Winning Strategies

Online Marketing ConsultantsCreating an effective online presence across the several platforms today requires strategies, time and knowledge.   The next questions to building an online strategy are who, what and how.  The who is probably one of the most important questions to answer, as the “who” will drive the what and the how. Today, the field is flooded with so many “experts” from web developers, social media marketing consultants, mobile marketing consultants.  Choosing who will advise your company to building an effective online presence based solely on cost, in the end could be a very costly mistake for your business.

The best way to build an effective online presence, making sure all the pieces of the puzzle are optimized and work in conjunction with each other is to have a strategically planned road map.  We have the GPS in the car to help us get from point A to point B.  We never get in our cars and aimlessly drive (as least I don’t think so -not with the price of gas).   Not having an online strategy in place before getting on-board is a very costly mistake many businesses make.  The online presence of a business is an asset.

Companies who piece-mail the areas of their online presence to different vendors without a roadmap may be costing themselves dollars in lost sales.  The web developer who was hired on price, doesn’t necessarily know best practices for marketing –the approach of a web developer is usually purely technical.  The truth is your company’s website needs to be designed with best practices for technology and optimized as a marketing work-horse.

Are you Mobile Ready?

 If you think your company can afford NOT to have a mobile optimized website, check out some of these statistics:

  • By 2013 more people will use mobile phones to access the internet than PCs.
  • Mobile searches have grown 400% since 2010.
  • There will be one mobile device for every person on earth by 2015.
  • 71% of users expect a mobile site to load as fast as a desktop site.
  • 60% of users expect mobile sites to load in three seconds or less.
  • 78% will retry two times or less if it does not load initially.
  • 57% will no recommend a business with a bad mobile site.
  • 40% have turned to a competitors site after a bad mobile experience.
  • 95% of smartphone users searched for local information.
  • 61% of users call a business after searching and 59% visit the location.
  • 90% of these people act within 24 hours.
  • 81% of users prefer mobile sites to apps when comparing prices.
  • 79% prefer mobile sites for product reviews.
  • 63% prefer them for purchasing.
  • 70% of mobile users have compared product prices on their phones.
  • 65% have read product reviews on their phones.
  • 50% of mobile searches lead to purchase.

Still think you don’t really need an optimized mobile website? Contact us today to find out more about what is a fully optimized mobile site.

Sources: Gartner, 2010; Google Mobile Optimization Webinar, 2011; Cisco, 2011

Stop Selling Me Please!!!

Target MarketAre you like so tired of being sold?  I am!!!  It seems every time I turn around, someone is trying to sell me something!  The energy and creativity that goes into “convincing” people to buy, buy, buy, buy… is exhaustive!  I wonder why businesses spend so much time, effort and money trying to sell someone to buy.

