Beyond The Buzz

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

– Ray Bradbury

Is your newsletter being read?

Published July 18th, 2017 in Our Blog | Comments Off on Is your newsletter being read?

nVgdelUDo you have a newsletter for your organization? Often, when I ask companies (or groups) about this, they don’t have one put together. They feel that it’s an outdated method or with an active social media platform, they don’t feel it’s necessary. However, having a good newsletter database helps your company on several levels. 

It allows you to get a better handle on who your audience is. When you have a newsletter sign up, you get to learn exactly who is interested in your products or your company. Depending on what information you ask for, you can learn a lot about the demographic. Location, age, even education level or social media can all be discovered if you handle it correctly. 

The difference between push/pull marketing. In push marketing, a company, group, or organization tosses their information out to an audience in a wide net (similar to fishing) and hopes they might be able to draw in people who are interested in their products. This can be an effective way to reach new people. However, when you have a newsletter sign up on your website, you don’t have to work so hard for it. These people are ASKING for your information. They want to hear more. They are your ideal audience. So instead of pushing, you’ve PULLED them in. A newsletter sign up is the ultimate in PULL marketing. 

A newsletter is your own platform. Though many people today have come to rely heavily (sometimes completely) on social media as their marketing strategy, they need to remember that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchats are all owned and managed by someone else. That means that if you are solely relying on them to get the word out about your company or product, you have to hope THEY are going to allow you to talk about it. It’s their stage. They can, at any time, get rid of your update, picture or even presence on their site. That means THEY are in control of your message. Not you.  A newsletter allows you to talk about whatever you want to or need to without having to worry about someone else’s rules or even political beliefs. 

If your company has a newsletter but hasn’t sent one out in a while, consider breathing new life into it. You can send coupons, updates and even run contests or promotions through your newsletter.  And if you don’t have one, now is a great time to get one started! 

Contact us today if you have any questions about anything in this article or about your own marketing plan. 

Facebook Official Page…Instead of a Website?

Published July 23rd, 2013 in Marketing, Our Blog, Strategies | Comments Off on Facebook Official Page…Instead of a Website?

Recently I had a client mention to me that they had no interest in developing their own website for their company. The reasoning behind this was that they have a Facebook Official Page and that, in their mind, served their purpose. After all, it’s got their logo/branding on it, they interact daily with their customers, and the biggest reason; it’s cheap.

Though I understand all of those points (and trust me, they are valid), when you weigh out the pros and cons, it just doesn’t add up.

Here are a few things to consider.

On Facebook, you’re playing in someone else’s playground with someone else’s rules. In the past year or two, we’ve seen a serious crackdown at Facebook with regard to business pages. Your cover photo can’t reference your website address or give any contact information, it must include minimal (20% of the space) content or copy and contests or promotions are harshly regulated.

Kirk-Cameron-Unstoppable__130721153716Though you have the ability to interact on a personal level with your customer base, Facebook can, at any time, decide not to play nicely with you. Recently Kirk Cameron discovered this when his new film was banned by the social media mogul. For hours on end people were unable to post anything in their status updates about the film, the website or even just the name! Facebook put a serious halt to those marketing efforts. (It’s my suspicion that someone  – or perhaps a group of people “ turned in Cameron’s film for being spam. An automatic system will shut down whatever is being linked to or talked about until Facebook has the chance to go through their records and do their own research.) Now to be honest, it ended up working to the film’s favor. Cameron put his own post out on his own page about it and thanks to the power of grass roots marketing, his fanbase reacted. Not only that, they reacted strongly. Facebook was not only inundated with complaints and concerns about it (and subsequently put the film back into circulation on its pages) but the news media took OFF with the information! Outlets went crazy at the idea that a social media company as huge as Facebook would take action against a film in this manner.

There was a happy ending for Cameron’s story including a mountain of publicity, but unless your fans or clients are as rabidly passionate as his are, yours will likely not have a similar ending. Without a mass outcry like what he was able to get, Facebook could take weeks, months, or years to sort through your page and decide whether your company is worthy or not. It would be easy to see this happening to a business and have them waiting weeks or even months for investigations to be completed.

Facebook is a highly effective and valuable resource when included as a part of a larger marketing plan. So many companies are now using it that without a Facebook page or presence, your business isn’t looked upon as legitimate or real. It’s important to keep all of this in mind when figuring out where and how Facebook fits into your plan.

It’s definitely important to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites as part of your plan, but don’t rely on any of them as your sole or whole presence online. If so, you’re handing over branding and marketing of your company to a corporation that doesn’t know or care who you are or what you do.

