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New RESULTS! Book Delivers Solutions to Drive Business Success

Posted by advantagemarketing on May 22, 2015

#RESULTS!

Check out my new book, which was written to help business owners achieve lasting, high impact RESULTS! in their businesses.

Are you ready to see RESULTS! in your business?

If you believe, as I do, that our thoughts create our reality, then you want to read my latest book. I’ve partnered with 16 other smart-cookie business professionals to participate in an anthology book project called RESULTS! Impactful Solutions to Drive Business.

The book is designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners gain the information they need to have a successful business and see RESULTS! All of the expert authors have been through the same struggles as you but have come out on top with thriving, successful businesses and now we want to share that information with you!

In my section, Build a Better Marketing Plan, I zero in on the five simple rules for building a marketing plan and the seven marketing plan must-haves.

As my friend and client Don McDermott told me, “If I have a marketing plan in place, I don’t have to think, I just have to DO.”

Other chapters in the book will help you focus on
• Seven steps to living as a confident entrepreneur
• How to transform your leadership to grow your business
• Power dressing techniques so that you can look as smart as you are
• How a virtual assistant can benefit your business
• And much more!

RESULTS! is available in both Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1512138010.

You can also follow my RESULTS! book journey on Facebook.

Follow the whole RESULTS! gang on Twitter – track us with the hashtag #RESULTS!

Leave a comment and let me know how you are getting RESULTS!

Posted in Book marketing, brand building, Business, content marketing, Email marketing, Entrepreneur, Facebook, lead generation, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, small business, Traditional marketing, Using books to market your firm, Word of mouth marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Busted! 7 Inbound Marketing Myths

Posted by advantagemarketing on May 1, 2015

inbound-marketingInbound marketing can be a powerful tactic for growing your business, so it’s surprising that more business owners don’t use it. But, according to HubSpot, there are some common misconceptions folks have about the how inbound works. Here are the top 7 of these myths – BUSTED!

Myth #1: Inbound marketing, content marketing, and SEO are competing ideologies

This one is the most common misconceptions. Content marketing is all about producing quality material for a specific target audience, which makes it a part of every stage of the inbound marketing strategy (attracting, converting, closing, and delighting), because you can use it to complete all of these actions. SEO is also a necessary component of inbound marketing, because making it easier for people to find your website will help with the “attract” phase. Content marketing and SEO are part of the broader idea of inbound marketing.

Myth #2: Inbound marketing and traditional marketing can’t play nice together

For years “experts” have been speaking about how outdated traditional marketing is, and that it’s not an effective long-term strategy. With inbound, you are gaining an organic audience that will keep feeding you with leads for years. With traditional, you are paying for a temporary audience. However, traditional marketing – such as advertising – can be helpful in the early stages of the inbound process, as a supplement to your inbound strategy, or to help meet monthly and quarterly goals.

Myth #3: No one is going to consume the content that I create

Creating and publishing content can seem intimidating and pointless in the long run, as most writers assume that no one will view their content. Not true! If you can create valuable content that is meant for a specific audience, you will gain readers, and create an active following. You don’t want just anybody viewing your content, you want the right people to view it, so that you can convert those leads into customers.

Myth #4: Creating unique landing pages is a waste of time

Producing unique landing pages is an essential part of the inbound marketing process, because without landing pages, it will be harder for you to convert visitors into leads. On average, companies with 30+ landing pages produced 7 times more leads than companies with 1 to 5 landing pages. The more landing pages you have showing up on search engines and on social media sites, the more opportunities you will have to convert leads.

Myth #5: Email is dead, or is dying

Headlines about common marketing strategies being “dead” usually come around every once in awhile, and they usually do not end up holding up, which is definitely the case with email. Email is still widely used by marketers, and most importantly, it is not obsolete, because it still brings in business.

Myth #6: It’s impossible to know when leads are ready to become customers

Knowing which leads are ready to buy and become customers can be difficult, but it can be done with precise attention to detail. If you can see a recognizable pattern of a customer checking through your emails and webpages, you can make an argument that a purchase could be in the near future. The point is, you have to be looking at your data consistently to see patterns.

Myth #7: Hosting events won’t help my business

Entertaining your customers is not about wasting money; it is about investing in the best promoters of your business. Hosting events will bring all of your customers together to discuss your product, service and expertise. Most people that attend these events are there to learn, so it’s a win-win situation for your company and for your customers.

What other inbound marketing myths have you heard? What makes them a myth, in your opinion? Tell us about them in the Comments section.

