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Here’s Your 5-Step Marketing Plan for a Budget-Friendly Business Reopening

by Naomi Johnson, Life Based Business

Navigating your post-disaster marketing plan might be the biggest challenge for recovery (no matter what type of event occurs). The good news is that you don’t need an enormous budget to make it happen. With these five practical strategies, you can address each angle of reopening without overspending.

Need an All-in-One Solution?

For small businesses that feel lost when it comes to marketing, going the DIY route can feel intimidating. One way to streamline your marketing budget is by outsourcing the responsibility to an experienced agency. For example, Pinstripe Marketing works with your company to develop a marketing campaign to enhance your brand. From there, you decide which parts you can execute and which parts we can, and we divide and conquer. Instead of going it alone, you can rely on the expertise of an agency with decades of experience in brand development.

Step 1: Maximize Your Budget

Not every business has a nest egg to work with for disaster recovery. But whether you need to get out of a tight spot financially or invest in improvements, some cash will be necessary. So, finding the resources to pad your budget is a smart move.

Fortunately, you can boost your company’s cash flow by seeking out small business programs in your area. For example, plenty of government programs provide grants and loans to business owners. Many programs are specific for COVID-19 relief, while others have requirements based on your niche or business status. Some private companies are even offering grants to businesses that apply.

Step 2: Educate Your Team

Overseeing a remote team isn’t always easy. Case in point: often, you can’t see them at all. But online tools afford businesses more opportunities for connection than ever. Still, before you let your team loose with digital platforms and web portals filled with company data, it’s essential to offer specific information.

Outlining online safety tips as part of your remote work agreement is a helpful strategy. Rules like not sharing company devices with kids, ensuring their home Wi-Fi is encrypted, and installing antivirus software can all be part of your contract.

Step 3: Choose the Right Tools

From social media platforms to mobile apps and sales websites, tons of tools can help you reach growth and marketing goals. Narrowing down the options can easily become the biggest challenge for brands that are new to the digital landscape.

Whether you’re moving your retail store online, offering banking clients a no-touch option for deposits, or hoping to earn new customers via a delivery app, the right tools can help you reach your ideal audience. Choose automation tools for business processes, marketing and eCommerce, and even customer service (using chatbots). There are even social media tools for scheduling posts without spending all your time online. Whatever your business priorities are, there are tools to help.

Step 4: Leverage Free Marketing Opportunities

Social media offers countless ways to attract, interact with, and impress customers. Whether they’re new to your business or already passionate about your brand, catering to customers on social media is a cost-effective way to grow your reputation (and possibly your sales figures).

By improving your social media presence, you can achieve growth without investing a ton of funds. Consider steps like creating a Facebook group for your audience, posting tips via Twitter, sharing engaging images on Instagram, or sharing videos on TikTok. While social media does take effort, the platforms are free – and a great way to reinforce your business’s branding.

Step 5: Prioritize Your People

As a brand, who are your people? Your audience and in-house team are equally crucial. Prioritize both, and you have better odds of succeeding post-disaster.

When it comes to charming your customers, you don’t have to spend much, either. Knowing what they want – and empowering your employees to deliver – is a key part of the equation, notes Gallup. Employees who feel empowered are also invaluable to your business. They are more accountable, resolve problems on their own, and enjoy their jobs more, notes Chron.

Getting your business back on track after an economic downturn is a tall order. But by taking cost-effective steps toward marketing and empowering your staff, you can realize revitalization and growth. And, it may cost less than you expect.

Photo via Rawpixel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Solvers: What Do I Do When Someone Gives Me a Bad Review?

by Nikki Bromley, Pinstripe Marketing

Pinstripe Problem Solvers answer your most desperate questions about marketing.

In a pinch? Email us your problem, and we’ll help you find an answer.

“Pinstripe, help! I checked my Google Reviews this morning, and there it was—a one-star review! I remember the client and have NO IDEA what I did wrong.”

First of all, don’t panic. One thing we always keep in mind is to try and “turn it around.” If you can somehow turn a bad review into a good one with outstanding customer service, then you may have won over a lifelong advocate of your business.

When you receive a bad review, you must not ignore it. It’s not going to go away, so you need to take action.

