Jul 182017
 
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7 Basic Elements Of Building Your Social Media Marketing Plan

You need a social media marketing plan for your small business!

This is a guest post from Dorien Morin at More In Media.

Social media marketing without a plan is like any kind of marketing without a plan – it’s not as effective. You might go through all the trouble of renting a storefront, ordering inventory, hiring staff and opening the doors for customers to come see you… and then… nothing! The only difference is that with social media, it’s done online.

If you want social media marketing to work for your business, you need to have a plan of action in order to measure growth, success, and ROI.

Here are 7 basic elements of building your own social media marketing plan today!

Goals

What are your goals of being on social media?

Drive foot traffic to a brick and mortar store?

Increases Online sales?

Website Traffic?

Brand Awareness?

Email Signups?

More Sales Overall?

Expand territory?

Grow online community?

Grow Team?

You can certainly add your own goals to this list.

Then, identify your main goal as well as 2-3 secondary goals you want to accomplish.

The first step of your social media marketing plan is done!

Target Audience 

Identify your “customer avatar,” a/k/a your ideal client.

To do that, ask yourself the following questions:

Who is my most profitable customer?

Who is my most loyal customer?

What age is my ideal customer?

Where do most of my customers live?

What is the disposable income of my target audience?

How often does my target audience purchase a service/product like mine?

Does my target audience buy online or offline (what are their buying habits?)

What social media sites does my target audience frequent?

Etc.

Answering these questions will help you create ‘the ideal customer’, your avatar. Now all your marketing efforts should be focused on engaging that avatar! That includes writing ads and creating videos that will make an impact on that specific avatar.

Second step is done!

Budget

Having a marketing budget is essential to building your social media marketing plan as you will need to budget for staff wages, consulting fees, content creation (photography, video and copywriting), advertising, automation tools and more.

Without a budget, your hands are tied – you can try to build your brand and online community for ‘free’ but it will still take a huge resource – your time!

Once you’ve completed your budget, the third step is done!

(Social) Media Audit

Without knowing where you are as you start, you can’t measure growth and success as you move forward.

You will need a (social) media audit to find out where you are currently visible online (platforms) as well as offline, what marketing efforts are working and what is not, what your website traffic is doing (Google Analytics), how your Facebook Ads are doing (if you are running any) and the status of your email marketing as well as your offline marketing efforts.

Throw this data into a Google doc and you’ve got your audit done. Use this data to measure growth in all areas; weekly, monthly, yearly.

Step four, done.

Competitors

Your competition is one of the best resources available to you if you are ready to create a written social media marketing plan.

Why reinvent the wheel? I suggest picking 3-5 industry and/or local competitors and make a spreadsheet with the following data.

Check their Website – are they using video? Is there a blog? E-commerce? A Podcast?

Check Facebook – what type of posts do well? How much engagement do they have? How often do they post? Do they go LIVE?

Check Twitter – are they active? What do they tweet? How many followers do they have?

Check Instagram – do they have an account? How often do they post? Do they mainly post pictures or video? What hashtags are being used?

Check all other platforms, including review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor etc if relevant.

Use this data not to copy what your competitors are doing, but as a starting point for best practices. If their audience engages well with video, why not create an awesome video series? If there’s nothing much going on with Twitter in their/your industry, maybe put that on the back burner, unless you think there’s an opportunity to engage relevant constituencies there. It’s hard to know without trying – test it, then adjust accordingly.

Step five is complete.

Tools

You will need automation and creator tools for social media. This includes subscriptions to software, email marketing or CRM systems, as well as access to (stock) photo sites. Do some research and find out how much to add to your budget for tools – you will need to tools to be efficient!  A few of the tools you’ll want to consider include:

Canva – graphics creation

Buffer – scheduling

Camtasia – screen capture

mailChimp – email marketing

infusionsoft – CRM

Asana – project management

Slack – team projects

That’s step six, but in reality, your research on tools will be ongoing.

Content

Content creation isn’t free! You might need to hire a videographer for the day, or a video editor. You might need a photographer for an event or for website pictures. You will most likely need a copywriter and a webmaster to keep your website up-to-date and yes, that falls under social media, too. Creating a social media marketing plan includes the need for a monthly content calendar with content ideas to be worked out by the marketing team. Understand that creating content isn’t the end –there needs to be a budget to promote this content as well, as such promotion is essential to social media marketing success!

And that’s step seven!

These are seven building blocks of creating your very own social media marketing plan.

I suggest you create this plan in a written format that it can easily be shared with your team!

Refer back to this plan as you execute it, at least on a monthly basis to make sure you are still on the right track and create a new, updated plan every year!

 

Dorien Morin

Dorien@moreinmedia.com

www.moreinmedia.com

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Jul 062017
 
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Marketing Better – What Happens If The Fish Are Not Biting?

Almost every entrepreneur I’ve met would like to be marketing better. Why not, right? If you market better, your business should be more successful, at least on the top line.

So, speaking of “top line” – not as in revenues, as the term implies in business, but as in fishing line, the kind you use to catch fish – let’s talk fishing for a minute.

What does fishing have to do with marketing better?

I would say learning to fish well is a lot like learning to market well. Here’s why.

My son was asking me yesterday if I’d ever gone pond hopping. I asked him what he meant, as I wasn’t familiar with the term. He said, you know, where you drive from pond to pond, trying to catch fish, then keeping track of the results at each pond…

That got me to thinking of just how much fishing is like marketing!