Posted in Business, content marketing, Email marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law May Impact Your Email Marketing

Posted by advantagemarketing on July 7, 2014

Guest post by Laura CarterCanadian Anti-Spam Law

Canada is now taking action to control email spam. Effective July 1st, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) requires businesses to obtain consent for sending “commercial electronic messages” to clients or prospective customers.

If you operate in Canada or are in contact with Canadian prospects or customers, you need to know the new rules.

Are you affected?

According to CASL, “if you are sending email, SMS, social media or instant messaging with commercial or promotional information about your business to existing customers or prospects you must comply with the new law.”

Review Your Email Lists

Take some time to go through your email lists and make sure the individuals you’re contacting are interested in what you have to offer. You must now have implied or expressed consent from anyone that you are contacting in Canada, and must offer a way for them to unsubscribe from your emails.

There is a 36-month transition period that allows for time to adjust and gain consent from those currently on your email marketing lists.

Provide Good Content

Think about who you are sending to, the messages you are sending and what you include in them. Provide recipients with quality content, and avoid being too “salesy.” Tell the recipient exactly why you are contacting them and why they should be interested in what you have to say. These are things you should be doing anyway, to comply with the CAN-SPAM laws here in the U.S.

Avoid Penalties

In Canada, spam can now be reported and legitimate concerns could be turned over to CASL. There aren’t any automatic penalties but there is a range of consequences varying from warnings to penalties (up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses).

Businesses that are already maintaining their email lists and providing quality information to customers and prospects, will require minimal effort to follow the new law. Embrace this as an opportunity to clean up your email lists and streamline your email marketing campaigns, one of your most valuable marketing resources.

This post was written using information from the Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation website.  For more information you can visit http://fightspam.gc.ca.

Posted in Business, content marketing, Email marketing, Internet business, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, 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 »

Are Your Email Messages Getting Opened?

Posted by advantagemarketing on May 28, 2013

Effective email marketing tactics to use now

email marketing tactics

These tips, based on MailerMailer’s email metrics report, will help you use this powerful marketing tactic more effectively.

Email marketing shows no signs of slowing down, according to an email marketing metrics report by MailerMailer, an email marketing software service. Email remains the top way individuals share information, and over 90% of Americans use it every day. One top email trend: mobile. ClickZ reports that four out of 10 individuals regularly check email with a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

With the growing number of emails sent and received each day on so many different devices, what do small to midsize business owners need to know now about email marketing? First, check out my posts on email marketing traps to avoid and how to build a subscriber list.

These tips, which are based on MailerMailer’s report, will also help you use email marketing effectively:

Understand your open rates. The percentage of delivered emails that are opened by recipients – a.k.a. your open rate – can be a useful gauge of email campaign performance. Open rates vary by industry. Banking (16.8% open rate, on average), non-profits (16.1%), consulting (15.9%), and small business (15.9%) scored the highest open rates. Medical (6.5%), media (7.5%) and education (8.2) typically had lower open rates.

Size your lists right. Smaller lists (25-499 members) perform better than larger lists (500-999 members), with average open rates of 28% versus 22.3%.  Smaller to medium lists tend to be more targeted with messages that are more relevant to recipients.

Schedule your email for maximum impact. Open rates gradually decrease throughout the week, which suggests that recipients are more active earlier in the week. Highest click rates – the number of unique clicks divided by the number of email recipients – occur on Sunday. Messages that are scheduled to be delivered between 4pm and 4am typically have higher open and click rates. Midday appeared to be the most sluggish time to schedule a message, with both reduced open and click rates. The bottom line: try scheduling your emails for 4am on Sunday and compare the open and click metrics to your current results.

Manage bounce rates. High email bounce rates – the percent of sent messages that cannot be delivered – can negatively impact your reputation as a sender. Effective opt-in and list update practices can help you reduce your bounce rates and stay in good standing with the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AOL, Cox, and Comcast, that deliver your emails to inboxes.

Use personalization sparingly. While most software solutions provide email personalization capabilities, you don’t need them to waste time setting them up. The MailerMailer study found it is better not to use a person’s first or last name in an email, than to use it in the wrong place. Personalizing the subject line, for instance, can depress open rates, because this is a technique typically associated with spammers. Personalizing only the message can have a slight positive influence on open rate as well as click rate.

Write effective subject lines. Your subject line can make or break your email campaign. Recipients glance at a subject line for no more than a few seconds before deciding whether to open or delete an email. You need a subject line that grabs their attention with relevant keywords and makes them want to open the email.  And keep it short – subject lines with 15 characters or fewer boasted the highest open rates (15.2%). The longest subject lines, with over 51 characters, had significantly lower open rates (10.4%).