The first thing to do is to respond directly to the review on Google using the client’s name. Be compassionate and diplomatic. Do not start an argument, say anything rude, accusatory, or make any statement that could offend the customer. Let them know that you are sorry that their experience was less than exceptional, and you want to address their problem, perhaps find a solution. Anything less than a calm, composed response can be very harmful to your reputation. Negativity, name-calling and rude behavior are immature, embarrassing, and a big no-no! No one wants to do business with someone like that.

If you remember the customer or client, and have their contact information, reach out to them by phone. Prepare yourself with some talking points. Refer to the Google Review and the fact that you’d like to not only improve their experience but learn how to make the next customer’s experience better. Admit your mistake, if you made one, and apologize. You may even want to be prepared to offer a refund on the product or service if they were extremely displeased, mainly if they had good reason to be.

We all make mistakes, and sometimes dealing with a bad Google Review is no one’s fault but our own. Make good on your mistakes, but also let the world know that you did. Once the case is resolved, revisit the Google Review and address the resolution in another response. For example:

“We are so glad we could come to a resolution, Sharon. Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback and help us to improve our service. We look forward to serving you again in the future.”

This may prompt the client to change their 1-star review to a 5-star review. Don’t count on it, but if it does happen, it’s a pleasant bonus. What you’re doing is showing others who read the reviews that you were proactive in seeking out a solution to a problem with your product or service.

On occasion, you will have a difficult client who is either manipulating you or is hard to please. In the case of the former, if you are shrewd enough, you can beat them at their game. I’ll illustrate this with an example.

We have a client (let’s call them Dave) who has a beautiful 5-star review history on Google. Their reputation is untarnished because they do such a great job at what they do, but they also take the time to address any negative reviews or concerns directly. One day, Dave received a negative review with a single star. Dave couldn’t believe it! He remembered the client, who left the office seemingly happy with their service and no complaints at all. The entire transaction was perfect from start to finish.

The person was a referral from another business, so Dave contacted that business to find out if they knew anything. The business had actually been mentioned in the review, so in a way, they were already involved. The referring business did remember the client, and everything went perfectly. The client had nothing bad to say. Through some research and a direct call to the client, Dave discovered that this person was trying to trick him into offering a refund because they had heard that significant refunds were issued to resolve negative Google Reviews. A small refund had been issued recently and mentioned in response to the initial negative review.

Use this story as a warning: be careful of issuing refunds to clients, and if you do, make it protocol to be discreet. If word travels that you’re known to issue refunds, you may find yourself in a predicament like Dave. When he confronted the client, she sheepishly took the review down, and they never heard from her again.

Bad reviews are not the end of the world. Treat them as an opportunity to improve your customer service and product offerings. Most people who read reviews will take notice that even though you don’t have a perfect 5-stars, you made an effort to provide the best possible experience when things went awry.

Get in touch with us if you have a problem that Pinstripe can solve! We’d love to hear your marketing issues and will choose one a month to respond to on our website!

Marketing Maintenance: Update or Redesign Your Website

website-redesign

by Nikki Bromley, Director of Account Management

Have you been putting off updating your website because you’ve been too busy? Now is the perfect time to tackle that project. More people are spending time online and you need to be prepared for this influx of traffic with a refreshed or brand new website.

We’ve all experienced the effects of seasonal slowdowns or periods of lighter business activities. These quieter business days do not have to be unproductive. It’s a great time to review your website to see what updates you can make. You can also revisit a website project you’ve been wanting to tackle.

Updating Your Website

Have a website professional perform an audit. It’s good to have a new set of eyes on your website, especially a professional who knows the hallmarks of good website design. Whatever your industry, a website pro can assess whether or not your website is working toward your business goals. Below are some questions to ask yourself and things to consider when revamping your website design.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Have you completed an SEO audit in the last year? Take a look at the backend of your website and your content.
  • Is your content being updated regularly?
  • Are your headings and content properly assigned?
  • Are you publishing content on other websites or blogs?
  • How are you receiving linkbacks, if any?
  • Do you have any social media accounts or digital marketing campaigns that are feeding traffic to your site? If so, have you assessed them lately? 

Navigation – Menus and Pages

  • Are the menus and pages logical and easy to navigate?
  • Is it simple to get back to the home page?

