How Does Social Responsibility Boost Your Brand?

freeconsultation@ticular.comBefore, it was called corporate citizenship, but it confused people. It sounded like a contradiction, while also coming off as legalese, like a tax strategy or something that shareholders demand. Now that it’s called social responsibility, we can tell you that it’s good for your brand.

Find a logical way to connect your brand with some form of community service and you can attract customers who feel strongly about the issue in question. The practice has the added benefit of making your company look larger than it really is, which can actually help you grow. However, if you let on that your motive for social responsibility is in any way driven by capitalistic objectives, the whole thing could backfire.

That said, social media has made it easier than ever to associate your brand with social responsibility. An excellent tactic: raise money for a charity via your online profiles. And even if you are unable to contribute any of your own money to the cause, surely you and your staff could give some time instead.

The infographic below does a good job of explaining why people are so receptive to social responsibility on social media. Please let us know what you think of the topic in the comments section.

Advice on how to embrace corporate citizenship to appeal to customers -  freeconsultation@ticular.com


Marketing to People Who Don’t Go Online (Much)

freeconsultation@ticular.comWhile the Internet has made marketing so much more efficient and cost effective, it’s not the only game in town, and for some it might not even be an option: What do you do if your target market happens to be offline?

Offline might be your only option for marketing if your target market is over 65, as 44 percent of people in that age bracket don’t go online, according to Pew Internet Research.

Overall,15 percent of American adults don’t use the Internet and another 9 percent only access it outside their homes. About a third of those who aren’t online told Pew they don’t find the Internet easy to use, and another third simply don’t find it relevant to them.

Reaching these people requires old-fashioned face time. That means scheduling lots of appointments, ideally involving refreshments of some sort. But it also requires going to lots of events, including conferences and trade fairs. You could even organize your own social gatherings. It could be as simple as a wine and cheese party at your own place or a more elaborate reception in a hotel ballroom, depending on how many people you can invite and the size of your budget.

When talking face to face with people, learning their hobbies and interests will help you find ways to connect what you’re selling with things that appeal to them. Offering to help them find whatever they are looking for in any capacity can also create a bridge between your business offering and what they need.

Look for interests of theirs that would give you an opportunity to chat about what you provide. For instance, if you learn that someone’s hobbies include opera and golf, you might have more of an opportunity to talk between putting than you would in a theater.

Certainly, all of this requires more footwork — in the literal sense — than any kind of online marketing does. But you’d get to step outside and enjoy the world, which could make the exercise all the more fun.


Why You Should Never Cross-Post the Exact Same Thing Everywhere

freeconsultation@ticular.comEver feel tempted to save time on social media posts by simply cross-posting the same exact thing to multiple sites? It’s a mistake. Just because numerous social publishing tools like HootSuite make it easy to do doesn’t mean this tactic is truly beneficial.

Any kind of autoposting functionality might free up a few minutes for you to do other things, but in most cases it’s counterproductive.

If autoposting is counterproductive, does that mean advance scheduling posts is also bad? Nope. This tactic is ideal for promoting events that have a set time. Additionally, if you have identified a peak traffic window for your website or social media profiles, using the scheduling features can ensure that you feed the most content to your audience when their appetites are biggest.

Back to the topic of why it’s a bad idea to cross-post identical content to multiple sites, we should clarify that we are not advocating that every single thing you publish be 100 percent unique. We wholeheartedly recommend repurposing content. In other words, start with the same material and reword or reformat it to take advantage of different networks’ features and user demographics.

Let’s use the article you’re reading right now as an example. We wrote the paragraphs above it on Tuesday afternoon and scheduled it to publish at 8 am Wednesday. After the blog post went up, we promoted it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, using different formats for each. We used HootSuite for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ but posted directly on Facebook and Pinterest.

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As you can see above, we actually Tweeted the post twice, using different formatting but spacing the two posts just an hour apart. We may well do another Tweet later on. Twitter is the only social network where repeating yourself works to your advantage, helping you get noticed. Notice that the second tweet links to our Pinterest pin of the lead photo in the blog post, which includes a link to the blog post.

On Facebook, we asked a question — which is ideal for that site but usually doesn’t work on the other social networks, albeit for different reasons. Additionally, we used a full-length web address because people regard them as more genuine. Since this does not apply to other social networks, we shortened the URL everywhere else we posted (and used different shorteners too). Then we switched from using Facebook as a page to a personal profile and shared the page post to the profile, a tactic intended to get subscribers to the profile to like the page.

