Your business’s missing link: Using LinkedIn for more sales

It’s a dusty collection of business cards you have over there, isn’t it?  You met what’s-his-name at the who’s-he-what for that startup thingy you can’t remember… right?

LinkedIn exists to help people find jobs, but it also survives as a networking tool to help people meet and remain in contact with potential business associates.  Your network is who you know, but those people might be connected to the businesses and business owners you WISH you knew.  LinkedIn can help you reach out to the people who can truly make a difference.

For example, a designer friend of a friend at our Orlando marketing agency wanted to sell his products online at a particular website, which he thought was a good match.  He reached out to a sales planner at said website through the mutual friend, and less than a month later, the site was carrying his products.  If that designer were to successfully do this with ten retailers, his business could grow tenfold.

Many people think networking is about passing out business cards and being able to drop some fancy jargon and a bit of understanding about the state of the industry.  If only it were that easy!  Real business thrives on relationships and opportunities.  And, friends-of-friends can be easy starting points to expand your inner circle.

[quote]LinkedIn may be the missing link in the chain of relationships that will help drive your company’s growth.[/quote]  If you want to use LinkedIn to improve sales, try some of the following ideas:

Ask Yourself Some Bottom-Line Questions:  Who are the people who you think may be able to help you?  How do you think these contacts might be able to help you?  What’s in it for them?  Addressing these primary questions will help you formulate a pitch.  If you’re blindly messaging your contacts and trying to get in touch with theirs, then it will come off as insincere, and may even hurt your chances of growing your business.

Create a Strategy: Once you’ve figured out the answers to the questions above, formulate a strategy for reaching out to the most valuable contacts with the least amount of time and effort.  Remember, if you run a small social media start-up, the CEO of a major brand may not be the best person to help your business.  Perhaps you have a connection in common with the company’s Director of Marketing, who holds the power to make decisions pertaining to new social media tools and applications.

Join a Group (or Ten): Joining a group will put you in contact with like-minded people in your line of business.  But joining a group itself isn’t enough – it’s important to actively engage with other group members, who may provide valuable leads and information pertaining to your field.  Try trade associations, alumni groups, and of course, groups containing current or potential customers.

Dedicate Time to Your Network: It’s easy to set up a LinkedIn profile, and then to let it get lost in the shuffle of all the other important things you need to do in order to maintain your business on a day-to-day basis.  Instead, actively seek out people in your line of work and dedicate a few minutes each day to following up with them.  Schedule time on your calendar each day to dedicate to this task, rather than waiting until you have a pocket of time to focus on your network (which may be never).

Follow these tips, and our Florida advertising agency assures that you’ll see results. While you’re at it – check us out on LinkedIn! LinkedIn may be the missing link your company needs to help grow to its fullest potential.

13 Social media & marketing blogs to add to your feed right now

There’s a lot of content out there on the Internet about any subject that you could possibly ever want to know about (turns out that woman you recognized on White Collar is actually the girl who played Kelly on Saved By the Bell – thank you, Wikipedia!).  This is particularly true in the social media world, which churns out a constant stream of information through a network of tech-loving writers who are borderline obsessed with posting and reposting the news of the day.  If you don’t have your own in-house social media editor to sift through the mess, let our Florida advertising agency guide you to the best social media and marketing blogs.
Mashable: Tried and true, Mashable offers a constant stream of updates about all things social media.  Pete Cashmore placed his bets on the social media industry early on, taking it seriously as a field that would continue to grow.  Today, Mashable is the most comprehensive listing of social media news and updates on the web.

Seth Godin’s Blog: As an internationally known marketing expert, Seth Godin is straightforward, honest and to the point.  And it’s not just our Florida advertising agency that sees the value in Seth’s words – his blog is also typically ranked as one on Ad Age’s top 10 of the top 150 blogs tracked.

