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Halloween Marketing Can Be Scary Good For Your Brand

Halloween Marketing Can Be Scary Good For Your Brand

Are you using Halloween to its maximum potential
in your marketing efforts?

You don’t have to be in retail to take advantage of one of the most popular holidays of the year in your marketing strategy. October offers oodles of creative opportunities to increase brand awareness, reach new markets, and jump-start your holiday marketing.

Did I say holiday marketing? In October? Yep. According to Experian, 49% of marketers planned to launch their Christmas campaigns before Halloween. Stores are stocking holiday decorations right next to bite-sized chocolate bars and candy treats. There are heaps of social media posts from consumers who claim to be outraged that Santa is sitting on the shelf right next to Jack O’Lantern.

There may not be much you can do about the stocking and promotion habits of department and convenience stores, but there is something you can do about your own marketing. If you haven’t started drafting your marketing plan for the holiday season yet, you’d better buckle down. There are only a few weeks left before the major year-end holidays are upon us.

In the meantime, don’t forget to maximize the potential of Spooky Season. There are a dozen ways you can use Halloween themes to reach and engage more prospects, fans and followers – gaining additional visibility, engagement and potential business opportunities in the process. Halloween marketing can be very rewarding.

The following infographic from Antavo shows you how to tap into the excitement and buzz of Halloween to grow your fan base or newsletter list. Using your corporate Facebook page, consider hosting a contest – such as a pet photo, pumpkin carving or costume contest – or a sweepstakes prize for newsletter sign-ups during a specific time frame. Contest ideas are included in the infographic below (click the image to enlarge it).

Not sure how any of these contests relate to your professional services firm?

Put on your creativity cap and put your own spin on them…

  • For the pumpkin-carving challenge, ask fans to carve their company’s logo into a pumpkin
  • For the pet costume challenge, ask fans to create a mock mascot for their company (or for yours!) using a pet
  • For the costume challenge, ask fans to dress like an “unusual” accountant, attorney, etc. (whatever your industry is) and submit their photos

If you’re giving away a great prize, you might be surprised at how many submissions you get. And if you get a lot of great submissions, you might be surprised at how many new fans (ahem, prospects) you might reach and engage.

If video marketing is more up your alley than social media contests, consider creating a short video of your pet “speaking” – similar to what Target has done with this video featuring two dogs and a goldfish discussing Halloween – but have your pet share whatever message makes sense for your brand.

If you aren’t leveraging this fun holiday in your marketing efforts, you are missing out on a freaky good opportunity to introduce your brand to new prospects and enhance your brand through the “human touch” with existing prospects and clients.

Scary Good Halloween Facebook Contest Ideas

 

Which Halloween-themed marketing strategies have helped you enhance your brand? Share your stories in the comments below.

 
Marketing doesn’t have to be scary. Get lead Nurture-Prospects-With-Email-Whitepaper-300nurturing tips for your prospecting email campaign in this insightful, free whitepaper.
  • Learn which questions to ask when you connect with a new prospect via email to make the best first impression
  • See how to you break the ice with virtual strangers, keep them engaged and pave the way to a sale using an email campaign
  • Review six tips to develop trust, credibility and rapport with your email marketing prospects to generate more leads

Get the whitepaper >>

 
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Posted in: Branding, Content Marketing, CPA Firm Marketing, Imagery in Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Prospecting, Social Media Marketing

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Widen Your Income Stream By Narrowing Your Focus on Niches

Widen Your Income Stream By Narrowing Your Focus on Niches

Your firm may be looking for new streams of revenue. You might be considering pursuing a new niche such as alternative energy, business valuation, or estate planning. Or, you might even be looking into a more highly-targeted audience for an existing niche such as “financial planning for professional women in the Pacific northwest.” The better B2B firms define the audience for their target market, the more likely it is that they will attract new clients.

Most prospects find particular appeal in getting necessary services from an advisor who is focused on the needs and desires of their narrow group. But how can you position yourself and your firm as the go-to experts for your new niche or narrow audience? You might already have an email newsletter that is distributed en masse to all of your clients, but have you considered using your email newsletter resources to reach out to your niche clients and prospects? Professionally written, timely articles, packed with news and tips that your niche taxpayers can really make use of are highly effective tools that you can employ to nurture your target market.

