Several years ago, some of our industry pundits were indicating that the traditional methods of advertising and marketing were no longer of value and all of your marketing spend ought to be put into social and online efforts and something called community based marketing.
While it is true that more and more buyers are doing their research online and gathering the information they need to help make a buying decision, and some even buy online, staying top of mind means being seen and heard in a variety of formats and places.
Today, it is all about creating and maintaining awareness of your company, its products or services and how they can help the buyer with their emotional and logical needs. The challenge is that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and you now have only seconds to register with your future customer or they will move on.
The days of just having an online presence are long gone. I consider a website that doesn’t change an electronic brochure and Google does as well. The majority of people do some research online before purchasing a product or service. So having a website that has up to date information is important and two key things you must think of:
1) Are you giving the online viewer the opportunity to easily request any additional information they need in order to finalize their decision?
You’ll have to pardon the patriotic nature of this post – it comes with the territory of posting the day before Canada Day.
At times brands that have a presence both in Canada and the U.S. and one of the trepidations that occurs is branding oneself as being ‘too Canadian’. For whatever reason, we can sew a Canadian flag on our backpacks, we can put “Made in Canada” on labels but when it comes to online marketing, even something as basic as a domain extension, there is a jolt of ‘are we sure we want to do this?’
The funny thing is, more than ever, we’re no longer living in the ‘dot com’ world – rather we’re in the ‘dot somethingorother’ realm. Continually, hosts are coming up with new extensions that we all want to buy into, and to an extent we do, if for no other reason than to protect our business names from being bought up by unsavoury companies who’d charge larger amounts that standard retailers.
It almost seems counter intuitive to patriotize yourself in the global community. How many American companies do you see, for example, that have “.us” as part of their website address?
Here’s the reality folks – the same way we wear the red and white proudly in our business’s daily life is the same thing we should do online. Is there nothing that says “I am Canadian” more than dot ca in the virtual world?
When you choose to brand your online presence with the Canadian extention, you say to the world, “yes, I’m Canadian”, and in doing so you are showing the quality of your work. Canada has a long and proud international history, one that we need to continually build on and raise our glasses to.
So when it comes to purchasing your next web domain, make sure it’s .ca – you will reap the rewards of your pride.
Of course you can. There are a variety of tools out there that will help you build a site, albeit a basic one, one that will function as an online brochure and validate your business. And there is more coming from some very big and reputable companies.
But, if you want one that is found, one that stays found, and actually drives or helps to create opportunities for your business, you need to pay attention to your online assets. And, you need to find new ways to drive traffic to it so that they can see what you can do for them; that’s right, it’s all about them; the customer.
Over the past month or two, I have seen some pretty nice websites that were built by the owner using some form of online tool. Now, just about anyone can build a nice site as long as you have some content, some imagery and some idea of the buying process and calls to action. And, as long as you know about directory submissions, tagging, optimizing for search engines and keywords, you will be just fine. But, as is with a lot of things in life, the devil is in the details.
Online marketing has become a major force for both brand recognition and getting prospects to contact you. Everywhere you look, someone is on their mobile device and a lot of the time, they are looking for information about a product, about a service or where to get what they need.
Can you really afford not to have your online presence working as hard as you are? Sometimes traditional works, most times online has a wider range but either way, we’re here to help; give us a call.
When I meet with one of my clients, I use an analogy of a website being like a child – that it is a living, breathing organism. The more you feed it, the stronger it grows.
The food for your website, in this case, is fresh content, and there is no better form of nutrition than blogs (and yes, I will further this analogy in later blogs) which tend to be the true active parts of your website. Unless you’re regularly updating flyers or service offerings, your blog will be the spot you will be doing most of your activity.
The question that arises, then, is how do you blog.
It’s a question that most who don’t have confidence in their writing ask often, and at times will back away from any thought of blogging because of it.
The truth is, blogging is a lot easier than you think – it’s a matter of avoiding over-thinking it.
The biggest problem is the fear of looking bad in your online communication. Everything from bad grammar to misspelled words become the boogeymen of your publishing, let alone the idea of truly presenting yourself as an expert.
The key is that the voice you use has to be representative of your company. If your company line is to be warm and inviting, consider a conversational style. If you’re a firm that has education as its primary strategy, then carry this method to your blog.
The bottom line with blogging, to borrow one of my favourite lines from The Simpsons, is to write the way people talk. Use a voice rather than a straight facts-and-terms approach and you will keep casual readers coming back for more.
The new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) goes into effect July 1, 2014. CASL covers the sending of commercial electronic messages that may be accessed by a computer in Canada (which usually just means cases where the recipient is in Canada). CASL covers more than just email — it also covers texts, IMs, and automated cell phone messages sent to computers/phones in Canada.
CASL requires you to get express consent before sending someone a message. All requests for express consent must touch on the following three points: 1) You must specify exactly why you want the consent 2) You must give your identifying/contact information as well as the contact info of anyone else for whom you’re getting the consent and 3) You must provide a clear method so that they can remove their consent. You can get this in writing or orally, but you should keep a record of when/how you got consent.
With the introduction of CASL, outbound marketing has some very specific and tight rules but if executed correctly, and legally, it can still be very effective; actually, more so now as you will know that the recipient actually wants to hear from you.
As well, a properly executed inbound marketing strategy is now more important than ever before. CASL legally restricts many of the questionable outbound tactics some people have relied on for far too long. With these tactics no longer at their disposal, the inbound imperative is now even more important.
