Stand out

Digital solutions for small business. ted360

Get Noticed in Today’s Crowded Marketplace

You can surpass the marketing efforts of your larger counterparts–without spending beyond your means.

[source: Inc Magazine] Although being a small or medium-sized business can feel daunting when compared against bigger, longer-established corporations, there are definitely ways SMBs can still stand on equal footing–maybe even surpassing their larger counterparts–without spending beyond their means.

Donald Chestnut, Global Chief Creative Officer at storytelling agency SapientRazorfish, offers the following 5 specific tips that can help any small or medium-sized business better reach and engage with customers.

1. Analyze and understand the value of innovation
As more and more businesses begin to understand why they need to innovate and how to do it, the next step involves answering the question “What is the value of innovation? And how do I measure it?”

2. Redefine your entire business around operating in a digital world
Rather than simply introducing digital components into physical spaces, organizations must think of the balance that they want to strike between these two realities. Each company will be different and what works for one may not work for another. Think retail, location marketing, etc.

3. Align with the fast-paced evolution of mobility and mobile usage
Consumer mobile behavior continues to go beyond the pure “mobile” aspects of a device. Smartphones and their brethren can (and are expected to) now be used in novel ways to enhance consumers’ surrounding environments and experiences.

4. Evolve the test and learn mentality using new technologies
To keep up with the pace of technological advancement and consumers’ generational distinctions, organizations are evolving the agile structures and thinking that allow them to test and learn faster. In this case, digital and automation act as enablers/facilitators by sitting at the core of these structures and strategies, thereby allowing businesses to remain competitive.

5. Evolve your consumer insights and research to better understand unique journeys
Emotion insights, chatbots (as a testing ground), and artificial intelligence are just some of the evolved methods being used to better understand consumers and design personalized experiences.


Engagement Marketing

young consumer excitement

Unlike traditional approaches to marketing where you specifically target prospects with direct response offers, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you and shape how they would like to communicate with you.

Engagement marketing begins when an interested person takes an action to begin an interaction with you.

Engagement means someone is interested in listening to you, and you must engage that person in order to achieve your business objective while fulfilling their interest. As a commercial entity you will implement engagement marketing to drive your interested audience toward one of the following two key business objectives:

Cultivate the individual as an advocate of your thought leadership and market image. Advocates will recommend your products and services enthusiastically to their network of friends and business colleagues.
Encourage a dialogue with the individual to help them to make a purchase decision. An engaged customer is likely to become a loyal repeat customer.

Here are easy tips on engagement marketing to attract customers:

  • Develop an engagement strategy – To be successful you must prepare a clear plan and approach for your engagement marketing. Your plan will have to include how you will reach out to your listeners and how you will be able to respond and interact with your engaged participants.
  • Integrate with your marketing mix – All aspects of your marketing communications mix should include a ‘call to action’ for engagement from simply requesting comments or postings at your blogs or forums to encouraging reviews on your products and services.
  • Focus on content and relationship – Focus on relevant and interesting content as the key to engaging with your audience. Understand that building genuine relationships with content that is important to the individual is the best way to achieving the two key business objectives for engagement marketing.
  • Promote subscriptions – Use permission based techniques to encourage subscriptions with optimized web forms, RSS registrations, refer to a friend and social network sharing.
  • Invite listeners to interact with your Blog – Establish a culture and enthusiasm for engagement by encouraging your listeners to contribute with comments, suggestions and even as guest writers to broaden the points of view and resources available to your connected community.
  • Conduct surveys and polls – Run frequent surveys to give opportunities to initiate engagement while learning from and about your listening community. Use a surveys or web polls to start the dialogue that is relevant to the individual.
  • Engage with social networking – If you have not heard of Face Book, MySpace or Twitter that are behind the social networking phenomena, you must not waste anymore time, go straight to these sites and understand how these sites that are capturing literally mil¬lions of people who are actively engaging on these sites every day. These sites work because social networking communities need to share and want to know what their circle of friends and relatives are up to. Find out how you can leverage the engagement and sharing of your content using these social networks.

Remember, once you have an interested community engaging with you, make sure you keep the lines of communication going, learn and adjust your strategy to ensure your engagement marketing will delivery bottom-line results to your business by increasing your customer base and repeat sales from your engaged customers.

Digital marketing is really worth it.

Marketing, branding & digital solutions for small business. ted360

Digital marketing is a popular topic and that’s not likely to change as we enter the new year.

Still, there are some businesses that don’t think it’s worth the time and money, wrongly assuming that digital marketing is just a fad.

[source: AllBusiness] This contributes to the fact that 39 percent of American small businesses said they hadn’t executed any marketing initiatives for at least six months, according to a Capital One Spark Business survey.