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The only cross-posting in this whole exercise occurred on LinkedIn and Google+. Yes, we used HootSuite to send the same exact post to two different social networks, but they were the only identical postings, and actually differed from all the other posts we’d put up. While both LinkedIn and Google+ both have hundreds of millions of users, they don’t remain on the respective sites anywhere near as long as people do on the other social networks. Cross-posting to just these two covers our bases. In fact, all we did was post a shortened URL to both of them. Doing this aims for search engine optimization more than anything else.

All of this might sound like more work than you want to do. If you would like help managing multiple social media accounts, consider outsourcing this work to a company like ticular.


How To Get What You Want And Make People Like It

The following post is an excerpt from the forthcoming book The Cowbell Principle: Career Advice On How To Get Your Dream Job And Make More Money, by Brian Carter and Garrison Wynn. The authors will give away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up here.

Have you seen the “More Cowbell” sketch from Saturday Night Live? It’s more than just funny. Believe it or not, it’s a powerful metaphor for a successful work life. And it provides insight into the kind of people you need on your team, and what makes an effective team.

Everyone has at least one cowbell — it’s your unique, profitable talent people pay you for or your company’s unique offering. It’s something people have a fever for. When you
discover it and give those people a ton of it, you gain success and happiness for both yourself and others. It’s a win-win.

A cowbell is simultaneously something you love doing and something other people really want as well (although, as we’ll see, you still will have detractors and critics). A cowbell creates joy for you and other people. It makes them yell for more. They can’t
get enough.

Can Your Cowbell Make You Rich?

Can your cowbell make you rich? In some cases, yes. In the “More Cowbell” sketch, Bruce Dickinson says, “Babies, before we’re done here, [the cowbell will have you] wearin’ gold-plated diapers.” What does that even mean? I’ll tell you what it means. If you’re really good at something and you apply that in a direction where money exists, you get some of that money. Bruce Dickinson knows what customers want and where that money is. What he directs you to do is going to give you a shot at that success.

Sharon Osbourne is a money-making machine. She organizes Ozzfest with no-name bands and signs them to contracts. Three or four of those bands do well each year, and she gets a percentage. Her approach combines profits and testing: She tests a lot of bands and takes a percentage from them for the opportunity. She promotes them a little (not too much) and
doesn’t risk too much. And she was uniquely positioned with the power to do it because she could say, “Ozzy really likes you and we want to sign you.” If you’re a metal band, Ozzy Osbourne is iconic.

We can glean a cowbell lesson from Ozzy himself, through statements he has made in interviews over the years. About the origins of Black Sabbath, the metal band he fronted, he professes they were an average band with nothing significant about them, other than their idea to play scary rock after seeing the movie Black Sabbath. No one was doing that kind of music at the time. With “good enough” talent, they became novel by playing up a unique brand that no one else had. Heavy metal took off.

So you can have a cowbell and do well; but if you can find some unique differentiator, it potentiates your cowbell. In other words, it makes your cowbell more powerful and next thing you know you’re eating bats. And no one who eats bats is not successful. Being a little bit weird usually helps.

In short, you can take a cowbell that’s not terribly original and add something else not original, and there you have a creative cowbell. Ozzy also said he changed things up some with the times but never really deviated from the brand.

J.K. Rowling, who as of April 2014 has a net worth of $1 billion, struggled as a single mom who felt like a big failure as she sat down to pen the Harry Potter series. She had already been writing for 19 years and had the idea for Harry three years before, but a miscarriage and divorce left her contemplating suicide. She survived on state benefits while writing the novel. Motivation can come from surprising depths.

Hunger. Drive. Ambition. Passion. Some of it’s already in you.
Sometimes it comes from circumstances. Sometimes it’s like a switch is
flipped and you can’t stand your life anymore and you’re finally motivated.


7 Easy Tricks to Boost Productivity

Want to make more money right away? Becoming more productive is the fastest way to increase your earnings. You actually need to do that in order to keep up with the rest of the economy: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says productivity is growing 3 percent annually.Learn how to become more productive -- contact us for a free consultation: freeconsultation@ticular.com

You can boost your own productivity by getting more organized. Even if neatness seems totally against your nature, taking small steps toward decluttering your work environment will do wonders for your output. Ditto for making better use of personal planning tools that are already at your fingertips.

Here’s a very simple list of things that will help you get started on the path toward improved productivity.

Make a List

Start keeping a to-do list if you don’t already. Maintain it in the calendar feature within your smartphone or email software, for use as a springboard to manage your time. Set up automated alerts to consult your to-do list, and whenever you consult it afresh, try to consolidate tasks. Ultimately work toward scheduling tasks on your list, and you’ll start to get more done in less time.

