8 P’s of Marketing for the 21st Century

It was at The University of Notre Dame that Professor of Marketing E. Jerome McCarthy laid out the principles of the original four P’s of marketing, also known as the Marketing Mix, in his 1960 book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. McCarthy and co-authors Joseph Cannon and William Perreault chose a hands-on, problem- solving approach to the challenges that marketing professionals face.

The boots-on- the-ground approach championed by the 4 P’s Marketing Mix was quickly recognized as foundational to the craft, the gold standard. The genius of the P’s is evidenced by their ability to address both the primary objectives of the marketing team and critical requirements of customers. The P’s relevance has continued into the 21st century and even inspired marketing researchers and thought leaders to expand the list.

As you build a marketing strategy for your products and services—-content and social media marketing, branding, advertising and PR, for starters—-you’ll find that the 4 P’s (+ more) Marketing Mix will guide you and your team to the most effective strategies and action plans every time. Here are the original four and four more that you may find useful.

Product: The solutions that a company sells—products or services, tangible or intangible, B2B or B2C.

Price: The value, in monetary terms, of what customers are willing to pay to obtain a company’s product or service. Company leaders are advised to fully account for the many factors involved in developing, manufacturing, or acquiring a product or service, in addition to the associated marketing, selling, distribution and overhead expenses when determining an appropriate Price. The prices of competitors will also influence your pricing.

Place: Where customers come into contact with and are able to buy the product or service—-in a bricks & mortar storefront, online, at a flea market, in a meeting after contract terms have been negotiated.

This component also refers to both which stores stock a product and the product’s location within a store. For example, certain breakfast cereals and other items targeted to children are found on shelves that are at a child’s eye level or in the children’s department.

Promotion: Strategies and tactics used by the company to persuade potential customers to buy its products or services.

Process: Where and how the customer receives the solution provided by the product or service and all that is entailed. Intangible services delivered by skilled practitioners are more obviously influenced by this component.

Will the solution be delivered in a classroom (education courses), a salon (hair styling or massage therapy), a health care facility (dentistry), or leak- proof cardboard containers (ice cream shop)? How the methods employed in the delivery or application of the solution significantly impacts both outcomes and the customer experience.

Position: The ranking or assessment that customers, prospects and sometimes even the public assigns to your product or service, as compared to similar offerings. To achieve the preferred Position for the product or service, a marketing team will through branding utilize distinctive messaging, packaging, advertising and product placement, sometimes through celebrity endorsement, to create and reinforce the desired image.

Packaging: Tangible products are more obviously influenced by this component. A product’s Price, Place, Promotion and Position are telegraphed in how a company “dresses” the product and presents it to target customers. Even the shopping bags and tissue wrapping paper (or their absence) support the story.

Intangibles are given a “verbal package” that will emphasize its most tangible advantages and benefits, which may include exclusivity (social media site Clubhouse) or rarity or other significant benefits.

People: One component of this factor refers to those who work in the business, in particular the customer-facing staff. Those who interact with customers usually have a profound impact on the all-important customer experience.

The second component in this category refers to the customers themselves, who have many opportunities to communicate to others both the perceived quality of the product or service that was purchased and the perceived quality of the customer experience. Online ranking and social media sites such as Trip Advisor, Yelp and Facebook empower people to either reward or punish a company.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image: © Harris Farm Markets Sydney, Australia

A Call to Action

Content creators—-producers of marketing, sales, or advertising content and sometimes speeches, too, must remember that at the conclusion of the artfully told story that’s been delivered in words and/or pictures, it is imperative that you tell the viewer what to do next. Content creators must remember to include an irresistible, inevitable, Call to Action. Fail to do so and the content creator hasn’t done the job.

A Call to Action beckons a potential prospect to do something—-learn more, get this, click here—-that will bring him/her into deeper engagement with the product, service, or idea that’s being promoted. Once the content has made the case, demonstrated the desirable characteristics and therefore the value of what is being promoted, the Call to Action functions to reel in the convinced and the curious.

Step this way, sir! Websites, content marketing posts, videos, television commercials, movie trailers and those postcards that fall out of magazines are but a few examples of where viewers and listeners will encounter a Call to Action designed to entice.

A political action group may write an article on the importance of voting in the next election. The article will likely close with an inspiring CTA message about the privilege of voting and include a link to a voter registration site. A company website may contain two or more CTAs, perhaps appeals to opt-in and receive a weekly blog, RSVP for a webinar, or request a free 30-minute consultation.

