Are You Ready To Hire A Marketing Firm?

Every business owner is faced with the similar options and approaches to handling their communications strategy and campaigns.  Most start by trying it themselves, because they believe they know their business best, and want to give a try at the “fun stuff” – like marketing and advertising.

Like many businesses, you might also consider hiring a full or part-time marketing assistant or consultant.  Before you do…ask yourself this: When your business needs electrical work do you do it yourself? Hire an electrician to be on staff full-time? Or ask your plumber to handle it?

Bring in the Experts.

Though simple marketing and advertising might seem simple enough to do yourself, nothing hurts as much as a costly misfire.  Not only will you send the wrong message to a very busy public, but your budget will likely suffer and you’ll be in no position to recover or redirect the funds and time wasted.  The fact is, no one can do the job as effectively and efficiently as someone who lives and breathes the industry everyday.

Seeing the forest and the trees.

With any luck, the consultant you hire will bring with them an objective opinion and a fresh perspective.  It’s easy for many business owners to lose perspective on their brand as they become immersed in daily operations.  When you’re managing the minutia of business, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.  Often, a business’ marketing will reflect this, and the actual benefits of a product or service is lost to a detailed description of its functions and product details.  All emotion is lost in the pitch, and as such, isn’t received by the intended audience.

If you add another ball, technically it is juggling.

Even if you give the added tasks of marketing to an employee, attention is being taken away from other important responsibilities and projects.  Consultants on the other hand, are dedicated to one, and only one, important portion of your business.  The right one will stay focused on your brand’s image and sales – allowing you to keep your attention on other important development projects and goals.

Be Like Gumby.

The right consultant will remain very flexible, and should be ready to take on an assignment at a moment’s notices.  The ease of getting a project started is just a phone call away from being put into production.  Conversely, hiring a new employee to handle your marketing takes time to advertise, interview, and sort through candidates – often to find you may or may not have committed to the overhead of an employee.

The C- Word

Hiring a marketing consultant or firm may not require a long-term Commitment.  When a marketing firm completes a project, they have the flexibility to move into whatever position you need, from quarterly analysis, to basic maintenance, to completely out of the picture while remaining on the sidelines when you’re ready to take a new step forward.

Whatever your stage in business, it’s worth your time to set clear strategic goals for your marketing budget – and spend it wisely.  Investing in a professional or team of consultants to help you execute your campaign will not only save you money in the long run, but deliver greater results for your investment.

Do you work with a marketing firm?  If so…we’d love to hear about your experience!


Since its roll-out recently, bloggers and marketers have been talking about the value and potential of Google+Pages for business brands.  Is Google+ Pages going to be the right platform for every business?  Of course not.

No doubt, some brands will hop on any channel and follow the next bright, shiny object, and yet nearly all the pundits agree – every business should consider building a presence there starting right now.  Seriously…right now if you haven’t.

Claim your stake, right?

Get your page before someone else does, right?  Yes…in part.  But that’s just the very start of why you should build a presence on Google+Pages.

Google lives throughout the internet.

Between search engine dominance, and products like Gmail, Google Reader and Android – Google is clearly a dominant force with staying power.  Even if Google+Pages changes its format – the very fact that your business will build a legacy on the web the sooner it starts engaging Google’s portals.   Even if you’re hesitant to dive into Google+ because of Facebook’s viability in social networking, it’s important you own your piece of Google+ for ranking purposes alone.

Unfortunately, it IS more work.

Marketers are constantly faced with more fragmentation and new channels as a daily reality.  Which platforms will grow in dominance in the next year remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Google+ is entering the race to stay.  The fact is – your business brand will need both platforms to communicate to different audiences – and you’ll have to reach out in greater segmentation to them, with more targeted messages.  Equally important is the ability to listen to feedback, and respond when necessary to customers.  Many will be on Facebook – and many will also be on Google+.  It’s important to have a strong presence in both.

So it’s your turn… are you in, out or sitting on the sidelines with Google+?  We’d love to hear your opinion and feedback.

Give Your Brand Away

We all love something for free, but valuing the return on a giveaway is not always the easiest metric to measure.  For many marketers and business owners, the value proposition for free giveaways is hard to justify the investment.  Bur who doesn’t want a free iPad, t-shirt or promotional item?

If you want to build a loyal following of brand advocates, freebies can be an enduring and affordable way to create and keep brand loyalty.

Everyone loves a freebie, which is why giving products away is an excellent tactic for anyone in marketing who wants to create brand advocates. Whether you want to improve the number of online conversations about your brand, or reduce customer complaints, a free product is a great place to start.  So where do you start?  How far do you go?  What can you ask for in return?

