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Social Media Messaging for Businesses: Peanuts Had It Right!

social media messaging_news“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” Quote by Linus, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. About a half century ago, via his Peanuts characters, Charles Schultz shared the wise admonition above. Yet everywhere we turn today, public figures are falling all over themselves to express opinions on these topics. (Instead of Great Pumpkin, substitute “ideological causes.”) Increasingly, it’s a behavior also infecting high profile CEOs and large corporations. Owners and executives leading small and midsize companies may be wondering if they too need to get onboard with this trend by using social media to take a stand regarding “issues of the day.”

Well, we would never tell anyone to act against conscience, or to remain silent in the face of blatant wrongs, but as Linus suggested—all in all—there’s probably not much upside for business leaders to take sides in today’s polarized social climate.

Think. If you express an opinion, your customers and prospects will either agree with you, won’t agree with you, or simply won’t care about the issue. At that, you might see the best possible outcome as win, lose, and tie. However, that’s being overly optimistic.

Unless your work is directly linked to one of Linus’s forbidden topics (examples: religious leader, politician, special-interest lobbyist), it’s highly unlikely that your social commentary is the reason anyone wants to do business with you. As we’ve written previously, a company’s value proposition is almost always going to address one of five customers concerns: price, convenience, service, identity and quality/value. Of these, your public pronouncements on various topics only have a chance of fitting in with “identity.” That’s not nothing, but for all practical purposes it isn’t much.

Remember, your value proposition needs to be central to your brand image. For instance, consider which would be more effective in building a customer base for a law office: a strong stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or a vow to protect your clients’ legal interests. Or what if you provide IT managed services? Which would boost your brand most, a promise of a worry-free computer network, or your stand on abortion?

No, we can’t say your positions on controversial topics won’t appeal to some small segment of the public. According to a report from Sprout Social, 39% of people do appreciate brands that are “politically correct” in their social network communications. But one person’s PC may be regarded by others as counter-productive nonsense. We all tend to live in comfortable bubbles, but outside our immediate circles, we’ll find there are people—even large populations—who feel very differently about things. (If we are prepared to listen, we might even learn their stances are occasionally well reasoned.) For every person that says, “Right on!” there may be one or more taking issue with you and they may they be willing to simply “agree to disagree.” Increasingly, polarization is causing us to see ideological differences as “bad for the country” or even a personal threat (Pew Research Center Report). You could end up being the target of an organized protest!

But let’s say you’re lucky enough to break even between the with-you and the against-you crowds. What about those who don’t care about the topic at all … or have become sick of hearing about it? The same Sprout Social survey found that 71% of consumers find “talking politics” to be annoying. That’s hardly surprising since customers are typically more interested in doing business with companies that focus on solving their problems. “Annoying” doesn’t increase market share.

So, instead of politics, religion or your personal Great Pumpkin, what statements might better resonate with customers and prospects? How about honesty (86%), friendliness (83%), helpfulness (78%), and funny (72%). (Check out the interesting article in Forbes on the Sprout Social report for more insights.)

Yes, there are some “safe” positions you can take in your social media communications, or that you may express in your marketing communications (e.g. “we love puppies” and “happy Mother’s Day!”). But your messaging only reaches your target audiences so often. When it does get through, make sure it’s relevant to why your customers may need you.

East-West Shrine Game is next week!

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We are in full swing with one of our most heartwarming clients, the East-West Shrine Game. This is the longest running college all-star football game in the country, and it benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children. We cherish this client! Tickets are $15 and the game is at Tropicana Field on Saturday, January 20, kickoff time at 3pm. Get your tickets here.

Check out our case study video with some great Shrine Game, practice, and hospital visit footage.

Marketing Must Haves for 2018

content marketing

In the 2018 race to the top of relevant search results, companies of every shape and size will be adding more to their online experience. Simply having a website and a few Google Ads isn’t going to be enough to conquer the world of online marketing. And, if you don’t follow a comprehensive approach to strengthen your digital marketing mix, you may fall behind your competition.

The 4 Must Haves

“Must Have” is a great phrase. It implies necessity. And, it’s exactly why the marketing must haves for this year should not get pushed aside for another year.

  1. Website Optimization for Mobile Devices

Last year, mobile and tablet devices accounted for more than half of internet usage worldwide. This comes as no surprise, because sales in mobile devices have been growing exponentially since the inception of the iPhone.

Optimization for mobile devices goes beyond responsive design. It tackles mobile issues, such as connectivity, distractions, and smaller screens. The best website designs will resemble mobile apps.

Rather than struggle to read broken text and awkward drop-down menus, 61% of visitors to sites without optimization will leave the page. That’s a lot of opportunity lost! But, if the site is optimized, 67% of consumers are more likely to use a service or buy a product.

  1. Content strategy

Late in 2015, Google released a major update to its search parameters that included: frequent site updates, relevant content, and links to and from other credible sites. This was meant to eliminate poorly performing search results that gave irrelevant and outdated content to their users.

Over the past two years, Google continued to change many of the parameters to fit the needs of its users. Now, search engine optimization feels like shifting sands beneath our feet. A strong content strategy can provide some solid ground.

Company websites need to become a resource for all consumers—past, present and potential. This means frequent updates with articles, blogs, and case studies. Companies also need to develop relationships with media outlets and provide frequent press releases. Over time, this strategy improves search results and user engagement.

  1. Video

Dwell time is another parameter for Google’s search rankings. A “sticky site” can have visitors reading great articles, but what they would really prefer is to watch a video instead.

