Need more ideas for your business? Try these tips.
Change is rapid, constant and challenging to keep ahead of – products and marketing strategies that worked last year may not be as effective this year.
Implementing the same strategies as in the past may keep your business treading water, but new ideas are needed now more then ever for you to compete and engage with your preferred customers.
The need for creative ideas can span a wide range of possibilities and topics. Depending on your business type, market dynamics, target customers or stage in the product life cycle, your challenges may include ideas for new names, taglines, products, services, promotions, content or social media posts.
Whatever your objective, following the tips outlined below can help you generate that golden nugget you are looking for!
1) Clearly define the problem, challenge or objective – write a single sentence which states what it is you are trying to get ideas around. This may sound basic, but getting clarity can help spark ideas.
For example, if you were looking for new products you might start with why. Has your current product line stopped growing due to a gap in the offering or a feature it is lacking? Maybe you have received feedback indicating a characteristic of your offering is either unattractive or even annoys your customers? This allows you to focus on how you can address these known challenges.
“Simple can be harder than complex:
You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.
But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve Jobs
2) Set a timer – generate as many ideas as you can in short bursts of time. We’re talking 10 – 15 minutes here.
If you’ve eve been in one of those meetings that go on and on, did you notice as time goes on creative productivity decreases? The timer also gives you a constraint, which research has shown helps with creativity.
Try to do a couple of these sessions without evaluating or reiterating things from previous sessions.
You can do this on a screen, paper, on a white board or a flip chart, whichever makes you feel most creative.
Here is how it may play out - if you are trying to generate a new name for your business, start with a clear idea of what you want the business to be.
Then, on a flip chart, write down all the words you can think of that describe or relate to this concept. Once you have your initial list, search to see if there are additional words or ideas from brands you admire even if they are unrelated.
Then have fun making combinations of the words on your list and see how they sound.
For example, let’s say you’re designing a logo and branding for a holistic medical practice. You think of successful companies that have branding that emulates some of your practice's characteristics. Apple’s success in branding pops into your mind. That gives you the idea of fruit -- and maybe an unique image of a person combined with a super fruit like apricot or pineapple . . . remember at this point, there are no bad ideas, record them all without judging.
“Ideas come from everything”
- Alfred Hitchcock
3) Be patient -- If ideas don’t flow, walk away. Work on something else, get a cup of coffee, or go for a walk outside. Getting away can help relax and free your mind, letting your subconscious mind have a turn to work on the challenge.
"The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time." - Henry Ford
4) Observe and Gather -- You have heard of hunter-gatherer. The creative you is now an Observer-Gatherer!
Keep your eyes open and notice things around you. Whenever a lightning bolt idea hits you – no matter what the topic – gather it up and save it. Useful techniques for this are to use Evernote, One Note, send yourself an email, or go retro and carry a little notebook. Do whatever works best for you - but do it – after just one month you will be surprised at the number of really cool ideas and original thoughts you will have collected!
Great ideas can be like shooting stars –
capture them when you get them – jot them down –
and review them at a later date.
5) Bring others into the mix -- if you work with the team or have trusted friends, colleagues or advisers, share your ideas with them and get their reactions. Often, people that aren’t directly involved with the challenge can raise good questions and contribute novel ideas.
Tip: Create an evaluation free zone (or times) to share and discuss ideas. When you are trying to get good ideas, there are no bad ideas. An outlandish or crazy thought might not be so crazy with a few tweaks.
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
- John Steinbeck
6) Finally, if you work with a team, conduct a structured brainstorming session. This can be a very effective process in generating creative solutions. There are process parameters and session ground rules that should be followed – if done correctly it is amazing what your team will come up with! Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
Invite open-minded, energetic positive people.
Don't allow criticism or editing of ideas; encourage participants to:
“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
- David Ogilvy
Author’s note: I love brainstorming and idea generation. As a marketing professional with a background in team dynamics, I’ve lead many brainstorming sessions to generate new product concepts and solve persistent or sticky problems. It works, it’s fun and truly more minds are better than one when it comes to creative problem solving.
I hope these tips will be helpful for you.
Please comment or send me additional thoughts or experiences -- and thanks for reading!