Just as in fishing, in marketing there is always a temptation to go “pond hopping”. The less informed version of pond hopping in marketing would be where you try something in one “pond” for a short time, then quickly conclude that because you haven’t “caught something” right away, the pond is no good, so you move on. You figuratively jump in the car and drive to another marketing “pond”.

Does this approach to marketing make sense?

To answer this question, let’s go back to fishing for a moment. For example, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of fish are you trying to catch?
  • How much do know about the eating behavior of the fish you’re trying to catch?
  • What sort of fishing equipment do you have at your disposal? For example, do you have a boat?
  • How long are you spending at the pond before “hopping” to the next one?
  • What else is happening at the pond you’re fishing in? Are fish jumping to catch flies?
  • How many different lures did you try before you moved on to the next pond?
  • Have you fished at that particular pond before? Did you learn anything?
  • What season of the year is it?
  • Did you try just one place in the pond, or did you move around at least a bit?
  • What time of day is it?
  • Have any other fisherpersons given you tips about this particular pond, or about the type of fish you’re going after?
  • If you catch a large fish, or any fish for that matter, are you prepared to get it into the boat or onto the shore?
  • Are you fishing for sport, or is it your business? Or do you need the fish to eat, as you’re in a survival situation?
  • Is there anything else in the water about which you should be careful – things that could kill or harm you, such as snakes, gators, or sharks?

This list could go on quite a bit, of course.

What does this have to do with marketing? Everything. It has everything to do with marketing.

If you would not (should not) travel to a pond to go fishing without having the answers to the basic questions, should you go to market without answers to basic questions about the customers you are seeking to attract? Absolutely not!

You should have every bit of data, qualitative and quantitative, that you can get your hands on, before you go to market.

In reality, you should have as much of this information as possible before you even build your product or service offering, so you know that you are building something that your market will want to buy!

Marketing better must become a habit. You must become an entrepreneur who doesn’t simply hope that the “fish” will bite. You need to stack the odds in your favor by gathering and tracking as much information (metrics) as possible.

How do you get this information about your market?

  • Ask them. Talk to your customers and prospective customers directly. Gather all information you can, but don’t take everything at face value – people often behave differently than even they realize.
  • Ask others. Just like you’d ask other fisherpersons, ask others in the market how your target prospects behave. Ask them in person and also look at data and reports that they and other service providers publish.
  • Observe them. My son bought a big fish tank and stocked it with the type of fish he goes after, rather than with tropical fish he’d never fish for. He feeds them daily. He changes it up. He sees how they respond. He appreciates them and treats them well. Pretty clever! And no, you can’t keep your prospects in a fish tank (except roughly the equivalent during a focus group), but you get the idea.
  • Take notes. Don’t just “go fishing” and not pay attention to what happens. Be observant. Note what works and what doesn’t, and under what circumstances. Track metrics that help you make better marketing decisions. Don’t just make mental notes; write them down. As the saying goes, the dullest ink is better than the best memory.
  • Experiment. I read a headline recently that said “your intuition is probably wrong” — I don’t recall where I read it (should have written it down), or I’d give them credit. You need to conduct tests and pay attention to the results – often you’ll be surprised by what works and what doesn’t. Do more of what works.
  • Don’t hop too fast. Give each approach and each “pond” a chance before writing it off. If you hop from pond to pond or method to method too quickly, you may never find out what actually works! You may end up thinking, mistakenly, that nothing works, as you will have given nothing a real chance to work!

Marketing better does not happen by mistake! Well, it might from time to time, just as you may catch a fish “by mistake,” but if this is your approach, it won’t be repeatable, except on a totally random basis.

In trying to market more effectively, you are looking for an approach and tactics that are repeatable and that deliver better than purely random results!

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Jun 252017
 
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7 Quick And Easy Ideas For Clever Sales Promotions 

You may, rightly, be asking yourself what exactly is meant by the term sales promotions in this context. While there are various competing definitions for the term sales promotions, here we are going to keep it very simple.

For our purposes in this article, sales promotions means: any promotion that you use to increase the sales of your products or services.

So, let’s dive right into the seven ideas for sales promotions that you can use in your business.

Cause-related Promotions

Have a special sale, for a limited time, or if you’re really committed to the cause, on an ongoing basis, where a certain percentage of the revenues (or profits) is donated to the cause.

This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, if you are committed to supporting certain causes.

Also, if the supporters of that cause (those causes) match up well demographically to your target market(s), then this sales promotion can yield significant results.

Joint Promotions With Other Vendors

Sales promotions that you do jointly with other complementary vendors can yield excellent results. This is particularly true if your clientele aligns well with that of the joint promoter.

The alignment of your business with that of your joint promoter can be based on geography, complementarity of offerings, joint support of a particular cause, or any of a number of other factors.

Brainstorm a list of potential joint promoters and see what you can come up with for ideas.

Free Gift With Purchase

What customer does not like to receive something for free? These sales promotions where you offer a free gift with purchase leverage the innate human desire to receive something for nothing.

From your perspective as a vendor, such a giveaway does not need to be costly, particularly if you have certain goods that you need to liquidate. The giveaway has to be seen as something valuable, of course, or it will not work, but as the saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Interestingly, if you sell services, you can also give away a free (shorter, for example) consultation that could also lead to additional business.

Flash Sale

Flash sales have become very popular as sales promotions.

The key with flash sales is that you need to have good communication set up with your customers and prospective customers, usually via email and social media, so that you can make them aware of an impending flash sale. If you have to depend on a slower medium of communication such as “snail mail,” to get the word out, by definition, it takes the flash out of the flash sale.