Getting started

Before writing your CTA, decide what action you’d like potential prospects to take and what they’ll gain by doing so. Once you know what you want them to do, you can think about how to say it. The best CTAs are short, encouraging and use active verbs that speak directly to the viewer. Remember that the CTA is your closer, the culmination, the purpose, of the pitch you’ve made.

Write your CTA in a font that’s somewhat larger than the other text and use a bold color to make it eye-catching. Lead in with a brief but tempting phrase that persuades viewers to click and subscribe, browse products, opt-in to receive information, attend an event, or take any number of actions.

The next step

CTA buttons are available on Google My Business and the Facebook business page. Most, if not all, email marketing, i. e. blog and newsletter hosting platforms, have always contained opt- in capability to follow or subscribe and an opt-out to unsubscribe. Content creators can easily embed CTA buttons or hyperlinks into a website, blog post, social media site, newsletter, or marketing email. Visibility will be key, so along with bigger and brighter text, place the CTA at eye-level and in most cases, on the landing page. Viewers should not need to scroll to find it.

The CTA should feel like a natural progression of what the prospect has just seen, heard, or read. Whether s/he will be able to obtain more information about using a product or service, listen to a webinar, or attend an event, ensure that your CTA is consistent with the message in your content. A benefit that conveys value, the appearance of low-risk and a sense of urgency are standard ingredients of the well-crafted CTA.

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Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image: Before he became the 43rd President of the United States (2001-2009), George W. Bush was head cheerleader at the exclusive prep school Phillips Academy in Andover, MA (senior year 1963-64).

Notes on Branding

Hello there. It’s been quite a while since we’ve explored the topic of branding. Establishing and maintaining a reputable brand for your company has the power to generate significant financial rewards even for single owner Freelance entities. Let’s dive in.

What it is

A brand is the characteristics and attributes associated with a company. The company brand consists of the qualities for which the company and its products and services are best known, by its customers and by the public. The company brand defines and communicates the experience it provides for its customers. Especially for larger companies, the company brand is powerfully and memorably communicated by its logo symbol. Brand = Reputation.

Branding

The process of creating and communicating the benefits, characteristics and trustworthy reputation that company owners and leaders envision for the products and services that the company sells. The objective of branding is to persuade customers and prospects to associate those benefits, characteristics and positive reputation with the company, as demonstrated by its products and services, because it will resonate with, inspire trust in and appeal to current and potential customers. Branding gives a business an identity and distinguishes the company from its competitors.

Create and discover your brand

Brand development is a two- way street. Company leaders must understand what the most likely (that is, target) customers for the products and services will be. The brand within is what company leaders determine the brand should be, as represented by the market position, pricing, sales distribution and product placement sections, advertising and social media strategies, packaging and so on. But customers also have a say in a company brand. The brand without consists of how current and prospective customers perceive and respond to the company brand.

Building a brand starts with knowing the customer and the customer’s expectations for your company’s products and services, which are shaped and influenced by what competitors, those who’ve come before you, have done.

Nourish and promote the brand identity and voice

Believe it or not, a brand has a life of its own and a personality to go with it. Company owners and leaders must build a brand whose voice and identity convey trust, reliability and good value for the money spent to acquire the company’s products or services.

The brand identity may be cutting edge, solidly dependable, luxurious, user-friendly, inexpensive and practical, or any number of other qualities. The brand voice will convey brand identity attributes through the style of the website, the company logo, colors used for the website, email marketing templates, company business cards, product packaging and other marketing materials, social media platforms used and marketing messages. Increasingly, company values and guiding principles, from environmentalism to current interpretations of social justice, influence the the brand voice.

What impression do you want customers and prospects to come away with when encountering and interacting with your company? Who are the primary customers? What do they aspire to communicate about themselves when they use your products or services? Those are the guide posts used to create and sustain the brand identity and voice.

Manage the brand

Company leaders must vigorously and continually monitor the tangible and intangible elements of the brand and ensure their relevance to customers and prospective customers.

Advertising and sponsorship choices, marketing and PR campaigns, content marketing topics, social media posts, the company website, product packaging, or the verbal “packaging” of a service, i.e., its defining message and, ultimately, the customer experience, from the Top of the Funnel buying cycle through to actual usage of the product or service, must communicate all that is valuable and memorable about the brand.

Getting started

As always, everything begins with knowing your customer. What motivates them to seek out products or services like yours? How do they use those products or services? Where do they expect to buy your products or services and how much do they expect to pay to for them?

