Social Media + Promo = Brand Fans

Socialmedia-pmSocial media marketing is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals.  Promotional merchandise is products branded with a logo or slogan and distributed in marketing and sales promotions.  When you put them both together you have a powerful marketing strategy that can help your company stay ahead of trends and better target specific audiences, resulting in a new generation of brand fans.

Since social media is basically free and available anywhere for consumers, many companies already use it to find potential clients.  The next-level step would be to design a clever social media campaign that is tied to a unique audience or experience.  Consider these ideas to better connect with, and ignite, your followers:

  • Offer a Gift for Super-Fans:  Choose a few devotees engaged with your brand and reward them for their loyalty with a gift that would appeal to them.
  • Ask for a Shout-Out:  Send a message like, “Be one of the first 50 people to retweet our big news and receive XXX”.  Be sure to specify what they will receive and make it creative.
  • Drive Demand with Limited-Edition Items:  Create a custom item that represents something unique to your brand.  Offer it to your followers as part of a contest to sign up for a new service, buy a product, donate to your charity or book a trip.

There’s no doubt that clever promotional merchandise – of good quality distributed in a creative way to a specific target audience – can do big things for any company, large or small.  But you have to be ahead of trends and engage your brand fans where they spend their time – on social media.  So go ahead and surprise them with cool stuff – it will help you break through all the other marketing noise.

Social Media, Golf And The Millennials

6917-miniature-golfAccording to data cited by the Wall Street Journal, golf participation rates among the 18-to-34 crowd (defined as the millennials) were down 13% in 2013 from 2009, while rates for active sports like running jumped 29%.  In 2013 alone, some 400,000 people gave up the sport in the U.S., according to the National Golf Foundation.  But now, we have youthful champions like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.  Their high profile wins have brought welcome attention to a game that desperately needs a way to connect with the millennials populating and influencing corporate culture.

Millennials, also known as GenY, were born into a new era of technology and founded the social media movement.  How a company – golf market agents or any other company – markets to a demographic that thrives in this fast-paced, ever-changing technological fray is an ongoing uncertainty in the business world.  In order to draw them into a game that requires 4+ hours of time, expensive gear and and an income that can allow for greens fees that can easily exceed $40 for 18 holes, companies must incorporate tools that support and enhance their tech experience.  (I must add here that the snowsports industry, another expensive, time-consuming pastime, is facing the same challenges with millennials).

What marketing tools would drive excitement for a game struggling to stay relevant while increasing brand visibility for your firm?  Read on for a few ideas on how to integrate golf, social media and the millennials.

  • Selfie Snapper:  Wireless bluetooth remote for snapping pictures on a smartphone.  Great for post-round pics of the foursome.
  • Silicone Phone Backstrap:  Holds credit cards, license, cash on the back of a phone, giving the recipient a useful reminder of the giver every time he texts, tweets or talks.
  • GPS Rangefinder:  Handheld or on the wrist, a touchscreen, bluetooth-enabled tool for saving strokes will appeal to those players who don’t have time to walk off the yardage.
  • Microfiber Cell Phone Bag Pouch:  Holds the phone – cleans the phone.  Taking care of the millennial golfers most prized tool will be appreciated well after the last hole.

The game of golf is here to stay, but the new generation of golfers will expect to experience it in different ways.  Give them something in their gift bag they can relate to besides that sleeve of balls.  They will reward you with appreciation for your foresight and your brand.

Time For Action In The Second Half

Time for action. Stopwatch on white background. Isolated 3D image“How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.”  Lou Holtz 
Second quarter results are in – it’s time to look at the data and analyze how you make the most of the remainder of the year.  Whether the results met expectations, or fell short of the goals you started the year with, the second half of the year is the perfect time to “re-boot” your corporate energy and reenergize your brand visibility.
However, expanding your brand differentiation as your customers are heading into the third and fourth quarter frenzy can be challenging.   Employees are returning from summer vacations and already looking forward to the fall and winter holiday breaks; sales teams are reviewing their quotas and working harder to meet their goals; the finance department is concentrating on reducing spending and improving profits; and, through all of this, your objective is to somehow break through the noise in order for your brand message to be heard.  To help with that task, consider the following tips.
  • Donate time to community non-profit events:  As Aristotle said, we are what we do.  Volunteering in the community will set your company apart and position you in a different light.
  • Actively solicit customer feedback:  Knowing how your company has scored with customers in the first half of the year will help you map out a strategy for building on the positive and improving on the negative.
  • Optimize your social media channels:  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram – these platforms all have their advantages, but if you don’t have the company resources to stay current on all of them, it’s best to narrow them down.  Expanding your brand presence on two or three social media channels is better than being nearly invisible on all of them.
  • Plan now for end-of-year customer appreciation gift – but send it at Thanksgiving:  Better to beat the end-of-year gift clutter, and express your thanks when it will stand out.  And don’t settle for another cookie tower that will be placed on the pile of holiday food that has already arrived.  Look for the newest, up-to-date promotional merchandise options and demonstrate your understanding that customers aren’t just corporate buyers, they’re people who know a well-considered gift when they see it!