VentureBeat: VentureBeat has Silicon Valley on lock.  With constant updates about the newest trends in social media and tech, this is a website that any tech savvy individual should bookmark and visit frequently.  It’s a great place to find out about the newest and emerging trends – the ones that will affect the future of social media marketing.

TechCrunch: With such an overlap between tech trends and social media, it’s great to find a blog that gives superior coverage to both.  TechCrunch, part of AOL’s digial empire, offers interesting and insightful content that’s useful for anyone in any emerging industry.  And, the writing itself is some of the best in the business.

Social Media Today: For anyone interested in social media marketing, this blog is a terrific starting point.  This community-driven blog site is driven by experts such as yourself.  The result is numerous differing views as to trends in social media, all moderated for quality to offer the best composition of blog posts in any one site.

CopyBlogger: CopyBlogger offers excellent information about all fronts of content marketing.  Content marketing as an industry itself has taken on all types of new directions in recent years, and since you can’t talk about content marketing without talking about SEO and social media, the blog offers a great resource for covering that area on all fronts.

All Things D: The D stands for digital, and the website that purports to cover all things digital stands up to its name.  While it’s more of a tech blog and sometimes just even a fun news and current event blog, the social media coverage side offers some of the best coverage in the game.  Plus, the easy-to-navigate site spins circles around competitors with fancy but not necessarily effective designs.

Marketing Tech Blog: Like a true marketing company, the Marketing Tech Blog emphasizes social media content, and innovations in the digital space – using lots of sharable information and infographics to sell the story.

ClickZ: With a constant stream of updates about innovations in social media and digital marketing, ClickZ ultimately focuses on one thing: teaching you how to get ClickZ for your company and your business’s social media.

Digital Buzz: While it’s more of a marketing site than a straight social media blog, Digital Buzz features content that our Orlando marketing agency loves.  With fresh perspectives and information about new trends in digital media, true marketing professionals shouldn’t miss this site.

A few more blogs to add to your feed, these three cover analytics, platform strategy and management tools.

Buffer Social: This social media marketing blog covers the latest in tools, analytics and strategies, and an has an incredibly intuitive design. The blog features a wide variety of authors which keeps the content and tone fresh.

Jenn’s Trends: Jenn Herman is a social media management strategist and her blog focuses heavily on strategies for businesses to use on Instagram. If you’re looking to move your brand onto Instagram, or up your InstaGame, Jenn’s Trends a must-follow blog for your brand.

RazorSocial: Written by Ian Cleary, RazorSocial provides information on the latest social media tools and technology. He publishes a lot of how-to, cheat sheet, step by step and tips and tricks post that are easy to digest and apply to your business.

Honorable Mention – BuzzFeed: While BuzzFeed isn’t really a social media blog per se, it’s really a blog that’s all about posting content that people can share.  If you’re a marketing expert and you’re looking for inspiration, check out BuzzFeed to see what the world is talking about right now.

In search of a few additional social media and marketing blog suggestions with the potential to make a big impact on your bottom line? Contact us today for more helpful tips and tricks to benefit your brand!

Encouraging discovery through subscription commerce

As busy people with busy lives, we don’t always have the time to sift through a glut of new products and services to decide, for example, what new shampoo to try, or what type of headphones pack the best sound for the cheapest price.  That’s why many of the team members here at our Florida advertising agency stick to our trusted Head and Shoulders brand, and grab whatever headphones we can find on sale at Target.
But, some marketers have picked up on the fact that many of us are, in fact, interested in being the first in town to try something new.  Be it something strange, like rearview mirrors for your sunglasses, or something practical, like an eco-friendly razor, there’s something inherently cool about being the first person to be in the know.

Subscription boxes are gaining in popularity as ways for people to experiment with new products.  Curating companies tailor such boxes to their target demographic, and a typical box might include products for a young, hip mother or a dog-loving city dweller.  For a fee, the person has a box of goodies delivered each month, and often receives all of the items in the box for a fraction of the price that he or she would have to pay to purchase the items individually from retailers.  Come delivery day, it’s like Christmas — every month!