Define the qualities and benefits that customers and prospects value your products and services for. To make the most of that information, the Marketing 4 P’s could be helpful—-Product, Price, Place and Promotion. I like to add four more P’s: Position (luxury or low-cost?), Process (the customer experience, from visiting the website to making the purchase to speaking with customer support); People (all interactions with customer-facing staff, including the company owner, manifests the brand); and Packaging (especially for a tangible product, the style and quality of its packaging, its customer eye-appeal, conveys the brand).

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image: Brand identity 1950s style as presented by still powerful Nestle. The character “Danny O’Day (L), ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson and the much loved Farfel

Strategy: Win a Business Award

One often-overlooked business strategy that brings many benefits to a company is competing for (and winning!) a business award. Competing for a business award and being named a finalist, that is, eligible to win first, second, or third prize, is a big vote of confidence for the chosen organizations. The recognition sets your business apart from competitors, implies credibility and expertise, enhances your company’s brand and stature and is almost certain to increase the number and quality of prospects, clients and referral sources your business receives.

There are more ways to win than you might think. Sponsoring organizations are typically generous with the number of awards and categories they choose to honor. More awards and more categories are an incentive for business owners and leaders to become contestants because there will be more opportunities to win. More contestants means more entry applications received by the sponsor and more tickets sold to the awards banquet (when those activities resume), since every finalist will buy at least one ticket and some will buy a table.

In addition to its role as a revenue enhancer, sponsoring awards is good PR for the organization, which could include the bank where you keep your business account. The awards not only distinguish the group as a prominent member of the business community, but also attract and help to retain members (or customers). In the best of American traditions, business awards are a way for many to make money. That could mean you, too.

Full disclosure—-as a result of the destabilizing impact of the coronavirus shutdown, I declined to accept an invitation to return as a preliminary round judge in The Stevie Awards/ Women in Business category (there are eight in all), an honor I’ve been happy to receive for six of the past eight years. Judges are neither paid, nor do we pay to participate. I do it because I enjoy experience and it looks good in my bio. https://stevieawards.com

Be advised that as with any marketing campaign, there are expenses involved. You’ll be required to join the sponsoring organization. You must pay the award entry fee for every award category that your company pursues—-best new product launch, business of the year, best workplace, social responsibility award and so on. You must buy one or more tickets to the ceremony (even when it’s virtual). The awards process could represent the entirety of your outfit’s annual marketing budget.

The time needed to prepare your award entry and determine which supporting documents will best communicate who you, your team (if applicable) and your company is another cost. Creating an impressive and persuasive entry application can be a laborious and time-consuming undertaking.

Furthermore, an assessment of your company’s readiness to pursue an award may reveal that it would be advantageous to build for 12-24 months before your organization is prepared to compete for an award. But that’s OK. Taking steps to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your organization (are not most of us facing the threat of the COVID economy?) will pay dividends in and of itself. Just be objective about your company’s chance of winning and understand the time and money likely to be involved.

Choose a target award

Potential contestants are advised to do some homework and discover awards that are sponsored by local, regional and national organizations, whether business networking organizations (chambers of commerce), industry-specific associations (such as the Bar Association for attorneys), or your business bank. I recommend that your initial forays into awards campaigns focus on local sponsors, particularly for those of you who are Freelance consultants and small business owners generating less than $500,000 in annual gross revenue.

After compiling a draft list of possibilities, check the award entry criteria. It’s likely that candidates must join the organization in order to compete for an award and that will be your first expense. Annual dues may run from a few hundred dollars to $1000 or more, depending on the sponsor. Confirm also when new members will be eligible to compete for an award. Next, investigate other entry facts—-the entry application deadline, the fees and whether candidates must be nominated to compete for the award.

Read the specs and select the categories in which you can expect to do well—-excellence in your field, customer service, new product or service launch, community outreach, environmentally-friendly, for example. Within the categories offered, where might your company step to the front of the pack?

Finalize your choices and prepare to compete, being sure to give yourself ample time to collect, evaluate, or create the supporting resources you’ll need to enter. The good news is that if you plan to enter more than one category, most of the content developed can be used in multiple entry forms.

Tell a compelling story

On nearly every award entry, there’s a section that asks for more details about your business, your team and you. Be sure to provide all of the information that is requested and as well, tell a story beyond the statistics. Let the judges feel your personality and understand what makes your business stand out. Here, you can share unique information that might not fit elsewhere in the entry application. Customize your message by sharing relevant success stories and achievements that address the award category you are entering.

Construct a strong beginning, middle and end for your story. Reveal how you overcame challenges to reach new heights and back up your claims with hard evidence. Feel welcome to include good visuals like charts and graphs, or the persuasive appeal of client testimonials. Keep your application punchy and concise, using short sentences and statistics to underline key points. Bullet points are an effective way to ensure that judges can absorb your performance metrics quickly.