Flash sales can be very effective. The main caveat is to not overuse them, as once they become less surprising and more of a regular event, the novelty wears off and they become less effective.

A good use of the flash sale can be when you have particular inventory (or consulting time, for example, if you’re selling a service) that you need to liquidate.

Coupons

Coupons are a tried and true type of sales promotions.

The key with coupons is that you must make the coupon valid for something the customer perceives to be of value, so it will draw them into the store. Or, more commonly, you’ll make the coupon valid for a certain percentage off storewide, sometimes excluding specific items, where your cost prohibits offering too large of a percentage discount.

Another important aspect of coupons is the length of their validity. As a consumer, it’s frustrating to have the thought to go to a particular store, or use a particular service, to make use of a coupon, only to realize that the coupon is no longer valid. If the idea of the coupon is to draw people into your store, or into using your service, make its validity as long as reasonably possible.

As with other promotions mentioned herein, it’s typically prudent to state that the coupon is not valid in conjunction with other offers or discounts.

BOGO Sales

Buy-one Get-one sales promotions have become very common, as have variants of this approach, like Buy-one Get-one-half-off. This type of promotion works very well, under the premise that more is better. If you want one of a particular item, why wouldn’t you want more of the same (or similar) item?

This type of sales promotion is also somewhat evergreen, as it’s not likely to ever “get old” that you are getting two for the price of one, or similar.

This approach is also quite helpful when you are trying to get rid of excess inventory of particular items, while at the same time offering a promotion that should bring more people into the store.

Loss Leader

The concept of sales promotions often referred to as “loss leaders” is when you are willing to take a bit of a loss on the item you are promoting, under the assumption (hopefully, supported by sales data) that when customers purchase the “loss leader” item, they are likely to also purchase other items that more than make up for the lost profit on the “loss leader”.

With this type of promotion, you need to not try to get too cute and have only one or two of the “loss leader” items, as if you take that approach, besides potentially running afoul of the law (bait and switch advertising, or similar), you are likely to end up with a lot of upset customers. Those upset customers likely will not only not buy other items from you that particular day; they may not every come back to your store.

So, this loss leader sales promotion can work well, particularly when it’s data-backed (prior sales data), but think it through well and do it honestly.

There are, of course, many potential variations of the ideas above for sales promotions. Hopefully, the seven ideas discussed above will get your creative juices flowing!

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

 

 

 

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Jun 242017
 
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How To Encourage Enthusiastic Word Of Mouth Marketing

First, as an entrepreneur, why should you care about encouraging word of mouth marketing and advertising of your business?

The reason is simple: it works!

Numerous studies (for example, see this Nielsen survey) and common sense (think of your own experience) tell us that referrals from friends are the most credible recommendations we can get.

The reasons for this are both obvious and subtle. The obvious reason is that if someone we know is recommending a person or company to provide a service to meet our needs, we trust that recommendation more than if a stranger were providing it, or worse yet, the company itself were telling us how great it is. The more subtle reason is that we are drowning in information and sensory overload these days, and as the Internet and our online existence continue to expand, that situation will only worsen.

That, coupled with the fact that we are busier and busier as time goes on, means that we need a shortcut to find product and service providers to meet our needs.

Word of mouth marketing is that shortcut.

So, if you take it as a given that word of mouth marketing and advertising are extremely important to the success of your business, what can you do to stimulate such activity as much as possible?

First and foremost, you must provide consistently valuable service! Word of mouth marketing can cut both ways! So, if your service is not consistently good and valuable, that word will also travel. And if it’s bad news, it will usually travel faster than if it’s good news. Provide a good customer experience, and when things don’t go exactly as planned, which is bound to happen, make sure that you have trained yourself and your employees to “make it right”.

Create a mindset in your business that customer experience is paramount and that any time there is feedback, positive or negative, that can help improve that experience, it must be taken seriously. Just as communication between customers and potential customers is the essence of word of mouth marketing, effective two-way communication between your company and customers is the foundation of building a great customer experience.

Second, make sure your business is active on social media. These days, a lot of what used to happen on the phone and in person, at least in part, happens online. Make sure that you and your team actively monitor social media, including review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. – whatever is relevant to your business), and actively engage in the conversation that takes place about your business and the services it provides. Be prepared that not all feedback will be positive, but most importantly, those who have used and are considering using your products and services must know that you and your company take customer feedback seriously. In order for word of mouth marketing to take place as positively and effectively as possible, customers and prospective customers must know that you care and are doing everything possible, within reason, to always work toward improving the customer experience.

Third, be honest. Beyond it being a requirement legally (Google FTC requirements for customer reviews), it’s good business to do what you can to ensure that the feedback that is provided online (and offline), both positive and negative, is valid and truthful. You may have noticed, for example, that Amazon and others will include “Verified Purchase” where possible, to show that the feedback being provided is coming from someone who actually purchased the product. There are strict legal limitations on what you as a business owner can do to encourage people to provide reviews of your products and services. These limitations relate to payments to the reviewers, among other things. Before pursuing any kind of word of mouth marketing strategy, I encourage you to familiarize yourself and your team with these limitations, so you don’t run afoul of the law.

Fourth, be creative. Don’t limit the picture of your company to boring, relatively uninformative one or two line reviews of your products and services. While these are helpful to some degree, and in large numbers, of course, they are a strong signal to the market that your products and services are worth purchasing, it is also very persuasive to see longer stories about the use of your products. Put together (truthful and factual, of course) case studies of real customers using the products and services you provide and don’t be afraid to share these, both online and in-person when you are marketing and selling.