Great idea generation usually results in more ideas than can be used. The next step is prioritizing and selecting ideas. If you need help with that, read our next blog or contact us to see how we can help your business grow.
Events can be an integral part of a marketing plan; many businesses rely on them to build awareness and generate leads. But as you may have noticed, some events are better run and attended than others.
What are the keys to orchestrating successful events?
1) Know your objective and desired audience.
Before you start planning the details, have a clear idea of whom you want to attract and what value you will be offering.
The earlier you can start planning, the better. For a large event like a trade show or conference, begin planning six months in advance.
For local events, you’ll need at least 30 to 45 days to get things organized and arranged.
TIP: If you are using vendors, have all vendor contracts completed a few weeks before the event. If they don’t have a commitment from you, they might book another event.
3. Find Partners and Sponsors to share expenses.
Look for businesses that have complementary services or would like to reach the same target market. Coordinating with a non-profit and donating the fees charged is a great way to attract participants and make them feel good about your company and their spending time/money at your event!
Don’t be afraid to ask – many things are negotiable. How much a vendor charges might depend on how busy they are, so being flexible with your dates/specifications can help reduce their quoted price.
Tip: Determine your budget before meeting a vendor or sponsor, and think of what you can offer in return for sponsorship or a lower negotiated price.
5. Assign Responsibilities; communicate
If you’ve recruited partners or a team, break up the various elements of the event into sections; clearly define roles and responsibilities of each team member.
Communicating and collaborating with the people working with you is important.
To keep everyone on the same page, create a document that details key elements of the event, timelines, and who is responsible. Have it easily accessible, easy to read and updated so everyone can refer to it and you can keep things on track. Many groups use Google Docs to do this.
6. Promote, promote, promote
Your goal is to get the right people to your event -- and enough of them to make it worthwhile.
Create a promotional plan for your event incorporating all the media channels available to you.
If you are planning to host more than one event, pay particular attention to branding. Using the same template will build brand recognition; repetition is the key!
7. Ways to promote your event:
8. Photograph Everything
Pictures can document the success of your event. Get pictures of the full room, event branding, speakers, and attendees enjoying themselves.
9. Have a dry run; then relax if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned
Hold a practice session, especially if you have several speakers and have everything in place before the event so you’ll be able to welcome guests. Create contingency plans. Things ALWAYS change – stay flexible and think of alternatives.
10. Follow-up Immediately
Thanks for reading!
Special thanks to Evan Carroll of www.attendedevents.com and Debra Mathias, www.connect-to-clients.com – I really appreciate their willingness to talk with me and sharing their thoughts and expertise.
Facebook is 'moving the goalposts' again ... or maybe changing the yard lines. Either way, if you are an organization that relies on a Facebook Page for marketing, the recent announcement sounds like bad news.
In 2017, many businesses were already seeing a downward trend in impressions, likes and overall reach on their Facebook pages. Then just last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the goal of Facebook is now changing from helping you find relevant content to helping you find “meaningful social interactions.”
So instead of determining the ranking of posts based on reactions, comments, and shares, Facebook stated they will prioritize posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people".
Facebook also said:
“Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
What to do now?
1) Keep the conversation going. If your objective is engagement and your page regularly gets comments, reactions, and shares – keep it up, you will probably not see too much change.
2) Try to increase engagement. If your posts normally don't get reactions or comments, you could try asking more questions, running a quiz, contest or sharing live video.
3) Put a minimal amount of effort into the page, just enough to let visitors know you are still in business and go on to #3.
4) Diversify your efforts. Look at the other social media platforms; put more effort into those that appeal best to your target audience.
5) Explore other methods to promote your business. There are many ways to market; you may have options that have gotten overshadowed by social media. Going through the market planning process can help you find new options and focus your promotional efforts.
Thanks for reading! Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
You may have heard the term “Customer Success”.
What does it mean to you and your company?
Is it just a new way to say customer satisfaction or customer service? Can any business use this type of thinking?
Customer Success is focused on ensuring your customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service. This focus can improve loyalty and reduce customer churn.
How does it differ from customer service or satisfaction?
Customer Success is proactive, while customer service is reactive. Good customer service increases the chance of customer success by solving problems as they arise, on a case by case basis. Documenting re-occurring problems is important feedback for product/process improvement.