Depending on which professional email newsletter provider you choose, you may have certain attractive options, such as:

  • The ability to supplement professionally-written articles with material you write yourself
  • Online survey software tools that allow you to poll your readers
  • Technology that reveals in detail which articles are being opened and by whom

These opinions can help you dig deep and hone in on the needs of your niche prospects. A niche online marketing campaign will enable you to see where the true interest lies and what information and services your clients and prospects are really looking for. Having these insights in-hand could lead to generating a robust niche practice area at your firm. Focus on niches to build your business.

Niche email marketing and content strategy is all about narrowing your focus and meeting the needs of a specific group with your communications. There are plenty of firms offering accounting tips, but if you are one of the only voices in your marketplace offering accounting solutions to the south eastern U.S. manufacturing and distribution industry, then you have effectively tapped into an opportunity to be the go-to accounting resource for that community. Consider how you can tap into your marketing resources and target your niche audience in 2013.

 
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Posted in: Business Growth, CPA Firm Marketing, Email Newsletters, Lead Generation, Marketing, Niche Marketing

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Weighing the Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for Small Business

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for Small Business

In my last post I touched on reviving abandoned B2B social media strategies. In the early stages of evaluating neglected networks, another question often arises: “Is social media even worth our effort?”

If you are going to have a meaningful conversation about social media marketing, you should indeed address its strengths and weaknesses and reach a consensus on the value of social marketing for your firm. Let’s face it: there are a number of great and not-so-great aspects to social media marketing.

There are pros:

  • “More than 80% of consumers look at online reviews weekly before buying;” and
  • “90% of the world’s data was created within the past two years thanks to social media.”

There are cons:

  • “Email still outperforms social media in terms of conversions 40 to 1;” and
  • “50% of brands’ C-suite aren’t convinced of social’s value.”

This infographic from OutMarket takes a look at look at why social media is a powerful tool, where it fails to perform and what you can do to generate more ROI from your networks.

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Good and Bad of
Social Media Marketing

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Good and Bad of Social Media Marketing via  OutMarket

Certain platforms may function better for B2B entities than others, but in general, the point of participating in social media marketing is to generate new business and increase awareness of your brand. If you have taken a hard look at the pros and cons of investing your time and your marketing budget into social media, and found that you have not gotten any return on your investment, OutMarket recommends a few ways you can get more out of social:

  1. Integrate: Get your CRM working to track and record your social engagement
  2. Repurpose: Push content from your email, website, press releases and content from your other marketing platforms to present a unified (and far more efficient) presence
  3. Hook & Respond: Whitepaper downloads, report downloads, email sign-ups, and event registrations can all be promoted through your social channels as a means of generating leads

These three tips hold the key to unlocking the potential of your social platforms. If your team decides that social media is worth it for your firm, be sure you integrate, repurpose, hook and respond in order to maximize the value of your social media marketing efforts.

 
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Posted in: Marketing, Marketing Technology, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing

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Content Marketing is Part Art and Part Science – And It Needs Both To Thrive [INFOGRAPHIC]

Content Marketing is Part Art and Part Science – And It Needs Both To Thrive [INFOGRAPHIC]

Great content marketing is part art and part science – and it can fail epically without both. There is a reason that art and science are frequently showcased together. They complement one another, strengthen one another and balance one another.

Art:

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty and emotional power.

Art is fun. Art is dynamic. Art is engaging.

Art is emotional.

We use emotion to stir a response from our target markets by sharing imaginative stories, compelling imagery and innovative ideas. We think about how our messages will make our audiences feel. We select stunning visuals that evoke whatever sentiment we hope to elicit. We carefully craft campaigns that tell a story from beginning to end. It is undeniable that content marketing not only involves art, but is itself an art. If done properly, content marketing is appreciated by our recipients, whether or not they recognize its beauty and emotional power.

Science:

The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of things through observation, experimentation and analysis.

Science reveals facts. Facts are indisputable. Facts are useful.

Facts are persuasive.

Science is analytical, process-driven and methodical. We use science to identify patterns, compare data sets and understand performance. We experiment with channels, messages, timing and techniques. We analyze historical data and calculate metrics to influence changes to our campaigns. We determine the return on investment, revenue and benefits through careful analysis. Without science, we would be hard-pressed to identify trends and be able to meet the evolving needs of our markets. Strategic content marketing requires science to ensure success.

So how do you strike that perfect balance between art and science in your content marketing campaigns and strategies? The infographic below, courtesy of salesforce.com and Kapost, gives you some great tips. Remember, great content marketing is part art and part science – you need both to succeed!

