Marketing Commentary

La Jolla Mom Website

Posted by | Marketing Commentary, The Obvious | One Comment

Just wanted to point out a great website if you live in La Jolla, California or plan to visit there anytime soon. A customer of my dad’s painting company, Kate Dillon, started a blog/site called “La Jolla Mom.” The website is easy to navigate, bright and cheery, inviting and full of very helpful information for both locals and vacationers. La Jolla Mom can also be found on twitter and has an impressive following base. Make sure you bookmark her site but take the time to read over the existing content. This is a good lesson of building a website that is not about selling a product but in connecting, sharing and creating remarkable/useful content. People don’t like to be sold, so don’t do it on your website or blog. Instead, connect, network, invite, post, comment: interact! That is the power of Social Networking.

Blackberry Torch Might Keep Business Professionals

Posted by | Cool Software, Marketing Commentary | No Comments

The Blackberry Smartphones have struggled a bit since Apple and Android created some pretty amazing touchscreen phones. Blackberry entered the touchscreen market  2 years ago when Verizon released the Blackberry Storm. The Storm has never really taken off like Verizon or other Blackberry users were hoping, which is why Verizon turned their attention to the Android “Droid.” Having had a Blackberry for a number of years in the past, I must say, the keyboard was awesome. I think RIM has the keyboard mastered. So, with the arrival of the new Blackberry Torch, RIM created a better touchscreen phone and a pulldown keyboard that Blackberry users are familiar with already. I think this might be a good call. They are not calling it an iPhone killer, which is also a good marketing strategy. Instead, they are catering to what their clients want: an easier to use browser and touchscreen with the ability to use the “old-fashion” keyboard. It will be released to the US. in about 2 weeks.

To learn more about the new phone, watch the WSJ report below. | or visit The Blackberry Torch Page.

Nobody Cares About Your Boring Old Voicemail

Posted by | Marketing Commentary | No Comments

I’ve only heard Terri Langhans speak just once, but she is dynamic! One of the best public speakers on marketing I’ve ever heard. Or better yet, one of the best speakers period! I’ve also read her little book “The Seven Marketing Mistakes Every Business Makes and How To Fix Them” which is a must read too!

Below is a sampling of one of her presentations. I heard a similar speech on the topic of Voicemail. To learn more about Terri Langhan, visit her marketing website.

Introducing Nutshell | Stop Checking Your Social Media Sites |

Posted by | Marketing Commentary, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

If you are serious about online marketing and see the benefits of being on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, then you will like a new program called Nutshell. Why? Because you don’t have to login to all these accounts all day long. Nutshell compiles a list of all the activities that have taken place in your networks and gives you an attractive, easy to read, email with the updates. You can customize what you want and don’t want to see and request and email 1 to 3 times a day. It is like getting the morning Wall Street Journal but just for Social Networking. You scan the headlines and click on the things that are of most interest to you. In fact, you can even comment and post right from your email.

Nutshell will save you loads of time! Nutshell recently merged with Constant Contact. Signup or Learn More

Email Marketing | Mailchimp

Posted by | Marketing Commentary, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

I’ve tried a number of different email newsletter programs. The leader seems to be Constant Contact followed by iContact and Mailchimp. Although I have a lot of clients who already use Constant Contact, my personal favorite is Mailchimp. Why? Because it is smart and easy to use. Now, when I say easy to use, I mean it is easier to use than most email marketing programs. You still have to know something about design and working with templates. What I like about Mailchimp is they’ve made it easy to import and update your list and create a simple, yet attractive looking email campaign. The reporting systems and Social Media plugins also make Mailchimp the leader in my experience. Their website design and function is also…way better than its competitors.

Mailchimp also has a free version! No really…it is free. If you have less than 500 emails in your database, use Mailchimp as much as you want! It is 100% free! If you go over the 500 email list (hopefully you will over time!) then the fees are similar to Constant Contact or iContact. $20-40 a month is typical. I recommend not doing the monthly plans with any email system unless you plan on using it every month. If it is every quarter or even 6x a year, go with the “Pay as you Go” plan. Mailchimp has that feature, and it is pretty inexpensive (cheaper than the monthly service in most cases).