Facebook Newsflash: You’re Not the Customer

Published May 8th, 2013 in Marketing, Our Blog, Social Media | Comments Off on Facebook Newsflash: You’re Not the Customer

If you use Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that you’re often in a race with the site to make sure your privacy settings remain private. It seems like a constant battle to update, make sure you’ve got all the settings the way they  need to be… It can sort of feel like that moment when you’re checking to make sure your skirt isn’t accidentally tucked in  your waistband? C’mon ladies – we’ve all had that moment right? Just me? Okay – let’s move on then.

There’s a good reason for that. When it comes to Facebook, you aren’t the customer. You’re not the client. Or the consumer. In this instance, you’re the product. Think about that for a minute. YOU are what Facebook is trying to sell to make money. That’s why we can sign all the petitions we want and make the protests we want, but in the long run, we’re still gonna end up stuck with Timeline and unchecking those ‘personalize’ boxes in all of our profiles.

You see, Facebook makes money with advertisements and going to the big companies to sell…you. How many people are on Facebook? How often do they click on an ad? How much do they tell everyone what they are doing? How about checking in at a store or a restaurant? That’s what they take to these companies and the companies, in turn, buy advertising that appeals to you.

Last Christmas one of my friends posted a screen cap of the images on his computer. It had my name, my picture, and the message “Lori Twichell likes Starbucks. Why don’t you give her a gift?” Another of my friends posted a link to a funny item she found on Amazon.com. That post stayed at the top of my news feed for weeks. Why did it stay there? Cause Facebook has a deal with Amazon and when my friend posted that link, it alerted something somewhere and Amazon paid for it to stay on my news feed.

It’s frustrating when you consider it that way right? But keeping that in mind can also help you remember what you’re comfortable putting on the site. And it might alleviate some of the stress over “Why aren’t they listening to me?? I don’t WANT timeline!”

Keeping that perspective in mind might also help you be more vigilant about your security settings and what the updates to apps and Facebook mean for your privacy.  It’s also important to remember this on your business pages. Make sure you are aware of what you’re putting out there and that if it’s on Facebook, it belongs to them – not you.

 

 

 

Bigger: Is it always better?

Published April 20th, 2011 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on Bigger: Is it always better?

As part of our continuing series on burned out clients, (previously we’ve discussed social media marketing and reputations) today we’d like to talk about bigger and better. In most things, bigger is better and usually when you pay a lot more, you’re going to get better quality.

This isn’t always the case in marketing though. Not too long ago I was working on a film project as a producer. Producers do a variety of things on film projects, one of those being to figure out if money is being spent effectively. As we began looking at website design and marketing, one of my partners knew the perfect company to get us exactly what we needed for the project. I wanted to at least get competing offers from my own partner, JV Media Design even though everyone seemed already sold on our partner’s decision.

When the proposals came in, we were all surprised at the difference between the two. The other company’s proposal was five times that of JV Media’s. Being the only person in the group who understood marketing speak, I looked over the proposals very carefully to see what each company was offering. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that JV Media was offering almost double the work for less price. Obviously, this made the decision easy…right?

 Not necessarily. The other partner insisted that because JV Media’s numbers came in so low, there was no possible way that the work could be of a high caliber. The quality must be lower because they were charging a lesser price.

 This surprised me. I understand bigger is better and I get that usually when you pay a larger amount, the item you purchase is going to be of a higher quality, but this isn’t always the case when considering service based companies.

The other company was based in a huge metro area. They were offering us a rate commensurate with their location. But a website is universal. The same website will be seen in Kentucky, Oklahoma, LA and NY. So that doesn’t matter. 

What does matter is the marketing company’s operating expenses. A company based out of New York City has a massive overhead when compared to a company based out of a small office in Oregon. The quality of the work could be exactly the same or even better from the smaller office. The larger company needs to cover their massive operating expenses and they share that cost with you. 

When considering a web design company, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Get competing proposals from a variety of locations. Web design does not necessarily have to be completed by someone in your local area. The internet has provided numerous ways for instant communication. (Skype, email, teleconference and document sharing to mention a few.) With these at your disposal, there isn’t always a need for a face to face meeting.
  • Look at what they’re offering. Is it just a template that they’ll plug your design into or are they going to create completely new website designs for you? Will there be ongoing support after the website goes live? What sort of updating do they offer?
  • See what they’ve done for previous clients. Do you like their work? And even if you do, will their work match your company’s business?
  • Get references from previous clients. Find out what they were like to work with. Even if their design is fantastic, their customer service may not be.