Think about the last time you decided you needed or wanted something.  Perhaps you were in the market to purchase a computer, or a mobile device or a new pair of shoes.  Once you made a decision that you “needed” or “wanted” to make that purchase, a mindset drove the process. 
When I am ready to make a purchase, the cost of such purchase will determine how much “research” and “fact finding” I might invest prior to making the purchase.  My higher cost purchases are usually accompanied by a slight level of anxiety, which undoubtedly comes from fear and or doubt on making the best decision. Small purchases are rarely contemplated long enough to analyze.
The one thing in common with both the high cost purchase and the incidental, low cost purchases, is that once the decision was made to make the purchase, no one really needed to sell me, convince me nor cajole me!  Evidence of facts was necessary in the high cost purchase, but evidence and facts are not “sales” pitches!
Growing the customer base of your business, or increasing sales, begins with understanding your target market.  Who is your target market?  Who needs or wants your product?  Who benefits from making the purchase?
Are you spending marketing dollars selling?  How well does your business communicate the benefits and features of the products you offer?  How much time does your business spend evaluating the target market for the products you offer?  Do you know the who, what where and how of your target market?  Are the male or female? How old are they?  Where does your target market live?  Where are they looking for their next purchase?  Are they looking in the weekly circular, the junk mail, Facebook, Google? 
While we help businesses develop and grow a true online presence, the first thing we coach business owners to review is the topic of target market.  Online marketing is advertising, whether it is a website, a Facebook mini website or a mobile site.  The design and message of those sites yield higher profits when the marketing message is actually targeted to a specific group of people.  It absolutely amazes me when I ask a business “Who is your target market?” and the answer I receive is “everyone”. 
The truth is you cannot aim, if you do not have a target.  How can you develop a marketing message, if you don’t truly know your target audience?  The absence of identifying a target market translates to your dollars and resources being wasted.  The lack of a target market translates to marketing without a plan in place.  Most would agree that you would not build a house without a blueprint.  I see so many ads that are selling (yelling), and so often I can’t even figure out what the business is actually offering.
A solid business plan requires the evaluation of identifying the target market.  Spend some time identifying your offer and relating it to your target audience.  Identify “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “How”:
“Who” benefits from what you are offering.
“What” does your target market need?
“Where” does your target market spend live or spend time?
“How” can your product benefit your target market? 
If you are not sure of some of the answers, engage your current audience.  Have some fun.  Ask and poll your existing audience.  Find out what they need or want, and design your message and offer to fill those needs.  The marketing message is then designed around the benefit. 
It is possible that target audiences may vary depending on product offering and benefits.  The more you clearly define the answers to these questions, the more effective the target message.
Next, develop a blueprinted campaign of delivering the message.  A one shot wonder will never serve your business and will just waste your time and money.  Based on your research, choose the best suited mediums to broadcast your message.  It may surprise many businesses to know that the internet is only part of the process.  It truly depends on where your target audience is looking.
Stop selling and start marketing.  Marketing begins with knowing your target audience.  Before you place another ad in the local paper, or create a Facebook ad or pay per click ad, evaluate your product, identify the benefits and speak to your target audience.  Aiming at the appropriate target market helps your business build “like”, “know” and “trust”, and that will lead to building brand, relationships and ultimately referrals.  Wishing you a prosperous and successful 2012   –Many Blessings

Switching off Blackberry to Android, Microsoft Outlook, Email & Rackspace

Owning a Blackberry Mobile Smart Phone for many years, I was hesitant to switch to an Android platform, but really knew I needed to change to be able to effectively manage all my business communications, including social media interactions such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more. 

The problem:  Blackberry was a great platform to manage my emails, as it synched seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook, both to my phone and my desktop.  While I could write this article about using Outlook, it really comes down to personal choice.  Outlook provides certain features that were very important to me, and I was not willing to sacrifice those features. 

Switching to an Android would afford me up-to-date smart phone technology where access to social media sites would be a more pleasant user experience.  Unfortunately, every time I called tech support of my wireless provider regarding these upgrade considerations, I got different answers as to how I could keep my Outlook, and have my phone and desktop in synch.

One day in July, while visiting my mom, I dropped my Blackberry and smashed the front of the screen.  It was a Storm II, a complete touch screen.  The contract on the phone had expired quite some time ago, and I knew I was faced with a decision.  As I continue to build a social media business, providing strategies and implementation for clients, I really knew I needed to make the switch, and so, blindly, but with much caution, I made the switch.

It took almost two months to resolve my email synching issues, but thanks to Rackspace, and specifically Mike Hernandez and Yolanda Hernandez, I have finally arrived. (WOO HOO!!)

Solely through my own research, what I eventually learned after purchasing my Samsung Charge, was that the only way I could keep Outlook, and have my phone and desktop in synch, was by using Microsoft Hosted Exchange.  What the heck is that?  It’s a server version of Microsoft Outlook –which means it must be hosted.  Hmm, I was faced with another problem and expense to evaluate.

Again, based on effectively running my social media and online marketing business, I decided to invest with a very well known provider, and purchased Outlook Exchange Hosting based solely on cost.  They were less expensive than another choice.  What a mistake!!!  I never did get to a technician who could solve the mismanaged installation issues.