Describe what motivated you to launch the company. Detail the company’s vision, mission, guiding principles and values and what you and your team are passionate about and which accomplishments make you most proud. Tell your story from your heart. Before hitting the send button, or sealing the envelope for a hard-copy mailing if required, add a personal note and thank the sponsoring organization and the judges for their consideration of your entry. Then conjure up some positive thoughts!

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image: The inimitable Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Grammy Award winning actress-singer-dancer Judy Garland in A Star is Born (1954), for which she won the 1955 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical

Build Your Email Contact List

Despite numerous predictions of its imminent demise that have splashed across the headlines of business publications for several years now email marketing, in various formats, continues to march forward in vigorous health because it works. If email marketing didn’t produce quantifiable ROI we would have abandoned it years ago. Nope. Email marketing remains an efficient communication pathway that allows companies to announce a product launch, register attendees for a podcast or webinar, deliver to subscribers this week’s installment of your blog, entice mailing list members with an invitation to your virtual book launch, or inspire potential students with news of the debut of your online course.

Despite the popularity of half a dozen social media platforms that are experiencing an upward trend that shows no sign of slowing down, email marketing continues to be accepted by those on the receiving end, so long as the number from any one source does not overwhelm. When email list members value the sender, they seem to like updates delivered to their inbox.

So building a quality email list that’s populated with prospects who are interested in you and your company is good business. Today, we can identify a few smart, simple tactics that are fast-acting, free and can potentially create for your organization a brand building, money making email list.

  1. Social media

An effective and obvious way to quickly and organically build a robust email contact list at no cost is to post content on social media platforms and the more platforms you post content to, the faster you’ll collect names and email addresses. How so, you ask? Because sooner or later, readers of your content will respond to what you’ve written and when they do, you’ll capture their name and email address. It’s likely that those willing to give a like to your posts or make a comment will also be willing to join your email contact list.

Another easy email capture tactic can be done on your Facebook page, by way of the Call to Action button. Hover your cursor on the CTA and select the “Edit Button” option, then change the text to read “sign up” or “join” so that you can invite Facebook Fans to your email contact list.

LinkedIn users are able to send emails to all of their primary connections but to quickly grow your email list, you’ll want to reach out to your second degree (the connections of primary connections) and third degree connections (secondary connections, once removed). There is a free service called Snovio that allows account holders to install an email finder extension which, by way of a gmail account, allows LinkedIn users to find the email addresses of those distant cousins. Click to learn more. https://app.snov.io/register?lang=en&signup_source=blog&signup_page=snov.io%2Fblog%2Fhow-to-get-the-contact-details-of-your-2nd-and-3rd-connections-on-linkedin-in-two-easy-steps&cta_type=link

2. Website sign-ups

Upload to your website reasons to collect names and email addresses. For some, that will be the “Contact us” form—website visitors who have questions or want more information about the company’s products or services are required to fill out a contact form and provide their name and email address. Other common website signup tactics are surveys, free telephone (video call) consultations, registrations for webinars and requests for free special publications—-your e-book, case studies, or white papers, for example. All are effective conduits for collecting names and email addresses that grow a viable email contact list.

3. Call to action

On your website landing page, on your white papers, blog, or newsletter, invite people to connect. You may be pleasantly surprised with the positive results of a straightforward appeal for email contact info. The share button and invitation to subscribe to or follow your blog and/ or newsletter will also bring in names and email addresses if your content is well- written and relevant.

Add a chat bot plug-in to your WordPress hosted website so that visitors can quickly obtain answers to basic questions about your products and services. Bot analytics will reveal the names and email addresses of your chat bot users, who are all set to join your growing email list.

Finally, get more mileage from your email signature block and invite recipients of your emails to opt-in and subscribe to your blog, newsletter and notices about other interesting things you’re doing.

4. YouTube videos

YouTube is the second- largest search engine in the world and about six billion videos are viewed on the site every day. People like visuals and videos are the favorite visual. Production value matters, so ask around to find out who you know with equipment that’s a level or two more advanced than your cell phone. Your public library may have equipment to use and a quiet room that will be all yours for an hour or two.

What story can you tell? You’ll have a few and you can make one or two of them sound appealing with a little thought and some rehearsal time. Providers of B2B services don’t have a product to show but we can do a convincing 5 minute promo on a course we’re set to teach, or a virtual talk we’ll give, or panel we’ll participate on.