When it comes to marketing, PR or web design, be a wise shopper. If you wouldn’t go into a store and automatically go to the most expensive rack of clothing first, then don’t do the same with your web designer. Check the quality and be sure that it matches your price and budget.

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing. She is also the Marketing Director for Christian Work at Home Moms and JV Media Design. In her spare time, Lori is co-owner of Radiant Lit and a professional book reviewer for Fiction Addict. Lori and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their three kids and two dogs.

Good Reputation or Name Dropping?

Published April 13th, 2011 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on Good Reputation or Name Dropping?

The next step in our series on burned out clients involves company reputation. Not your company’s reputation. The marketing people you’ve hired.  (Our previous blog entry in this series covered social media marketing. Check it out here.)

A lot of companies bring in new clients based on their previous client list but this can be misleading. Just because someone has worked with a big name client doesn’t mean that they’re a more effective or better marketing company.

Recently a potential new client came to me and asked me to evaluate their marketing message. This included looking over their website, social media and pitch packages.  In looking at what they have ‘out there’ I came to a really fast conclusion. Their message lacked cohesion. The website was clean and simple, but not effective for providing the correct information. Social media didn’t ‘match’ the website and if someone were looking this company up, they could end up in several different places online, each with their own distinct message. Unfortunately, none of those messages was the one that the client wanted to convey.

When I spoke on the phone with the owner of this company, she agreed wholeheartedly with everything that I had to say.  There was an immediate connection and within minutes, we’d come up with some feasible goals both long and short term for the company. She then asked me to submit a proposal for those goals to her. The following day I did and I got an immediate reversal of interest.

Why? Well, after we had spoken on the phone, she went back and checked all of their spending on marketing in recent months and it had added up to over $30,000. When I asked what she’d received for this amount, she told me that she’d received a website and that her offices were filled with marketing materials (business cards, letter heads, custom printed folders, etc.) but she wasn’t sure what she needed to do with them or if anyone at the company would even have the time to do anything with them, let alone handle the potential responses that would come from sending out these pitch packages. I was stunned. This amount of money would fund Beyond the Buzz covering all of your marketing needs for at least six months – if not more. Yet all they received was a website that didn’t work for them and a truckload of marketing materials that they couldn’t use.

The client insisted that the reason they’d hired this company was because they’re ‘branding experts’ and they’ve branded some of the biggest name celebrities, companies and organizations in the country. They had hired the company not based on a solid reputation, but on their previous client list. There is a sense of prestige involved in being able to say that you have the same marketing company as so and so. I admit that. It’s fun to be able to share those names in certain circles. But the reality is that former clients do not create a solid reputation.

If someone begins dropping names of their former clients, the best thing you can do is ask for a reference from those clients. Don’t be dazzled by the celebrity. Follow up and be sure that they actually did a good job for those clients before you write your check.

Next time: Bigger. Is it always better?

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing. She is also the Marketing Director for Christian Work at Home Moms and JV Media Design. In her spare time, Lori is co-owner of Radiant Lit and a professional book reviewer for Fiction Addict. Lori and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their three kids and two dogs.

The Difference Between a Home and a Home Office

Published June 8th, 2010 in Archive, Our Blog | Comments Off on The Difference Between a Home and a Home Office

(This post by Lori Twichell originally featured at www.cwahm.com)

Many times when people think about someone who works from home, they don’t picture a professional working environment. Instead, they see us working from our bed or our living room in our jammies and having a much more relaxed schedule than what would happen in a regular office environment. (You can insert your laughter here.) This can give a perception that those of us who work from home are just doing this as a hobby or that we can’t be as professional as someone in a big power office somewhere. It can also serve to undermine their opinion of your ability to do the job. It’s up to us to change that perspective in their minds. Summer’s here. If your house is anything like mine, it’s much harder to do that, but it’s not impossible.

Have you ever had a house eruption? You know, when everything’s quiet and peaceful while you’re working (usually on the phone) and then chaos explodes in the background? Mine usually involve some sort of children screaming and dogs barking all at once. With summer here and all the kids home from school, this is an inevitability in my house. It happened one time when I was on the phone doing business with Dondi Scumaci. If you don’t know who Dondi is, she’s an international speaker and author specializing mentoring women in business. I began profusely and profoundly apologizing for the chaos, certain that I was offending my client. That was my mistake. Not the apology. You see, in that moment, I had shifted from professional Marketing Director to Mom. My client had become a guest in my home (even though she was on the phone) and I was treating her as such.