Content marketing is both art and science

Infographic on Kapost

 
Get lead Nurture-Prospects-With-Email-Whitepaper-300nurturing tips for your prospecting email campaign in this insightful, free whitepaper.
  • Learn which questions to ask when you connect with a new prospect via email to make the best first impression
  • See how to you break the ice with virtual strangers, keep them engaged and pave the way to a sale using an email campaign
  • Review six tips to develop trust, credibility and rapport with your email marketing prospects to generate more leads

Get the whitepaper >>

 
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New Free Whitepaper: Cultivate Better Relationships With Prospects via Email

New Free Whitepaper: Cultivate Better Relationships With Prospects via Email

NURTURE LEADS FOR MORE BUSINESS

It is absolutely vital to instantly establish and maintain rapport with your prospects. You have to get them to know, like and trust you. Quickly.

You have to make an emotional connection. Bond with them. It is critical that rapport-building begin from your very first contact.

This can be a challenge when your method of communication is limited to email. But it can be done!

Download the "Cultivate Better Relationships With Prospects via Email" whitepaperWe’ll show you how in this insightful whitepaper.

  •  Learn which questions to ask when you connect with a new prospect via email to make the best first impression
  •  See how to break the ice with virtual strangers, keep them engaged and pave the way to a sale using an email campaign
  •  Review six tips to develop trust, credibility and rapport with your email marketing prospects to generate more leads

Discover how to cultivate better relationships with prospects via email.

DOWNLOAD THE FREE WHITEPAPER NOW >>>

See the other valuable marketing resources and whitepapers we offer, including:

  • Give Your Email Marketing a Workout
  • Beyond Social - Get Personal
  • Play Doctor With Reporting & Metrics
  • Read Me: Eliciting Responsive Readership
  • Cruising Through Email Marketing
  • And many more!

Visit our Free Whitepapers page to learn more and give your marketing a boost.

 
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Posted in: Business Development, CPA Firm Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletters, Lead Generation, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Prospecting

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Free Webinar: Creating Killer Marketing Images

Free Webinar: Creating Killer Marketing Images

Afraid of creating your own custom graphics for your marketing? Fear not! We’ll show you how easy it can be to create killer marketing images at our next best practices free webinar.

Attempting to tackle traditional graphic design programs can be a frightening and expensive undertaking. Another horrifying experience: hunting through thousands of stock images only to find you have purchased the same, tired business image everyone else is using in their marketing. We’ll show you how one free, user-friendly web-based design tool can scare away the competition and take your marketing to the next level.

Creating Killer Images
For Your Content Marketing

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
2:00 – 3:00 PM U.S. Eastern
Presented by: Charissa Hurd
FREE CPE: 1 Hour of Computer Science Credit

REGISTER TODAY >>>

Wake up from the nightmare of costly, boring graphic design options and learn how to create your own shockingly simple and stunning graphics.

  • Get a how-to overview of one free web-based graphic design tool
  • Learn how to use this tool to make unique images that enhance your content marketing
    • Newsletter banners
    • Email headers
    • Social media images
    • Graphics for holiday e-cards
  • Find out how to incorporate consistent branding into your image design
  • Watch a live demonstration showing how to incorporate these images into BizActions emails
  • Review best practice tips and examples of great visual content

Register to Attend Our Webinar

 

If you’d like to learn more about us before or after the webinar, be sure to visit our website, give us a call at 866.240.8477 or – better yetschedule a discovery meeting to have an open and candid discussion about your marketing and growth goals.

 
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Blog Roundup: 6 Posts on the Power of Visual Marketing

Blog Roundup: 6 Posts on the Power of Visual Marketing

Visual impact is the leading ambassador of your marketing. Photos, graphics, charts, changing typography and white-space all work together to establish an impression and begin a subliminal conversation with onlookers. In a culture where we increasingly demand more information from our digital resources, visuals help us cull through the stream to determine importance, hierarchy and worth.

Apu Gupta, Co-Founder and CEO of Curalate, states that, “We are witnessing a mass migration from written communication to visual communication…” and others agree. Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman remarked that, “There’s no shortage of mobile platforms available for brands to reach consumers with gripping visuals.” It seems that visuals have emerged as the reigning force of online marketing, and B2B marketers should not ignore the weight and importance of visual appeal in their marketing and communications. Here are six blog posts to help you make a more powerful statement through your visual marketing and communications:

 

Create Visual Impact With Your Online Marketing

Infographic: Create Visual Impact With Your Online MarketingWhether you are creating an email newsletter, writing a blog post, posting to your social platforms or designing a website, your content marketing efforts rely heavily upon on visual impact to make a lasting impression with your prospects. This infographic offers some good reasons why you should include stunning images and appealing visual content in your online marketing… READ ON.