Seek out bloggers

Pepsi wanted to raise awareness of its updated logo, so the brand  turned to bloggers to help spread the word. Rather than taking the typical path of sending out press released, Pepsi assembled it’s history of logo iterations since it’s beginning – and sent one can with each logo type to bloggers.  Soon after, the bloggers received another set of Pepsi cans with the new logo.

Photo courtesy

Not only did this help bloggers understand the development of the new logo, it also helped them to appreciate Pepsi’s long history in the market place.

The result?  Bloggers enthusiastically endorsed the change, having experienced it personally – and spread the word creating a viral message that Pepsi could leverage for its release for months.  Win.

What can you do to follow the Pepsi model of success?  Research bloggers already in sharing information in your brand category – no matter what it is.  Start at  Google Blog Search to find them, and send them samples of your products or services for them to review.  Simple.

Engage community voices

There’s no question that social media has changed the landscape of finding your community voice.  Twitter is filled with conversations in your specific industry, which enable you to build connections between your brand and your customers.

Give  Follower Wonk  a try to Twitter profiles for keywords specific to you, and in turn, connect to people who are truly passionate about your brand niche.

Reward loyalty

Like many American markets, free clubcards have become the staple of brand loyalty rewards.  From grocery stores to restaurants, providing an incentive for return customer’s loyalty is one of the strongest ways you can build an army of brand fanatics. Even if you don’t have an existing loyalty program now, you can find a forum of conversations just right for you on Board Tracker.

Free works

Walk down the aisle at any farmer’s market, and you’ll be offered a wide variety of fresh fruits or vegetables to sample.  By the end of that walk, if the samples are good, you’ll likely buy more than you ever anticipated at the start – and for good reason.  Free sells.

Even if your product or service is fairly expensive to give away, you can leverage your brand via the web in competition to get it for free.  Giving away your brand is a great way to build lasting loyalty, reach bloggers and reward loyal customers.  At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want?

What are some of the best free giveaway campaigns you’ve ever seen?  What brands are you loyal to because they offer free samples?

Got IMC?

We marketers LOVE our acronyms.  Many times, they’re used to convey complex concepts that are difficult to explain in a sentence or two.  Other times, our love for abbreviation is a simple way to make us look more intelligent that we really are – or worse yet, give importance to a topic or trend that’s easily explained in more simple language.

Whatever your perspective on the language of marketing, Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC, is something that you should both embrace, and evaluate for your brand.

What (formally) is IMC?  Wikipedia says it: ” is the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, functions and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at a minimal cost.”  As a basic understanding of the concept, I’d agree – but there is much, much more to this important concept.

True, IMC is when all of your marketing communications work as one effort in unison.  Your printed materials/collateral, website, advertising, mail campaigns, PR and social media must speak with “one voice”…. in “one language”… at “one time”.    Consistency of your language and tone (or “voice”) is key to all of your internal and external communications – or what I like to call “touch points”.

But really …is that it?  Don’t we expect that we all strive to have one voice in a well-organized, collaborated campaign?  Of course we do – that’s nothing new.

More than your communication efforts, IMC is about integrating your customer into your company/brand.

More than what you think your customers need, truly effective IMC is becoming honestly responsive to your customer’s insights, desires and wishes…. and then crafting your company and its products to fill those needs.  IMC dedicated companies are much closer to their customers – they welcome them in their strategic thinking and planning.  They truly want to achieve the best for their clients changing interests.

IMC is for smart brands.  How are you integrating your customer’s opinions and perceptions directly into your marketing efforts?  Are you truly listening to them, and acting on their input?  Or are you faking it and using IMC as an excuse to do what you really want?

What examples of great IMC do you see in today’s market?  We’d like to know what you think is working now for your brand.

Launch Your Business Deals On Facebook

There’s nothing like feeling you’re getting a great deal on your purchase – especially in this economy.  The challenge is to find it easily, and with a brand you love and follow.  With the introduction of Facebook’s Deals, location-based offerings become easy for every business to try – and may just be a winner on a variety of marketing levels.

Now local businesses can offer their clients specific specials and promotions when they check into their location via Facebook.  The system will be rolled-out in the weeks ahead to all locations across the US.  In combination with Facebooks Places, this kicks geolocated specials into high gear on a widely accepted mobile platform.

Using Deals seems easy.  Once you check in to “Places”, businesses offering deals in your location simply have a yellow icon attached to them.

When you touch the Place, you can view the deal and check in to claim it:

The next step is equally as easy…simply go to the cash register to claim your discount.

Businesses can create a variety of different types of Deals: individual deals for a discount, free merchandise or other reward; friend deals where you and your friends claim an offer together; loyalty deals for being a frequent visitor to a place; and charity deals where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when you check in.  The combinations and types will undoubtedly grow with the system’s use.

If you are a local business that wants to offer deals, you can learn how to get started here. 

Will you be using Facebook’s Deals for your business?  If so…how?

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