Finally, embrace marketing with stories. This is related to the use of case studies, but it takes it to the next level. Marketing with stories involves developing a mindset that understands and values the reality that humans love a good story. Who didn’t enjoy a bedtime story when they were growing up? Who has not learned extensively from stories told to us by our elders? As humans, we are programmed to respond to and learn from stories. We connect with stories both logically and emotionally. They reach us on a level that few other forms of communication can. This is true especially when they’re inherently visual (think video), but also when they’re simply told cleverly with words. So, if you want to stimulate even more word of mouth marketing of your company and its products and services, teach and encourage yourself and your team to tell good stories. When the story is good, we as humans are likely to repeat it. See this article for some good examples of marketing/advertising with stories.

So, by now, I hope you’re convinced that encouraging enthusiastic word of mouth marketing is worth the effort. To get the job done, first make sure that you are providing a valuable product or service, and make sure you create a company culture that focuses on improving the customer experience. Once you’ve done that, teach your team to be honest and creative in encouraging customers to share their experiences with others, letting them know, enthusiastically, how great it is to do business with you and your company.   The stories that your customers and your team tell will be what encourage others to give your company a try.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

 

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Jun 142017
 
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People Will Never Forget How You Make Them Feel

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to remember that people will never forget how you make them feel.

The Maya Angelou quote goes like this: People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Apparently, the quote attributed to Maya Angelou is a close paraphrase of a quote attributed to Carl Beuhner many years earlier: They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Source: Wikiquote – https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Maya_Angelou

Regardless of which quote you want to look at and who said it, though, I think the idea is 100% on-point. People can forget a lot of things, but they cannot and will not forget how you make them feel.

So, how is this relevant as an entrepreneur?

Though the relevance of this idea extends to ALL people with whom you interact, here we will focus on how it impacts your relationship with the source of your revenues – your prospects and your customers.

Remember, humans typically make a purchase decision based on emotion and feelings, then later try to justify that decision with logic. So, how you make prospects feel has an impact right away, from the first time you interact with them. That initial interaction may be through an ad you place, the prospect coming into your place of business, or any of innumerable other potential interactions.

How do you make your prospective customers feel? What is the messaging that you put out on a consistent basis, or inconsistent basis, as the case may be? How do you want your business to be perceived by people who are thinking about doing business with you?

As discussed in another article, your marketing and sales efforts have to be focused on the needs of your clients, not on your needs or those of your business. Focus on the benefits, not the attributes of your product or service. Key in on how those benefits will make your prospect feel, should they decide to purchase from your company.

At the end of the day, it’s not even the benefits that are driving your prospects’ purchase decision; rather, it’s the prospects’ expectations about the feelings they will get from the benefits of what you offer.

Let’s look at a simple example.

You decide you want to buy a bicycle, so you head down to the local bike store. The salesperson is happy to help, of course, and proceeds to show you several bikes, priced from $250 to $1,100. The salesperson goes through all the features of the bikes, and if they’re smart, they also go through the benefits you’ll derive from each of the features mentioned. For example, this one has this type of better, lighter rims [feature], which means that with less effort, you’ll be able to go faster [benefit] than on this other, less expensive model.

The whole time the salesperson is speaking, what are you, the prospective customer, thinking?

Are you focused on all the great features and benefits of the bike models you’re hearing about? Probably not. Instead, you’re figuring out how this salesperson is making you feel. Does he or she really understand what you’re looking for? Do they care to provide you with what you’ve indicated you need, or are they just trying to figure out a way to sell you a more expensive bike? Will the cheaper bike they mentioned get the job done to get you the feelings you’re looking to achieve from your purchase – freedom away from thinking about the issues of your life, the joy of time doing something healthy with your family, exercise that will make you feel better, etc.?

You see, the whole internal dialogue you have during the sales presentation is all about feelings, not about features and benefits.

It is only after you’ve come up with satisfactory answers to these emotional questions in your mind that you will pull out your credit card and make a purchase from that salesperson at that bike store, for a particular model of bike that you think will get the job (creating the correct feelings) done.

The same idea applies not just to prospective customers, but also to existing customers. How they feel while at your establishment or otherwise doing business with you will have a major impact on whether they will become repeat customers, or will just be a one-time sale.

In other words, they will never forget how you make them feel.

Your job, therefore, from the time they are prospects to when they’ve already been customers for a period of time, is to have them walk away from all interactions with your company feeling good about how it went down.

They may not always agree with you or your company on everything, and from time to time, they’re bound to have experiences with your company that are sub-optimal, but they must always feel that you understand them, respect them, and are striving to serve their needs, not just optimize your profits.

Keep this in mind when you are creating your business, planning your products and services, developing your marketing strategy, selling to your prospects, and interacting with your existing customers:

They will never forget how you make them feel!

Use this to your advantage, by showing them that your focus is on their needs and have them walk away from each interaction with your company feeling like they’ve been treated well. It won’t always be perfect, but they must believe you’re trying to give them the feeling(s) they seek by doing business with you and your company.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Jun 132017
 
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What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

You may have heard the term USP or Unique Selling Proposition thrown around in the context of marketing and startups. What is it, and what is your USP?

Simply put, your Unique Selling Proposition is a description of what makes you, your company and your product and service offering unique in the market.

So, what is your USP?

Are there aspects of your business and your offering(s) that make them unique in the marketplace?

In case you’re having trouble answering this question, let me ask it in a different way. What are you known for, or if you’re a startup, what do you want to be known for, by clients and prospective clients in the marketplace?

In other words, what is your “promise” to the market?

The question then becomes whether you can consistently deliver on that promise.