Videos provide an entertaining way for visitors to get more content, faster. A company’s brand message can be conveyed within seconds! The key here is entertaining, because visitors have a short attention span and they won’t watch bad videos. Professionally produced videos give an air of credibility and class, as well as faster brand recall.

What makes an entertaining video? It has to be interesting, relevant and useful. Tell a story. Present a narrative. Quality graphics, animation, professional photography, scripts, and production can make most subjects entertaining, even one about logarithms.

  1. Email list

Email marketing is still the most cost-effective way to reach your target market. According to MarketingSherpa, over 60% of consumers are open to weekly promotional emails and 91% prefer email promotions to other forms of advertising.

It’s time to clean up your current email marketing list. It’s time to grow it throughout the year, adding the leads you receive via tradeshows, website inquiries, and sales leads. Don’t forget to include your weekly or monthly email newsletters in your content strategy.

Maybe in a Year or Two…

Augmented and virtual reality is being used more and more on mobile devices. Some of the biggest companies in the world, IKEA, Facebook and Apple, are using these advanced technologies to capture the attention of more consumers, which means they are making it more mainstream for other companies to follow. Maybe in a year or two, we’ll be talking about them as must haves, but for now, this is the year to really focus on some core, online best practices.

If you don’t know where to start with content strategy, shoot us an email and we can help.

Women’s Conference of Florida Recap

women leadership_news

We attended the Women’s Conference of Florida this fall – what an incredible experience. We walked into the Marriot Waterside Hotel on a bright and sunny Thursday morning, full of anticipation. As we walked through registration we saw other faces full of excitement, anticipation, hope. And boy, we were not disappointed.

The first presentation was given by Nely Galan, author, real estate mogul, founder of the Adelante Movement, and former President of Telemundo. What a great way to kick off the conference! Nely was full of energy and inspiration, her stories were riveting, and she sent a wave through the crowd that made us all want to leave that room and do amazing things. She started her story with her childhood, when her family immigrated to the United States from Cuba. She ended up in a strange school, strange neighborhood, and they all had to learn a new language. She told of her and her family’s struggles, but through each and every obstacle, she was able to make the most of the situation and create positives out of negatives – EVERY SINGLE TIME!

Galan was so vivacious in her story-telling, so funny and sincere – she really wants other women to succeed and listening to her story is a step in that direction. Each attendee received a copy of her book, “Self-Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way,” which we will review when we’re done reading! The title is fairly self-explanatory, and as a sneak preview, Nely recounts the story of her childhood and rise to real-estate moguldum and self-made woman. Her motto, “buy real estate, not shoes,” is wise advice, one that we can all learn from. As she told story after story, this kept coming up; she also reminded us that everyone has moments of insecurity and “around the corner from my biggest failures are my biggest successes.”

Another stand-out presenter was Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Officer of LEVO. She talked about “dropping the ball” as a positive, in the sense that if you let yourself drop the ball on certain things, you can excel in others. In other words, you have to figure out what is most important for you and focus your energies on those things. For example, sometimes you have to leave the dirty laundry for another day when you have a tight deadline to meet on a project, or you may be forced to order pizza for family dinner instead of that super healthy home cooked meal if you really need to squeeze in a workout. She also recommends learning to ask for help. Many super women try to take on all the heavy lifting without asking partners or friends for help. Stop this! Tiffany’s final point is that when we do things like this, we should own it, not feel guilty, not beat ourselves up. No one is perfect. If you’re going to try to “do it all” and be Wonder Woman, you will have to accept the occasional slip up or assistance. And when it comes to ordering pizza for family dinner instead of that healthy, vegetable heavy meal, you know no one else is complaining!

There were many other incredible women presenting during the conference, each one with a unique story of their rise to leadership, fortune, and in some cases, fame. Our takeaways – if you see a women’s conference or presentation, sign up for it – it will inspire you. Women are powerful, stop doubting yourself. Hard work pays off. Do something every day to achieve your goals. Rid yourself of guilt and go conquer the world!

Plan to Remember the New Year When It Becomes Old

new year marketing roi_news

How well do you remember 2016? Yes, we do mean 2016. And we might ask the same thing about 2015 –and the preceding years as well—going all the way back to the day you started your business.

Of course, we know you remember some things very well—like when you hired a great employee, or fired a lousy one. You can probably recollect landing a super customer or being driven nuts by one that was irrationally demanding. You’ll remember good times for sales and bad times … and a lot of other standout occurrences too. Your marketing though, what do you remember about your marketing?

Okay, we’ll lower the bar to merely recalling the year that’s just now ending. Many business owners might say 2017 is fresh in their memories, but is it? We’ll grant that you’re likely to be aware of how your most recent marketing budget was spent, but did you track the details of each marketing project and advertising campaign? Can you figure out which specific ad or communication went to which audience and when? Do you know the response rates?

Let’s say you did keep excellent records of what you did for marketing in 2017. Congratulations, truly! We can’t stress enough how good it is that you’re tracking how your promotional dollars are spent and understanding the results that they are providing. But effective marketing is a long-term journey, and the more years you have to compare, the better you’ll be able to plan how to advertise in the coming year. Without stats from 2016, 2017 can’t tell you nearly enough to help you make wiser decisions.

Still, everyone has to begin somewhere. So, if tracking your marketing dollars isn’t something you’ve been doing, resolve to do so in 2018. And if you find that being on your own in tracking and analyzing ROI of your marketing dollars is a bit too daunting, remember that you don’t have to be on your own. Your friends at Pinstripe are always available to help.


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