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Build Top of Mind Awareness With an E-Newsletter

enews_newsSome things never change, even in the fluid online world. One thing that we have always thought important, and will always believe in, is the e-newsletter. A few years ago we wrote the below article – “Build Top of Mind Awareness With an E-Newsletter,” and we still think the information in this article is useful – probably more than ever.

In a market driven by meaningful content, producing an e-newsletter with solid articles that help your customers and prospects is one of the best ways to build the relationships that will foster trust in your brand. There is no question – content is king, and if you position yourself as an expert by creating good content, you will win the trust of clients and prospects.

There are some kinds of businesses that are a part of their customers’ weekly, if not daily routine—grocery stores, drycleaners, and gas stations to name a few. Other companies, such as clothing and hardware stores or even restaurants, also typically attract mostly repeat business. As long as these operations offer competitive prices, good service, and are conveniently located (with no new arrival in the market appearing significantly better on any of those points), customer loyalty should remain fairly strong. But how can businesses instill loyalty when clients may need their services on an annual basis at best, or perhaps only a few times during an entire lifetime? This is the common situation for many professional service providers such as attorneys, CPAs, medical specialists, IT solution providers, or architects to name a few. An e-newsletter may be an economical and effective way to maintain top-of-mind awareness with prospective clients during those long stretches between having a need for the provider’s services.

Simple name recognition is good way to initially differentiate your business from others in your market. But more importantly, an e-newsletter emphasizes the expertise that’s available from professionals at your company.

The greatest challenge associated with producing any e-newsletter – one distributed via email – is getting an audience to read it. And even when a recipient originally made a conscious decision to request the newsletter, it’s not unusual for that person to soon find himself deleting the communication unread, marking it as spam, or taking the final step of asking to removed from the subscription list.

Here are few dos and don’ts that will help maintain reader interest in an e-newsletter from a professional service organization.

Do offer news the reader can use. For instance, attorneys might offer tips as to what to do when starting a business and accountants could point out frequently overlooked tax deductions. Make the articles memorable, pithy and to the point.

Don’t make the publication just another advertisement. In fact, it will enhance the credibility of your e-newsletter if you don’t overtly “sell” anything at all. While articles can address issues that readers may be facing as well as the available solutions, avoid talking about your own company’s specific offerings. Consumers are savvy. If they read about a problem in your newsletter, they’ll assume you have a product or service to meet their needs.

Do make it plain that you’re local. People are more open to information that comes from a “neighbor.” Work references to area landmarks or events into the various articles. As silly as it may seem, people enjoying saying to themselves, “I know where that is.” Referring to local places and events will make your business seem less abstract to potential customers.

Don’t pontificate. A “message” from the company president or CEO is generally bad enough as a reader turn-off, but it may be forgivable if that message offers the “news you can use” component mentioned earlier. Observations about the state of the union, environmental policy, what’s wrong with kids today, or any other topic outside of the author’s professional expertise however, is a definite no-no.

Do keep it brief. While you may have articles that link to your Web site for more additional (non sales) information, the amount of content visible at first glance, should not take up much more room than one screen length. The format should also make it easy for the reader to scan for topics of interest, and quickly glean the facts.

Don’t overload your readers. Make sure the people to whom you send your newsletter have a reasonable chance of being interested in the information you’re providing. And your total number of broadcast communications (the e-newsletter plus any other announcements, alerts, sales promotions, etc.) should appear in their inboxes no more frequently than twice a month. Once a month or once every three months is probably often enough for your newsletter to make an impact without becoming an unread annoyance.

Do encourage reader interactivity. Solicit and make it easy for your audience to provide feedback about your newsletter. Not only is this good PR but their ideas could very well have great merit and can enhance your publication. Also make it easy for audience members to introduce people they know to your newsletter. And finally, make it easy for readers to unsubscribe if they wish to do so.

Do create a series of articles for your newsletter either with a fun or business theme. For example, this year we are running a series of articles with tips for best practices in SEO, and last year we ran a series with the overarching theme relating Wonder Woman (our President’s favorite comic character) to marketing. We’ve seen great enthusiasm for the fun themes so we decided to keep it going with a Zodiac Marketing series this year. We expect that people will enjoy this series as well! As far as the SEO tips series they contain actionable items that any business person or marketing executive can apply to their routine.

Properly executed and written with your audience’s interests in mind, an e-newsletter can help keep your business in the minds of potential customers for that specific moment when they may need your services. Pinstripe can help create a template as well as content for your e-newsletter – get in touch if you need help with launching yours.

Zodiac Marketer: Pisces

zodiac compassion in content marketing_news

In astrology, people belonging to each zodiac sign allegedly have individual inclinations in personality, relationships, and even fate according to the alignment of the stars at the time of birth. Whether or not you believe in astrology, it can be interesting to read about the different personality traits, relationship tendencies, career paths, and the various aspects of a person’s “sign.” In this series, we will approach marketing using the different characteristics of the zodiac signs.