Besides the obvious financial benefit to the companies that create these boxes and sell them online through subscription services, these boxes can also be a great way for marketers to get their products into the hands of potential customers.  Some subscription services even encourage their subscribers to engage in influencer behavior, which ultimately also helps to market the products to a broader audience.  Plus, many marketers know that hand-to-hand marketing is one of the most successful forms of marketing, so when you can put a product in a consumer’s hand, your business has the opportunity to generate a high return on investment.

What motivates people to trust strangers to curate subscription commerce?  In many instances, the keyword is trust.  Once a company is able to establish itself as a leader, it can then take initiative to offer its loyal subscribers access to goodies that they never knew existed.

Cravebox leads the way in curating boxes and solidifying the trend known as subscription commerce.  Cravebox’s researchers scout thousands of products to bring its subscribers only the best in health, skincare, hobbies, parenting and more.  Cravebox chooses its members out of a lottery, which provides an air of exclusivity for those selected.

Other companies like 12Society reach out to a targeted demographic.  12Scoetry purports to offer products from celebrity endorsers, and caters to the young, professional male.  (It kind of makes you wonder why a company like GQ didn’t catch on to this type of trend sooner.)

Birchbox offers a similar subscription box service, but sets itself apart by also offering links to products you can purchase on the website.  It also offers different boxes for men and women, and offers grooming and style tips with each box.  Similarly, lifestyle box company BabbaCo offers the kinds of goods only a mother could love – because they’re tailored to mothers.

The magic of the boxes is that no two are the same.  Each offers a different set of goodies and, if you don’t like it month after month, you can cancel your subscription.  Our Florida advertising agency understands that consumers are spending less time with beauty magazines and print content, and believes that subscription commerce may be just the type of marketing you need to help introduce a new product, and reap impressive results.

Contact us today to see how we can help you generate impressive marketing results.

Pinterest: Helps companies drive innovation & revenue

A year ago, Pinterest blew up into popularity so fast that even the founders themselves were astounded.  However, a leading question on everyone’s mind revolved around a single question: how could the Internet’s pin board help drive revenue?
Pinterest continues to grow in popularity because it offers a visual approach to daily inspiration.  Particularly popular among adult women, a coveted demographic in the digital marketing space, Pinterest is almost an unexpected success in the tech world.

As people are predominantly visual beings, it makes sense that these images offer daily inspiration.  Many brands seek to use Pinterest to capitalize on this, pinning photos of visually-interesting items and offering track back features that allow people to purchase those items directly from the website.  Even here at our Florida marketing agency, we use Pinterest to help showcase inspirational design.

Recently, the company introduced Pinterest for Business, a profile model that stands apart from a personal Pinterest profile.  Typically, when companies develop pages specifically for brands, they enable brands to engage with followers in ways that are not available to personal accounts.  For example, Twitter brand pages allow customized skins and prominent graphic placement, and Facebook offers brands broader opportunities for sponsored posts and features like multiple page administrators and weekly data roundups.  [quote]With Pinterest’s launch of new business pages, it is essentially offering evidence that it is taking the first steps toward creating a possible revenue-generating platform for its company.[/quote]

Pinterest launched its business pages alongside several case studies of how some companies have successfully used Pinterest to help lead to customer acquisition, retention and conversion.  For instance, Etsy, an eBay-like service for people who sell crafts and other artistic goods, uses Pinterest to help showcase members’ products.  This helps members generate sales and thereby helps to keep the Etsy marketplace growing.

Jetsetter, a flash sales travel site, helps lead promotions by engaging its followers through Pinterest.  The company encourages brand supporters to post their most inspiring travel ideas, which helps them involve their community.  During one promotion, Jetsetter invited a team of celebrities to name the top pinners, who won prizes accordingly.  Participating pinners pinned more than 50,000 pins in one month.