If you’re rolling out a new service, pivoting your business, or embarking on a collaboration with colleagues that you and your partners can make sound exciting and useful to certain of your clients and prospects, include a video pitch in the launch campaign.

Remember to conclude your videos with both a verbal and text Call to Action. Ask for the business and direct viewers to click a button and be directed to your squeeze page, a landing page you can create that collects the names and email addresses of those who want to know more about your topic (i.e., what you’re selling). Learn to create a Wordstream squeeze page here. https://www.wordstream.com/features/cro-toolkithttps://www.wordstream.com/features/cro-toolkit

After posting your pithy little video promo to YouTube, also get it onto Instagram stories, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and your website. Write a short teaser sentence to accompany a link to your video and include them in your email signature block.

5. Join business groups

All meetings are virtual and will remain so for the time being, but by attending events hosted by the group you join—-the chamber of commerce, a neighborhood business group, the local alumni chapter of your school, or other professional development and networking associations—-the benefits of membership include access to the member directory.

I don’t recommend that you import the directory and spam fellow members by sending your content without permission, because that will do you no favors. But one easy way to obtain the names and email addresses of desirable contacts is to attend virtual programs and make a pitch through the chat function.

During the final 15 minutes or so of the program send an all-person chat message to briefly introduce yourself and offer to send your blog, newsletter, e-book, or other content to anyone who’ll (privately) provide their name and address.

Attend one or two virtual events each month and you’ll be almost guaranteed to add 4-5 worthwhile names each month from this one source. This type of ask was originally done during the face2face conversations that took place during pre- event meet & greets (remember those?), but they can migrate to a virtual format without feeling awkward.

Building a robust email marketing prospect list is one of the best growth strategies business owners and leaders can do. If you’re able to add 10-20 contacts each month, declare victory. List building is an ongoing process—- it never stops. I’ve personally witnessed Freelancers who have 5000+ names on their list politely, skillfully, relentlessly, invite every potentially good contact to join their email list.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image: Replica of a vintage mailbox

Quick Tips: Increase Traffic to Your Website in 30 Days

“I know I could bring in lots more business if only I could get people to my website!” Do you hear the sound of your own voice in this lament? There may be more than a grain of truth in that statement. I’ll wager that at least 20% of those who visit a B2B website are doing research in advance of making a buying decision (according to the 80/20 Rule, that says on average a bus gets 80% of its sales from 20% of its customers).

When you greet site visitors with compelling content that supports decision-making, along with a respectable number of site visitors, a typical B2B Freelance service provider should be able convert window shoppers into paying customers about once or twice a year. That would be a victory for many Freelancers and small business B2B entities. But first, you’ve got to persuade prospects to come and look at the display window that is your website.

The first quick and overall most effective website enhancement strategy to put in motion is to create a compelling landing page that attracts and holds the attention of, in particular, self-identified prospects who are looking to buy what your company sells. Links to content marketing posts, videos and relevant updates are how your intriguing and persuasive content is brought to site visitors’ attention.

When site visitors are greeted with content that entices them to read posts and page through the site, the behavior nurtures the buying process. On your landing page, provide links to your blog, newsletter, case studies and/ or white papers. If you have video testimonials from happy clients, include a landing page link. If you have speaking engagements, list those as well on the landing page.

Your next fast-acting and free site traffic enhancement strategy is to maximize the visibility of the content you’ve posted there. If you know that your target clients trust and visit certain social media platforms, then establish a presence on those platforms. From time to time, do join conversations on trending topics to which you can speak intelligently (say, the PPP loans) but primarily, you’ll cross-promote selected content marketing posts and videos from your website onto social media and extend your reach.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are the usual suspects but if some of your content seems appropriate for the ephemeral, one day only lifespan featured on SnapChat (and your target clients include Millennials/ Gen Z), then upload and monitor the results.

If readers and viewers appreciate your content, they’ll visit your website at some point. This is a great way to continually fill the top of your sales funnel (TOFU) and ease a few into the middle (MOFU) as well.

Serious shoppers do online searches from their keyboard and voice searches on mobile phones through Siri and Alexa. While single keywords get all the attention in SEO, descriptive phrases used by those looking for information about your business category, known as long- tail keywords, are far more effective in putting your company into search results than single keywords.

The goal is to get your company into the top 10 (page 1) of search results and increase the chance that a prospect will see your website and click. It’s worth a try, but be advised that smaller companies rarely get page 1 placement.

Start by brainstorming possible search phrases that a prospect might use when looking for your service and make a list. Next, go to Google and type those long- tail keywords into the search box and examine the search results. Which phrases are relevant for your business? Try also your long- tail keywords on http://Soovle.com and http://ubersuggest.org which open the door to search engine results other than Google.