Although I am endorsing Mailchimp, that does not mean it is a perfect program. There are little bugs and quirks if you don’t know HTML. For example, when you cut and paste things, the text sometimes gets messed up. This is not Mailchimp’s fault but just the nature of the beast. They use what is called a “wysiwyg” editor which stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” That wysiwyg converts your simple text editor into HTML. That is where you will sometimes see some formating problems. To avoid this, hire your web designer to create and send a custom CSS email just for your company. In other words, if you are not real web-savvy, I’d definitely get help creating and sending email blast. Email marketing campaigns should have the same or similar branding message and design as your other marketing materials. A lot of people think email marketing is cheap. It is inexpensive compared to a Direct Mail campaign, but you should still spend some time and money making it look sharp and useful!

Another email tool I’d recommend is: MyEmma. MyEmma is a MUST for someone who wants a custom email marketing campaign. This is for serious email marketers.

Paperless Post

Posted by | Cool Software, Marketing Commentary, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

I recently received an invite to an interactive, online Stationary program. It is pretty nifty and called Paperless Post. The program is easy to use to send custom stationary online, instead of printing and mailing it. Although I still prefer the Old Fashion approach at times, Paperless Post is a good alternative if you are trying to save on postage. The cost to design and send a custom letter in a virtual envelope starts at about $.06. As best as I can figure out, it would cost closer to $.25 if you wanted your company logo sent and a custom envelope look. So, Paperless Post can get pricey if you don’t look carefully at the bottom line price per piece. No matter what you do, it is cheaper than the US mail.

Play around with the Paperless Post program. The first few letters you send are free of charge. It can add a nice personal touch at the end of a project: something different than an e-Card or letter in the mail.

Apple’s Customer Surveys

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I recently purchased the new Apple iPad to test out and see if this is a good business tool for contractors. After the purchased, I received an email from Apple asking if I would take part in a 15 minute survey about my recent and past Mac purchases. I thought the email was written well and it was a great marketing idea. However, I was concerned about the 15 minutes. But, being a huge fan of Apple, I clicked on the link and began the survey.

To be quite honest, I hated the survey. I was really surprised at the level of detail Apple went into in each question. 15 minutes seemed like an hour, and I had to think really hard to answer the questions. I could not skip the questions either. They asked me technical questions like, “How long did you spend researching an Apple product before you purchased it?” and “How many sites did you visit during your research?” This was just a sampling. The questions were more advanced than that. When I finished I was almost upset. I kept saying, “This is not like Apple” to myself. They make everything so simple and easy, but this survey was heavy and boring. Good grief.

Marketing Tip for Painters and Contractors

My take is this: when doing a survey, make it fun and keep it simple. Better yet, consider doing it by phone. If you have a very happy customer, they’d be more than happy to spend 5, 10 even 15 minutes on a phone call with you. I’ve done this a number of times when I was working for my dad’s painting company. In fact, I even drove out to a client’s home or business to talk to them. They’d talk for over 30 minutes! Oh, and you don’t have to give them a gift card or buy them anything: just ask them! Apple didn’t say they’d give me anything. I was glad to help, well not as much after the long survey. But you get the point.

A good survey helps you better your service and know how to gear up your marketing to past and future clients. Just make sure you don’t put your customer to sleep!

Email Marketing Frequency

Posted by | Marketing Commentary | One Comment

Email Marketing iconUnless you have a very compelling offer for your clients, 4 times a year is a good amount of times to connect with your customers if you are a small service company. Sometimes you can get away with once a month and even a couple times a month, if you are really trying hard to get the phone to ring. However, the conservative approach is still quarterly.

The only companies who can get away with weekly email blast are large and successful retail chains such as Apple Computer, LL Bean and Amazon.com. The rest of us have to be more careful or we will be labeled spam or get lots of unsubscribes. The only way to really know if you are bothering people is to try it out a couple times and see what response you get. You won’t know unless you try. Marketing is a science. We are still learning how people react to advertising, especially with all the web and email capabilities available to us all.

Black Friday Extended

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On Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, I received an email blast from a privately owned Mac store near my home. The ad was well designed and had some nice specials from Apple. The ad encouraged you to get into their store for the one day only “Black Friday” specials. The next morning, I received, “Black Friday Extended” in my inbox. On Sunday morning, I got yet another email from this company saying it was extended again. I guess it was a sign that could be good or bad: GOOD: It was so good that they extended the offer! or BAD: it was so bad they had to extend the offer!

The way I read the emails made me feel they did not get enough business. It could just be me! I’m not sure how effective it is sending 3 email blast in three days. I think most folks would click “Unsubscribe” if that happened.

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