Customer Success helps companies better understand what the customer is experiencing, how the customers use the product and/or services – from the customer’s perspective. Customer success can use feedback from Customer Service and other sources to see where customers are succeeding and where help is needed.
Customer Success is a vital part of Customer Satisfaction. If the product doesn’t perform to expectations, or the buyer isn’t informed/educated in the proper use, then it’s not likely the customer will be satisfied. But since customers perception is formed through multiple experiences with the company, there are other factors that can also affect overall satisfaction.
What does Customer Success look like in action?
Software companies are leading the effort to implement the customer success mindset. For example, Pendo, located in Raleigh North Carolina, makes software for product managers. They measure the number and frequency of features used in a certain time period. If a customer seems to take longer than average to implement, they follow up with interviews to find out why. They also measure the NPS (Net Promoter Score) which reinforces that customer success is everyone’s job.
So, you might be thinking, this is great for software companies, but what does this mean for my product or service business? It may be easier to implement in a software product (where more feedback is automated) but most businesses can benefit from using the customer success mindset to improve loyalty and reduce churn. You can start by asking “what else can we do to make customers successful” when looking for new product ideas or process innovations. Here are a few keys to implementing Customer Success thinking:
1) First, define:
2) Test and measure which factors have the greatest impact on customer success – then emphasize them. Identify and interview customers who aren’t achieving success with your product to out find the reasons why.
3) Get your whole team on board with Customer Success
The customer success mindset can be applied to a wide variety of products and businesses.
How do you apply the Customer Success mindset to your business? What key metrics do you use?
Feel free to add a comment.
Thanks for reading! Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a great start to the New Year!
Marketing plans aren’t just for big businesses; every organization can benefit from one. But if you are a business owner or part of a small marketing team, it might seem like a luxury - something you’d like to do when you get the time. In fact, only 56% of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees have a marketing plan developed.
Marketing plans aren’t the only thing that organizations are missing -- many admit they don't have specific marketing goals. And outlining specific goals is important -- as the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?
5 important reasons why you should take the time and effort to develop a marketing plan:
1. It helps you think through your business strategy and align your marketing efforts effectively.
You’ll then formulate marketing objectives that help your business achieve its mission and become successful.
2. It keeps you – and your team -- focused.
There are many marketing tools and opportunities -- it’s easy to become distracted, losing sight of your intended business goals. The marketing planning process helps focus on your priorities so you’re not spending time and resources on activities that won’t help you attain your goals.
3. It formalizes ideas and concepts.
You may have some great ideas for your business you’d like to try – including them in your marketing plan will help you determine how feasible they are. Once they are in the plan, you’ll be focused to work on them.
4. It helps you establish tasks, timelines and milestones.
A good marketing plan includes clearly defined objectives and tactics, outlining these makes it easier to identify the tasks that need to be done, who should do them, and when they need to be done by. This will help you get the most out of promotions and seasonal or local events.
5. It can help you obtain financing.
A business plan is a must if you want to obtain financing, having a well thought out marketing plan shows that you mean business (pun intended)!
So set aside some time to create a sound marketing plan for your business – chances are you’ll be glad you did.
Need help creating your plan? Get your copy of our market planning ebook to help your business grow!
Need more leads?
If the answer is yes, you are in good company. According to a recent report 63% of business leaders named generating traffic and leads as one of their top challenges.
So how do you generate more leads?
Successful companies use a combination of tactics that best fit their market and objectives ( see the list below).
Since prospective customers might not be ready to buy immediately, they also design a follow up system to nurture the leads. There are many tactics to choose from including advertising, mailings, social media and events.
Which tactics will work best for you?
Puppies are great (I love puppies) !
But even with these cuties on your side, you will get the best results when you start your lead generation efforts with a solid process like the one outlined below:
For example, Sally Forth Products is new retail business that creates high-end, customized products for individuals. They’ve gotten great feedback from current customers, but this type product is only reordered once a year. Looking at their overhead and other costs, they realize that need to double their customer base by 50% by the end of the year to break-even.
Sally Forth's current customers are in a high-income demographic and women drive the majority of purchase decisions. They have found that customers can be segmented by the way they approach the purchase decision.