Schedule It

Schedule time on your calendar for organizing, and stick to the schedule. Make it a regular occurrence and each time focus on a different aspect of organization.

Contain Everything

The more you designate locations for things, the easier they become to find and the more time you save as a result. So whenever possible, put things in files or containers, and create labels for them that legibly list the contents. Start by marking three boxes with the labels “keep,” “toss,” “sort” to begin the process of putting things in files and containers. Then work on going through each of the three boxes during your scheduled organization time. Try to group things logically, putting similar items together.

Consolidate Your Work Space

Apply consolidation logic to your desk and work space. Toss out anything that is broken or doesn’t work properly. If you find duplicates of anything you have more than one of, either get rid of the extra or put it in a box with other duplicates that you can turn to in the event something breaks.

freeconsultation@ticular.comReplace, Don’t Add

Anytime you have to add anything to your desk or work area, try to eliminate something. You will probably need to consciously remind yourself to do this — most likely you’ll catch yourself in the act of augmenting and have to force yourself to do the necessary subtraction — for a while before it becomes a habit.

Don’t Just Move Things Around

Don’t let consolidation devolve into simply transferring clutter from one location to another: This can lead to a complacent delusion that you’ve done more organizational work than you actually have. Rather than move something from one place to another, tackle it in its original location.

Cultivate Free Space

Completely clear out one space in your work environment — it will ultimately become the location where you put something that previously did not have anywhere to go, preventing clutter from beginning again. Once you find you no longer have an empty space, find another area to clear out so that you can avert the next clutter situation the next time you need to add something to your work environment.

These tips only scratch the surface, and in fact may inspire other good organizational habits once you get going. The more you practice them, the more your productivity will increase. Speaking of which, what tactics have helped you become more productive, readers?


How to Save Face When You Fix a Mistake

Mistakes happen. But they can seem more perilous to small businesses that are just starting out. Losing a customer or a business partner has much higher stakes when you have less to fall back on.freeconsultation@ticular.com

When faced with the potential loss of a business relationship, it’s almost tempting to risk not correcting the mistake, in the hope that others won’t be able to detect the error. Of course, not making things right is in effect another mistake. There’s a fine art to correcting mistakes, and it involves four things: punctuality, accountability, charm, and generosity.

Punctuality

The difference between a small mistake and a big problem often comes down to timing: Agonizing over how to fix the situation can waste a lot of time in a way that exacerbates the original error. Communicate about it as soon as possible, apologizing for the inconvenience and promising a generous remedy.

Accountability

Even if it really wasn’t your fault, you look much better when you claim responsibility for the mistake than when you blame others. Similarly, truthfulness about what happened goes over better than anything you could possibly fabricate. A classic lie to avoid: saying your technology was hacked when it wasn’t — even people who aren’t tech savvy can see through that excuse.

Charm

Infusing charm into all of your business dealings is the adult version of “Just a Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins — the medicine goes down in the most delightful way. The need to be pleasant might be obvious, but less so is being graceful under pressure. It’s natural to feel stressed out or anxious about a mistake. But letting any hint of that seep into your communications could make them backfire. Take deep breaths and relax before you start talking.

Generosity

Actions speak louder than words, and that goes for making amends instead of just saying you’re sorry. Offer some form of gift, coupon or discount with an apology and you might not just keep a business relationship, but possibly strengthen it.Nobody’s perfect, and the people you want to continue doing business with agree. If they don’t, and you lose a relationship with a perfectionist, you’ll still be able to learn from the experience. Don’t make the same mistake twice.


Is Your Marketing Communications Plan Really Integrated?

Tangram-cats-smsmIn our information flooded world, people are battered with all kinds of things demanding their attention. A person needs to get a message five or more times before they pay attention, remember and act on the information. That means a non-integrated, singular marketing activity wastes time and money.

An integrated marketing communications campaign allows you to vary the presentation of the message while conveying a consistent content. Ask a marketing services firm to help you if planning and executing an integrated marketing campaign feels overwhelming.

Let’s say you want potential customers to know that you offer the miracle machine for fighting the physical signs of aging in your newly opened studio with the goal to sell them a bundle of treatments.

An integrated marketing communication campaign could consist of a three-month campaign using social media, your website, a white paper, email marketing, editorial

content in an offline publication and advertising, Google Offers, postcards, sandwich boards for the sidewalk and event marketing with an offline open studio event.