 

Finding the Right Images for Your Website

Finding the Right Images for Your WebsiteWhen it comes to differentiating your firm, the old saying is true: a picture is worth a thousand words. But only works with the right picture. Using the wrong photos can make you look just like all the other firms out there and reflect poorly on your claims to stand apart. Graphics are such an important part of marketing because images can communicate messages and feelings in a way that words can’t. No matter how eloquently I describe a sunset to you, a well-shot photo will show more… READ ON.

 

Lead With a Bang: Create a Better Email Header

Lead With a Bang: Create a Better Email HeaderYour email newsletter‘s header image, or masthead, gives your subscribers a powerful first impression. In mere seconds, your heading can communicate what your your newsletter is about and why your subscribers should read its content. If your newsletter’s header is a bit tired or lackluster, you may want to take some time to spiff up your email’s leading ambassador… READ ON.

 

Crafting Your Image: Engaging Graphics & CTAs

Crafting Your Image: Engaging Graphics & CTAsCalls to Action are the tools that propel your lead generation efforts, and visual appeal is the silent, yet powerful, device that points visitors toward your CTAs. Your messages should always contain substantive, meaningful content, but graphic elements get readers interested in what you have to say. Good design is one of the most important aspects your message. Visuals can instantly give your prospects a compelling reason to read your email, fill out your web form, read your blog post, or… READ ON.

 

Give Your Newsletter a Quick Year-End Facelift

Give Your Email Newsletter a Quick Year-End FaceliftTake a moment to think about how you could give your professional email newsletter a quick design face-lift. Something as simple as a fresh look can go a long way in terms of how your contacts perceive your firm’s marketing efforts. Your email newsletter design says a lot about who you are as a firm or company. You will be able to better brand your business, showcase specific service areas and present yourself as a trusted resource by incorporating fresh graphic elements into your email newsletter… READ ON.

 

Make a Powerful Statement on Pinterest

Make a Powerful Marketing Statement on PinterestThe social media wheel of popularity is constantly spinning, but lately Pinterest has been taking a ride on the top. Considering the platform’s surging popularity, it makes sense to explore the factors that control which images get the most repins. Conveniently, a startup called Curalate has examined the issue and claims to have found the answer to that question… READ ON.

 
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Posted in: Content Marketing, Imagery in Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Online Marketing

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Think B2B Social Media Isn’t Worth The Effort? Think Again.

Think B2B Social Media Isn’t Worth The Effort? Think Again.

Many professional service providers look at the B2C set and attribute their social media success to the fact that they can focus their campaigns around consumables. The argument against getting the B2B crowd involved in social media seems to be focused on the fact that professionals do not serve up cupcakes, shoes, cars or soft drinks. You may think that B2B social media isn’t worth the effort.

The line of thought bends toward the idea that since professionals have nothing concrete to offer, then a social media presence is not worthwhile. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

B2B entities can absolutely benefit from a social presence.

According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report released by Social Media Examiner last year, “Those investing a minimum of six hours per week in social media marketing saw improvements in search engine rankings. Marketers selling to other businesses were more likely to achieve this benefit (59%) than those selling to consumers (50%).” With the increasing weight and importance of the social factor in the SEO equation, social media has become an important tool for helping B2B providers get found, establish credibility and generate new business.

Why?

Because your clients and prospects trust you. Trust is the driving force behind successful social media campaigns in the B2B set. B2B clients trust their providers more deeply than they trust their favorite soft beverage company or their favorite auto manufacturer. Additionally, the gap between your clients and the head of your business is vastly smaller than the chasm between the average consumer and the CEO of Coca-Cola®. Because your clients can see you face-to-face, and then see an update about you on your company Facebook page, B2B social marketing can actually be perceived as more accessible than the B2C social approach.