Let’s look at some examples, good and not-so-good, to clarify what we’re talking about when we look at the Unique Selling Proposition in terms of your “promise” to the market.

We’ll look at FedEx, Your Local Drycleaner, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Grammarly (couldn’t resist, as it popped up in my email as an excellent example, as I was writing this article)!

FedEx

When I say FedEx, what’s the first thing you think of? For me, it’s reliability. In my opinion, their promise to the market is that they will get your package where it needs to go, by the time they say it will get there. They give you online tools to monitor and verify that the package will arrive on time, and they give you alerts when they think there’s something, such as weather, that would interfere with fulfilling their promise. They know that’s the “golden goose,” so to speak, and they will do everything possible to protect it.

Your Local Drycleaner

I don’t know the name of your local drycleaner, but I can give you an educated guess of their USP in terms of their promise to you, the customer. Their promise is that they will give you back your clothing clean, pressed, and undamaged, on time, every time. While it’s not necessarily “unique” in the traditional sense of the word, they can differentiate themselves through consistency and through offering you a pleasant and friendly transaction each time you drop and pick up your clothing. Today, there is not much that is truly “unique” in this world, so in many markets, in order to avoid commoditization and its undesirable effect on pricing, you must deliver on your “promise” of consistent quality, delivered in as human a way as possible.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

If you watch TV, when I say Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the first thing that probably pops into your mind is, “We’ll pick you up”. It’s been their catchphrase for a while. How many other rental car companies do you know that will pick you up to bring you to their rental counter so you can rent their cars? There may be others, but none come immediately to mind. So, it is actually unique, which is somewhat miraculous in such a mature market. I know from experience that they also deliver on this promise. Perhaps more importantly, though, is what “We’ll pick you up” conveys to current and prospective customers. When I hear this phrase from a rental car company, it surprises me. Really, they’ll pick me up? If they’re willing to go to that length to help me, then I’m going to assume (they’ll then have to prove it, of course) that they are really focused on and concerned with the needs of their customers.

Grammarly

Ok, I had no intention of using Grammarly as an example here, but as I was writing this, I received a marketing email from them that I think really illustrates the idea of the Unique Selling Proposition! It’s quite brilliant, actually. Here’s how it looks, with my commentary on the key sections of the graphic included in the email:

I guess I should’ve realized it, but it didn’t really occur to me that Grammarly was tracking and helping me improve my writing on an aggregate basis. I just assumed it was for each one-off piece I wrote. So, I see this email about my writing for the week of June 5 to June 11 and it piques my interest.

My main reaction to the above was, “wow, that is a lot of words – I had no idea”. And I couldn’t help but think, I’m glad Grammarly helped me check all those words.

This made me think, “man, I know I can do better than that,” but then I rationalized it saying, “but almost all my writing that Grammarly sees is stream of consciousness, before I’ve gone back to check and edit it”. It’s good I know how to use the word “rationalization”.

My thought, “nice, I used quite a few unique words – I’m not sure that means I have a big vocabulary – but I’ll take it”. Thanks, Grammarly. Maybe we can have a beer sometime. It sounds like we have a lot in common.

And finally, the kicker…

My thought on this one is, “wait, I thought I had a good vocabulary; ok, I suppose that doesn’t mean that I don’t still make plenty of mistakes”. Ok, I feel you, Grammarly, maybe I’ll buy the first beer.

So, I have to give it to Grammarly here. This is quite clever. It’s an excellent sequence of emotions they take me through there, before trying to close the sale for an upgrade. I really like the approach.

More germane to this article, though, this approach also very cleverly illustrates their Unique Selling Proposition: we will help you write better, period. We’ll do it for free, to a certain point, but if you want the advanced stuff, you’ll need to pay. And by the way, we’re in a unique position to deliver on our promise, and more, as given how much you’ve allowed us (and no one else, presumably) to help you with your writing, we have a tremendously informed perspective on how to help you further. Brilliant.

I’m sure that, based on the above examples, you get the idea on what we’re getting at with the USP from the perspective of your “promise” to the market.

 

So, tell me, what is the Unique Selling Proposition for your business?

 

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

 

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Jun 072017
 
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How To Use The UNIQUE Test For Better Marketing With Stories

We all know intuitively that marketing with stories can be very effective.

We’ve all seen commercials on television and ads in other media that grab us by our heartstrings and often subsequently influence our purchase decisions.

Since we were children, we’ve yearned to hear stories, whether at bedtime so we could get to sleep, or when we’re wide awake, so we could devour the symbolism and knowledge that stories can convey.

Most good stories, whether for marketing or otherwise, consistently contain several elements that grab our attention and keep us engaged as we make a deep connection with the emotions they convey.

While you could argue that other elements are also important in a good story, here are six that show up consistently and get the job done. I’ve arranged them into what I call the UNIQUE Test, to make the elements easier to remember. Each letter of UNIQUE represents a key element that can make marketing with stories more effective.

Here’s the UNIQUE Test for better marketing with stories. The story should be or should contain the following:

Unique

If it’s something we see all the time, we’re likely to ignore it.

Noteworthy

On the whole, the story should be something you’d at least make a mental note of, and better yet, something you’d want to share with others.

Intriguing

The storyline must be compelling and keep you engaged until the end.

Quandary

The story must contain a difficult situation or some challenge to be overcome.

Understandable

It must not be too clever and subtle, such that a large portion of people won’t understand the message.

Emotion evoking

It must touch the viewer, reader, or listener emotionally – you’ll note in the examples below that in addition to the story itself, the right music is also vital to striking this emotional chord.