1) Nina Needitnow -- has an immediate need for the product, knows the style she wants and the sales cycle is short. This type of customer needs a minimum of nurturing but needs polite, personal, responsive service.
2) Greta Gather -- is thinking and planning. She may love the concept, but may consider it for over a year before deciding.
The team at Sally Forth Products decide they to promote awareness and attract more "Ninas". Both target customer types tend to to to the same sources for information, so they chose tactics to suit each buying cycle.
Sally Forth Products is currently running traditional and search engine advertising, experiencing varying levels of success. To address the immediate needs of "Ninas" they added the phone number in their search engine ads, then streamlined the contact process and trained the team to answer the phone in a friendly, professional manner by the first or second ring.
They've also decided to compliment the ads they are running with a digital campaign to nurture "Gretas". They're developing two downloadable pieces of content to gather the emails of interested individuals and a series of emails to follow up the download. To deliver this content, they are beefing up their social media presence and plan to promote posts to their targeted audience.
Sally Forth Products put their plan into action; they logged the source of all new customer calls and are eliminating ads that did not generate customer interest. Their email list has tripled with some of the "Gretas" converting earlier than expected in the cycle.
Lead generation is important to building your business and following these steps will help you get better results.
If we can help you determine the tactics that will fit your business situation, please contact us.
Thanks for reading !
Need ideas? Get the 14 Tips to Build and Grow Your List today!
While marketing a business takes thoughtful planning, implementation, feedback and adjustment, developing a clear positioning statement can make your efforts easier and more successful. This is because the positioning statement helps guide your tactical marketing efforts and internal operations to work together for better outcomes.
4 Steps to Create a Successful Positioning Statement
When creating your market position statement, focusing on these four elements will help ensure you have a quality end result.
1) Identify and articulate the profile of your most profitable customer
Take an inventory of your past and current customers. Which ones have provided you with the most sustained and profitable business? Identify them and list out what you know about them.
For example, a B2C business would want to list socioeconomic characteristics – demographics such as age, gender, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, or average size of family.
Highlight the characteristics they have in common to create your optimal customer profile.
This is the target market that you offer the best solutions to fit their situations/needs. Remember – keep it narrow! You are not eliminating others who may purchase your offerings - just focusing your efforts and resources towards those most closely aligned with your business success.
2) What / Who is Your Competition?
Potential customers have a wide range of methods to research buying solutions and comparing competing offerings. This increases the importance of clear, concise messaging that enables the researcher to find, and easily understand, your business offerings and how they differ from your competition. So find out where you stand.
3) Why Are You Different and Better for Your Target Customer?
Now that you have clearly identified your target customer and competition, define how your company offerings are superior to the other alternatives.
Begin by brainstorming a list of all the ways your company and its products/services are different and better than the competitions. Next, prioritize this list by the perceived value to your target customer. (You may want to survey them to find out which have the most value to them.) Select the top two or three differentiators -- you'll need these for the next step.
4) Write your Market Positioning Statement
This is a short statement describing your business and its remarkable qualities -- what you offer and how it uniquely solves your target customer's problem. It must be a memorable phrase - one you can use when introducing your company.
Remember – shorter is better!
Have it contain the top two or three distinguishing aspects you identified in the step above, coupled with the specific characteristics of your target customer. Test it out on many people to ensure that employees, customers and those you meet can all recite it with ease.
Using our previous example, the firm might have found that their personalized knowledge of the client’s situation, quick response and ability to work to prevent legal hassles was most valued by their clients. Their statement might read – Our business offers highly personalized legal expertise and rapid, proactive response to small for- profit environmental lobbying organizations.
In conclusion, taking the time to go through these four steps helps gain the perspective and understanding necessary for creating market positioning statement. Ultimately, your positioning statement can be used as a guide for your company’s culture, marketing efforts and allocation of time and resources. A laser like focus on your preferred target customer will increase the return on your marketing efforts, the top line and ultimately impact the long-term success of your business.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions or need help with positioning your business, please Contact us.
Social media and review sites are here to stay. In fact, 47 percent of patients check a provider’s online status before scheduling an appointment and 24% of physicians reported getting new patients from social media.