When you discover which phrases bring up companies that match with yours, ease them into your content (three long- tail keywords in one 1000 word post max). Overuse of keyword phrases will help neither your content nor your credibility.

Finally, installing an AI-powered chat bot is another great website enhancement that you can use to increase website traffic, indirectly. Chat bots encourage and enable website visitors to ask questions and almost immediately receive answers through Natural Language Processing, that simulates a Live (but limited) conversation. Chat bots help visitors save time, so benefit derived is that bots combat website abandonment as they assist the decision-making process.

A web developer can install your chat bot but you can DIY if so inclined. Omnichat, The WordPress chat bot is a plug-in option available for owners of WordPress websites. Chat bot analytics will tell you who has used the bot and delivers a second ROI by allowing you to harvest emails to build your contact list. You’ll also learn the most frequently asked questions that will guide you to expand or refine the answers provided.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image:

Optimize Your Virtual Events

Videoconference technology has emerged as the savior of the pandemic era. In the midst of the disruption, if not near destruction, of numerous formerly multi-billion dollar industries, notably restaurant, hotel, wedding, airline and fitness, virtual communication has helped all of us to function and survive. I suspect we’ll all agree that face2face interaction is preferable, but videoconferencing has done an admirable job of helping us weather the storm.

Videoconferencing has greatly expanded online distance learning and allowed schools to continue educating students. Wedding planners are helping couples stage small ceremonies that allow potentially hundreds of guests to witness and virtually join the festivities. Fitness instructors and trainers are coaching their devotees via laptop webcams in living rooms and kitchens and ballet instructors are doing the same for their students.

Managers are holding video meetings for their teams. B2B sales professionals are introducing new products and services to prospects by way of video sales calls. Conference planners are scheduling and producing everything from panel discussions to district meetings. It’s all good, but it’s time to pay attention to videoconference production values and the viewer / participant experience. Things can go wrong and the program can go down in flames. As with face2face events, an action plan is needed to optimize your virtual event so that objectives will be realized.

Let’s start with the basic technical set-up. Virtual events are nearly always viewed on a small screen—tablet or laptop–and for that reason virtual event content planners, producers and speakers would be wise to think of television. Whatever the purpose of your program, be it a classroom lecture, B2B sales call, music lesson, or company meeting, content planners and producers should visualize a small screen perspective as their guide.

If the budget allows, hiring an event technology manager will be money well spent. Event tech managers will ensure that the sound, lights and background set are appropriate for the occasion. Placement of the laptop is integral to locating the most flattering camera angle for the speaker. Two or possibly three microphones may be used to adequately capture the speaker voices. Lighting is everything in show business and the event tech will position the lighting so that the set is neither too dim or too bright and speakers are not in shadows. The set background must also be considered. Having a bookcase in view is always a plus, as are a couple of healthy plants or modest floral arrangements. The company name and logo should also be visible, but its presence need not overwhelm.

Regarding the presenters, panel discussion participants are typically seated, whether all are in a room together and socially distanced or reporting in from remote locations. It is usually preferable for featured speakers to stand while delivering their presentation, since standing telegraphs energy and allows the speaker to use body language that is more communicative and engaging.

Next, think of shaping and delivering program content in a way that will connect with and hold the attention of its virtual audience. Psychologists have documented that virtual events tax our attention span because they’re literally difficult to watch for extended periods of time. Experienced producers of virtual events recommend building in some sort of a diversion about every 20 minutes, to keep everyone’s brain comfortable during the proceedings. Explore the options and learn to use the special features available on your videoconferencing platform. Polls, yes/no questions and small group chatrooms (breakouts) make the viewing experience more enjoyable for audience members. An event tech manager can be helpful with this process as well.

Pace the event content flow by breaking it down into 20 or so minute chunks and interspersing the text with interactive activities that draw in audience members and make them part of the show. Speakers and other performers have always used certain tactics to engage live audiences and now in the 21st century, speakers, event content planners and producers are discovering new, tech-based tactics to win over virtual audiences. It’s show business history in the making, folks.

