The Marketing Advantage

Connecting You with Your Customers

Leveraging Social Media – an AEC Professionals Circle Program

Posted by advantagemarketing on April 2, 2014

AEC New JerseyAEC Professionals Circle New Jersey is offering a program on social media and its potential to bring your company business. The event is called “Leveraging Social Media and Technology to Build Your Business,” and I’m so pleased that Advantage Marketing is teaming with AEC NJ as an event sponsor!

AEC Professionals Circle is a New Jersey-based organization that provides educational and networking opportunities to Architects, Engineers and Contractors.

The event will be held on Tuesday, April 8, and offers two 3-hour working sessions plus a lunch and evening networking. The folks at New Millennium Millwork are hosting the event at their Riverdale, New Jersey, facility. Frank Morales, Sandler Coach & Mentor, is the presenter and he’ll be doing a deep dive into LinkedIn and all the strategies and techniques that you can use to grow your personal network and prospect for business.

At Advantage Marketing, we’re known for helping our professional services clients craft content that positions them as the experts people want to hire, so I’m doubly excited to be premiering our Sticky Content Plan at this event. The Sticky Content Plan helps our clients build the information resources that bring customers to their doors. (You’ll be finding out more about the Sticky Content Plan in upcoming posts.)

We’ll also be running a fun social media quiz and offering prizes. We’ll be selling our guide, “Turn Your Practice into a Client Magnet” – which will soon be available online.

If you’re an architect, engineer, or contractor here in New Jersey, and you haven’t yet been to an AEC Professionals Circle event, this is the one to attend! AEC’s founder Shallon Gammon of Guiding Graphics, shared these top 10 reasons why this is a not-to-be-missed event:

10. Earn one CEU Credit while networking with decision-makers.

9. Learn HOW to build your network—online and in person.

8. Learn how to post your 30 second Elevator Pitch ONLINE.

7. Demystify Social Media channels and decide which one(s) will bring in new business.

6. Learn how you can have all of your documents, quotes, estimates, specifications, client information, and more for all of your projects with you, at all times.

5. Leverage your LinkedIn profile to promote your personal “brand” and proactively prospect.

4. Systematize attending networking events and consistently set and achieve realistic goals.

3. Find the right vendors to outsource services you’re not an expert on.

2. Acquire new customers through online recommendations, postings and word-of-mouth.

1. Learn how you can empower your friends, clients, prospects, and business associates to consistently give you referrals.

Here are the links to register:

RSVP for a Session: http://conta.cc/1fXBLLj

RSVP for the Social Event only: http://conta.cc/1cQF08r

Hope I see you there!

 

 

Posted in Business, content marketing, lead generation, LinkedIn, Marketing, Networking, personal branding, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Social media marketing, Thought leadership, Word of mouth marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Can Your Small Business Benefit From Pinterest?

Posted by advantagemarketing on March 18, 2014

PinterestBy guest blogger Laura Carter

So what exactly is Pinterest, how does it work, and why is it important to your small business? According to the insight firm Semiocast, Pinterest now has over 70 million registered users, 70% of which are active users in the U.S.  These numbers have helped Pinterest join the likes of Twitter, Google, and Facebook in becoming a major player in the social media market.

The content on Pinterest has grown tremendously over the past year and is no longer just recipes and do-it-yourself projects. Large and small businesses alike are realizing that it is a valuable tool for promoting business and driving sales.  In fact, studies have shown that Pinterest is responsible for over 41% of e-commerce traffic from social networking sites.

How does Pinterest work?

Pinterest differs from other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, in that it is primarily an image-based social media platform. It is a collection of your favorite images, quotes, products, recipes, and more that you “pin” to a virtual pin board and can reference at any time. When you use Pinterest for your small business,  you can pin your awards, project photos, books, sales notices,  or products for everyone to see.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Keep Boards Neat and Organized

It is crucial to pin dynamic, visually appealing photos that are high quality, colorful and relevant to your business. These images also need to be organized into specific boards. For example, if you are an architect,, you should have one board for homes you’ve designed, one for commercial buildings, and so on. Be sure to add links in the descriptions of pins and use hashtags to increase visibility. Choose eye-catching images for board covers that are representative of the pins on that particular board. Take the time to build up your page and choose pictures that inspire you and contribute to the overall authenticity of your page.

