I recently tried out LinkedIn’s polling function, using a hastily written survey. The first hurdle encountered was the character limit on the answer options, and when I condensed the answers they were not as well balanced as the original ones.
Learning #1: Plan for short responses
As this was just an experiment to try out the polling feature, I forged on ahead to see what would happen. The first 5 responses came in the first few minutes. After that, it slowed, so I added a comment and sent a note out to a few connections to stimulate interest. Even then, after a week the poll only had 20 votes out of 431 views, a 4.6% response rate.
Learning #2: Expect a low response rate
Since no one chose the “Something else” option, if I were to do this again, I’d use five balanced answers with a neutral one in the center. I also learned that the poll was only seen by first degree connections, so might not be a representative sample of the LinkedIn population.
But despite the flaws, the poll did seem to indicate a trend (20% option 2 vs. 80% option 3), which is in line with the advice from leading marketing blogs -- for brands to emphasize messaging that shows support for their customers and the community during the current crisis.
Learning #3 Though visibility on LinkedIn is important to your personal (and company) brand, not all exposure is positive. It’s a good idea to think about your target audience’s perceptions before you click that post button.
Thanks for reading!
Do you agree? Disagree? Have an additional thought?
Please post in the comments.
As we noted in our last blog, virtual platforms offer many positive aspects for sponsoring/hosting business events. They can showcase your strengths and connect with prospects and customers -- even when you can't physically be in the same place.
Just like face to face events, you’ll get the best results when you plan ahead, provide useful information and build relationships with prospective customers.
Four tips to make your event or sponsorship more successful:
When events that your organization normally sponsor go virtual, try these tip to increase your ROI:
1) Get the lay of the “land”
If possible, attend an event similar to the one you’ll be sponsoring.
Ask questions. This could be a new format for the event organizers, so ask about the opportunities, specs and requirements. If you see something that could be improved, go ahead and suggest it, as their format may be evolving from event to event.
Explore the format. Like live events, virtual events have booth sizes and display requirements; graphic specifications that need to be followed. Also check out how the elements will be displayed – for example, where will the event management place video links? You'll want to check to make sure they don't interfere with your graphics.
Ask about the speakers and attendees. Due to the virtual format, speakers and audience demographics might be different than previous years. Does the event organizer have a list of who is expected to attend so you can gear your information to the right audience?
2) Plan for key elements to reinforce your brand and value proposition.
A virtual booth usually will include a main graphic with brand identity. Like a physical booth, you’ll want to include the main points of your product or organization's value proposition – usually 3 to 5 at most so they are easily readable. To save time, you might be able to use the graphic you created for your trade show display.
When possible, add a video with a personal welcome message and introduction from a key team member or officer that a customer would normally meet. It doesn't replace a handshake, but will give your booth a more personal touch.
Some sponsorships will have places where visitors to your virtual booth can download documents. Carefully consider what information would be useful to someone interested in your company. Depending on your industry, useful content for your target market could include company overviews, FAQs, capabilities outlines, white papers or product brochures. It’s best to limit the content list 3 to 5, so you don’t overwhelm the visitor. Have them clearly named so the visitor can identify what they are once they have downloaded them (and hopefully remember why they wanted to read them!).
3) If you are presenting, plan to insure a pleasant and enjoyable experience for your audience free from distractions like overactive backgrounds or intrusive noises. Plan for interaction -- become familiar with the interactive tools the event organizers provide. It's also helpful to have someone help you watch for questions and audience reactions while you are speaking.
4) Build relationships -- before, during and after the conference.
If the event organizer has an email list, request it. Due to GDMP laws, many organizers will no longer share lists but some offer messages services. If you do this, make sure you have an interesting message with a call to action. Or you (or your business development team) could use LinkedIn (or another prospecting tool ) to build a list of five to ten key prospects you’d like to connect with. See if you can find something you have in common that might make them interested in meeting you. Send a message on LinkedIn saying something like, “Are you planning to attend [conference] this year? I had been hoping to meet you there, as we’re both [common interest], I thought it might be interesting to chat. Since the event is going virtual, I thought I’d reach out to see if you were interested meeting [via zoom or using the conference's virtual rooms].”