  • The B2C Social Approach
    The social approach of the B2C set is, of course, focused on the products they provide. However, they are also looking to reach a much larger market than B2B providers. Because of this, their social campaigns tend to center on being lighthearted and entertaining. B2B social campaigns also promote special offers – sometimes exclusively to their social following. The B2C approach is casual, friendly and seeks to build brand engagement with followers.The B2C approach differs from B2B tactics because consumables need to elicit an immediate or timely response from consumers. They are seeking mass exposure, urging follow-through from consumers and expecting a quick return on marketing investment. Deadlines, expiring deals, and sun-setting offers urge consumers to act before offers are no longer available. Consumers can conceivably make rapid buying decisions based on social promotions, access a discount code or coupon, visit an online store and then purchase a product in a matter of minutes. This type of instant access helps to shorten the B2C sales cycle.
  • The B2B Social Approach
    The social approach of the B2B set tends to be focused on building relationships with followers through providing reliable, credible resources and updates. They share information and talk about the people and events that make their businesses great. They feature their services as a backdrop to their educational resources with the goal of educating and nurturing clients and prospects.B2B campaigns often have the added benefit of being able to focus their social presence on a niche market, specific subset or geographically centered clientele. B2B campaigns can also incorporate event-related campaigns and utilize social resources as a way to draw new prospects into seminars, webinars and other events.The B2B sales cycle is longer than B2C due to the fact that multiple factors are usually at work when closing a deal: there may be a review process, buy-in from other partners may be sought out, approval might be required from other parties, etc.Ultimately, the B2B approach seeks to strengthen brand awareness in their community, engage clients and prospects, build credibility and generate new business.

What works for B2B?

The cornerstone of any worthwhile B2B social media campaign is great content. Followers of your B2B social campaigns come seeking the specific information and resources that they expect your social pages will provide. When a business has a content strategy in place and is already utilizing communication resources like a newsletter or blog, then social media content strategy is an obvious next step toward strengthening the brand and building new business. Decide what kind of a presence you would like to establish and align your social strategy in tandem with your marketing and communications strategies.

Keep the great content coming

It is important to frequently update your content and keep your social efforts going strong. It is no longer worthwhile to create a social media presence and then walk away – believing that it will exist as an ancillary website. Once you stop regularly posting updates to your social platforms, social media will essentially “forget” about your page and do far less to get your business in front of other fans and followers. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm factors in the age of your posts when determining post relevance for your followers. The older a post is, the less likely it is to get seen in anyone’s stream of updates. Twitter has a similar focus on providing up-to-the-minute information to its followers and will not display more than about two weeks of data in any Twitter search. LinkedIn engagement is also vastly improved when information is being regularly shared. If you decide to establish a social presence (or if you have a presence that is waning) don’t allow your efforts to drop off. Keep current information and valuable content streaming through your pages in order to reap the full benefit of your social platforms.

Focus on engagement

You will also want to make sure that you are able to interact with your followers. Do you know how quickly your followers expect you to respond to their comments and inquiries? Some subsets will expect to hear back within minutes, and others may be fine with same-day responses. In any case, it is important to know what kind of a response time your audience expects, and deliver.

Featuring your philanthropic involvement, office events, or even tid-bits of information about your team help to bring warmth to otherwise drab professional service profiles. You want to educate and inform your followers, but you should also consider how the human side of your business can sometimes bring a smile to the their faces.

Shorter messages are usually more effective when communicating with a B2B audience through a social platform. Your fans are likely to be other professionals with busy lives. They’ll appreciate it when you get to the heart of the matter.

If you would like the nitty-gritty details, Compendium shared an infographic a while ago outlining What Works for Social Sharing: B2B vs. B2C.

Keep the social machine running

As with any vehicle, you will want to track and measure your progress in order to get a full return on your social investment. Stay aware of social media trends and keep on top of changing preferences related to your subset. You will also want your social machine to perform for you and deliver what you ultimately want – new clients. Establish a process for following up on leads generated through your social when your social followers download a whitepaper, register for an event, sign up to receive your email newsletter, reply to an offer for a free consultation or respond to any of your social media calls to action. Your social engine can generate hot warm leads for you, and having a lead tracking process in place will ensure that those opportunities are not lost.

It is also important to change things up periodically so that you keep audience engaged. A content formula that works for you this quarter might not be hitting the same mark several months from now. Keep an eye on your metrics, watch out for declining engagement, and respond accordingly with a fresh approach.

Although the reasons and approach for B2B social media involvement may differ from the B2C set, you can rest assured that it is a worthwhile endeavor that can help you grow your business. Create a social content strategy and align social messaging with existing marketing and communications resources in order to minimize effort and maximize exposure. Keep your social media plans rolling through consistent, valuable messaging and responsiveness to followers. Track your progress, respond to warm leads, and you will soon learn that all this social stuff is really as good as it’s cracked up to be.

 
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Posted in: Content Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing

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