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Good Marketing Never Forgets the ‘Old Year’

Tampa Bay marketing firm
The New Year is upon us, and with it comes a sense of a “fresh start” — especially if the past 365 days haven’t been particularly good. However, before we can measure progress, we must have an idea of how far we’ve come. Therefore, it’s essential to record the results of past marketing initiatives and reference them from one year to the next.

Understand that every advertising campaign or customer/prospect outreach effort is very much like an experiment. Not only are you interested in results, you’ve got to control for variables.

Necessarily, there will be a “best guess” component to your experimentation based on experience, industry knowledge and instinct. Additionally, some variables will be beyond your control while others are completely invisible to you. But every campaign requires standard, basic decisions. To avoid repeating the same mistakes and to steadily improve results, pay attention to:

  • Audience demographics – Age, gender, ethnicity, income, location … you should have a profile of your target audience before your campaign begins. Say, for instance, 75% of your target audience is male but 50% of the leads generated are female. Such over-performance with women might suggest untapped demand. Yet you’ll never know unless you record who received your messages in the first place.
  • Campaign timing – From “back-to-school” sales for children’s clothing stores, to tax season for CPAs, every industry has a time of year that’s expected to bring in more business. But is it better to advertise a month before the event or just a few days in advance? And the days of the week that you advertise could make a difference in response as well. Will your Monday email blast get lost in the clutter from the weekend? Make identifiable changes from one campaign to the next, and compare results.
  • Types of communications (email, direct mail, radio, social media … etc.?) – The tricky part about comparative analysis of media is that results can be radically different from one to another, yet actual effectiveness could be almost equal. Take for example, the email blast that costs next to nothing per contact, but also brings in very few qualified leads, versus a creative (and expensive) direct mail campaign that nets a much higher percentage of actual sales. It’s only when you try different approaches over time that you can determine which has the greater positive impact on your bottom line.
  • Frequency of contact – One thing we hear commonly hear from clients is that they tried a certain type of advertising and got no response. This often means they mailed a postcard or sent out an email blast—one time and out of the blue—and no one noticed. But people get bombarded by thousands of messages every day. To make an impression, you usually must repeat yourself. However, there is a sweet spot—before diminishing returns on your advertising investment—that you won’t find until there’s a documented history to examine.
  • Tone of the communication – Did your advertising seek to get a chuckle, tug at someone’s heart strings or imply that life as we know it rested on the prospect’s buying decision? Most business owners think they know their customers—and they usually do—but it’s risky to make blanket assumptions about the mindset of others. Certainly, you want to stay within the boundaries of your brand image, but occasionally changing the tenor of your messages may provide valuable marketing insight.

As you go from one campaign to the next, isolate a specific aspect of the communication to change.  You don’t want to change too much. Otherwise, if results are greatly impacted, you won’t know which factor was at work. Plus, if you’ve been getting reasonable ROI from your marketing budget, you don’t want to risk a disastrous result by suddenly changing too much. Your expectation should be incremental improvement. Sure, you might discover an advertising formula that exceeds your wildest hopes, but in the meantime, plan on adjusting and analyzing your marketing plans as long as you’re in business.

 

Ready to kick off your 2017 marketing? We are!

Top Pinstripe Blog Posts of 2016

tampa marketing firm
We have enjoyed a tremendous year at Pinstripe! One thing we really enjoy is sharing information about creating great marketing and communications to grow your business. Throughout 2016, we have written hundreds of articles, and it’s always interesting to see what pieces you like most. Our most popular posts are always our client spotlights – you really like to learn about some of our favorite people! Features about Pinstripe projects and case studies also generate a lot of readership. But the ones that prove most valuable are the ‘how to’ articles – so in case you missed one, or just want a refresher, here are the top 15 articles of 2016!

 

15. Logo Design and Corporate Identity Manuals

The history of graphic design is extensive and can be traced back hundreds of years. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on graphic design as it was forming during the industrial era, and how the appearance and growth of corporations affected one aspect of graphic design in particular – logos.