Finally, there’s the gluttonous guilty pleasure site AllRecipes.  AllRecipes is a go-to spot for the best ways to cook anything from kale to Rice Krispies Wreaths.  Marketers are generally aware of the fact that images often inspire action, and this is tactic is probably most effective when it involves food.  For years, advertisers and marketers have been able to capitalize on the comforting sensations that people experience when faced with aesthetically-pleasing food.  AllRecipes uses their food photography and the Pinterest platform to help their community share recipes through repins, as well as to drive traffic back to their site so that people could find even more meal recipes.

As the Pinterest business pages continue to develop, we will doubtlessly continue to see innovation in how brand pages leverage the Pinterest platform to help make the best user experience possible…. the team at our Orlando marketing agency is “Pinterested” to see what the next generation of business pages holds.

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Caring about your consumers time could change the ad world

It’s a fact that people are inundated with branded content hundreds of times a day. The advertising industry is worth billions of dollars, and brand marketers latch on to this by finding ways to reach you EVERYWHERE, including billboards, television, smartphones, tablets, magazines, websites and search engine pages.
If you’re developing an advertising or marketing strategy, then chances are that you’re thinking about how you can get the word out about your brand or business. (Of course that’s what you’re thinking about; after all, that’s the primary goal of the entire industry!) However, as you develop your new video or concept, I encourage you to think carefully about the end result.

Many times, the specialists at our Florida advertising agency see competitors carefully craft high-budget interactive media projects without giving much consideration to the most important aspect of the campaign: the end user. If you are creating digital content, you are, in essence, asking people for a piece of their time, which, for many people, is more valuable than money or material goods. As a goods or services provider, once you have peoples’ attention, you are then asking them again to convert; i.e., to make a present or future investment in your product or service. The question then becomes: what are you offering this person that makes it worth their time?

[quote]Numerous advertising campaigns fall flat because the advertising doesn’t reach the person in a meaningful way.[/quote] Rather than focusing on companies that have tried to reach their readers and failed, I thought it better to highlight innovating digital marketing projects that have succeeded beyond expectations.

If you represent a deodorant brand, you have to work hard to convince your audience that you’re superior to anything else your potential customers may be able to find on the shelf. But, if you’re a company like Old Spice, you’ve managed to prove that you’re a lifestyle brand. After discovering to the interesting insight that women often purchase deodorant for their boyfriends or husbands, Old Spice introduced “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” which featured a muscular male model. The campaign proved such a hit that the man soon had his own following. Rather than leaving the rest up to fate, Old Spice took advantage of this and offered opportunities for fans to interact with the Old Spice Man through their website and social media platforms, including a series of YouTube video responses that were extremely popular.

Another innovative video concept came from Mitsubishi, in conjunction with B Reel Productions. The project, called Mitsubishi LiveDrive, allowed people all over the world to test drive the Outlander from their own computers, using the buttons on the keyboard to drive. The concept was the first of its kind, and garnered massive publicity, as people were impressed with the ability to control a car from thousands of miles away.

When Jay-Z came to Droga5 for ideas as to how to help launch his book Decode, the company partnered with Bing to come up with a concept that offered insight into the places that Jay-Z references in his book, as well as a gamification element that kept people returning for more.

The only thing that truly sets these campaigns apart from numerous other failed campaigns is that they all encompass a single quality: an appetite for innovation. Our agency believes that we can also help you develop an innovative digital marketing campaign on any budget.

Contact us to help create your own innovative digital marketing campaign!

The newest buzzwords & what they mean to your company

The marketing and advertising industries are notorious for making up their own buzzwords, in order to emphasize and, in some cases, glamorize trends and ideas as they come into the public space.  (I once received an email from a media company encouraging me to “techcessorize” my iPad – how’s THAT for corny PR language?)  Here are a few definitions intended to flush out fresh trends from Orlando advertising agencies, and what they could mean for you.

