In a year in which employment is up, the lingering hardship of economic recession is lifting and gas prices are at a five year low, this should have been the shopping season retailers dream about. But it wasn’t. Black Friday sales were down by an alarming 11% this year. The reasons behind this sharp decline provide a dramatic and essential lesson for small businesses and the people who market for them.
With holiday retail spending predicted to hit the $617 billion mark, your small business can’t afford not to capitalize on this uptick in sales. The problem: every other retailer knows the same thing, that missing out on the holiday sales wagon could spell major danger for their company.
So at a time when everyone is bringing out the big guns with respect to marketing, how can you help your business stand out from the holiday crowd? Here are a few tips to ensure that your bottom line is merry and bright by heading into the new year.
At Turn the Page Online Marketing, we are an unlikely group of sports fans. We’re a frankly kind of nerdy band of web designers, account executives, writers and managers who you would probably never picture spending much time at Arrowhead, Kauffman or Sporting Park. But you’d be wrong, because we freaking love Kansas City sports.
What we’ve learned in the past few weeks from our Royals and Chiefs is that the teams we root for are kind of like us as a company. They don’t win games like most teams; we don’t succeed in online marketing like most companies.
As a blog writer for Turn the Page, let’s just say I’ve written a lot of posts this week finding some relevance to each unique TTP client‘s industry and the sweet holiday approaching us. So, I thought why not try and add one more to the list in the spirit of all things Halloween.
Here’s my attempt to tie Halloween and online marketing – and find nuggets of wisdom within this “spooktacular” holiday. After all, don’t we all want to “BOO”st Internet presence? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…
At Halloween: The house who gives full-size candy bars is popular.
SEO Lesson: Go the extra mile with something unexpected.
If you go the extra mile for your clients and exceed their expectations, you’ll not only win their favor, but their loyalty, too. (You go back to that full-size candy bar giving house year after year.) How can you give pleasant surprises to those who do business with you? Start with a free coupon for those who stumble upon your Google Places listing. Or a fun “check-in” deal for someone who says they were at your business on Facebook.
At Halloween: Avoid slutty costumes. Especially as an adult.
SEO Lesson: Post professionally.
Simply put – have class when it comes to your social media. We realize that it’s “social” – however, you still represent a business. Make sure your tweets on the business Twitter account have to do with your positioning. Double-check that you’re using Facebook as a “page” if you’re making business comments. And this should go without saying – but ensure that anything that is posted on your YouTube channel is clean and professionally appropriate.
At Halloween: Some people like to be scared. Others hate it.
SEO Lesson: One size doesn’t fit all in online media, either.
There’s not “one formula” that will work for everyone – when it comes to just about everything. People are different. Some are thrill-seekers, others like to play it safe. So when it comes to marketing, some people will be all about your YouTube videos and interacting with you on Twitter. Others will rather check out your website and give you a call. To make sure you have a broad reach, have an online strategy so that people can comfortably learn about who you are, what you do, and contact you in their own style.
At Halloween: Free candy is a great way to meet the neighbors.
SEO Lesson: Use linking as a way to meet your neighbors.
If you’ve spent any time with Rob, Placher or Elisa – you probably know the power of a link. If you don’t – set up a meeting with them now. Linking strategy is huge in social media. Links to and from your website are a great way to build your online presence. Just like free candy gets you to knock on a stranger’s door – use the opportunity of link exchanges to pick up the phone, or email, that guy or gal you’d like to know and associate with.
At Halloween: Plan to be eating candy until Christmas.
SEO Lesson: What you do now may not show up until Christmas.
If you do trick-or-treating right, you’ll have pillow cases of candy that can last you through Christmas. Social media can work in a very similar way (ahem, as Halloween candy weight gain.) What you do now may not show up until Christmas. Sure, you may get a surge of activity when you start (let’s call it an online ‘sugar high’), but a lot of online marketing is gradual and builds over time. Your presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube – your business listings, reviews, website optimization and blogs – all of this will eventually get you a solid online presence. The goal is consistency – if you keep it up, you’ll see results in a few months … and more.
To be truly successful in online marketing, you have to have a deep understanding of the things that motivate your customers. When you understand the psychological factors that make a client buy your product and return to your brand, you have a marked advantage over your competition.
Every second that your customers wait, you lose money. That’s why it is so important for small business owners to do everything in their power to prevent the looming changes proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Whether you love horror movies or hate them, you have to have respect for horror movie makers who are, like many of us online marketing professionals, working on a very tight budget with limited time in order to send their vision into the eyes and ears of audiences.
The modern consumer is barraged with advertising on a daily basis. Industry experts estimate that most people are exposed to between 3000 and 5000 advertisements per day.
How does the brain react to the constant flood of messages asking them to try, to buy, to discover, to switch, to indulge, today?
It shuts down.
Social media marketing is one of the strongest ways that a brand can interact with its clients, responding to their tweets and tailoring Facebook content to speak directly to key segments of their audience. And the best blogs are extremely self-aware. They don’t speak at their audience but rather with their audience, with prompt responses in the comment sections.
Innovative marketers are incorporating the findings of psychologists to create marketing campaigns that can reach consumers on a deeper and more effective level, a practice called neuromarketing. Sinister as it may seem, smart online marketers put aside any squeamishness about using subconscious messaging because they recognize its immense potential to steer customers toward a particular brand. When used judiciously, this type of online marketing can help increase the trust consumers have in your company.