So like it or not, your profile is out there and you’ll get reviews.
How do you protect your online reputation?
First of all, be proactive to avoid getting negative reviews.
Emphasize keeping in touch with patient needs and perspectives. Timing is important -- the key is to give patients a chance to give feedback and comment to you first -- before they broadcast it on social media. Having an option for patients to flag and address concerns in the office will help improve the patient experience; reducing the chances of the patient airing that issue online.
Patient satisfaction feedback can also be complimentary; helping highlight what you and your staff are doing well. There are many ways to obtain and measure it, either in the office or immediately following the visit or service.
But even the best practices occasionally get negative feedback, so be prepared. How you handle the response affects your online reputation as well.
What are the keys to handling a negative review?
Act Promptly. Monitor reviews of your practice. Although it might be tempting to ignore a bad review, it's not going to go away. If an unflattering review or complaint comes up, it needs to be addressed right way. But before you answer, take a step back and try to see the situation from the patient’s perspective.
Respect Privacy. It’s important to be careful of any HIPAA protected information. Even if the patient shares their medical information, make sure you don’t confirm or deny its validity. Ask them to contact your office, and if the patient identified themselves, contact them privately to discuss.
Acknowledge their viewpoint. If there was a misunderstanding or mistake, apologize. Show them what is being done (or has been done) to address the situation. Often, once you solve the problem with the patient, they’ll take down their post.
Be courteous and professional. While it may be tempting to answer a rude post with the same tone, or hide, delete or even ban a reviewer, it’s much better to show the reviewer that you care about all patient opinions. Always thank patients for taking the time to share their opinions and let them know you value the feedback they provide.
There are some exceptions:
If a review contains libelous statements or is from a person who has never visited your practice, have them taken down immediately, before it causes any damage. If you send them a clear explanation as to why the content is problematic and why it is important for the content to be removed, most review sites will take down any libelous statements; legal action can be used as a last resort.
In this world of social media and reviews, it’s important to keep your online reputation positive. Get regular feedback from your patients and encourage them to leave you reviews. A variety of reviews can dilute any negatives. It will also give individuals researching a better perspective of whether your practice will be a fit for their needs.
Thanks for reading!
Broad Reach Marketing provides practical, effective marketing for healthcare providers and other professionals. Contact us if we can help you with branding, patient satisfaction or communication processes.
Business cartoonist Chris Lysy asked me what I thought was the biggest challenge small businesses face. In a quick note back, I said "It varies from business to business, but I’d say wearing multiple hats — managing the many facets of the business in the amount of time available." I thought that was a pretty good guess ... but is it?
Agree? Disagree? Voice your opinion on the poll below or in the comments.
Hope you enjoy the cartoon!
Once again someone has asked when you are going to get a new website. You're definitely not excited about spending the time and resources it would take to get it done.
Do you really need to do it? It's an important decision – in this digital age, your website is a critical part of your business’s success. It’s often the first—and in some cases the only—interaction customers have with your business.
Answering these questions might make your decision easier ...
Is your site:
Why are these important?
1) A great representative of your brand? Because first impressions are important -- you should evaluate if the site makes the impression you'd like. Has your target market changed since you launched your site? If you’re not sure, try asking recent customers or prospects what they think of your site.
2) Fast loading and easy to navigate? As companies grow, they often add pages to their websites. Adding pages that way can create a site that is difficult to navigate. Customers may become frustrated if loading is too slow or it takes too many clicks to get to their information. You can check if this is a problem with Google's free analysis.
3) Mobile friendly – Mobile is becoming increasingly important. Over half of internet traffic now comes from a mobile device. If you love your site, it may be possible to transfer the content to a template that looks good on both a PC and mobile phone (responsive design) at a lower cost and effort than building a new site.
4) Attracting needed traffic? Your website might be fine, but you can generate a higher ROI by enhancing the digital strategy that drives traffic to the site. A digital strategy can include complementary components, like SEO organic traffic, Adwords and / or Bing Ads for paid traffic, content marketing and social media.
Thanks for reading!
Broad Reach Marketing provides practical, effective solutions to connect with your customers.
If you’d like to discuss any of these points or find out more, contact us !
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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.