Your company is in the second half and racing towards a great finish – it’s time for action!

Is Your Content Marketing Strategy Working?

social-media-management1A new survey from Unisphere Research states that “Seven out of ten executives report they are employing social media to distribute content … with Facebook and Twitter being the leading platforms for customer engagement and content marketing”.  This information may not be surprising news to most marketing executives, but the reality is  “only 25% actually measure the results of the individual pieces of content they produce and distribute.”

If a company is going to allocate time and resources to content marketing strategies, there must be an equal focus on gathering and measuring the return on that investment.  It’s not enough to capture information on customer engagement driven through the various social media channels when the ultimate reason for reaching out to those customers is increasing brand awareness, reducing costs and growing sales.

In the book Managing Content Marketing by Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi measuring the impact of your content marketing strategy is determined and outlined by creating a “Content Marketing Pyramid”, which includes the following three sections.

  • Primary content indicators: Primary indicators are the types of measurements that you want to capture (e.g., sales, costs savings, retention rates).
  • Secondary content indicators: Secondary indicators are the types of measurements that help make the case for primary indicators (e.g., lead quality, lead quantity, shorter sales cycles).
  • User indicators: These are the types of measurements that the content “doers” need to look at to help drive the secondary indicators (e.g., web traffic, “likes,” page views, search rankings).

The authors go on to explain how to segment the pyramid, with user indicators at the base (for the analytics team), the secondary content indicators in the middle (for managers reporting) and the primary content indicators at the top (for C-suite reporting).   The specific metrics depend on the organization’s individual objectives, but everyone has the same goal – improve the process.

Spending the time to pull together this information and putting that data into a format that everyone can relate to will help the organization to understand how well their content marketing strategy is working and where adjustments need to be made.   Developing a game plan to measure the impact of that strategy should be at the top of your New Year’s resolution list!

Host A Live Event And Keep The Conversation Going

Live_Event_Laser_3Engaging corporate customers at a creative vendor fair, or inspiring employees after a motivating off-site sales seminar, is an ongoing work-in-progress, rather than a one-time effort.   The lasting personal connection that comes from hosting a live event should be enhanced by continuing the conversation started at the event through social media.  After all, social networks are our best platforms for communication and should be part of every company’s marketing strategy.

Live events are hosted for a variety of reasons, including increasing brand awareness, building customer loyalty, improving employee morale, and capturing media attention.  Integrating social media into business conferences and events will help support those goals and improve the long term ROI.   A few of the things to consider when planning for the next event are listed below:

  • Start with an agenda:  establish a clear schedule for presentations, breakout sessions, Q&A and networking
  • Consider timing for communication:  don’t just focus on how to advertise prior to the event date – determine what follow-up communication tools will play a part after the event
  • Communication should come from all forms of media:  tools like email, mailings, webinars, flyers, Facebook and Twitter should all be part of the strategy
  • Understand your audience:  determine what your customers or employees are hoping to gain from the event, and build your strategy around meeting those expectations
  • Embrace the unfamiliar:  if you aren’t comfortable tweeting live during an event, or you don’t have many Facebook followers, prepare early with social media training sessions and employ others who can help get the word out
  • Share your best stuff:  go beyond the written script and share the best things that are happening in the moment to help build excitement around the event
  • Consider all senses:  when deciding on what communication vehicles will carry your content, Twitter tweets, YouTube videos, Pinterest images and Facebook posts will work together to reach a broader audience

The above suggestions represent only a few of the many considerations the event planning team must tackle before, during and after a live event.  So the best suggestion of all remains – START EARLY!

Oh yes, and don’t forget to have fun while keeping that conversation going!