The more of the above “boxes you can check,” the more likely your marketing with stories will make a major impact on your audience.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of advertisements and see how they do with the UNIQUE Test.

Note:  If the video is not showing up in your email/RSS feed just below here and in the two examples further down, click here to read the rest of this blog post on the Company Founder blog.

A very clever Mercedes ad

How does this one do on the UNIQUE Test for marketing with stories?

Unique – it’s not too often we see video of a small child sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night with his teddy bear and taking a lengthy trip on foot alone, so it’s definitely unique.

Noteworthy – would this story stick in your mind? Is it something that you’d make a mental note of and probably share with your friends? For me, the answer is definitely yes.

Intriguing – it’s definitely compelling and keeps you engaged until the end, as you watch the child pass through a series of dangerous situations on the way to what turns out to be the police station. It’s not likely you’re turning this one off in the middle.

Quandary – this child certainly overcomes several difficult and dangerous obstacles on his journey in the middle of the night.

Understandable – it’s very understandable, and better yet, you only really understand it toward the end, so it keeps you engaged.

Emotion evoking – it’s quite emotional to see the child finally safe, and the emotion peaks toward the end, right about the time that the police officer is turning the Mercedes key in the ignition, as he delivers the child safely back home, again.

So, this Mercedes ad passes the UNIQUE Test with flying colors!

 

An Exceptional Thai Ad – You’ll Never Guess For What

How does this ad do on the UNIQUE Test for effectively marketing with stories?

Unique – we don’t often see so many instances of generosity in quick succession, so it is indeed unique.

Noteworthy – a story of someone helping so many people and not looking for anything in return, other than the satisfaction of helping others, is noteworthy and something we’d likely want to share.

Intriguing – as the story continues over time and he keeps helping out the same people, you wonder how it will end, so it is intriguing and keeps you engaged waiting for the conclusion of the story.

Quandary – all of the people he is helping are working to overcome challenges, some bigger than others, so it certainly contains this element.

Understandable – it’s not particularly understandable until the end, but again, that’s an excellent time for the meaning to come through, as it keeps you engaged and seeking to understand the message of the story.

Emotion evoking – it’s very emotional. Watching someone selflessly help so many people, and ultimately, unknowingly, help a child who has been living in the streets, find her way into a school that requires a uniform, is indeed quite emotional.

So how did this commercial do on the UNIQUE Test? I think it checks all the boxes. I’ll bet you had no idea, nor did I, that in the end, this would be an ad for a life insurance company! Is it effective? I’d say so, and further, it’s not a reach to tie quality of life while living, to the importance of having life insurance for the benefit of those about whom you care most. Very well done.

 

Guinness Empty Chair Ad

How does this ad do on the UNIQUE Test for effectively marketing with stories?

Unique – it’s unusual to see someone pouring a beer and putting it at an empty table day after day, so it is unique.

Noteworthy – this story sticks in our minds. It honors our connection to other humans, whether they are currently with us, or presumably, in this case, away putting their life in danger in some far-off land.

Intriguing – this story is intriguing because as it unfolds, you’re trying to pick up on all potential clues to understand why the bartender keeps putting a full glass of Guinness at an empty table.

Quandary – the difficult situation, as it turns out in this case, is the bartender coping with missing the soldier who ultimately shows up to drink the glass of Guinness. Correctly, or incorrectly, most of us also assume that the soldier has been in challenging, even life-threatening situations, while away and likely longing to be with his loved ones and share a glass of Guinness with them.

Understandable – as with most of these good ads that involve storytelling, it’s not understandable until toward the end of the ad, where it becomes crystal clear.

Emotion evoking – the commercial evokes a great deal of emotion, as it touches upon missing loved ones, as well as upon national pride, and finally, upon the satisfaction of sharing a beer with our friends.

The ad ends with: “The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character,” with the obvious inference being that those with strong character choose Guinness. This ad is quite brilliant and a great example of effectively marketing with stories.

So, there you have it, a few examples of advertisements that pass the UNIQUE Test with flying colors!

While you as an entrepreneur may not have the ad budget of these companies that would allow for ad production of this quality, there is no doubt that you can use your entrepreneurial ingenuity to incorporate stories into your marketing in all forms of media. You will likely need to start small and it may be quite challenging in the beginning, but keep at it!

Use the UNIQUE Test as you perfect your storytelling. Keep learning and improving based on the results you see from marketing with stories, and if you do so, I’m willing to bet that you will see a marked impact on the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising in all forms of media.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Jun 032017
 
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How To Create A Compelling Elevator Pitch

Are you familiar with the concept of an elevator pitch (a/k/a elevator speech)?  If you’re an entrepreneur, you really need to understand the idea of an elevator pitch and you need to formulate your own.

The name elevator pitch (or elevator speech) comes from the idea that when you get on an elevator and want to describe your business (rather than staring at the floor or the wall) to someone you just met there, you don’t have very long to do it!  How long you have depends on how many floors you’re going, how fast the elevator goes, and how soon after entering the elevator you start speaking to the other person. But regardless of the number of floors, the speed of the elevator, and how soon you start speaking, unless the elevator gets stuck for some reason, you don’t have much time!

It’s a great metaphor and a great idea, as it forces you to boil down your “pitch” to its very essence, so you can get your point across “before the elevator opens”.  The concept of elevator pitches has been around for a long time.  If you’ve not already formulated yours, I recommend you do so as soon as possible and begin using and refining it as you meet new people.  Before you take it “prime time” with potentially important prospects, partners, investors, etc, I strongly advise you to try it out on several people you know and get feedback.