Make Your Website Pin Friendly

If your business already sees significant traffic, increase your Pinterest audience by making it pin friendly. Add “Pin It” buttons to all of your content. Doing this makes it easier for visitors to pin your pages and share them with their friends.

If you want to increase your website traffic, Pinterest can be a powerful way to direct new visitors to your site.  Have Pinterest-friendly, hyperlinked content on your boards to lead viewers from Pinterest back to your website.

Engagement Is Key  

As with all social media, engagement is important. Take the time to curate and pin images that are relevant. Follow “Pinterest etiquette” and don’t pin too much all at once since this will clog your followers’ feed and look insincere. Instead, try pinning images twice a day. Morning (10-11a.m.) and late evening (9p.m.-midnight) seem to be the best times for the majority of brands to pin.

Get active in the community and like, comment, and re-pin others’ content. Also answer questions and comments that others leave on your boards.  This will create a sense of genuine networking and will help build relationships with current and prospective customers.

With its own spin on social networking, and the advances and changes made to accommodate business accounts in 2013, Pinterest is proving successful for many small businesses.

Let us know how Pinterest is working for you by posting a comment in the Comments section.

Posted in Business, lead generation, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Pinterest, small business, Social media marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lead Generation and Trade Show Marketing for an IT Client

Posted by advantagemarketing on March 11, 2014

lead generation

Aujas, our California, New Jersey and India-based client, needed a lead generation and brand building strategy for the IBM Pulse conference and exhibit at the end of February. Teaming with their practice heads around the globe, Advantage Marketing brainstormed and developed their messaging, and then created display signage and service briefs to support their brand and promote their services.

We also ran Twitter and LinkedIn campaigns to promote their show presence. Aujas garnered well over 50 leads and lots of positive attention for their brand.

Thanks to Guiding Graphics for the design work and Graphic Marketing Group for printing – most of which was completed during one blizzard or another this February!

Need help with lead generation and brand strategies for trade shows or other marketing campaigns? Contact us for a complimentary initial consultation.

Posted in B2B marketing, brand building, Business, Consulting, lead generation, LinkedIn, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, trade shows, Traditional marketing, Twitter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Crush the Competition in 2014

Posted by advantagemarketing on February 6, 2014

Small Business Workshop

Join us in March for these workshops, which will help you get your business in order and crush the competition in 2014!

Join me for an expert panel discussion and workshop to learn what you can do to better position yourself for GROWTH!

Our panel of experts will share valuable tips and tactics to help you shape up and grow your business in 2014.

You will learn how to:

  • Use business planning and bank financing to take your company to the next level;
  • Put more clients in your sales pipeline with the latest proven marketing strategies and tactics;
  • Better predict and protect your business from legal risks;
  • Take practical steps to grow and protect your business and personal finances

You’ll come away with priorities and action steps so that you start growing right now!

 Best of all – the workshop is FREE!

You will also have the opportunity to network with our experts and other business owners over complimentary refreshments. Seating is limited, so register now.

Join Us at One of  Our Three No-Cost Workshops:

March 6, 2014
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Location: ConnectOne BankRegister now
142 John Street
Hackensack, New Jersey

March 7, 2014
8:30AM – 10:00AM
Location: The Grain House
Mt. Kemble Avenue/Rte 202
Basking Ridge,  New Jersey

March 10, 2014
8:30AM – 10:00AM
Location: Commerce & Industry Assoc of NJ
61 South Paramus Road
Paramus, New Jersey

Our Expert Panel

Felicia Garland, CFP®
Financial Planner
Greenberg & Rapp Financial Group, Inc.

