5 Ingredients For a Successful Holiday Social Advertising Campaign

5 Ingredients For A Successful Holiday Social Advertising Campaign

Whether or not we want to believe it, the holiday season is upon us. We see turkeys and pumpkin pie everywhere we go. The pre-Black Friday sales are going on. Christmas music is starting to filter through our radio stations.

Is your business ready?

The holiday season is one time of year that it seems advertising dollars are unlimited based on the traditional ads we see. Social advertising, however, has been slow to warm up to those levels. I believe that social advertising is more effective in reaching your audience – and this is coming from a former print advertising sales girl.

If you are using social advertising this holiday season, you want to make sure you are getting your biggest bang for your buck. In this article, I am going to share with you 5 tips for a successful holiday social advertising campaign.

You’ll find out –

  • Why having a budget is important.
  • Why you need to get creative.
  • Why you need to know your audience.
  • How targeting works for you.
  • Why tracking is a requirement.

Know your advertising budget.

In a perfect world, businesses would have advertising budgets as big as Santa Claus’ toy bag. With an unlimited amount of money to spend, just imagine what businesses could do. Unfortunately, that is not the case in our world. Company budgets are run tight, often cutting sales and marketing first. When you advertise online and do not set specific start and end dates, it’s very easy to run up a high advertising bill. That’s the last thing  company needs in the 4th quarter.

Having a budget is important because:

  1. It controls cost. You can keep track of where the money is being spent accurately.
  2. It’s easier to calculate ROI when it’s over. When you track the response of your ad against how much you spent, it’s easier to figure out that elusive number as compared to traditional print or broadcast ads.
  3. It shows you just how much you can accomplish with social advertising when putting it up to a traditional form of advertising.

Think outside the box.

Since so many companies are vying for your customers’ dollars, the gloves really come off where creativity is concerned. This is a time of year when you need to start thinking outside the box and leave your comfort zone. You need to be seen and heard among the Targets, Macy’s and Wal-Marts of the world. This is where creativity comes in. Think of the successful holiday advertising campaigns you’ve seen. The ones that come to mind to me are:

  1. Coca-Cola. The Polar Bears are so endearing that it makes an emotional connection with the audience.
  2. Hershey’s Kisses. The Kisses as bells playing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is my favorite holiday TV commercial. They have aired the same commercial every year for as long as I can remember. Continuity definitely says something.
  3. Elf Yourself from Office Max. 9 years later, people are still getting elfed each year.

Now take a look at what made these successful – it wasn’t your normal run-of-the-mill advertising – they set out to really connect with people. Whether it was from an animated character, musical chocolates or making an elf in your image – they all started as something outside the box.

Know who your audience actually is.

Ask any business who their audience is and you’ll see a lot of similarities – people who like to spend money and have money are just two. Knowing who your audience is and being able to relate to them is key. You’ll know exactly what to say – and how to say it. The way you’d phrase an ad you want moms to see would be much different from ads geared towards teens.

For example, you are a clothing store targeting teenage girls. For an ad targeting their moms, you would say something like “We help 14 year olds look like 14 year olds.” (Disclaimer: I’m a mom of a tween – trust me, clothes these days do anything but make them look their age – moms are looking for ones that do) For the tweens, it would be, “Look totes adorbs & wow your friends.” Just knowing how tween girls talk helps you relate to them and get in front of them easier.

Knowing your audience is much different than just knowing the demographic stats. Know what they like, how they talk, who they interact with. That will help you put together a more successful campaign.

Targeting is your friend.

Once you really know who your audience is, you know who and how to target them. Facebook and Twitter have hands-down, the best targeting options out there in the realm of social advertising. With these two platforms, you can get in front of your competitor’s followers (Twitter), target people based on their net worth (Facebook), get in front of people talking about or watching certain TV shows (Twitter) or target trendy moms specifically (Facebook), just to name a few.

Targeting will help you:

  1. Use your advertising budget more effectively.
  2. Get you in front the exact person you want to reach.
  3. Stay within the goals of your campaign. Your ad won’t be the needle in the haystack.
  4. Separate yourself from your competitor.

Track your ad’s performance again and again and… again.

Any social advertising platform includes analytics on how your ad is performing. Knowing what these metrics mean and how they are performing will determine the success of your campaign.

Tracking can show you:

  1. What wording and/or graphics work best. Use A/B testing to see what resonates with your audience the most.
  2. Your ROI. With social advertising analytics, you can see the number of impressions for your ad, the clicks and if you have a conversion tracking pixel installed on your website, the number of conversions. Take your number and compare it with what you spend and bada-bing – you have your ROI. Ask a print or broadcast ad rep if they can get that specific.
  3. How wise you are using your advertising dollars. This does relate some to ROI, but you can watch your ad and add or subtract money from your budget at any time. Is your ad off the charts? Add some more money to it! Is it totally bombing out? Then lower it.