So, how should you think about constructing your elevator pitch?  How long should it be?  What should it include?  Think about the scenario of just entering an elevator and realizing that, by chance, a potential investor you had wanted to get in touch with is on the same elevator.  You have an opportunity to give an elevator speech to a very important audience!   Unless you’re in a very tall building with lots of stops, you would likely have less than thirty seconds, potentially far less, to deliver your elevator speech.  What would you want to get across to this very important prospect in such a short period of time? Remember, the idea is to pique their interest and increase the probability that you can take the conversation to the next step.  Let’s look at an example.

In this example, we’ll think along the lines of being the founder and CEO an early stage technology company, getting into the elevator with an important potential investor.  We’ll look at a couple of elevator pitch examples for the same scenario, so you can see the good and the bad.

Elevator Pitch To Potential Investor – Example #1

Hello Mr. Investor.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.  I have been wanting to get in touch with you to tell you about the extraordinary technology we’ve developed.  I think it may be a great investment for your venture capital fund.  It’s based on nanotechnology and has the potential to help a lot of people and keep them from getting sicker.  I’d love to be able to get some of your time and tell you more about it.

Elevator Pitch To Potential Investor – Example #2

Hello Mr. Investor.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.  I have been wanting to meet you to tell you about the amazing technology and business model we have created, which I think is very well aligned with the types of investments your fund focuses on.  It’s based on our patented nanotechnology, which has been proven to reduce repeat heart attacks by 65%.  The addressable market is $10 billion and our team of veteran entrepreneurs and award-winning physicians has been at the forefront of many advances in this market.  Could we meet or have a call next week, so we can provide you with more details?

Ok, so which elevator pitch above do you believe is more likely to get the desired result – a meeting with the potential investor?  I’d have to say it’s pitch #2.  Do you agree?  Why?

Elevator speech #1 focuses on the entrepreneur and does not provide any specifics, particularly those specifics that would be of greatest interest to the potential investor.

Elevator speech #2 immediately shows the investor that you are thinking about their needs and what they’re looking for.  It says, “… which I think is very well aligned with the types of investments your fund focuses on…,” immediately proving to the prospective investor that you’ve done some research and are not just throwing out the same canned elevator pitch to everyone you run into.  Elevator pitch #2 also quickly gets into key points that are very relevant to most every venture capitalist, such as: “patented technology,” “proven to reduce,” “addressable market,” and “team of veteran entrepreneurs”.  With this second pitch, you are “talking their language,” as the saying goes.  Such an approach greatly increases the odds that they will listen and grant you the meeting you are seeking.

You can see how this concept of “talking their language” is relevant for any kind of elevator pitch, whether it’s to a potential customer, partner, investor, or any other important constituent.  Everyone is busy.  Everyone has a natural filter to help them ignore or “pay lip service” to those things that really are not relevant to them.  In order to get through this filter, you must be able to put your elevator speech in terms that really matter to the person with whom you are speaking.  If you do not take the time and effort to do this, you probably shouldn’t bother giving the elevator pitch, as you’ll only end up sounding irrelevant and confused.

When you are thinking about how to construct your elevator pitch, think about it the same way you would think about any marketing or sales pitch; it must be focused on the benefits you offer that solve specific problems the target is facing.  Elsewhere I’ve written about why most marketing does not work because it is focused on, and written in the language of, the seller, rather than focusing on the needs and language of the prospect.  Every prospect with which you have a “conversation,” regardless of the medium through which that communication occurs, has one thing first and foremost on their mind.  What is that one thing?  It is solving their issues and problems, particularly the most pressing ones.  That is what we as human beings focus on all day long.

If you show up on the scene with your marketing message or elevator pitch and it is not relevant to me, my problems and issues, or my future aspirations, you get filtered out.  Period.  End of story.

Make sure your elevator pitch quickly gets to the point, which should be about how what you have to offer is highly relevant to helping the person with whom you’re speaking solve their issues, problems, and aspirations.  Keep it under thirty seconds.  Have a couple of versions prepared, so you can change it up a bit, based on relevancy to the particular person with whom you’re speaking.  Keep refining your pitch based on the feedback you receive and results you achieve.  Remember, you’re not giving your whole pitch in the elevator; you’re just trying to “open the door,” so they’ll be intrigued enough to be willing to listen to a more detailed version of your pitch.  If you do those few things, you should end up with an elevator pitch, or several audience-customized elevator pitches, that allow you get your message across to key constituencies quickly and effectively.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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May 292017
 
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5 Reasons You Should Not Ignore Video For Marketing

If last year was the year of the video for marketing, this year is the year of live video.

When you use social media for personal use, you cannot ignore the countless videos streamed to your newsfeed, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. As business owner, CEO or marketing director, you also should not ignore the reality of using video in your marketing, as using traditional marketing techniques will only reach certain demographics, not necessarily the people you need to reach. Video allows you to reach many more people, more quickly and with more impact than with images or written content alone.

However, we have found that there are several barriers to getting started with video marketing. The biggest barrier typically is fear! Fear of the unknown can stop even the most determined person in their tracks.

If you are fearful of:

  • Expense
  • Lack of technical knowledge
  • Video marketing expertise
  • Social Media expertise

connect with an industry expert, so you can get beyond these fears and harness the power of video in your marketing. Talk to your local social media consultant, videographer and/or marketing agency. They can help you get past these barriers, quickly.