Jason Meisner, Esq.
Partner
Coughlin Duffy, LLP

Loraine Kasprzak, MBA, CMC
Managing Director
Advantage Marketing Consulting Services, LLC

Lisa Wagner
Vice President, Business Development
ConnectOne Bank

We have limited space, so please register in advance of your chosen session.
Register Now!

Posted in Business, Entrepreneur, Management, Marketing, Networking, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Being Ethical Is Good Marketing – and More

Posted by advantagemarketing on January 28, 2014

ethics is good business

Companies who do business ethically experience a host of benefits, including greater profitability

Companies that live and breathe good business ethics experience several benefits, according to research reported in Consultants News (11/05/13). Such benefits include

  • Goodwill and a strong reputation among customers
  • Reduced risks and costs
  • Expanded access to capital
  • International respect
  • Improved recruitment leading to lower retention costs.

The most significant benefit might be better financial performance, especially over the longer term. The World’s Most Ethical Companies report reveals that the most responsible S&P 500 companies out-perform those regarded as less responsible.

The UK’s Institute of Business Ethics found that companies with a defined commitment to doing business ethically had profit/turnover ratios 18% higher than those without a similar commitment. The Institute also reported “a direct association” between companies that train their staff in business ethics and their financial performance, as compared to those that simply disclosed ethical values.

Investors also seek companies that are committed to acting ethically. So-called socially responsible investing in the United States has expanded by 486% since 1995, while the remainder of U.S. assets grew by only 376%. Companies that fail to incorporate ethics may face penalties and a damaged reputation, the impact of which can be severe and unexpected when unethical behavior occurs.

The bottom line? Ethics shouldn’t be something you last pondered in a college course. Your company should have an ethics strategy and offer training that guides behavior and actions. Committing to acting ethically is some of the best marketing your company can do.

Posted in Business, Ethics, Management, Marketing, small business, Thought leadership | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attract More Customers to Your Business

Posted by advantagemarketing on January 14, 2014

Magnetic Marketing Tips newsletter

Register for the free Magnetic Marketing Tips newsletter and you’ll be attracting more customers in no time!

Here’s another valuable and FREE resource I want to share with you that can help you attract and win more clients: Magnetic Marketing Tips.

When you register to receive Magnetic Marketing Tips, every two weeks you’ll receive one short (I promise!) and fun email with a practical tip or insight that you can put to work immediately to help you grow your business.

Magnetic Marketing Tips will show you how to:

  • Attract the right prospects, even in a tough economy
  • Accelerate your growth by using social media and other powerful marketing tactics effectively
  • Perfect your marketing execution so you consistently meet and exceed your goals
  • And much more!

You’ll also receive a bonus resource: my list of over 40 Free Marketing Resources that can help you make the most of your marketing budget.

To start getting these useful and fun marketing tips AND your bonus FREE Marketing Resources,
go here –> Get Magnetic Marketing Tips now!

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, marketing newsletter, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, small business | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Here’s How to Grow in 2014

Posted by advantagemarketing on January 6, 2014

Marketing in 2014

Here are some tips to help you stick to your marketing plan and grow your company in 2014.

Don’t ring in the New Year without a marketing plan in place that will help you grow your company. At Advantage Marketing, we’ve been working with clients who are deep into planning for 2014. Here’s some of the advice we’re sharing with them so that they stay on track:

Don’t look for quick fixes. First and foremost, recognize that growth doesn’t come from quick fixes. You’re better off relying on tested and effective marketing tactics to put prospects in your pipeline. For example, one of our clients is planning quarterly sales and marketing campaigns that include direct mail blasts plus email and phone follow-up with prospects. Such an organized, methodical approach is going to result in real business growth over the entire year.

Make a real commitment. The marketing and business development efforts you implement will take time and effort and therefore a long-term commitment. We advise our clients that if they are truly committed and stick to their plan, growth WILL happen!

Ask for client input. In the book The Pumpkin Plan, author Mike Michalowicz talks about the “Wish List”.  It’s not your wish list, but your clients’. Mike has a sneakily effective way to tease it out of them: ask your clients questions about the industry not about your company. Wish List questions you can ask include: What is most confusing about my industry? What frustrates you about vendors in my industry? What do you wish we would do differently? Listen closely to the answers and you will identify golden opportunities for your company.