Have someone else click through your site. Did they end up on pages that they had no idea how they arrived at? Did they find what they were looking for? You could even poll some customers to define the user experience better.

Mobile Responsive

  • Does the design look and feel right on a phone or is it outdated and difficult to navigate? Can it be viewed on an average sized cell phone?
  • Are the calls to action mobile responsive? The call button should automatically dial your designated phone number when someone taps it. The email button should automatically pop up an email to your designated address when someone taps it. These are just a few things that are necessary for proper mobile responsiveness in a website.

Overall Look

  • Simplicity is best. Large, clean photos should illustrate what your business does but not overcrowd the page.
  • Iconography helps users easily find what they are looking for and breaks up large blocks of copy.
  • Headings (H1, H2, H3) should be used appropriately throughout the website. They are incredibly important for search engine optimization (SEO). Not only do headings help define content sections, they make each page easier to view, because information is easier to find.
  • Clean layouts with little fuss are best, especially for professional services websites. Animations, auto-play music, and other “frills” actually take away from the user’s experience. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “more is better.”

Content Assessment – Copy, Videos, Infographics, and Blogs

  • When was the last time you reviewed your website’s content? Is it still relevant to your business, your industry, and current website trends?
  • Has a marketing professional ever reviewed and assessed your content?
  • Do you have videos on your website?
  • Is there too much or too little information on your website?
  • Is the content broken into digestible blocks with clear calls to action?
  • Are you updating your content regularly? Do you have a blog? This also fits into the category of SEO.

Assess Calls to Action

  • Is there a Call to Action on every page? You need to give the visitor every opportunity to take action, whether that’s a phone call, an email, or an online form.
  • Have you tried AB testing different colors or phrasing for your Calls to Action? This is a great way to make sure you are getting the most out of them.
  • Are your Calls to Action clear? Make sure users can easily understand your Calls to Action. Here, again, we want to be simple and to the point – no fancy language or poetics.

If it’s been more than 5 years since you invested in your website, chances are you will need a complete website overhaul. Perhaps you find that you only need or want updates to a few aspects of the website to get it working for you. Whatever your particular needs are, connect with the Pinstripe Marketing website design and development team. We’ll review your website and make recommendations on how to get it to achieve your goals and win more business.

Marketing Maintenance: Perfect Time for a Fresh, New Look

You may know that there’s something wrong with your brand identity, but can’t quite put your finger on it. It could be something that just cosmetic, or it could be something that goes much deeper.

Refresh Versus Rebrand

It takes years to build your brand identity, and you want to be able to maintain its integrity. Lots of hard work and late nights are as much a part of that identity as your logo. But, you know there’s a problem when potential or existing customers no longer gravitate toward your brand. You may need a simple refresh to show your vitality or a complete rebrand to focus on new markets.

Refresh – It all starts with your logo. You’ve seen the big companies, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi (logo progression seen above) or IBM and AT&T, slightly adjust the look and feel of their logos to fit the current trends and styles. They know that a logo can’t stay relevant forever. Now, think back to when your logo was made. The trends and styles influenced its design during that time, and could be outdated if it was many years ago:

  • Color Gradients
  • Multiple Images
  • Insensitive Symbols
  • Ornate Fonts

Older styles have a difficult time translating to digital media. The nuance gets lost, resulting in a dated look and feel.

Updating your logo requires cosmetic adjustments that symbolize your identity today. Modern design is all about thoughtful simplicity. A brand refresh allows your logo to evolve with your business. And, it’s much more than just your logo. Here are some things to consider that won’t break your budget:

  • Logo – change in color or minor touch-ups.
  • Business Name – change in font.
  • Presentations – updated with a new look and feel.
  • Business Stationery – reflects the new look.
  • Website – easier to navigate and understand at a glance.

All of your sales materials, letterhead, business cards, and digital media get the same type of spa treatment.

Rebrand – Have you recently purchased another company? Had a merger? Or has your business model and market strategy changed? If you said yes, then everything about your current brand identity may say very little about your company. A rebrand can create that distance between old and new.

Repositioning your brand can be a significant reboot of your identity, which requires dramatic changes to your visual identity. It’s also a change in messaging. There may be a new story to tell one that’s new and exciting.

