforts, you can effectively get the word out, build brand recognition, and connect with customers for less than traditional marketing.

New to Social Media?

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feed, Blogging, and other forms of social media enable companies to share a vast amount of information on a frequent basis and to generate discussion among a larger community. You have a website; and you may have even set up a Facebook or Twitter page. But, do you really understand the capabilities of these tools?

The Numbers Have It

In a survey done by the Construction Marketing Association this year, 97 percent of the construction companies polled said that, “Yes,” they do participate in social media. Of the firms that do use it, only 7 percent of companies said that they get nothing out of it. However, the remaining 93 percent agreed that it is valuable. The top four perceived benefits are:

    • Brand awareness
    • Increased website traffic
    • Higher search ranking
    • Sales leads

Your company’s reputation is important. Having an active and positive social media presence can give you “social proof.” Simply put, social proof means that when a person visits your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn page and sees that you have a substantial following of highly engaged fans, you will be perceived more favorably. That person is, in turn, more likely to participate as well.

Through social media, you are also able to learn about the key players, as well as ideas and trends of the industry. You can then utilize that knowledge into not only your own social media campaigns, but your other business efforts and operations.

How do you get started? 

The best way to attract more engaged followers is to create posts that inspire readers to share your content and/or give a call to action.  To write successful and engaging posts, remember to keep your posts consistent, relevant, short, and eye-catching. Additionally, your content should offer your readers value through education, entertainment, or even offers and promotions.

If you are just stepping onto the social media scene, here are a few places to begin:

    • LinkedIn is a great resource to seek out connections that you can pursue for business opportunities.  Don’t be shy to connect.
    • Facebook is the best place to post photos and updates of projects.
    • Twitter makes it easy for you to quickly share information about your product, and get information and feedback from clients.

The Relationship Builder

An important aspect to recognize about social media is that it is a relationship builder. This is your firm’s opportunity to build relationships with individuals who may be potential clients and customers. Think about how you would approach building a face-to-face relationship with a client or customer – social media works in the same way.

Social Media is Not a Soliloquy

Social media also allows your construction company to inform others about its accomplishments and awards, and updates in the industry. It is a great place to highlight projects and showcase pictures from the jobsite. While this is a great marketing tool for your business, social media is most successful when used as a conversation, not a monologue. Making productive use of social media is about more than sharing information. Do not get trapped in the routine of writing posts, sending them out, and not asking for feedback.

Getting the word out about your products and services in a way that promotes online discussion has proven to be more beneficial than by standard, one-directional “shout marketing” alone. Some companies use it to drive sales, while others use it for recruitment or customer service. No matter the end-goal, social media is just that – social.

While there are countless creative ways to invite your followers to participate, these practices are the most standard place to get started:

    • Ask a simple question
    • Surveys and polls – learn more about your customers preferences, or use this to learn more about industry trends
    • Encourage submissions – photos and stories

There is no question that social media is a powerful and effective tool; the value that it can provide for you really depends on your business and what your end-goal is. We know that consumers buy from brands they know and trust. The more loyal fans you have that share your content, the more you increase your chances of being seen and heard inside Facebook or Twitter. When your exposure increases, your fan base increases. This is “word-of-mouth” marketing at its best.

Still stumped? Contact the Karlyn Group today to find out how we can help you get serious about social.

Strengthen Your Company’s Image through Branded Content

content

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: “Content is king!” The phrase may be overused, but its message rings true.

Much of your company’s success is driven by how people perceive your brand in the marketplace. It is a major factor in whether or not they want to buy your products and services. Nowadays, there are so many marketing outlets to consider that it is increasingly harder to stand out from competitors. A corporate Facebook page with thousands of “likes” is okay—but to truly elevate your visibility and brand image, content marketing is the answer (in fact, this blog post is an example of such…).

So what is content marketing, exactly?

Content marketing is all about creating and distributing relevant articles, information, videos, etc.—to attract and engage a clearly defined target audience. The end goal, in turn, is to drive profitable customer action.

In other words, the idea is to create interesting content that speaks to clients and prospects without trying to sell them anything overtly.  Packaging and disseminating useful content in a thoughtful way also positions your company as a thought leader and showcases your expertise.

Companies that have successfully used content marketing include P&G, John Deere, Xerox, Microsoft, and Cisco, as well as many smaller companies. And the trend is certainly on the rise–a recent survey from BtoB Magazine showed that 57% of marketers expect to be “very” or “fully” engaged in content marketing in 2014.

What’s the best way to get content in front of target clients and prospects?

here are many platforms that can help you reach your target audience—including social media, email, and web-based channels.  While you can get by using one or two of them, an integrated approach increases your footprint exponentially.

Social media

LinkedIn and Twitter are great tools for reaching the business-to-business market, and include useful features to help you connect with your intended audience.  Additionally, Facebook and YouTube are increasingly being used in the business-to-business world. It is important to post, interact, and contribute often—but not so much that you annoy your audience.

Your social media strategy should fold into your overall marketing strategy with content playing a major role throughout.  Your larger content efforts can include articles, blogging, white papers, webcasts, and more—woven into social channels but also distributed at events, meetings, etc. And the good news is that you don’t have to be a journalist to be a good content marketer. Relevant, valuable information—when packaged and distributed thoughtfully—speaks for itself.

Email isn’t dead

In some ways, email can almost feel antiquated in the current environment, but its usefulness should not be underestimated as part of your content marketing efforts.  Email communication remains a powerful direct line to customers and prospects, and offers an avenue for customized content.  Getting your most relevant articles, white papers, webcast invites, etc. directly into someone’s inbox is a proverbial “foot in the door” that can lead to conversion.  In fact, email-marketing conversion rates remain high—and, because of its direct nature, email is more likely to prompt customer follow-though than social media.

Video brings your content to life

When you are putting together a content-marketing plan, video and webcasting are worth consideration. The cost to record and distribute content is minimal—and the end product is easily shareable.

For complicated or in-depth topics, video may lend itself as an effective means of breaking down and deploying information.  It works equally well for simple content that you want to bring to life—and you can play around with formats including interviews, panel discussions, and slide presentations.

Where to Begin? 

A good place to start, before you dive into elaborate new campaigns, is with a content-marketing goal.  Are you trying to engage a particular portion of your audience?  Connect with new leads?  Generate buzz for a new product or service?  Then, once you know what you’re trying to do and whom you’re trying to reach, you can take an inventory of your existing assets—to see if you have what you need or whether you need to shift resources or hire an outside firm.

Always make sure your content is easily shareable and links back to your company’s website. And whatever format, method, and channels you decide to use, be sure to track how your content is performing.  You might find there is a particular topic your audience wants more of—or, if an article or video isn’t getting traction, you may need to change gears.  The bottom line: content marketing is here to stay—so I encourage you to jump in and make the most of it!