 

14. Do You Have Your Elevator Speech Ready?

You and a stranger are standing in a hotel lobby waiting for an elevator. He has the appearance of a fine, upstanding chap and you’re in an affable mood so you comment on what a nice day it is. He’s welcoming of conversation. Additional pleasantries ensue, followed by introductions and the customary handshake. The elevator finally arrives and just as you and your new friend step inside, he asks about your business.

It’s time for the ‘elevator speech.’

 

13. Trade Shows: To Participate or Not … That’s the Last Question

At some point, you may hear of a trade show for your industry and entertain the notion of attending. The immediate question is whether such an excursion would be a worthwhile investment of time, effort and money.  Reaching that determination will require carefully considered answers to several other questions, first.

 

12.The Physics of Marketing

People may tell you that marketing is “more art than science.” And at first blush, this assertion seems valid. Consider the stimulating imagery and compelling prose that accompanies a typical advertising campaign. However, when it comes to attracting and keeping customers, we should take instruction from Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion.

 

11. Proposals – Advice from the Selection Committee

Recently, Pinstripe Marketing attended a webinar hosted by the Society of Marketing Professionals (SMPS) Tampa Bay called “Secrets of the Selection Process,” by Gary Coover. The course was designed to enlighten us about creating a proposal as well as presenting the proposal to the selection committee, and we came away with a few great tips that we thought we would share.

 

10. How to Leave an Effective Voicemail Message

When trying to reach someone, having to leave a voicemail (VM) message can be very frustrating. The exercise is especially tiresome if you’re in sales—leaving message after message with little hope of a callback. Pessimistically you go through the motions; repeating words you’ve said countless times before.

 

9. Social Media Superhero: Tips for Curating Social Content

Social media accounts for businesses are now the norm rather than the exception, so keeping up-to-date with your posts is something that must be done on a regular basis. We understand that this is time-consuming and is yet another item to add to your to-do list, but below are some tips for streamlining the process and keeping your content interesting and fresh.

 

8. Online Marketing: 5 Things That Most Smart People Don’t Know

Online marketing is one of those things that’s easy to start, but difficult to do correctly. That’s because the internet makes it easy for people with little or no experience to present themselves as experts and give lots of bad advice. It’s bad enough when this bad advice doesn’t produce results, but in many cases, it can even harm your business for the long term. Just like with medical and legal decisions, it’s not what you know about marketing that gets you in trouble—it’s what you don’t know. These tips will help you avoid making some of the common marketing mistakes that a lot of smart people make simply because they followed bad advice from someone who presented themselves as an expert.

 

7. Copy vs. Graphics: Bickering Spouses of Advertising?

In this age of social media, viral videos and search engine optimization (SEO), the role of imagery and copy in marketing is like ever-present background noise. And yet from billboards to websites, the healthy marriage of copy and graphics is almost always a critical component in the successful execution of promotional efforts.

 

6. The Importance of a Trademark Search

A trademark is a name, word or logo used to indicate the source of a product or service. While a “trademark” technically refers to a brand used on goods and products (e.g., coffee, sneakers, jewelry), a “service mark” refers to a brand used in connection with services (e.g., restaurant services, insurance services, accounting services). Almost every company imaginable has a trademark or service mark – either the name of the company advertised to the public or the name of its product.

 

5. Writing a Compelling Biography

If it hasn’t already happened—don’t be surprised one day to have someone ask you for your bio (e.g. short biography). Employers often want them for the “About Us” or “Our Professionals” sections of their web sites. Bios may be needed for a press release announcing an important new hire. Meeting planners ask for bios of important guests or speakers at conventions and conferences. If you have your vital information on hand and ready to go at a moment’s notice, you’ll earn the sincere appreciation of a lot of people … and may save yourself some embarrassment.