Not only can these 5 tips be applied to your holiday social advertising campaign, but also to your everyday ads you run online.

Social advertising is going to become the dominant form of advertising. Just watch over the next 5 years or so. With people using their mobile devices more for internet searches and social networking or just doing pretty much everything online, it’s just a matter of time before we see more social ads than we do on TV or radio. Fortunately, social advertising is affordable for every business from your mom and pop store on the corner to the behemoths like Wal-Mart or Target.

Question is – how are you going to make it work for you? I hope these 5 tips help you out this holiday season. Have a tip you want to share? Comment below and let me know!

photo credit: roitberg via photopin cc

35 Marketing Tips to Get (or Keep) Your Business Going

35 Marketing Tips to Get (or Keep) Your Business Going

This will probably be the 100th post of marketing tips you’ll read this month. However, everyone can use a list of good marketing tips to keep them going.

 

Owning a business and handling your own marketing can be fun, but tiresome as well. There’s no greater rush that promoting a business. Something just gets you excited and ready to shout to the world about your business.

 

So here are 35 great marketing tips to get (or keep) your business going…

 

1. Know your “why.” Before you start marketing a business, you have to know why you are doing it. Everything has to be intentional. You’re probably thinking, “I’m marketing because I need customers!” Yes, but why are you doing the marketing activities you’ve chosen?

 

2. Have a plan. Having a marketing plan is a lifesaver, if you go by the seat of your pants, you’ll drown. Your marketing plan will direct you to the right marketing activities and give you something to keep you accountable.

 

3. Network. Network. Network. Word of mouth is always going to be one of the best forms of marketing. Take the opportunity to go to various events and network with other business owners and the general population. Look at your Chamber for upcoming events.

 

4. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Putting yourself and your business out there is never easy – you won’t survive if you stay within your protected bubble. You have to pop that and seek out ideas and opportunities to grow as a business owner and to grow your business. Michael Dell once said, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.” This applies to your comfort zone as well.

 

5. Use social media, but not every platform. There are only so many hours in the day. Look at what your customers are using and use that. Just because there are lots of social media platforms, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all.

 

6. Make sure you have a website – and update it often. In the digital age, if your business doesn’t have a website, you are majorly missing out. People will be looking for you on the web – make sure you’re there.

 

7. Blog. Give people a reason to keep coming back to your website. Blog and give them tips, case studies, your latest products – make sure you keep giving them a reason to visit you on the web.

 

8. Give your customers great customer service. People will pay more for a product over a lesser-priced one if you continually give them phenomenal customer service. Now, not every business or person is perfect so you may have an off-day, but treat your customers like you’d want to be treated by your favorite business.

 

9. Run a contest. What better way to get your business more attention? Run a contest and share it on social media. Give away something. People love to win.

 

10. Develop a Customer Referral Program. Offer existing customers a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.

 

11. Host an Event or Class. This is something I love to do. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards and online. This is a great way to get the word out about your business.

 

12. Email marketing. Collect your customer’s email addresses (with permission) and email them about upcoming sales or events. You can even segment these out to target specific people.

 

13. Don’t be afraid to give something away for free. I’m talking samples, free consultations, free trials – people love to try before they buy.

 

14. Sponsor something. For ME Marketing, I’m an athletic booster at my daughters’ school. With that, my business name is printed in programs and up on the board at the football field and in the gym. With community or school sponsors you get incredible visibility.

 

15. Be consistent in your messaging and branding. People need to recognize you no matter where they see you. Also, make sure to spell-check 😉

 

16. Answer the questions your customers ask. When buyers of any kind begin their journey, they go to Google to ask a question, and they will find an answer. As a marketer, the question becomes: will it be your answer they discover?

 

17. Understand that marketing is not the same as advertising. You can market your small business in literally hundreds of ways without spending money (aka, advertising), so it pays to know what they are and then eliminate the ones that won’t work, or that you can’t afford, up-front.

 

18. Make sure you have business cards. This is pretty much a requirement. Without cards, how will someone you meet in person know how to get in touch with you?

 

19. Get creative with promotional products and give them away. I am a pen person. I use pens from all sorts of businesses, so when I purchased a promotional product for my business, guess what I got? Pens. Koozies work well too. Have something with your business info on it that people will use over and over again.

 

20. Join your local Chamber of Commerce. As a member of mine, I’ve gotten several opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a member. This is a group of people who are there for the business owner – join and tap into that network of support.

 

21. Find a way to measure your ROI. Whatever you do, it’s important to measure your efforts so you know what’s working and what isn’t.