How Do You Make Sure a Marketing Communication Campaign Is Really Integrated?

To integrate your message visually over all channels you need a corporate design that includes a logo, a tagline with the essence of what you offer, a color scheme and shapes that enhance the appeal and eases recognition of a visual design and transport your core message.

If all you have now is a logo and a tagline, ask a graphic designer to suggest a color scheme and shapes that can be used. Blood red and black or needle sharp shapes are probably not conducive to entice your target group to seek treatment in your studio.

Goal

The best way to articulate a goal or objective is by answering a series of questions about what you want from the campaign. Ask what outcomes you seek, such as:

  • Increasing visibility and awareness;
  • Building trust for your product and services;
  • Differentiating yourself from your competitors;
  • Counteracting bad press;
  • Getting new customers or upselling existing ones.

freeconsultation@ticular.comThen, ask yourself what you expect or hope that your target group will think or do as a result of your campaign. Think of how you can measure that; it might not require polls or surveys if you have good analytics or “social listening” software.

Once you determine your metrics and measurement tactics, try to anticipate what you might learn from a poor response. In other words, how might you adjust your campaign one way or another based on the outcome?

Research

Limit your research to what your goal is and your budget allows. Find out how potential competitors market themselves, even if what they offer is only vaguely similar. Take note of the most successful of their marketing tactics and ask yourself why they were successful — and similarly, learn from their mistakes and differentiate yourself from those things. Use all of this data to help determine how your campaign will fare.

Target Group

Maintaining youth promises appeal probably mainly to women over 40 with a medium and higher income. You can get an insight into your local demographics from the U.S. Census website. Do you know enough about your target group’s preferences: gathering places and communication styles (i.e., face-to-face, phone, text, image or video, sheer facts or flowery marketing language)? And how would your target group benefit from the goal that you’re pursuing?

Message

Remember the acronym AIDA as the formula for getting people to connect with your marketing message:

  • Attention: Get people’s attention and they become aware of your product or service;
  • Interest: Get people interested by demonstrating advantages and benefits of your product or service;
  • Desire — Convince people your product or service will satisfy their needs, so they desire it;
  • Action: Lead people to act, either by purchasing or contacting you for more information.

Attention is captured by standing out from the environment where the message is conveyed. Interest is captivated by promising an answer to the needs of the target group. Desire means that the person becomes motivated to get the promised benefit. The promise may be on an emotional or material level like feeling more self-assured and attractive, less vulnerable in a youth worshiping world, or getting a discount, a prize or a freebee. The call for action needs to be followed by the means to get in contact with you either by phone, email, interactive social media websites or snail mail and street address of your studio and opening times.

Make sure that you hit up three main points in your message in a consistent and clear manner with the tone and appeal appropriate for your target group and your goal. Slang, goth or hip-hop elements are probably not the right way to address baby boomers.

Channels

The channels you choose need to be the preferred information and discussion outlets of your target group. Each channel has its inherent ability to convey a message.  For example, if your message entails something that happens over time and you want to show a development you want to choose a video. If your target group has an academic background, they might just want to scan a text message for keywords instead of taking the time to watch a video.

An image says more than 1,000 words, so use an image whenever the image supports your message. Watch out for diverging image and text meanings! Cognitive dissonance can be helpful if deliberately used to achieve your goal — or it may just irritate and repel the recipient. Take advantage of the various channel characteristics in your campaign and make sure that you keep the corporate design and tone and appeal across all channels which is crucial for an integrated marketing communication campaign.

Cross Promotion

Integrate the community: Groups, associations, or businesses may exist that don’t sell the same products or services but are interested in your target group for other reasons: Check your neighborhood for local restaurants, cafes or bars to hairstylists or apparel stores with community boards. They may help you in reaching your goal by sharing or linking to your content, sponsoring food and drinks for your event or providing expertise and support, or other resources.

Identify your potential partners and prioritize them according to ease of access to them and probability of their willingness to collaborate. Develop a proposal strategy so that each potential partner sees their particular benefit in working with you. Keep in contact with those who were interested or collaborated with an occasional note pertinent to your common interest.

Creativity

Assuming there have been similar marketing campaigns: How does your creativity measure up against those? Does your message really stand out in a positive way or is it just a “me too?” If you’re unsure how to measure your creativity you will find reference points here where creativity is explained as a function of novelty of form and content that spans the spectrum of imitation, variation, combination, transformation and original creation.