 

4. Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer

At some point in our lives, we all need a professional photographer. Whether you need a photo for your web site, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, product shots for your business or photos for your wedding, there are some things that are best left to the pros. Here are some tips for hiring the right photographer for your business needs.

 

3. How to Sell a White Elephant

From time to time, we’ll find it necessary to sell something that might lead one to question the sanity of anyone who buys it. This could be a product, a service, or even an investment opportunity that’s missing readily apparent value. While a challenge, successfully unloading (or rather, locating a buyer), is often just a matter of looking at the offering a bit differently ourselves, and then getting a prospective customer to see it the same way.

 

2. Utilizing Nostalgia and Vernacular in Graphic Design

Graphic design as a promotional tool dates back to the 19th century, when the earliest form of graphic design relied solely on typography to make a point. During these early days, text, font style, and font size were the main vehicles of emphasis; you can see how designers started playing with different typefaces and boldness to draw attention to certain information. Over the years, as graphic design became more prominent, methods and styles evolved. People in the advertising industry began to experiment with different techniques to attract attention to products, as well as instill confidence in them and the companies that sold them.

 

And the most popular article of 2016 is…

1. What Makes a Business Card “Cool”?

If you’re someone whose work puts in you in contact with new people on a regular basis, you probably have a substantial supply of business cards. Doubtlessly, you also have a nice collection of business cards from the professionals you meet. Perhaps you’ve encountered one or two that caused you to pause and examine it more closely, thinking “Wow, that’s a cool card!”

 

Based on this list, it appears you’re just as nerdy as we are. 🙂

 

If you’d like to receive our articles right to your inbox, you can sign up here AND receive a complimentary copy of our Guide to Public Relations.

 

THANK YOU for giving us the opportunity to be a small part of your marketing initiatives. We wish you the very best for a healthy and prosperous 2017!

Pinstripe Brands Florida Nature Preserve Cemetery

funeral cemetery marketingIn May 2014, we were invited to visit a 40-acre parcel of what was formerly part of the J.B. Starkey Ranch to hear about an idea.

After attending a workshop at a national land conservation conference years earlier, Laura Starkey had an idea to develop a business model that would allow her to conserve natural lands while sharing the beauty of laura_and_frank_starkeyFlorida’s woods with residents and visitors – the same woods she grew up in and is dedicated to preserving. Heartwood Preserve would be a nature preserve and conservation cemetery – only the second in the state – to provide ‘green’ burial options.

Natural, or ‘green,’ burial is a safe and environmentally friendly practice that allows the body to return to the soil naturally by using biodegradable materials, and avoiding vaults and toxic embalming fluids. Conservation burial takes this practice a step further by burying in a nature preserve rather than a conventional cemetery, and utilizing a portion of the burial fee to help permanently protect the natural environment.

More than two years after that first walk in the woods, Heartwood Preserve is a reality.

The Pinstripe Marketing team had the pleasure of working with Laura to design the brand and create marketing tools that tell the story of natural burial and illustrate the beauty of the preserve she fought to protect.

The brand is, of course, inspired by nature. A hand-drawn pine cone referencing the thousands that drop from the long-leaf pines throughout the preserve serves as the iconic mark. The stationery package was printed on natural, FSC Certified, Green Seal certified, 30% recycled paper (minimum). The colors and texture throughout all marketing pieces are earthy and exude the beauty of Heartwood Preserve.

stationery suite design branding

branding logo design

logo design and professional services branding

The web site is a source of information about natural burial and for the Florida nature preserve as an asset for the community, available for enjoying the flora and fauna. It’s also the platform to show off the beauty of the preserve. The home page video, shot by nature documentary videographer, Jennifer Brown, draws the visitor in with stunning visuals of the pine trees, palmettos, flowers, and animals who call the preserve home. The photo gallery highlights the environment and events hosted at the preserve. The site, including font selections and simple navigation, was designed with a senior audience in mind.

website design website development

The brochure also features a brief introduction to the preserve and photography by Andrea Ragan. As a stand-alone piece for prospective families or as part of a comprehensive package for funeral directors, the brochure provides information about conservation burial and what loved ones can expect by selecting Heartwood Preserve as a final resting place.

brochure design printing

With all the elements for a great story, the Pinstripe public relations team is anxious to begin pitching the media about this beautiful new conservation cemetery and the Florida families who make arrangements to be buried among the long-leaf pines and palmettos.