 

22. Be proactive. Don’t wait for your competitors to do something – do it first. This could be a promotion, event, advertising campaign. It’s like what they say – the early bird gets the worm.

 

23. Balance your online and offline activities. You have to have a presence online but don’t let it suck up all your marketing time and energy. Find a balance between doing the stuff online and offline.

 

24. Remember – quality over quantity. When marketing, it’s easy to become obsessed with numbers – having the most Facebook fans, having the most people attend an event, etc. Focus on the quality. You could end up with one really good customer who brings in 40% of your sales.

 

25. Host an online Tweet Chat or a Q&A session. What a great way to connect with your online audience and get new followers! Online sessions are perfect for answering your customer’s questions and really finding out and learning more about your market.

 

26. Mix it up. Don’t only do TV ads or just do flyers on dorm doors – mix up your marketing efforts. Doing the same thing will get stale and boring over time.

 

27. Think outside the box. Some of the best marketing ideas came from this kind of thinking. Chick-fil-A cows for example. Who would have put cows with a chicken restaurant?

 

28. Get creative. Part of marketing is entertaining. Yes, you want to get the message out, but you want to be memorable (see #27).

 

29. Partner up with other businesses. Form a strategic partnership with businesses that share the same target audience. Sell jewelry? Host a joint event with a retail shop! Own a local coffee shop? Partner with a bakery! The possibilities are endless and this will give you great exposure.

 

30. Give your business a personality. No one cares for those businesses who are as exciting as a cardboard box. Let your personality as the business owner shine through your business. Examples? See Charmin and their Twitter feed.

 

31. Focus on the relationship. Marketing to the masses is one thing, but for small businesses, you want to build that relationship with your customer. Send them a birthday card. Tag them on social media. Build a relationship with them and they’ll keep coming back.

 

32. Use video. Videos don’t have to be costly and they don’t have to be made by professionals. Some of the most famous YouTube accounts are made with iPhones. Brainstorm some ideas for video content with your staff and start uploading!.

 

33. Make sure your business is mobile-friendly. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly and make sure it loads quickly on smartphones. Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly are being penalized in mobile searches.

 

34. Don’t forget your call-to-action! Every point of customer contact in your digital marketing efforts should contain calls-to-action that lead back to your website, a landing page, an opt-in form, and so on. The ultimate goal is some form of conversion, so everything should be designed that way.

 

35. Have fun. Marketing your business will be one of the most fun things you do. You don’t have to balance any accounting sheets or clean a store-front. Have fun and show the world why you love your business!

 

Hopefully you will find these tips valuable and use them to keep you going.

 

Did I leave something out? Share with my your favorite marketing tip below.

Help! I'm Starting a Business - Where Do I Start?

Help! I’m Starting a Business – Where Do I Start?

Once you’ve decided to start your own business (or take over an existing one), you are catapulted into a world of excitement and stress. Don’t get me wrong – it’s awesome being a business owner. All the good outweighs the stress you’ll have (at least that’s what I tell myself 🙂 ).

 

However, you have to start somewhere. And that somewhere is usually with your marketing and branding.

 

When you start your branding & marketing, you need to establish three important things:

  1. Who you are.
  2. Who your target market is.
  3. What your goal is.

 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these…

 

Who you are.

Just who is your company? You need to find your brand’s personality. Is it edgy? down-home maybe? Your brand’s personality will set the tone for all of your marketing and how you present yourself. Once you decide that, it’s time to start work on the visual components – your logo and website.

There are a few things to consider –

  • The overall design. You need to establish brand guidelines and apply them at every touchpoint – business cards, social media, advertisements, etc. It needs to be consistent across the board.
  • Content. What are you going to say? 79% of web users scan webpages so you need to have a clear call to action and message. This also translates to anything you do in print. The most successful businesses are always listening to their audience and tailor content to them.
  • Exposure. How are you going to be found? 80% of web traffic comes from search engines. Make sure your website it optimized and is functional and mobile-friendly.

 

Who your target market is.

Despite what some other people say, not every person is your target market. And to piggyback that, you don’t have an audience on every social media platform.

When you started your business, you probably already knew who you wanted to reach. For some, it may not have come that easily. Take my business for example, yes, my target market is business owners, but what kind of business owners? What industry types? Do they own large or small businesses? Are they corporate or mom-and-pop?

My business isn’t like a retail shop, where it’s obvious. In a business like mine or those who could serve many different markets, pick one to start with. For me, it was local small-to-medium-sized businesses. That narrowed it down a lot and made it less stressful when it came to the actual marketing. You can do research all day, but go with what market you want to work with. Trust me, there are businesses you don’t want to work it because of beliefs or personal preferences. It’s okay to be picky.