Deciding whether or not digital marketing is worthwhile comes down to individual companies. However, the majority of small businesses that run the numbers and utilize successful methods discover that digital marketing is the key to greater customer retention and increased returns.

Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing for Small Businesses

If you want to determine if online marketing will benefit your company, you need to weigh both the pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of digital marketing on a small scale:

Pros: Some of the most prominent advantages of digital marketing revolve around affordability and a quick return on investment. Not all aspects of digital marketing will be in a price range small businesses can afford, but social media marketing, blog content, in-house videos, and customer reviews are all highly affordable. More importantly, these are forms of digital marketing that small businesses can use with ease.

Digital marketing is also an effective way for consumers and businesses to learn more about each other. It’s a much closer connection than might occur with traditional marketing tactics because it allows the two parties to interact directly. According to research by myBuys, 72 percent of consumers connect with brands through an integrated marketing approach. It’s hard to make that many connections with just traditional marketing tactics.

Cons: Small companies often shy away from digital marketing because methods don’t always work. Digital marketing is highly subjective to customers and their habits, and businesses won’t always get strategies right the first time. Unfortunately, many firms choose to listen to stories of failure rather than stories of success.

In order to experience the full benefits of digital marketing, businesses of all sizes must go through a trial and error process in which they learn from their mistakes, change their tactics, and try again. Only then will marketing from a digital standpoint reveal its full benefits.

Start Digital Marketing Today

If you’re a small business owner who isn’t yet using digital marketing, now is the perfect time to start. There are many tactics that can make digital marketing a more prominent, useful part of your strategy. Here are a few ideas:

Form a team or hire a third party marketer. If you don’t have the manpower, the latter is a better option. Your team will need multiple strengths that vary in specialization, from advertising to social media. You’ll also need to assign a healthy budget and instruct your people to use it wisely–but avoid discouragement if they make mistakes at first.

Focus on social channels. This is by far the cheapest form of marketing, since you can join most social networks for free. It’s also the best place to directly engage your customers.

Be willing to constantly improve. As mentioned, much of digital marketing is trial and error. When you make a mistake, you must be ready to change your strategy accordingly. This kind of mindset will help you achieve impressive returns on investments and a successful marketing strategy in the future.

Don’t give up on digital marketing before you give it a valid try. It’s important for businesses of all sizes, and those that wish to stay competitive will make digital marketing more of a priority.

Get better and better.

Tribute to Entrepreneurs

[Fuel your Brand. Marketing 360]

My Dad says entrepreneurs are responsible for everything around me. From the technology I use to the clothes I wear and the food I eat.

He says I should be grateful for the Entrepreneurs that have come before me, because starting something from nothing is extremely difficult. Many do it against all odds.

He says entrepreneurs are the courageous ones. The ones that never give up, never give in, never, never, never.

Starting something new takes heart. It takes believing without seeing. My Dad says that’s faith. He says every organization you see with ten people, or a hundred or a thousand, started with just one. One amazing idea. One brave soul. One perfect partnership. One humble beginning. One heroic mission. And because God inspired the one, the one inspired millions.

My Dad’s an entrepreneur. And someday I’m going to be an entrepreneur to. And so I pray…

Dear Lord, the battles I go through life, I ask for a chance that’s fair, a chance to equal my stride, a chance to do or dare. If I should win, let it be by the code, with faith and honor held high, if I should lose, let me stand by the road, and cheer as the winners go by. Day by day, get better and better, until I can’t be beat, won’t be beat. Day by day, get better and better, until I can’t be beat won’t be beat. Amen.


Mobile First

IBM Marketing Solutions

IBM Marketing Solutions help you attract, delight and grow the loyalty of customers by enriching the ways you engage each of them. IBM Marketing Solutions are a set of integrated tools that empower marketing, ecommerce and customer service teams to identify the customers and moments that matter most, and to rapidly apply those insights to develop and deliver personally rewarding brand experiences.

Microsegments and Cognitive

Many digital startups deliver amazing customer experiences because they focus exclusively on a very specific market niche, unlike larger companies, which find advantage through scale. The problem for big companies is that these smaller startups rapidly expand out of their niche and win away more and more customers. Increasingly, executives are turning towards cognitive computing to analyze vast amounts of customer data in order to identify and serve micro-segments and prevent startups from gaining a strong foothold.

The Language of Security

Watson for Cyber Security uses cognitive technology and deep domain expertise to detect and stop security breaches before they cause damage, at a speed and scale never possible before. Unlike programmable systems, cognitive technology is based on training systems that can understand, reason and learn to sense what’s coming – then communicate that in natural language.