Advocacy: A new phase in the traditional marketing cycle, where fans of a brand encourage active engagement by sharing, via their own social media platforms.

Aggregator: An aggregator collects content from a number of sites around the web, and allows people to search the aggregated content to find links that they may find of interest.  Popular aggregators include Reddit and Google Reader RSS Feeds.

Agile Marketing: A marketing technique that involves the use of agile tactics, such as real-time response to marketing opportunities, brief stand-up meetings and investing resources in production and project execution (as opposed to planning).

API: Application Programming Interface.  Companies such as Facebook and Foursquare allow third-party applications to access their systems in order to create innovative uses for such platforms.

App: Short for application.  Though mostly associated with smartphones and iPads, browser-based applications may connect to Facebook or other social networks, such as Facebook games like The Sims Social or Words with Friends.

Content Marketing:  Based on the theory that good content creates reader and viewer interest and encourages engagement and social sharing, content marketing describes the consistent generation of branded content to create and sustain search engine traffic, and to keep people returning to a company’s website or social platforms.  (Content marketing = keeping your blog up to date.)

eCommerce:  All commerce activities that occur on the internet.  While people commonly think of companies such as eBay and Amazon, newer power players in the eCommece industry include companies such as Groupon and Fab.

Engagement:   The process by which readers and viewers interact with your content, generally by commenting, “liking,” up-voting, mentioning and sharing.

Frictionless Design: The development of intuitive, painless digital interfaces that reduce bounce, increase conversion and increase user satisfaction.

Gamification:  This technological function makes digital behavior into a game.  Though Foursquare didn’t create this type of tactic, which encourages repetitious behaviors that presumably lead to more points, the company made it popular by including “badges” in its platforms, allowing people to earn various badges (and therefore, social capital) for their check-ins.

Hybrid:  A hybrid delineates a person who has a broad skill set applicable to a number of technological disciplines, though that person typically also has one or two areas of true expertise.

Infographic:  A visual representation of a data set.  Sometimes funny or downright hilarious.

Meme:  You know those funny cat pictures, or those sarcastic eCards that always pop up in your Facebook feed?  As people share those photos and images, and continue to alter them in ways that are humorous and make sense within the context of the original content, they becomes Internet memes.  (It’s pronounced like “theme.”)

Native Speakers (of Technology):  This term is used to describe a generation that is growing up with smartphones, tablets and computers as the norm.  These children are learning through interactive games as opposed to books and notebook paper.

Pivoting:  When a company realizes it’s not meeting its goals, it may pivot to set a new trajectory.  This may occur in a single marketing campaign, or may apply to an entire business strategy.

SEM:  Search engine marketing.  SEM may involve paid search, search engine optimized content, or both.

Social Capital:  Many people believe that social capital is at the core of most individuals’ content creation and sharing behaviors.  The theory is that people share content with the hope or idea that it will elevate or retain one’s status within their online community.  Put simply, the idea is that people share content because it makes them “look cool.”

Social Listening: Monitoring digital media to assess what’s being said about a company, brand, product, or person on the internet in real time. Listening provides opportunities for quick response to customers, get ahead of public relations issues, and trending topics.

Social TV:  This describes technologies and behaviors that combine television and social media content.  For instance, when brand marketers encourage fans to live Tweet sporting events, this is a form of social TV.

Trendjacking: Leveraging a trending topic to generate buzz around a brand. Like most marketing tactics – there are smart, creative ways to do this right, and also terrible, clunky attempts that get this all wrong.

Viral Video:  No one can create a viral video; rather, they can aim to create a video that “goes viral.”  Though many viral videos have well over 1,000,000 views, a video can be said to have achieved some level of virality at views as low as 100,000.

We sometimes throw these words around at our Orlando marketing agency, but we’ll never leave you in the dark about what they mean, and the implications for your company.  (And we’ll never ask you to techcessorize ANYTHING.)

Contact us and we’ll help fill you in on the fancy lingo.