Before you decide to use video marketing, let’s talk benefits. Here are 5 reasons your business should not ignore video:

Video provides an opportunity to tell your (brand) story visually

More than pictures alone, more than audio by itself, video allows you to appeal to several senses all at once. Visual storytelling is captivating and if you capture the essence of your brand with video in such a way to move people to action, video allows you to create very loyal brand ambassadors.

Video allows a behind-the-scenes look at your brand

Grab your Smartphone. How mobile is it? Can you think of a time at work your Smartphone isn’t within reach? Most people have access to a video camera through their Smartphone and thus can take on the role of brand newscaster with the simple click of a recording button. This allows you to capture and use more candid video (the kind that captures and generates emotion) to use in your marketing.

Video can show your support of local charities and events in real time

Do pictures of other people having fun at a charity event make you feel like you are missing out? Most of the time, seeing pictures doesn’t quite do that, right? However, if instead of a few pictures there was a fun video with live music, dancing, a race, an auction or something else exciting, you might have that feeling of ‘I need to be part of this community’. That’s what video can do! Use video to relay the excitement and capture the atmosphere.

Video builds trust with your online community

If you use it, people will watch you. If you use it, then love it and share it, someone else will want to try it! Monkey see, monkey do! That’s how you build trust. Real people using real products and services, having a good time doing it, and then raving about it!

Video boosts sales and conversions

A simple explanation goes a long way! If you explain and show the benefits of your products or services in a video, typically you can convert more easily than just by providing a written description of those benefits.

Simply said: if you want to grow sales and build your brand and your online community, start using video to connect, grow and convert!

 

Guest post by:

Dorien Morin

dorien@moreinmedia.com

www.moreinmedia.com

 

 

 

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May 222017
 
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You And Your Story: The Best Differentiators 

We are all looking for differentiators that make our business stand out in the market, right?

There’s good news! You and your story are likely best differentiators you will find for your business! It’s good news, as you are in complete (mostly) control of sharing your story with your prospects and your customers.

I’m mainly speaking about small businesses here, of course, but you don’t have to search far to find big businesses that have become big by sharing the personal story of their founders. How often do you hear Tesla spoken of without Elon Musk being mentioned in the same sentence?

There’s more good news. You don’t have to have a pristine background and story with a straight line to success in order to be successful using your story as a differentiator in your marketing and sales process. In fact, given the way humans root for the underdog and love stories of overcoming adversity, you are better off if your back story includes some difficulties and challenges you’ve had to overcome!

Why is it good that your backstory has some “hair” on it? Think about it for a moment. It shows that you are human! We want to do business with other people we like and trust, not with some formless, faceless large business! There is no better evidence of your humanity than having faced adversity. And there is no better evidence of your commitment to success than having overcome adversity.

Consider for a moment the companies, particularly the local ones, that you choose to do business with. If you have a choice, do you do business with the company whose owner you know and trust, or do you go to a large company with which your only connection is that you give them your credit card or cash and they give you the product or service you are seeking?

I realize that the answer to this question is complex. It’s not as simple as just doing business with people you like. You also need to take into consideration key factors such as cost, convenience, and to some extent, quality: the main reasons for the existence of the Walmarts of the world. All else being roughly equally, though, would you rather buy from someone you know, or a big corporation? For me at least, the answer is almost always “someone I know and trust” and perhaps more importantly, like and want to help.

I’ve paid special attention to this topic in my own family’s purchasing recently, and I’ve noticed that we almost always opt for the local vendor we know, or even the not-so-local vendor with which we’ve established more of a personal connection – an online vendor, for example. Examples include our purchase of pre-made meals, running gear, HVAC services, real estate services, nutritional supplements, and the list goes on.

So, if people are more likely to buy from people they know and like and you could say “are rooting for,” how do you establish this status in the marketplace?

First, and most obviously, if you want to take advantage of this differentiator in the marketplace, you must provide a good product and/or service! It goes without saying that if you don’t provide a good experience and satisfy the needs your prospects and customers are seeking to have satisfied, you will not have repeat customers.

Second, once you have the great service and customer experience piece solved, which admittedly is no small task, you can begin to share a bit about your story with your target market, including prospects and existing customers. What made you start your business? Why are you so committed to providing the best experience possible for your customers? What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome and what are some that you continue to face in your effort to do anything possible to make your customers’ experience the best possible in your market? Don’t hesitate to share challenges and failures, especially when you’re able to show that you’ve persisted (or are persisting) to overcome them, which further shows your commitment to the marketplace. This can be especially effective on social media.

Third, find a variety of channels to share this information with your target market! As a small business, you cannot be everywhere. You’re better off focusing your advertising and marketing efforts on lower cost, higher leverage marketing mechanisms such as social media. That’s not to say that you should not advertise through traditional print and broadcast mechanisms, but do so judiciously, and when you do, don’t be afraid to incorporate a piece of yourself and your story and that of your company into the marketing and advertising materials! Don’t make your marketing and advertising just about features and benefits – you will find it very difficult to differentiate on that basis alone.

Fourth, and finally for now, use video where possible! If a picture is worth a thousand words, video, especially if done well, may be worth a million. It allows you to tell a more complete story and to convey whatever message you’re trying to get across to your target market more thoroughly and convincingly. It also gives you an opportunity to reinforce your “voice” (what you and your business represent and want to be remembered for) in the market, further strengthening your chances of leaving an impression of humanness and credibility on your target market. As humans, we want to do business with other humans, particularly those we like, who we know have faced and continue to face and work to overcome many of the same challenges we face on a daily basis! As long as you’re selling to humans, which I imagine you are, at least most of the time, you and your story are the best differentiators for your business.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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