Need help with email marketing? We can help you design and implement effective email marketing campaigns that can grow your customer base. Contact us to learn more.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Email marketing, Marketing, small business | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tips for Building Your Email Subscriber List

Posted by advantagemarketing on October 18, 2012

Grow an email marketing subscriber list responsibly

Follow these tips and grow your email marketing subscriber list responsibly.

In 5 Email Marketing Traps to Avoid, I talked about the five ways you can mess up your email marketing. But what are some of the steps you need to take to get it right?

The first thing you need to do is to grow your email subscriber list. There are many ways to collect subscribers, and you’ll want to be creative in building your list. But, as I pointed out in 5 Traps, not every email address that comes across your desk represents someone asking to be subscribed to your list.

The folks at AWeber.com offer these tips for growing your list:

Be sure you have specific permission. Make sure that whether you are adding subscribers or they are adding themselves, it is quite clear to them that they’re giving you permission for you to send them email marketing messages.

Set up a website form. This allows people who visit your website to enter their email addresses to get the specific information that you’re going to be sending.

Talk up your emails. If you’re at a networking meeting or giving a speech, mention your email campaign and why it’d be useful to the person or group you’re speaking to. You might say, for example, “A great way to learn more about this service is my email newsletter. I send my clients and associates monthly messages with expert advice and special prices. Would you also like to receive them?” If there are particular incentives for signing up (e.g., special prices for subscribers), mention them also.

Set up a fishbowl.  If you’re working a trade show or have a store front, set up a fishbowl to collect business cards for people to subscribe to your newsletter. You can sweeten the offer, for example, by stating that each month one new subscriber will win a free lunch or t-shirt. Act promptly with these addresses. The longer you wait to start delivering value to them through your messages, the less likely they are to remember who you are, and to stay on your list.

Ask your social media followers. Ask the people who follow your company on Facebook, for example, if they’d like to get your email newsletter, and direct them to a form on your website to sign up. You can also mention your newsletter on your blog.

Run ads in print publications. Choose a publication with readership that fits your business’ niche, rather than a general interest publication. Run an ad that uses a few enticing words to hook the reader so that they want to know more. Instruct the reader to sign up for your email campaign and direct them to the form on your website.

Use confirmed opt-in. This protects your sender reputation and ensures that only people who want to receive your information are subscribed to your list.

These are two practices that you’ll definitely want to avoid, says AWeber:

Buying a list. Emailing to a list of “business opportunity seekers,” “fresh opt-in leads,” or any other type of purchased list is out-and-out spamming. Trying to send messages to addresses you acquired this way will get your email marketing account closed faster than you can say “and we won’t give you a refund, either,” says AWeber. (Note: this is true for most other legitimate email service providers.)

Ripping off an attendance list. Whether it’s from a trade show, networking meeting or conference, this is another big NO-NO. If people haven’t requested information from you, don’t add them to your list, regardless of where you met them.

For more help with your email marketing, register for a complementary marketing assessment from the experts at Advantage Marketing Consulting Services.

Tell us! What are some tactics you’ve used to build an effective email subscriber list?

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Email marketing, Facebook, Marketing, Professional service firm marketing, small business | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

5 Email Marketing Traps You Must Avoid

Posted by advantagemarketing on October 2, 2012

Email Inbox

Your customers already get too many emails. Make sure they want to receive yours by avoiding these 5 email marketing traps.

My email was taking forever to download the other day, and then a newbie business owner’s 9MB email marketing newsletter – the equivalent of 215 typical email messages – slogged its way into my Inbox.

I hit the “delete” key on that email faster than you could say “SPAM.”

If you own a small business or run a professional service firm, and you’re using email as part of your marketing strategy – get it right. Or else you risk annoying prospective customers and having your email blacklisted – which means Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will block every email you send.

Here are the 5 major traps you must avoid in email marketing:

1. Sending without permission. Just because I met you at a networking event or we connect on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean I want your email newsletter showing up in my Inbox. You must ask permission to send it. And this isn’t just me being picky. Legitimate email service providers such as AWeber require that you ask specific permission to send, or that individuals sign up for your newsletter – on your website, for example. This is so that they – and you – stay on the right side of Anti-SPAM laws and in the ISPs’ good graces.

2. Using Outlook to send email newsletters. Anti-SPAM laws also say that your emails must allow people to opt out of receiving your marketing communications. Outlook does not provide this capability. Forcing the recipient to send you a separate email with “unsubscribe” in the subject line just annoys them – you’re creating extra work for them. Also, if your marketing communication contains photos and graphics, you’ll create a bloated monster, because Outlook is not designed for this purpose. This is the trap the newbie business owner fell into with her 9MB newsletter.