Pisces is a water sign, with the strengths: compassion, creativity, intuition, gentleness, wisdom, and they are musically inclined. This is a no-brainer. So much of marketing encompasses so many of these traits. Let’s also take a look at Pisces’ weaknesses: fearful, overly trusting, desire to escape reality, can be a victim or a martyr.

Compassion in Marketing

How do you apply compassion to marketing? The truth is, we marketers do it every day, probably without even knowing it. If you really think about the word compassion, at its root is empathy and understanding. In a sense, compassion is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. A good marketer will do this with every piece of marketing material she or he creates.

Some examples:

  • We think about how the user will experience our website designs. Will the flow of the site and the content be easy to navigate? Is the text readable? Is the overall design pleasing to the eye, or are there clashing colors or fonts that will cause an unpleasant experience? We are concerned first and foremost with user experience.
  • When we are creating a new logo, we think about what the end customer is looking for in a company. Are they looking for a solid, trustworthy partner or a fun, cool experience? This will influence everything from the color palette to the font selection.

Creativity in Marketing

This one couldn’t be any simpler to apply to marketing. Creativity is at the heart of design, certainly, but it’s also a key part of marketing strategy. When we create marketing campaigns, creative problem solving is incredibly important. We start with the objective and a set of goals, and from there we develop a strategy of how to best reach those goals. The content development and design process is inherently creative, but applying creative thinking to public relations, media buying, and even management reporting can make all the difference between success and failure.

For example, in one client’s marketing mix, we reallocated a portion of their budget to create more digital ads with analytics. Our rationale for this move is to get a better sense of keyword performance from the digital advertising analytics and then apply those top performing keywords to other parts of the campaign to step up organic web traffic and eventually increase leads, sales, and ultimately revenue.

Intuition in Marketing

Intuition is defined as quick and ready insight or the immediate apprehension or cognition of something, without the need for conscious reasoning. It is one of those “soft skills” that thought leaders are tossing around a lot lately. How do we apply our intuition to a design project? Number one: WE LISTEN. We ask a lot of questions, and then we listen. We ask for a client’s favorite examples, and then we listen. We spend a lot of time listening, watching, notating reactions, passions, subtle hints. During this discovery process, we are experiencing what the client shares and says without judgment. Once we’ve collected our notations from this discovery meeting, we let the full weight of the experience set in and start the process of design or strategy outline. When you’ve spent the entire meeting listening, often there is little need to spend hours toiling over the next step. Sometimes it will even begin to manifest itself during the meeting so that it flows, intuitively, onto the page.

Avoid: Fear in Marketing

As in any business, fear is crippling to marketing and is to be avoided at all costs. Marketing is one of the fastest moving industries – the technology, applications, solutions, and tools are constantly evolving. This is no place for fear. A marketer must be curious, not fearful. You must be willing to try a new shiny tool and have the confidence to either adopt or discard it. You must trust your instincts when you make these decisions, and don’t be afraid to consult with colleagues, read up, take a course! Forge on, be spontaneous, educate yourself constantly – these are some ways to crush fear and thrive in the marketing world.

Avoid: Playing the Victim in Marketing

Let’s frame this from the perspective of online reputation management. Without going into great detail about this topic, which you can read more about HERE, we will touch on the one item that is most relevant to the Pisces victim role. That is – don’t respond to negative reviews or comments with anger, defensiveness, excuses, or any other immature chaff. This is placing yourself in the role of being the victim of someone else’s negativity. This type of response often leads to a pathetic comment battle, in which nothing is accomplished, except that your business looks petty and ridiculous. Instead, play the role of responsible, concerned customer service professional who wants to turn the negative into a positive.

By reacting in an authentic tone that shows that #1 – you want to try to make this right, #2 – you accept responsibility for the mistake and #3 – you plan on using the incident to improve future customer experience, you will often gain the trust and appreciation of the dissatisfied client. In some cases you will turn them into a raving fan. However, even if they are still not happy, at least you’ve demonstrated to other potential clients that you handle sensitive situations with genuine concern and the desire to improve.

We hope that you can take some of the above recommendations and apply them to your business or marketing plan. Stay tuned for the next zodiac sign, fiery Aries!

Nikki Devereux Lends Newsletter Expertise in Referral Rock Story

Florida trademark lawyer, intellectual property

Pinstripe senior project manager, Nikki Devereux, is one of 44 marketers to give advice on creating a compelling email marketing newsletter for Referral Rock. General tips included keeping language conversational instead of a lot of jargon, Tuesday is the most popular day for distribution, and lists are always a popular content tactic.

Nikki mentioned that we “repurpose and make their newsletter fun by sending their newsletter as a series. She says, “This year we have been running a series in which we compare marketing to aspects of Wonder Woman, and it’s been really fun and people are engaging with the content, so that’s always a good sign”.

She also talks about how the information needs to be useful too. “Overall, our general guideline for content is that it has to be useful to our reader – marketing and PR tips, local events, and spotlighting our clients and vendors in fun interview-style pieces”, she says.”

Read the complete article on ReferralRock.com.