If a Chat function is an option, don’t miss out on the opportunity during the conference -- plan to have it staffed, at least during prime hours. Even if it’s not busy you don’t want to miss that live person who would like to make an inquiry.
Follow up with the individuals who visited your booth. Use your CRM and depending on the size of your list, segment or prioritize your follow up emails. Personalize your high priority prospects with any information you gained from the event or other sources.
Thanks for reading!
How is your organization adapting their event strategy? If you have comments or additional tips, please leave them in the comments.
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The pandemic has impacted our lifestyles and the way we do business. One of the areas where it has had a significant impact is on conferences, trade shows, and live events.
People attend business events to learn, meet new people, and nurture relationships. Businesses use them to build awareness, educate attendees, generate leads, and establish thought leadership.
When it was not possible to have face-to-face events, some were canceled and some went virtual.
How well do virtual events work?
Are virtual events the way of the future?
To add to my research and observations, I asked a group of experts – individuals that frequently attend or host events -- to provide their perspectives and experiences with the virtual format.
Overall, there are many positive aspects of virtual events:
1) The potential audience is expanded
The ability to reach a wider audience was a positive aspect I heard most frequently – virtual events are not restrained by geography – opening up a wider world for both presenters and attendees.
Speakers could present from their home offices (or anywhere where there is a strong internet connection) and attendees faced lower barriers to participation. Online events typically cost less to produce and attend (some even waived the ticket price), and there are no travel costs, which is good for start-ups, small companies, or any organization with a tight budget.
2) More Efficient
Because you have the convenience of participating from home or office, virtual events are less disruptive of regular work schedules as even local events require travel time. And for events with more than one speaker, it is easy to "zoom" in and out, viewing just the most relevant sessions to attend.
3) Networking is different but better in some ways
Networking was still possible via breakout rooms or chat functions. For many events, it is easy to see who is attending and to message another attendee that you want to meet. For some, this is easier than walking across a room and striking up a conversation.
Virtual events can also have an equalizing effect – people who are smaller in stature or who have softer voices sometimes struggle to be heard, especially at an event or meeting with many people or ambient noise. Since there is no sound in a chatbox, and you can position yourself the way you want in front of the camera, everyone is equal. And for some people it is easier to ask questions in a chatbox than in front of a group, helping to increase interaction between audience and presenters and enrich the learning experience.
What is Missing from Virtual Events?
1) Social interactions
Not surprisingly, those who mentioned they were extroverts missed the casual exchanges, happy hours, and lunch/dinners after the event.
2) Spontaneous interactions and humor
It’s hard to have those chance encounters in the hallway at a virtual event as well as there is less opportunity for spontaneous ideas to hatch when having a casual conversation during meeting breaks. Additionally, spontaneous humor and comments that add to meetings and lightens presentations may not be picked up (or the participants are on mute).
Are virtual events more or less rewarding?
Most of the respondents thought that the virtual events were either as rewarding or more rewarding as face-to-face events.
How do you think the current situation will impact the future?
For forward-thinking organizations, it already has – for example, PMMI, who produces Pack Expo and Healthcare Packaging Expo, is incorporating virtual technology to accommodate individuals who will not travel to their November 2020 show. And if conditions are not safe, they have plans to convert to a fully virtual format.
The people I asked agreed with this:
To sum it up:
For both now and in the foreseeable future, virtual platforms offer many positive aspects for hosting your business events, showcasing your strengths and connecting with your target audience.
And it appears from all of the positive feedback that even when it is safe again to hold in-person events, they most likely will take a hybrid form that uses virtual technology to enhance and customize the attendee’s experience.
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Due to the need for social distancing, many businesses and organization have turned to online meetings. It is a different environment -- but don't let that stop you. If you're new to video conferencing, or looking for tips to make your next one better, read on!
1) To Zoom or not to Zoom
Before you schedule your meeting, think about the content. Do your really need to use video? Video applications are great for presenting, demonstrating and screen sharing. It isn't always needed for every meeting and can have its drawbacks -- too many online meetings can even lead to "zoom fatigue". There are times when a speaker's message can be garbled -- stopping in mid sentence and picking up again several words or sentences later. If conversation, rather than visual displays is the main point of the meeting, consider a conference call. Organizations have run virtual teams for years using the tried and true phone method.