For more information about Heartwood Preserve, visit the web site or stop by for a peaceful walk in the woods.

Contact a Pinstripe project manager to start developing your brand and marketing materials.

Identifying Your Ideal Client Profile for Business Growth

Tampa Bay marketing firm

Does it matter who your customers are? As long as there are plenty of people clamoring for your products or services, that’s got to be fantastic, right? Actually, the ideal customers are only those that best allow you or your company to meet its true objective.

True objective … that’s the key thing here. Let’s be honest; for some (or most), the number one goal is making money. For others, charities for instance, the goal may be to improve people’s lives. A few others may want to educate or increase public awareness of important issues. Whatever the objective, the idea is to maximize the frequency and quantity of its attainment with the least possible expenditure of resources. And as we all come to realize at a certain point, some customers are just not worth the effort to keep.

It’s a matter or opportunity cost. The time/effort/money that you devote for one client represents time/effort/money that you could not provide to another. It’s ROI: some customers are going to be better investments than others. Of course, the tricky part is making sure you actually have a more profitable client waiting in the wings if you begin doubting the worth of the customer you do have. After all, the customer who provides some profitable reward for your work is better than not having any reward at all. You will want to identify who your “best” customers are and then steadily transition your client base to one more closely resembling the ideal client profile.

So what makes a good client? In general, here are three key characteristics:

  • They will truly benefit from your products or services. While this may seem obvious, many business owners take the attitude of “If they’re buying, we’re selling!” The problem with this approach is that the customer can’t ever be satisfied. You’ll expend a lot of resources trying to make them happy (with a square peg for a round hole) before you or they give just give up. Then you get to live with them sharing their negative assessments of your organization to anyone who will listen.
  • They won’t require exceptions to your rules. Understand, we’re not talking about value-added service, or going the extra mile to make a customer happy. Those are business differentiators that promote customer loyalty and deliver great word-of-mouth advertising. Rather, what you must avoid is agreeing to provide a level of service to one client that you offer to no one else (i.e. outside your normal service area, hours of business, billing process … etc.). The increase in gross income probably won’t adequately compensate for the disruption to established procedures or morale.
  • They represent the opportunity for repeat business. It’s always more profitable to serve existing customers than try to get news ones. Therefore, target your marketing to prospects who will stay with you for years rather than those who are more apt to be “one and done.”

The bottom line is that you want customers who make you feel good about what you do; clients who let you work with a spring in your step rather than beating you up over every penny’s worth of service. So, how do you get more of the good ones, and fewer of the less desirable sort? That’s where the profile comes in. The good news is that you’re already familiar with it.

Simply take some time to review your current and former client lists. Or if you focus on retail customers who come and go without a lot of personal interaction, sit down with employees who deal with them on a daily basis. Start identifying those that meet the criteria of a good customer as listed above – those that fit culturally with the work you want to do and are profitable. What demographic characteristics do they have in common? Are they mostly from a particular industry or similar industries? Are they of a certain size or business maturity? Are they driven to your business by a common need that other, less desirable customers don’t seem to share as much? Write down everything you come up with. That will be the profile you want!

Once you have an idea of what your ideal client is like, then you can start building marketing campaigns that target those individuals specifically. Over time, you should find you that you’ve successfully negotiated the “out-with-the-bad, in-with-the-good” maneuver.