3. Boring your reader. I may be mildly interested in what you did on your summer vacation, but I don’t need 1,000 words about it. I’d much rather read how your company is going to help me solve a problem, or what your views are on the latest business or legal trend. Like most others, I skim content, so write simply and well. Use bullet points and some bolding, so I can process your message quickly. For more about writing well, read 15 Tips for Writing Engaging Content.

4. Bombarding your reader. Like most business owners, I already get too many emails. Unless you have some amazing news – a big sale or you’ve just won a major industry award – don’t send me your marketing communications more than once a month. Even if I like your product or service, I’ll unsubscribe from your emails, just to keep the time I spend weeding my Inbox to manageable levels.

5. Burying your interesting content. I recently received an email with the subject line, “Practical Tips on X,” which I eagerly opened, because I really did need help with “X.” I learned how hot the weather was; what the business owner’s son was doing; and what the owner and her husband were doing. I’m not quite sure where those tips were.  Maybe they were buried way down on the right side panel? Or below the weather report? Impatient and frustrated, I deleted the email.

Email marketing can work, IF you know what your doing. For more help with your email marketing, register for a complementary marketing assessment by the experts at Advantage Marketing.

Tell us! What are the other traps business owners need to avoid in email marketing?

Posted in B2B marketing, Email marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Has Email Marketing Become “Old School?”

Posted by advantagemarketing on April 19, 2011

 By Deborah Bailey
Email marketing and social media

Email marketing isn't going away, but author Deb Bailey thinks it's time to rethink how you reach out to clients.

Has social media put an end to email? I doubt that we’re going to see email go away completely, but there are changes happening. Check your own communications to see what shifts you’re seeing. Based on what I’ve observed in my own business, I’ve come to these conclusions:

1. Open rates. Check your newsletter open rates to get a picture over time of what’s being viewed. From texts, to emails, telemarketer calls, ads, thousands of cable channels, etc., we’re constantly bombarded with messages from every direction.

There are televisions in elevators these days and ads on shopping carts. Information overload has created an environment where open rates are falling and people are thinking twice before giving up their email addresses.

2. Spam vs. information. It’s seems lately that some people think nothing of sending out three to four emails a day, seemingly in an effort to break down your resistance. If I’m not interested, sending me more emails isn’t going to change my mind.

Yes, I know that you’re supposed to touch your prospects multiple times, and some people will always wait until the last minute to sign up. However, it’s likely that those prospects are also being repeatedly contacted by others as well. There are ways to touch them without being intrusive (which is why relationship building is so important). Otherwise they’re just going to become overwhelmed and tune out completely.

3. Blogs are alive and well. For a while I wasn’t doing much posting on my blog, especially after I opened a Twitter account. However, after I tried to get on Twitter a few times and couldn’t due to it being “over capacity” I realized that one should not depend on any one tool. If for some reason your social media account gets closed or isn’t working, your blog will still be there.

4. Does a “free gift” lead to a paying client? It’s been common practice to give some free report or other item to entice people to sign up for your list. Then you market to them in an effort to get some of them to move through your funnel. Social media (and blog subscriptions) has changed all of that.

When people subscribe to your blog, they want to get your content. They didn’t have to be given a gift to do it. They’ve opted in because they’re interested. Similarly with social media you can join groups with members in your target market. You don’t have to sift though subscribers who may not have any interest in you (other than the free gift).

Frankly I think it’s better to have people opt in who have already been “pre-qualified” through your social media (and in-person) channels. They already know, like and trust you and have opted in to get more. There’s nothing wrong with sharing free information, especially if you want to give your propects a taste of what you have to offer. But I’m sure I’m not alone in having many free ebooks and special reports that I’ve downloaded and never read.

You may look at your own communications and come to different conclusions. In the end you have to make your decisions based on what’s working for you, and what isn’t. Look at your statistics and decide if it’s time to make some changes in how you’re contacting your clients and prospects.

Copyright © 2009 – 2011 Deborah A. Bailey

Continue the discussion. What do you think: will social media put an end to email? Tell us in the Comments section.

 Connect with the Author. Writer and communications expert Deborah A. Bailey is the author of “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life.” She specializes in helping entrepreneurs to create relationships with their ideal clients. She’s the host of “Women Entrepreneurs – The Secrets of Success,” an Internet radio talk show.Visit her website http://www.dbaileycoach.com and her blog http://womenentrepreneursecrets.blogspot.com.

Get more information. Check out more of The Marketing Advantage blog, and visit the rest of the Advantage Marketing website to learn about the marketing communications and social media services we offer.

Photo: Flickr.com

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Email marketing, Marketing, Professional service firm marketing, Social media marketing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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