Prepare for the meeting just as you would for any other meeting.
If it's a group meeting, have a list of participants handy so you know who should be there before you get started. A list is also handy if people will be given a chance to introduce themselves, so you don't leave anyone out.
3) Think about your visual presentation:
4) Test your sound:
5) Be an engaging facilitator:
Remember that just like an in-person meeting, the participant(s) are giving you their time and attention -- try your best to make the most of it.
Thanks for reading! Have additional tips? Please leave them in the comments.
Image by Armin Schreijäg from Pixabay
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Face to face meetings and networking are a major part of many businesses' marketing strategy. With the outbreak of Covid-19, with meetings and events cancelled, it is a good time to step back and reexamine our short and longer-term marketing/communication initiatives.
So what adjustments can be made?
1) Your online presence is more important now than ever
Start by checking your Website and email list:
Is your website up to date? It might be a good time to refresh your content, paying attention to your key messages and keywords.
2) Think Beyond Digital
With people staying home and social distancing – they may be more open to talking by phone and/or reading their mail.
3) Bring people together using technology
Is a meeting needed to brainstorm or exchange ideas? There are several tools you can use:
To sum it up -- don’t just hang in there – grab this as a unique opportunity.
The businesses that look at this as a challenge -- to freshen their marketing approach and even capture new business -- can and will prosper.
If you have any questions or would like to talk about your communication strategy, contact us.
Thanks for reading!
Do your customers know that you appreciate them?
Listening to your customers while making sure they receive excellent products and services is essential to building a long-lasting brand. It’s a year-round job! Any season is a good time for customer appreciation, but during the holidays, taking time out to thank your customers is a nice way to let them know you appreciate them.
What's the best way to do this?
It depends on your business situation and who your customers are. Start by thinking about what you know about your customers and what they might value or enjoy, then scan the list below for ideas.
If you decide to send gifts, select ones that are consistent with your brand values. For example, if your values include supporting the local community, choose treats from non-profits or gifts from local artists or businesses. In the Triangle area, Life Experiences, Inc offers wonderful brownie and cookie trays for your office or key customers. The artists at StarworksNC offer unique glass, pottery, and woven gifts. For those environmentally minded, the World Wildlife Fund has an array of choices. Or instead of gifts, you could offer to donate to a charity of their choice.
Thank you for reading! We appreciate our readers and wish you a Happy Holiday season.
As a customer, what type of customer appreciation do you value most?
Do you know of a non-profit with ideas for customer gifts? Please feel free to share the links in the comments.
Marketing consultants can be important to the success of small businesses. They offer an unbiased, fresh perspective on your business, growth opportunities, and preferred target customers. The right marketing consultant can identify, develop and implement strategies that can successfully grow your business by:
Selecting and building a relationship with the right marketing consultant is a key step to achieving success for your business.
Before hiring a marketing consultant, it is a good idea to review your business goals -- both short and longer term.
In addition, clarify what kind of relationship and personality you are looking for in partnering with your consultant. If you do this, it will make it much easier to identify the consultant with the competencies, experience and communication style that most closely matches your needs.
Six questions to ask when choosing your Marketing Consultant:
1)Tell me about your expertise -- what is your background?
This may seem obvious, but there are many self-proclaimed “marketing gurus” out there, so beware. A solid education in Business is a must and an MBA / Masters in Marketing a big plus. Marketing affects other areas of the business and the consultant should be able to grasp the whole picture before recommending marketing plans.
Marketing consultants develop different skills and specialties throughout their careers. Look for a consultant with a skills profile that matches your requirements. For example, if you need to develop a strategy for growth, ask about the consultant’s strategic capabilities. If your target market is local, you’ll want the consultant to understand the opportunities in the area.
2)Have you worked with small businesses?
Experience owning and/or working with small business is a BIG plus. Small businesses have many unique challenges larger established companies do not. Understanding those challenges takes “time in the trenches” to fully appreciate. Just as important, your marketing consultant must be able to demonstrate experience and success in solving the types of challenges your company faces.
3) What tools or processes do you use in your work?