See our Wonder Woman series:

Everything I Know About Marketing, I Learned from Wonder Woman
Public Relations Needs to Be Transparent, Like Wonder Woman’s Jet
Confidence Conveys Strength in Marketing
Truth in Advertising: Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth
Wonder Woman Marketing: Her Tiara and Brand Identity
Wonder Woman’s Compassionate Leadership

Social Media Campaign Management Secret Sauce

social media campaign secret sauce_news

A social media campaign for business, whether large or small, is more than just posting photos, ideas, industry news or funny quips on your page. Save that for your personal Facebook page, although you still need to be conscientious here (more on this in another article). A business social media campaign needs to be carefully thought out, align with your business goals, and possess an authentic voice that is considered trustworthy by your readers, followers, and clients.

Planning your social media campaign should take the form of several steps to begin with, but of course you will probably need to adjust over time as your business goals change, your products change, and the business environment itself changes. As always, being agile and adaptable is an advantage when managing your social media accounts. Below are some steps to follow to get you started:

  • Define your target audience – who are your readers, followers, and ultimately, your clients? Start with determining this so that you can formulate a voice that speaks to those people authentically.
  • Set goals – do you want to drive more traffic to your site, a particular product or service page, or just raise general awareness of your business?
  • Create a keyword list that defines your business and appeals to the audience you want to reach – this list will inform everything you write, post and say on all social media accounts.
  • Create a timeline/calendar – how often do you want to publish blogs and post to social media? Create a calendar so that you always know when it’s time to post and the earlier you can define what it is you want to post, the better. This way you are not always scrambling to come up with something the day that you are supposed to post it.

This is the framework of your social media campaign. Once you have an understanding of all of these items and your calendar is in place, you can start gathering your content. Business social media is all about sharing content, stories, case studies, and ideas that are relevant, useful, and/or helpful to your audience. It’s not only about promoting your business. There is no better way to lose your audience’s interest than to constantly post about your products and why someone should purchase them, or even posting coupons or sales. People want information! We recommend a ratio of 10-15% business promotion and the rest is all content that the reader can actually use. In some cases that may even be giving away some of your business’ “secret sauce.”

A great example is this very blog and, in fact, most of the articles on our blog. We are experts in social media marketing and many of our clients hire us to do just what we describe in this article. Why would we give away these secrets? Because we sincerely want to help. If this information is useful to your company and can help you run your social media campaigns more efficiently, then we are happy to have impacted your business in a positive way. However, we also realize that taking the above steps can become time-consuming, and many business owners quickly realize they are in over their head. If that’s the case, we exist to help you in this way as well – to fill in the gap you have in social media marketing so you can work on your business. If that’s the case, please contact us and we can come up with a social media management plan that will fit your business and budget!

You Can Build a Narrative for Your Company

company narrative content marketing_news

For businesses big and small, it’s not enough to say, “This is what we make” or “This is what we do.” It’s generic and outdated. People are looking for authenticity and value—a brand they can trust. And the best way to show them is through a corporate narrative.

Building a narrative comes from a shift in thinking away from the what the competition is doing, what the customer focus groups are saying, and what the industry landscape looks like. A narrative is a strategic positioning of the company, using its history, its employees, the location and its future. Combined, these explain why the company exists and why it’s unique.

Strategic Positioning

Without getting political, the current controversy surrounding Nike is more than a PR stunt. Sure, Nike’s online sales jumped 31% after the Kaepernick ads appeared, but they have also returned to pre-campaign levels after the buzz had faded. These ads are a continuation of their narrative, “Just do it.”

Nike’s narrative started in 1988 and it goes beyond, “We make great shoes.” It focuses on athletes and their need to believe in themselves: “We’ll make the best sporting equipment and all you have to do is believe in yourself.” By using Kaepernick, they pay homage to other high caliber athletes who made their own protests, the most famous of which was Muhamad Ali, and were punished for it. It’s about inspiration, not about product.

Okay, enough about the controversy, let’s look deeper into building a corporate narrative.

Value over Features and Benefits

The features and benefits of a product or service are no longer enticing to potential customers or clients. They’re all the same. It’s the value that’s the differentiator. Value motivates consumers to look deeper and see who the company truly is.

A company’s value begins with its mission and vision:

  • Who they are.
  • What they believe in.
  • What they believe is possible.

This is about having a purpose and sharing that purpose with others, or having others share it with them.

IBM’s “Smarter Planet”campaign began in 2008 and is a great example of a modern corporate narrative. It came from IBM’s mission and core set of values. It shares their sense of purpose and how that purpose can be achieved. It’s also inclusive – very inclusive – and describes a sense of shared responsibility.

Corporate Narrative for a Small Company

Small companies don’t work on the world stage or have enormous marketing budgets, but they can build their own narrative. Even start-ups and relatively young companies can do this. All they need to do is take a look at their mission and what they believe in. What’s their purpose? Their purpose is what they can share with customers.

Slogans and logos help visually expand the chosen narrative, like giving it wings. Content marketing strategies help reinforce the message. To customers experiencing these , the value of the company becomes remarkable, something exciting to talk about. The brand is no longer generic—it’s authentic. Best of all, the story continues to grow with each connection made.