Finally, there is the increasingly common hybrid classroom or special event to master, where part of the audience is live and the rest are viewing the proceedings virtually. Hybrid events pose a challenge, but they are not insurmountable. If it’s in the budget, renting or buying one or more big screens will create a more immersive and rewarding experience for both virtual viewers and the on-site audience. Interaction between face2face and virtual participants could create exciting possibilities. Q & A, simultaneous polls, contests and games can get them talking to each other as they watch the action happen live. Confer with your event tech manager and find out how to optimize the experience.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Photograph: Kim Clark

Optimize LeadGen and CRO

Digital marketing company HubSpot has recently released data that examined the importance of Lead Generation and Conversion Rate Optimization in the success of building and tracking marketing campaigns. Effective marketing brings in paying customers by way of increasing company name recognition and communicating the value of its products and services. Building loyalty, which encourages repeat business, and encouraging customer referrals are other important benefits derived from marketing activities.

If the desired objectives are not consistently being achieved then something needs to change, be it the basic approach (inbound or outbound), the type of outreach (blog, newsletter, social media posts, case studies, print ads), platforms used (LinkedIn, Facebook, SnapChat, etc.), or the messaging. The HubSpot survey found that just 22% of businesses are satisfied with the sales conversion rates of their marketing campaigns.

Calls to Action that address a solution that is meaningful to target audience readers will deliver the best quality leads and enhance the sales conversion rate produced by the sales funnel. The most effective calls to action incorporate popular search terms and increase sales funnel conversion rates by 87%. Anchor Text, i.e., highlighted and often paragraph heading text, that includes a search- friendly call to action can increase leadGen by 93%.

On the other hand, sounding too sales-y is a turn-off. Remember best practices as you create headlines and anchor text that deliver information and maybe a surprising statistic, too.

The Pareto Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 Rule that was introduced by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896, continues to hold up. First, when writing articles titles matter and the data revealed that 80% of online visitors get no farther than the article’s title and just 20% delve in to read.

Note to content marketers—-do key word searches and help yourself create clever article titles and anchor text to present calls to action that address problems your readers want to solve. BTW, 36% of readers are drawn to headlines and Anchor Text that includes a number.

Videos continue to be valuable marketing tools because they deliver results. Marketers reported that their companies received 66% more qualified leads when videos are used in marketing tactics. Most video platforms will allow a copy-paste-embed of your leadGen form into the video. Lead conversion rates derived from video content are about 40%. Furthermore, 54% of consumers of digital marketing content reported that they’d like to see more video content and 88% of marketers reported that they’re satisfied with the leadGen and sales conversion performance associated with video marketing tactics.

Oh, and you can ignore your English comp or journalism professor and communicate with your content readers in the second person—-you! Readers want to be spoken to, they respond to personal appeals.

Finally, HubSpot survey data officially verified that marketers want more followers and subscribers for online content, as a way to increase the number of leads (and conversion to sales). HubSpot recommends that you create a Feature Box to guide reader eyes to your company’s opt-in offer and when you do, that metric will increase by 51%.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Photograph: Kim Clark

Client Gifts: 10 Under $25.00

It’s that time of year again. The sales and marketing bonanza known as The Holidays are fast approaching. In this most unusual year, when many Freelancers and other business owners have had little to no contact with our clients since March, thanks to the shutdown, the December holidays represent a hugely important relationship maintenance opportunity. This is our big chance to reach out to clients without looking either pushy or desperate and reminding them that we’re still relevant.

Sending holiday gifts and/ or cards to clients with whom you’ve worked in the past 3 – 5 years is one of the smartest and most effective marketing campaigns that can be run. Holiday outreach positions you and your company as a class act. The company name, and by extension its products and services, lands directly in front of decision-makers in a most pleasing way. Your acknowledgement reminds clients of a great working experience as you create yet another great experience by showing that you’re thoughtful.

You can’t lose. Not only that, you might get some work again when business picks up. Holiday shopping must start early this year. Shipping, which has grown exponentially during the shutdown, will be much more busy during the gift giving time. More holiday gifts will be shipped this year than the industry has ever seen.

Please see the 10 gifts below. I recommend shopping no later than December 6 (for domestic shipping) and sending cards by December 10. Remember that mailing to a client who’s working from home will be complicated by the need to transport items from client’s office to client’s home and the mechanism to do that probably doesn’t exist at this time. Call office building concierges before Thanksgiving and ask about mail and package deliveries.