Consultants often use business models and other tools. Understanding their approach to gathering information and working through a project may help you determine if it’s appropriate for your situation. It will also show you if the consultant follows a process, versus falling back on "canned" solutions that worked for one firm but may not work for yours.
4) Am I comfortable working with this person?
The working relationship between you, your key partners/employees and the marketing consultant is extremely important. Your consultant’s communication style, personal branding/business values and level of commitment should be compatible with yours and your company’s. Do they use words implying themselves as telling and selling or partnering, creating and facilitating? Assess if they are a “hands-on” partner during implementation or more consultative. These are extremely critical expectations that you and your consultant need to understand and agree upon before the relationship begins.
5) Does the consultant have time for me?
Understanding the consultant’s resources/network and client load is a consideration for you. How many clients do they have? Do they have specialists they can call on when needed? Having many clients often sounds good but is not necessarily better for small business owners. A consultant that is a dedicated partner to a few clients can spend more time understanding and focusing on your business and is always there quickly when needed.
6) Can I talk with references?
Last but not least, ask for references and call them. Check out their LinkedIn profile for recommendations. These references can give you insight into the consultant’s capabilities, working style and character.
Choosing the right marketing consultant for you and your business can be one of the most critical and rewarding decisions you make. Asking the questions outlined above while talking with potential marketing consultants will help to ensure a productive successful partnership.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions on working with a marketing consultant, please contact us!
When considering marketing options for new business, owners often ask about websites.
Questions like Do I really need a website? or How much will I have to spend? are frequently on their minds. There is a good reason for this – a website is a major investment of time and resources.
So if this is something that you've been thinking about, keep reading! We've compiled the following considerations, recommendations, and cost estimates to help you.
Question 1 -- Do you need a website?
Yes. A website is a recommended investment in the success of your business.
A well-developed website:
Note: There are a very few small businesses that can survive totally on word of mouth or by having a great location. But for the vast majority of businesses, prospective customers will use the website as a verification that you are a real business.
Question 2 – how much should you expect to spend?
The answer depends on your business situation - the type of business, the profile of preferred customers and the marketing strategy to attract them.
Effectively launching or reinvigorating a business goes beyond creating a website and includes developing a marketing strategy with more than one way to attract customers. So how much you should spend depends on several factors -- look for options that fit your business goals and budget.
Thanks for reading! For questions on websites or marketing strategies to grow your business, contact us.
What direction is marketing going in 2019?
According to recent research reports, there are 5 trends that local businesses and professional practices should watch closely in the year ahead:
1. The Need for Speed (for Mobile)
Google has made it clear that the time it takes for your site to load on a mobile device is extremely important and will be used as a factor in determining search ranking. This had been driven by more consumers using mobile devices -- they tend to be impatient. Slow pages will lose out!
2. The Ever-Growing Importance of Online Reviews and Ratings
Local businesses already know they benefit from having good online reviews and ratings. But these are growing in importance -- these evaluations are not just nice to have but should become an essential part of your marketing strategy. A recent survey found that 86% of US consumers consult online reviews and ratings when evaluating local businesses.
3. Customer Reviews Growing Impact on Search Engine Optimization
Because online reviews and ratings are so highly valued by consumers, they can now impact local search engine optimization (SEO). Google appears to be incorporating high ratings and positive reviews in ranking mapped local business. This means that without a number of good reviews and ratings, your practice may be less easily found in search results.
4. Google My Business Increases Importance
After phasing out G+, Google put more emphasis on their Google My Business platform. If you only have time for one marketing activity, update your Google My Business listing! An analysis by Moz of local search rank factors found that Google My Business elements — the specified address, keywords, categories, etc.— have the most influence on local pack results and the fourth-most influence on organic results overall.
5. Facebook Changes and Recommendations Become More Valuable
Facebook has also had a series of recent product changes. These include easier options for highlighting things like special events and sales. In addition, Facebook has emphasized Recommendations, a feature that allows people to suggest firms they like by using text, photos, and tags.
If you’d like to discuss how to best use these trends to help your business this year, let me know and we’ll set up a phone chat!
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Marketing Tips is dedicated to providing busy professionals and local businesses with information on marketing trends, strategy and tactics in a way that is both accurate and easy to read.