Build on successes. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, say that when it comes to change, we’ll tend to ask, “What’s the problem and how do I fix it?” But often we can benefit more by asking a different question: “What’s working and how can I do more of it?” In other words, we can learn from our own “bright spots.” What bright spots did your marketing have in 2013? How can you build on them?

Focus, focus, focus. As business owners, we multitask way too often, to the point where we may think it’s a luxury to do just one thing at a time. But in reality, you’re not getting more done by trying to switch between tasks frequently. In fact, you’re probably making more mistakes. Studies have estimated that multitasking can cause your productivity to drop by 40%! Instead of driving yourself crazy, set up your day so that you are doing similar tasks at the same time. For instance, set aside time in the morning and afternoon to focus on email. Ignore it the rest of the time, and you will find your productivity increasing and your frustration decreasing.

Don’t spread your efforts too thin. If your company is just starting on social media and you’re updating your website and running email and direct mail campaigns, then adding more marketing tactics – having a booth at the industry’s big trade show, for instance – can actually derail your overall marketing efforts. Wait until you have the website finished and your campaigns are running smoothly before you add one more thing.

 Stay accountable. Track your hits and misses and share them with your team. Brainstorm about why a particular tactic didn’t work, so that you can improve. For instance, if your direct mail or email campaign is not getting a good response, have team members evaluate the campaign’s copy and call-to-action, as well as the mailing lists used. Each of these factors can influence your response rate and can be tweaked or overhauled as necessary for the next campaign.

Celebrate often. All work and no play can lead to a dispirited and unmotivated team. Make a habit of recognizing and celebrating successes both big and small. This goes a long way to keeping your marketing efforts on track and your team motivated to succeed. The rewards don’t have to be huge. One HVAC contractor we know tracks successes on a big blackboard in the break room. It has become a badge of honor among employees to have your name up on that board.

What are you doing to grow your company in 2014? Share it with us in the Comments section below.

Do you need help ramping up your firm’s marketing for growth? Let’s talk! Sign up for a complimentary marketing assessment to get started.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Consulting, Email marketing, Marketing, Marketing budget, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Don’t Miss Out: Read Our 7 Top Posts from 2013

Posted by advantagemarketing on December 15, 2013

most popular marketing posts

Did you miss these top posts for 2013? It’s not too late to check them out!

Did you miss any of our best posts during 2013?

You can catch up here – these seven posts were particularly popular with Marketing Advantage readers.

(And we’d love to know what your favorite Marketing Advantage post was in 2013. Just leave a quick comment below to tell us.)

7 Ideas for Attracting Customers

I gave a talk recently to the Just Think B.I.G., Bernardsville, NJ, group about marketing tactics that attract customers. Many of the women business owners present knew their product or service really well, but didn’t always know how to attract the attention of prospective customers.

Marketing is all about getting people to know, like and then trust you. There are many ways to do this; here are the seven ideas I spoke about… Read more

23 Sales and Marketing Ideas for 2013

At a recent Executive Exchange Inc. meeting, business owners talked about how they will boost their sales and marketing efforts in 2013. Here are some ideas that were discussed… Read more

How to Market Your Business with an eBook

Less expensive than producing a “traditional” book, electronic books (or “eBooks”) exist in various formats, including MS Word files, Adobe Acrobat pdf files (one of the most popular formats) and HTML files (which can be read using a web browser). You might even consider converting your book to the ePub format, which is becoming a standard for e-readers… Read more

Does Social Media Fit in Your Professional Services Marketing Plan?
“How can we use social media?”

That’s a question I often get from partners and owners of professional service firms. They think social media is something they should be paying attention to, yet they are unsure where to start, or even if they should start, using it.