Rackspace to the resolution!  WOW!!! is all I can say.  Last week, I went through a second email installation switching from my original Outlook Exchange hosting provider to Rackspace.  The professionalism and quality of service I received during this process is truly a rare experience in the technology industry. 

Last Tuesday, I contacted Rackspace.  My first technician helped me set up my account online, and then passed me to an installation specialist, Yolonda Hernandez.  My original installation was SUCH a mess, so the first thing Yolonda helped me work through was some of the basic set up to insure this installation was clean.  Due to time constraints, it was necessary for her to pass me to Mike Hernandez.

Mike provided top of the line, excellent service!  He truly did an outstanding job in helping get my Outlook to function properly.  I had several technical interferences with Outlook 2010 working properly with my desktop Windows 7 installation. 

Mike’s in-depth knowledge of the Microsoft products was the key, because some of the issues I faced were with Microsoft security and user account permissions.  Mike worked with me step by step, and never gave up, nor did he try to shift the cause of the problem to my Windows 7 desktop installation.  He persisted, and the combination of his efforts and knowledge have resulted in a very successful implementation!  THANK YOU MIKE!

I have several years of technology experience, and have worked with the technical support of many varying companies over the years.  The experience I have had with Rackspace, thanks to Mike and Yolanda, has been truly an outstanding user experience. 

I recommend Rackspace to anyone who is considering purchasing Outlook Hosted Exchange Services.  Professionalism and knowledge, when combined, are powerful tools a company can employ to leverage themselves in their industry.  Rackspace has apparently attracted the talent, and so while they may be a bit more expensive in comparison to other programs, the service they provide far outweighs the value of the savings.

Thanks Mike & , now I can get back to my business, and have finally made the long dreaded phone upgrade necessary for my business communications!  -Many Blessings

What Can You Expect from Your Social Media Efforts?

Christine Gregory Campos Often I am asked, well what can I really expect from a social media effort?  There is an investment of time and/or money, so how does social media monetize.  What is the ROI (return on investment) for participating in social media?

Faced with this question, I will often ask, ‘What is the loss to your company for NOT doing social media?’  Social Media is a new media that has made its way into the main business sector.  Larger companies are participating in engagement.  The reason is they realize the potential:

“If you want an example of the power of social media, consider this:  Starbucks gets 1.8 million visitors to their web site every month, Coca Cola some 270,000.  By contrast, their Facebook pages get 19.4 million and 22.5 million respectively, just about 10 times the traffic.  And every one of those people has given those companies permission to give them updates about their company, products and services.” – Warren Whitlock

The truth about Social Media is it is a platform to build awareness of your company’s brand.  So what does that mean?  Let’s think…How many brands of potato chips do you think exist?  Well the truth is, only the ones that come to your mind.  The truth is that there are over 80 brands of potato chips, but if you only know three or four, then the others really don’t exist.  So Social Media helps your brand become a house hold name.

Social Media gives your brand an opportunity to engage.  It is a platform to listen to your customers. Many companies utilize social media to manage their customer relations.  It is so vital to your brand to be listening to the online chatter.  Listening is truly the first and most important step of engaging in social media.  So many brands are managing their custom service relations via social media.  Today, the consumer has a louder voice than ever.  Why?  Because they have a viable platform to be heard…Social Media.  Gone are the days of having to write to Eyewitness News 7 on Your Side or Oprah.  All one really has to do to be heard is to do is make a post about a complaint of a service.  I have witnessed this first hand on Facebook.  A negative comment about a company could cause so much brand damage, that can literally turn off an entire sector or target market.

Social Media can grow a global presence.  When you realize the statistics of a Facebook Active User or the statistics of participation of countries and sectors on LinkedIn and Twitter, you can quickly realize how your brand’s name can grow in recognition.  Even if your market it not global, familiarity will never hurt your brand.

So Social Media is NOT a magic bullet.  You may not see a dollar to dollar conversion.  Social Media is an investment in your brand, much like any other advertising.  Social Media is marketing, and so it properly belongs in the marketing budget! –Many Blessings to all!