  • New Mission
  • Corporate Narrative
  • More Services
  • Expanding Network
  • Professional Image

Because of these changes, your current brand is no longer sustainable, and to hold on to it any longer may cause negative brand equity. Rebranding your business is a way of looking into the future to see what your brand can be. Here are some major things to consider:

  • Investigating New Markets – business intelligence to understand target market demographics, psychographics, and historical trends.
  • Increasing Visibility – being the new kid on the block requires strategic ad spending.
  • Content Strategies – develop a narrative that fits the company’s mission and vision.
  • Social Media Campaigns – build customer engagement and loyalty over professional platforms.
  • Community Outreach – show the world that you care about where you live.
  • Business Networks – increase the reach and depth of your resources through more reliable connections.

Each of these requires the proper marketing materials to leave a lasting impression and remain front of mind when they need your services. The time and financial investments that you make toward a rebrand will pay off for years to come.

The current business environment has given us more time to capitalize on opportunities to grow our brand. This is the perfect time to update your brand identity. Some of the projects listed above can take a substantial amount of time, so they will be ready to launch when everything has recovered. At Pinstripe, we are experts in building the perfect brand identity. We have helped some of the biggest corporations in the Tampa Bay area with their rebranding. We can help you refresh your brand so that it connects with your audience. Contact us today to develop and execute a successful plan.

Proposed Legislation May Restrict Legal Advertising

2020 legislative update_featured

A bill has passed through committee in the Florida House of Representatives (PCB CJS 20-02) that would restrict the advertising of legal services. According to Florida House staff analysis, these changes prohibit legal advertisements from containing certain terminology or use of protected health information.

  • PCB CJS 20-02 passed a committee vote, now filed as H 7083.
  • Prohibits legal advertisements from using certain terminology or failing to include specified disclosures.
  • Violations subject to penalties under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Law firms advertising that there is recourse for bad prescription drugs may become more difficult in the state of Florida. The bill, H 7083, has overwhelmingly passed a critical subcommittee vote, which will add more advertising stipulations for legal advertising to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1288, is still in committee and doesn’t appear to have any momentum. The only difference between the House and Senate bills is language focusing on disclosure of “claim amounts.”

This legislation comes on the heels of a 2017 survey by the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The ILR surveyed over a thousand adults currently taking one or more prescriptions a day. The survey found that a significant amount of the participants would reduce their dosage of a drug if they saw an advertisement about a lawsuit for injury caused by a medication they were taking. Nearly half of the survey respondents said they would definitely or probably stop taking the drug immediately after seeing the advertisement.

Legal advertising focused on pharmaceuticals may have the potential to affect viewers adversely, resulting in severe consequences. The findings of the 2017 study were confirmed in September of 2019 by the Federal Trade Commission. Through the government’s Adverse Event Reporting System, consumers stopped taking their prescription drugs after seeing commercials about litigation regarding those medications.

According to a legal brief about the proposed bill, H 7083 “prohibits legal advertisements from containing certain terminology and prohibits certain use, sale, or transfer of protected health information without specified authorization for purposes of soliciting legal services.” The brief goes on to describe some of the prohibitions and requirements:

  • Prohibits a person who submits a legal advertisement for publication, broadcast, or dissemination, or who pays for or otherwise sponsors a legal advertisement from:
    • Failing to clearly and conspicuously disclose the sponsor of the advertisement;
    • Failing to clearly and conspicuously disclose the award amount the client received after paying for legal services and costs if the advertisement includes information regarding the amount of a damage award obtained on behalf of a client;
    • Displaying government agency logos in a manner implying an affiliation with that agency;
    • Including terminology implying that the product has been recalled when it has not been;
  • Requires a legal advertisement to clearly disclose the warning, “Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor,” if the advertisement solicits clients who may allege injury from a prescription drug; and
  • Prohibits a person from using, obtaining, selling, transferring, or disclosing to another person without written authorization protected health information to solicit legal services.

The proposed bill also outlines the cause of action for anyone that suffers physical injury as a result of legal advertising, as well as action taken by the Department of Legal Affairs or state attorney.

Even though these bills may not pass during the 2020 session, they certainly are not dead. There is a good chance they will get passed in 2021. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. I can also provide you with a copy of the proposed bill and the state’s legal analysis.