Ultimately, as the email-sender, you have to understand your obligations and determine how to be in compliance. The information provided here is to help the reader better understands the issues around online marketing. While we are sure of the accuracy of the information provided, it is imperative that you consult your legal counsel for a professional interpretation. This information is not provided as legal advice and is solely provided as information only.
At one point or another, we’ll all consider celebrities as a potential marketing tool; but the key is to use stature effectively.
Whether you’re a not-for-profit agency or private sector business, the key for using celebrity to market your product, service or charity is to not just assume that name alone will draw – there still has to be a decent amount of exposure around said personality.
Let’s say, arbitrarily, that you’re bringing in a Winnipeg Jet to do a signing for your mall store – buy a product, get an autograph. As simple as this sounds, and it can be a money maker, you still have to promote. You might start by doing this via local media who will either charge for advertising or take advantage of a media call and ask to have said player as a guest on a radio show.
That’s great, but let’s also remember that the number of ears listening to local radio isn’t as big as it used to be, nor are the eyes in newspapers. Online now becomes a factor.
This is where social media can do well for you. If your store has a good following on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve got a good chance at getting the hits you want; but if not, then you’ll want to use other methods like using #winnipeg or going onto local collector message boards to promote.
Social media becomes that much more important when you’re part of a national chain. Chances are HQ in Toronto won’t let you promote Andrew Ladd’s appearance on their website, so this is where your own Facebook page becomes more important.
Finally, I’ll give credit where it’s due and tip my cap to Brian Propp, former Philadelphia Flyer. He tends to carry photos around with him while doing business in Philly, but they’re not just 8×10 shots from his playing days – they’re emblazoned with his company logo. This tactic has worked for him in building brand recognition in space that someone is going to display or at least pull out from time to time. So when you are promoting your celebrity event, ensure there is name recognition tying back to you on whichever promotional item may be signed.
An article earlier this week was blaming the post secondary education system for the disconnect between higher education and workforce requirements. My first thought was, so nothing has changed.
My second thought was business and educational leaders still don’t get it. Education, as is everything else in life, is not a destination. Its’ an ongoing process that never seems to end. A journey.
Another piece I read talked about the gazillion terabytes of new information available to us every microsecond, primarily coming at us from the digital world, and how are we supposed to assimilate this vast amount of information. Again, nothing seems to have changed.
What struck me about the two discussions, and yes they were online discussions, was their commonality. The common point is that education, call it learning, is not a destination. More than ever, it is a process, a journey if you will with multiple points along the line we call life but it never ends.
So goes business and marketing. There are some constant concepts and ideas that are tried and true but the world of telling people about your product or service is evolving, it’s changing, it’s an ongoing process and it’s not going to slow down anytime soon, or stop. It’s still a journey.
I recently had a great discussion with a client on marketing trends and value on his advertising spends.
Unfortunately we don’t manage all of his marketing activities, but he has been tracking and seeing a transition of where his clients are coming from is changing. Some of the mediums being used weren’t paying back as well as they use too, but the good news is the online marketing activities we run on a continual basis has been growing solid leads for him.
He had already decided that it would be smart to cut back the budgets for some mediums and add that budget to the mediums that are producing.
Seems simple right?
I talk to companies all the time that don’t track their leads by the medium / spend.
In order to know where you’re getting the best Return on Investment you need to track.
An expert marketer should be able to steer you in a direction for a better ROI.
Think #tracking and #ROI with your #marketing spend
One of the constant questions that comes in marketing is how you sustain creativity. Getting your brain going can be hard.
One of the tactics I use is brain exercises. An active mind doesn’t necessarily come from caffeine ingestion (and certainly not from donuts… as tempting as they are) – it instead is a challenge that gets your mind going.
A couple of the longer-running mental exercises are fairly well known.
Take for example Sporcle. Promoted as “Mentally Stimulating Diversions”, Sporcle is a quiz-based game site that tests your knowledge of everything from geography to entertainment in time-limited games. Ranging from 1-minute blitzes to 20-minute behemoths, the quizzes have been decent mind stimulators, especially perfect as a coffee-break diversion without letting your mind turn to mush amidst powdered-sugar paradise.
On another side is the longer-range mental exercise program, Lumosity. Heavily advertised in media, Lumosity aims to sharpen your brain over a longer period of daily activities. Lumosity’s challenges run on both desktop and smartphone platforms and after running their gauntlet for a month or so, I can attest to the success the program offers.
Now having attested to these, the single best method for stimulating the brain for online activity comes not from these individualized runs, but instead from a community approach. This is why I recommend engaging in #hashtagwars on Twitter, courtesy of Comedy Central’s @Midnight (available on The Comedy Network here in Canada).
If you have yet to see the show, think of it as a social media-centric game show featuring the razor sharp wit of some of the most popular comics in the biz. Among the mini games is the aforementioned #hashtagwars, which puts participants to the task of coming up with quick quips on an artificially created Twitter trending topic.
For example, Bad Coffee Flavours (or that should be #badcoffeeflavours)
The magic formula @Midnight uses though is that it asks it audience to keep the game going on Twitter, which is where you come in. Work out your mind by matching your wits (in both senses of the word) against would-be and actual comedians, and you’ll find your mind getting active while getting a good laugh to get your day going, especially as you prepare yourself for the challenge of online marketing.
Oh, and one more note before I close out today’s blog – the tie between creative marketing and game shows is a rich history. For more, I highly recommend listening to Under the Influence‘s archived analysis.