1. Make working from home a little cozy with a warm throw blanket $20.

https://www.wayfair.com/decor-pillows/pdp/gracie-oaks-aronson-patterned-reversible-sherpa-fleece-throw-w002716118.html

2. Find the AirPods in their case when they’re needed. $25.

https://riflepaperco.com/clear-wildflowers-airpods-pro-case

3. Luscious chocolates from Serenade Chocolatier, a favorite place $25.

Fall 16 Piece Selection

4. Pet lovers will adore the Tiny Tent, a clever item that gives cats and small dogs a place to play hide’n’seek or take a nap while Mom and Dad are working from home $20.

https://www.rei.com/product/162912/tiny-tents-tiny-tent?cm_mmc=aff_AL--192425--243833-_-NA&avad=243833_a1dd2bc41

5. A personalized post-it note cube brings style to a utilitarian desk item $17.49 (sale price, $24.99 regular).

https://www.personalizationmall.com/Personalized-Sticky-Note-Cubes-Personally-Yours-p11550.prod?sdest=dept&sdestid=1098&sdest=CheckOut&sdestid=9&storeid=9&categoryId=1098

6. Wild, wacky, luxurious soap and lotion gift sets from Lush $14.95 – $24.95.

https://www.lushusa.com/shop-by-price/gifts-under-25/

7. Plants bring beauty and healing energy to every space. The Hedgehog Aloe requires bright, indirect light, no drafts and water every 7 – 10 days $19.95.

Hedgehog Aloe Plant

8. Home cooking is more fun when the chef wears a 100% cotton apron by Ayesha Curry, cookbook author, Food Network chef and wife of basketball star Stephen Curry. In aquamarine or burgundy $19.95.

https://www.kafhome.com/licenses/ayesha-curry/aqua-crossback-canvas-apron-adult.html

9. A dollop of ripe fruit sparked with a cocktail spritz creates a yummy jam condiment your clients will love $24.

https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/cocktail-jam-sampler

10. COVID evenings at home become more satisfying with soft lighting provided by candles shaped like wine corks $20 (12 candles).

https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/wine-cork-candles-set-of-12

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Photograph: Kim Clark

SnapChat and the Power of Ephemeral Content

SnapChat, still a rising star among social media platforms, burst onto the scene in 2011 with an innovative feature that was catnip to the under 35 age cohort. Skillfully catering to the fickle attention span of its target audience, SnapChat allowed uploaded photos and videos just a 24 hour lifespan before disappearing them, bringing the Fear of Missing Out to a fever pitch.

Rumors of the platform’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The market research firm Statista predicted that in 2020, SnapChat will be used by 101.4 million visitors in the U.S. alone, a 20.5 % increase over 2019 (55 % of users live outside the U.S.).

The marketing analytics firm Hootsuite data revealed that the concept pioneered by SnapChat, allowing access to content for a limited time only and known as Ephemeral Content, continues to be a growing phenomenon among the target audience. 62 % of SnapChat Stories viewers reported that their interest in a product or service is intensified by the Ephemeral Content tactic.

The prevalence of mobile devices also plays a role in popularizing Ephemeral Content. First, mobile capability stokes the appetite for online everything, from ordering groceries to reading news articles to sending texts to keeping up with social media.

Second, FOMO mixed with mobile devices adds up to an audience that is often online and searching for something that will entertain or inform. Holders of mobile devices will anticipate Ephemeral Content if it’s known to be posted on a regular basis. When it comes to posting, people want predictability. When it comes to content, they want to be surprised.

So now you know what younger audiences (24% of SnapChat users are young adults) and mobile device owners respond to and your current and prospective clients are members of one or both of those cohorts, whoever they are. Now—-what 4 or 5 photo spread or 2-3 minute video can you and your team conjure up to tell a little story, or give a back stage look, into you company, its products, or services?

It will probably take a healthy dose of creativity to pull off in the B2B sector, but maybe you can put something interesting together once a quarter to include on your favorite social media platforms for a week—or SnapChat for just one day? When the second or third round of Ephemeral Content is posted and creates a little champagne fizz for your company, you’ll be on your way to cultivating followers who will be positioned to become paying customers. This is about LeadGen.

To get going on SnapChat, set up a business account. Encourage followers with your unique Add Me URL, that is accessed through the Settings icon, which brings users to the Username tab and then to the URL that’s already been created. Also at Settings and waiting for you to access will be your unique SnapCode badge that functions like a QR code to carry users directly to your content when the SnapCode is scanned with a mobile device. From Settings, click SnapCodes, then My SnapCodes. Finally, make use of SnapChat Insights, the free analytic tool that breaks down who your visitors are and the type of content that brings in good leads.

But—-but—-what if your clients and prospects are older than 40? What about maintaining content for a week? Then post your Ephemeral Content to Instagram, Twitter and/or your Facebook Fan (business) page. Just remember to delete your little teaser before a week goes by and keep your followers hungry for more.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Photograph: Kim Clark, February 2019. Your diarist gets ephemeral in Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art/ Boston by William Forsythe (choreographer who works with world-class ballet companies)