For retailers and other businesses that market products entirely to consumers, social media marketing – through Facebook, Twitter or even YouTube – has become accepted practice. It lets them to get closer to their customers, provide better service and earn positive word of mouth.  But what about professional service firms? Is there value for you in social networking? If so, which of the many social media tools is relevant for you? Read more

How Professional Service Firms Can Get Started in Social Media

In my last post, I wrote about how social media can help professional service firms become thought leaders for their target clients. I also talked about how to choose the most relevant social media for your firm.

Here’s a simple framework for fitting social media into your firm’s marketing plan. Think of three interactive segments that build on each other to benefit your practice: tried and true tactics, conscious outreach, and cutting edge tactics. With this framework in mind, you can choose the tactics from each segment that fit your firm’s culture, level of marketing expertise, and target market… Read more

15 Tips for Creating Engaging Content

Content rules. Whether you’re tweeting, writing blog posts, or contributing to a LinkedIn group discussion, it is content that drives conversations and connects your professional services firm to its social network. But creating content that your audience will want to read can be challenging. à Read more

29 Marketing Tactics for Building Know, Like, Trust – and Try

Is summer a quiet time for your business? Then it’s time to rev up your lead generation machine! Put one or more of these proven marketing tactics to work now and start getting prospects to KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST your business and TRY your products or services.

Remember: marketing is all about making selling easier – if not almost unneeded. Effective marketing eliminates the need for that pushy selling that so many of us dislike. That’s what these tactics can do for you… Read more

Have we left one of your favorites off? Drop us a comment, below and let us know which one!

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, Professional service firm marketing, sales and marketing, small business, social media and phishing, Social media marketing, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WSJ Social Media Insights Apply to Consultants Too

Posted by advantagemarketing on December 2, 2013

social media for consultants

Consultants can benefit from these social media tips as reported in the WSJ’s Small Business Report

Today’s Wall Street Journal Small Business Report offered some excellent social media advice that consultants can apply to marketing their own practices:

  1. Be genuine. Don’t hire someone to speak for YOU. Although it’s fine to have someone post your updates, the posts should reflect your viewpoint and who you are. People respond to authenticity.
  2. Stop being a social media bore. Engage your audience by devising social media posts that are NOT all about you. Talk about a recent successful client engagement – without revealing sensitive client information, of course – or discuss timely news and events that are relevant to your consulting specialty.
  3. Have a few social media strategies. I advise my consulting clients on this all the time and WSJ experts agree: not every prospect or client is on the same social media channel. Your job is to find out which social media tool you can use to capture your target audience’s attention.
  4. Don’t let social media become your entire plan. Although everyone seems to be talking about using social media, it really is just one of the marketing and advertising tools you need to promote your consulting practice. Your marketing strategy should take into account the members of your target audience who use social media and may look for you there, as well as target audience members who may hear of you in other ways.
  5. Don’t let social media take over your business schedule. It’s easy to waste time on social media, especially if you’re new to it. Delegation is key! Find someone who can take on the day-to-day tasks, so that you can focus elsewhere. Set a fixed time each week to review your postings so you know what’s being done.
  6. Don’t try to do everything at once. Start with the social media channels you are most comfortable with, and where you will most likely find your best consulting clients. Once you have mastered that channel, start adding others.

Read more of the WSJ Experts’ advice.

Do you need help integrating social media into your firm’s marketing? Let’s talk! Sign up for a complimentary marketing assessment to get started.

Other posts you might be interested in:

Does Social Media Fit into Your Professional Service Firm’s Marketing Plan?

How Consulting Firms Are Tweeting, Using Social Media

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Consulting, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Social media marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Demystifying Hashtags

Posted by advantagemarketing on November 26, 2013

demystifying hashtags

What are hashtags and why should businesses use them in their social media? Find out in this post.

“What is a hashtag and how do I use it?”

This is a question I often get during my Getting Started in Social Media talk. Here’s what you need to know about hashtags and how to use them effectively.