 

What your goal is.

Okay, here’s where you can go in many different directions. Goals are not always dollar-based. Of course in owning a business, the goal is to always make money, but that’s a given. Do you want to become the go-to for your local area or region? Do you want to win recognition and awards? Do you want to become the leader in your field? Aside from your financial goals, what is your overall goal for your business? For ME Marketing, my overall goal is/was to be the regional go-to for social media/digital marketing – the leader, the authority businesses look to for their questions to be answered. I feel like after 5 years, I’m getting there. Your goal won’t be met overnight. To be frank and honest, it could take many, many years. But I feel everyone needs to have something to work towards. Yes profits are nice. Really nice. But they are not everything. What is the goal you can achieve that puts you to bed with a smile on your face at night? That’s what your real goal is.

 

Once you’ve established your goal, you can now start on your marketing plan – you’ve established who you are and who your target market is as well. Everything you do from here forward needs to be you reaching out to that market to make that goal. In fact, everything you do period needs to circle back to that overall goal.

Easy enough, right?

4 Reasons Social Media Marketing May Not Be Working for Your Business

4 Reasons Social Media Marketing May Not Be Working for Your Business

You can make social media marketing work. I’m not going to lie – it’s hard and does take time, but it can work.

 

I come across business owners everyday who struggle with using social media in their business’ marketing plan. I eat, live and breathe it so it’s like second-nature to me, however most business owners are focused on what their business does, whether it be food or clothes or B2B services.

 

If social media isn’t working for your business, you need to figure out why. There’s always a reason something isn’t working or lining up. Figuring out what it is will help you know what to fix in order for it to work because when it does work, it’s a beautiful thing.

 

So let’s take a look at why social media marketing may not be working for you right now.

 

You’re trying to do every platform.

 

I understand wanting your business to be everywhere, but realistically, it can’t (not unless you hire a person for each social media platform). If you attempt to give every platform 100%, you are going to fail. You’ll spread yourself thin and things will fall through the cracks. What I suggest is to start with the platform that the majority of your market is on. Start with one and give it 110%. Once you have that platform thriving, add a second one. I know everyone is saying you have to be on Instagram or Pinterest or you have to Snapchat because it’s hot right now – don’t listen to them. Listen to your audience. Go to them.

 

What you need to remember: Tip: Focus on the platform that the majority of your audience is on and go to them. Click To Tweet

 

You are broadcasting sales pitches instead of building relationships.

 

The last thing anyone wants to see in their newsfeed (on any platform) is sales pitch after sales pitch after sales pitch. Social media is about building relationships. Sales will come from that. It’s not all about you, it’s about them. Think of how many Facebook pages you’ve unliked because of what they do (or do not) post. Don’t be like that page. Ask your audience questions – get to know them. Show them that you care.

 

What you need to remember: Tip: People buy from people they have a relationship with. Click To Tweet

 

You are doing too much online.

 

You could google “how many times should I post in a day?” and get a different opinion from everyone. The one constant piece of advice you’ll get is not to overpost. Ideally, 1-2 times per day on Facebook is fine. Not once an hour for 10-12 hours straight. If I see too many posts in my Facebook newsfeed from a business in a short period of time, I quickly find the unfollow button. You may be posting awesome content, but I don’t want to see only you in my feed. Likewise on Twitter, don’t send out 30 tweets in 60 seconds. You will overload people and turn them away. My recommendations? 1-2 posts/day on Facebook and 5-6/day on Twitter (depending on how active you are).

 

What you need to remember: Tip: Posting too much in a short time span will cause people to unfollow or unlike you. Click To Tweet

 

You’re trying to do it all yourself – and run your business.

 

I’ve had over a dozen business owners tell me that they could spend all day doing just social media for their business. Rarely can a business owner effectively (and successfully) run the social media for their business and run the business itself without something getting left behind. Don’t get me wrong – it can be done. However for most business owners, it’s in their best interest to pass it off to someone else or to hire someone to handle it. Your primary job is to do what you love, what your business is. If you’re a designer, you need to be designing, not scheduling Facebook posts. If you’re a photographer, you need to be taking pictures, not figuring out what picture will look best on Instagram. Trust me, you’ll spread yourself too thin if you take on too much.

 

What you need to remember: Tip: Sometimes it’s worth it to hire someone to handle your social media. Click To Tweet

 

If any of these seem familiar to you – I encourage you to take a hard look at your marketing plan. Sometimes it’s worth it to outsource the social media portion or hire someone (who knows what they are doing) to handle it for you. As much as it can benefit your business, it’s not your primary focus – running a profitable business is.

 

What are some other stumbling blocks you may face making social media work for you?