 

Tampa Bay public relations

How to Leave an Effective Voicemail Message

How to leave an effective voice mail message
When trying to reach someone, having to leave a voicemail (VM) message can be very frustrating. The exercise is especially tiresome if you’re in sales—leaving message after message with little hope of a callback. Pessimistically you go through the motions; repeating words you’ve said countless times before.

Whether your goal is the exchange of goods or services for cash, pitching a PR story, trying to line up investors or hoping for a job interview, a defeatist attitude isn’t going to help you make the most of your opportunity. Realize—in a cold-call situation—this is your one shot at making a good first impression. And even if you’re performing a ‘follow-up call,’ the fact that VM seems like a hurdle means you obviously haven’t established much of a relationship. You want to sound like someone the person hearing your VM will want to know!

Focus on the Purpose of Your Call

One of the first things anyone who receives an unexpected phone call wonders is “Why is this person calling me?” We quickly want to know if it’s good news, bad news, something important, a conversation to be enjoyed … or a waste of time. And since we’ve all answered thousands of phone calls during our lifetimes, we become efficient at quickly categorizing a caller’s purpose. If it’s painfully apparent you’re leaving a VM only because you’re trying to sell something—or worse, just because it’s your job (and you hate it)—a bad vibe will come through.

Your purpose needs to be letting the VM recipient know how you can improve his or her situation or provide a valuable benefit. Mentally set aside your sales quotas, or the fact that you just lost your biggest client and you desperately need a replacement. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What could a salesperson in your line of work do for you that would lead you to return his or her call? Once you have a tangible mission of doing something good for a fellow human, you’re ready to think about what you’ll actually say.

Organizing Your Message

Your voicemail composition should contain these elements, more or less in this order:

  • Identify yourself – Who’s calling is the first thing that people want to know, so don’t frustrate them by not immediately saying who you are and what organization you represent. (Delayed identification may also seem a little shady—as though you have something to hide.) Example: “Hello, contact name, my name is John Smith and I’m with Acme Roadrunner Control.” If you’re calling on behalf of yourself, such as seeking employment, go ahead and make that a part of your introduction. “Hello, contact name, I’m Jane Jones. I’m calling as a follow up to the resume I sent you.”
  • Give your phone number – There are a couple of reasons to go ahead and leave your phone number here. First, you create a sense of urgency that calling back is important. Of greater importance, however, it’s more convenient for contacts not to have to listen to your entire message again if they need to “rewind” in order to write your number down.
  • Mention the benefit you’ll provide and how you’ll provide it – Remember our earlier exercise of having a purpose for calling? This is where that comes into play, but be brief. Imagine you’re cold calling for a lawn care company. You might say, “We’re in the business of turning lawns into showcases for homes, and right now, we’re offering a special bi-weekly maintenance discount. (If it’s not a discount or special offer, try referencing the specific product or service that’s applicable.)
  • Say why you’re calling this person specifically – One example would be, “I’m calling because you recently indicated an interest in our services/products and the benefits we provide,” as in they filled out a business reply postcard or completed an online survey. If your call is completely out of the blue as far as your contact is concerned, you could explain, “We’re reaching out to you as someone our research has shown often benefits from our services/products.” Even better is dropping the name of a mutual connection who made a referral (I always return those calls.) The point is to establish legitimacy for your call.
  • Sum up and close – Thank your contact for listening to your message, then invite them to call you back. Leave your phone number again for emphasis and in case your first recitation was hard to understand. Your conversational exit might be: “Thank you for taking the time to listen to my message. I look forward to speaking to you, in person, at your earliest convenience, so my number again is … Have a great day!”

Sound upbeat, yet natural when you leave your message. (Remember, you’re trying to do something good for this person!) Be as brief as possible but don’t rush. Taking time to speak clearly lets your contact know what you’re saying is important and worth hearing. Finally, never forget that there will be a real human being listening to your call, and no matter how many times a day you leave a voicemail, each of those individuals will only hear one, so make it good!

Tampa Bay public relations

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