All hashtags start with the familiar ‘#’ which, to those of us who remember touch tone phones, is also known as the pound sign. According to Uriel Alvarado on the Intelligent HQ blog, they were cooked up by Twitter user Chris Messina in 2007 and later embraced by Twitter. Hashtags allow users to engage in real-time conversations. With hashtags, you can create topics and group your own tweets with others on a similar theme. The tags can also be used as a symbol of belonging to a group with the same interest or opinion. A popular – or trending – hashtag can also indicate that something is trendy, cool, or topical.

Social Media Sites Supporting Hashtags

Today hashtags are used on many social media channels, not just Twitter. The graphic below shows some of the sites that now support hashtags.

social media sites supporting hashtags

Why use a hashtag?

Hashtags can be useful even to those who aren’t social media wonks or pop culture enthusiasts. They can be used to publicize news, especially fast-breaking or urgent stories (think #ArabSpring, which broke on Twitter before the national media picked it up).

Businesses can use hashtags to advertise, promote an event, or start a conversation with customers and followers. Consumers can share positive or negative experiences with a company or brand via hashtags. The #loveVerizon and #hateATT hashtags are two recent examples of consumer experience sharing.

Using a hashtag in a social media update gives context and content to your post. For example, if you were participating in my Getting Started in Social Media talk at the American Appraisers Association National Conference in New York City, you might have posted this update to Twitter:

Learning a lot about using #SocialMedia for #marketing my appraisal practice from @LMKasprzak at the #NatlConf2013

Someone reading the above post would know you were at the conference and, more importantly, that you were learning something to help you advance your appraisal practice. The reader could also click on the #NatlConf2013 hashtag and see other posts about national conference events.

If you create a hashtag, you can register it on Hashtags.org, which also provides tracking. Twubs.com is another service that allows you to register and follow hashtags.  Although you can’t prevent others from using your hashtag, it may be useful to claim a hashtag that could be integral to discussion around a trademark, promotional campaign, or event, says Rebecca Murtagh on the Search Engine Watch blog. When you optimize conversations, content, and updates with hashtags, they become more visible to others on social media platforms and search engines, points out Murtagh.

Hashtags are also a great – and free! – research tool. If you want to know what your customers are talking about, what your competitors are doing, or how the media is treating a specific topic related to your product or service, track hashtags, says Murtagh. They are extremely useful in identifying the frequency and reach of topics, discussions, and tapping into audience sentiment.

Other ways businesses can use hashtags include:

  • Tracking mentions on the social web
  • Finding influencers engaged in a topic.
  • Attending a conference virtually and expanding your network with people in your industry
  • Branding a presentation, webinar or keynote speech
  • Participating in Twitter Chats on topics of interest or in your industry
  • Dealing with a crisis
  • Building a community around a brand
  • Extracting customer insights

Using Hashtags Effectively

Now that you understand what hashtags are and how they can be used, let’s turn to social media expert John Cade for some pointers on how to create an effective hashtag:

  1. Skip punctuation, spaces and hyphens. Your hashtag should read #artappraisalservices not #art-appraisal-services. Anything following the first punctuation mark will show up as text that is not clickable, and therefore is not actually part of the hashtag.
  2. Keep hashtags short. Shorter hashtags are easier to remember and are easier to type, especially on a smart phone.
  3. Use no more than 3 hashtags per post. More than three hashtags is considered spammy and can annoy your followers.
  4. Go with upper and lower case. #NatlConf2013 is much easier to read than #natlconf2103.
  5. Avoid redundancy. Another common mistake, says Cade, is posting a tweet that includes a hashtag of a word mentioned earlier in the tweet. For example, the tweet, “I really like blogging about appraising art. #appraisingart” is more effective when it’s written “I really like blogging about #appraisingart.”

Do you have more questions about hashtags? Ask away in the Comments section below.

Do you need help integrating social media into your firm’s marketing? Let’s talk! Sign up for a complimentary marketing assessment to get started.

Other posts you might be interested in:

Does Social Media Fit into Your Professional Service Firm’s Marketing Plan?

How Consulting Firms Are Tweeting, Using Social Media

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Social media marketing, Traditional marketing, Twitter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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