Effectiveness

Check if all the parts of your marketing campaign are effective: Content related to the benefit of the recipient, visual design creative and appropriate to content and target group; if video is part of your campaign make sure that you have good speakers who have a melodious voice and give fluently important information. Some webinars or YouTube videos are unbearably amateurish. If you can’t do it right don’t do it at all. Bad marketing communication is counterproductive. Assure quality of every single step and module.

This includes, for instance, checking online content in different browsers and with different computer screens for formatting or color issues. Print can surprise with unwanted color changes and blurriness. Checking out a proof before printing the whole lot is a good suggestion. And particularly watch out that the  phone number and street address is correct before publishing anything online or offline.

How would your integrated campaign flow?

Choose the right social media outlets for reaching your chosen demographics. There you can create your company pages and offer a continuous flow of information about your treatments and successes. Use your website to offer a white paper  (e.g., about the newest methods to maintain a youthful appearance) to be send to their email address. The expressed interest and email addresses can be integrated in an email marketing campaign.

Google Offers is a good way to promote a special deal and allows you to get even more email addresses of your target group. Again, the interest in this particular offer can be integrated in email marketing campaigns. Editorial and advertising in print media can be expensive. If you can afford it, launch your editorial content — for example, an interview with a medical doctor about the advantages of using the miracle machine. Accompany the editorial with an ad for your studio.

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Design an attractive sandwich board for the sidewalk to make pedestrians aware of your studio and the benefits of getting treatment. Spice it up with promotions that change weekly. People only notice things that keep changing. Something that doesn’t change fades into the background.

Distribute postcards that advertise your “open studio” event with a discount coupon in collaborating shops in your neighborhood. Put a color code sticker on the postcard so that you know from which shop they came and identify the partner who brought in the most. Ask people to send you an email to RSVP to the event since you need to plan for drinks and food. Then you have the email of a potential customer even when they don’t show up. Make your “open studio” event count. Set yourself a goal how many people you want to sign up for a treatment bundle.

Success Measures

Online marketing has the advantage that data is electronically present and can automatically be analyzed. Success can be measured with the help of social media, blog and website analytics or email marketing metrics.

The success of offline marketing tools is much more difficult to measure because it involves active participation of recipients or attendees in a survey — be it by an actual interview from person to person or directing them to an online survey. This is time consuming and involves special skills. It is best to ask a marketing services firm to conduct the follow-up interviews.

Readers, how do your marketing efforts compare with what we’ve described here? What would you like to improve upon?


Your LinkedIn Presence Stinks. Now Here’s How to Hack — Er, Fix — It

LinkedIn is an underutilized resource. Optimize your presence on that social network and you can leapfrog ahead of the competition.

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Do a Google search for information about LinkedIn, and you find a lot of articles about improving profiles, from a job seeker’s perspective, and a relative minority are written about how businesses can boost their presence on the site. Here’s how we will up the ante on the discussion: Optimize both! Your business benefits if all of your employees put the best forward on LinkedIn, since their profiles all link to your page.

Most likely you won’t be able to get every single one of your employees to do this with their profiles. In fact, it might just be that whoever handles the page optimization becomes the only person to optimize a profile to match. It would be great if everyone on your staff used professionally prepared biographies on their profiles, but that might take more resources than you care to devote to this effort. More realistic: supply your staff with a list of keywords to add to the skills section of their profiles.

This section happens to be one of the most underutilized parts of LinkedIn profiles, as it offers the social networking version of search engine optimization (SEO). You can add up to 50 different terms to the skills section, yet most people only have a couple dozen at most. There was even less of this before LinkedIn launched the endorsement feature, whereby people could vouch for your skills. This has added skills to profiles that didn’t have them before.

Now, select the relevant keywords from your staff’s skills lists and work them into your company’s LinkedIn page. Incorporate these terms into the description of your business and what it offers. Use the same terminology in the status updates you’ll be posting to the site every day — yes, you can post them as a page and on your own profile. The same goes for posts to groups, both the ones you create and the ones you join: work your terms in.  Ditto for the questions and answers part of the site.

Contributing content to the site on a regular basis will also position you better in search results, both for a page and a profile. Try to put up something at least once a day. Also, including images also increases your social SEO, since they foster more engagement than any other type of material.

Readers, how does your LinkedIn presence stack up?


How to Grow a Business-to-Business Start-Up

Business-to-business startups may have a harder time marketing themselves on Facebook than consumer-facing brands do, but by no means should this be an excuse to forego social media nor online promotions overall. A nifty roadmap for scaling up on various social networks appears in the infographic below, created by Introhive. Please let us know what you think of it in the comments section beneath this post.

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