Dondi advised me to picture myself in a huge office with a big shiny marble desk and a wall of glass windows overlooking a city. This shifted my entire perspective. If my children were to burst into that shiny office with the marble desk, how would I explain it to a client on the phone? I would apologize, sure, but not from the perspective of a mom having a guest in her home. I’d apologize for the chaos in the background in the same way that I would if it were construction or some other noise in an office building that’s beyond my control. Instead of saying “I’m so sorry my kids are home from school and (insert excuses here)…” try “I’m sorry for the noise. My kids are in the office with me today.” You may be surprised at the reception you get.

This also works when you need to share your schedule or pull together a conference call or meeting. You may be carpooling from 2-3 pm every day or fixing lunch for your kids, but clients don’t need to know that. During those times, you have meetings. Or you’ll be out of the office. Don’t worry about sharing the details of why you’re out or you’re unavailable.

So next time you have a house eruption, picture that big shiny office with a view. Who knows? It might even help your stress level!

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing . She is also the Marketing Director for Christian Work at Home Moms and JV Media Design. In her spare time, Lori is a managing partner with Radiant Lit and a professional book reviewer for Fiction Addict. Lori and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their three kids and two dogs.

Twitter – “I just don’t get the point…”

Published May 20th, 2010 in Marketing, Our Blog, Strategies | Comments Off on Twitter – “I just don’t get the point…”

“I just don’t get the point.”

That’s the biggest comment that I hear when I discuss Twitter with people. I’ve gotten into the whole microblogging definition and then the necessary explanation about social media and the benefits, but usually, none of these argument sway people in the least. They still don’t understand the point of Twitter or why it’s become so popular. This surprises me since Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media trends ever seen. According to Twitter’s own numbers, some 50 million tweets are sent every day. FIFTY. MILLION. In 2009, ‘tweeting’ grew 1400%. According to Alexa statistics, Twitter.com is the number twelve site in the world. Obviously someone out there understands it. So why this amazingly fast growing trend?

It’s very simple.Twitter provided the arena for instant connections and conversations with people you don’t know. Now wait. So do a plethora of other social media websites right? What’s so different about Twitter?

Safer Connections: Twitter created an online venue that allows for nearly instant conversations and connections with people who are interested in the same things. Twitter allows you to make connections with anyone about anything. And it does so more safely than Facebook or Myspace. Both Myspace and Facebook require you to be ‘friends’ with someone before you can make a connection with them. If you aren’t already friends, these sites require you to make that connection and call them ‘friends’. Giving someone the title of friend implies a much more intimate connection than what is comfortable for most people. It also gives them access to all of the details of your life that you put into the site. Twitter doesn’t require that. The only ‘bio’ on Twitter is a 140 character ‘micro’ sentence. You choose what you share. In fact, it’s more like real life conversations. Think about it. When you meet someone for the first time, you don’t pull out all of your family photos, your job pictures, your hometown, your spouse’s name and birthday, the names of all your relatives…the list goes on and on. With Twitter, you share only what you want, when you want.

Ice Breaker: At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced the discomfort of being in a room full of people that we don’t know but with whom we’re expected to make some connection. Then the person in charge of that room pulls out the dreaded ‘ice-breaker’ game, designed to help you make that connection. Twitter is the ultimate ice-breaker. Instead of being forced into uncomfortable conversations, you can choose what you talk about and with whom you connect.

Conversations: Finally, the best part of Twitter is that it feels more like a real conversation. When you’re sitting at lunch with a group of people, think about how the conversation sounds. Everyone interjects their comments, opinions or ideas on the topic being discussed. Sometimes you have a longer ‘rant’ or diatribe, but the meaningful connections happen when there’s a back and forth to the conversation. These virtual connections allow people to easily inject their opinions into a relevant conversation and then create an ongoing dialogue.

Push/Pull Marketing with Twitter: Marketing can always be defined in two ways. Either it’s ‘push’ or ‘pull’. Push marketing entails ‘shoving’ a message to the audience, whether they want it or not. Some examples of this are television advertising (you don’t get to choose which commercials air) or spam email. You are pushing your message to the consumer. Pull marketing involves bringing the audience to you. Whenever someone visits a website or signs up for a mailing list, they are expressing their interest in hearing your message and finding out more. A good push/pull campaign could be a television commercial (push) that intrigues someone enough for them to visit a website (pull).

Twitter is the first fully effective instant use of push/pull marketing. Prior to Twitter, most social media involved push marketing. Blogging revolves around the assumption that an audience wants to read or see what you have to say. Messageboards or bulletin boards are conversations, but they are definitely not instant. Sometimes it can take weeks or months to have a complete conversation.

In short, Twitter changed the face of social media and gave us a new platform for marketing. Last year Twitter had over seventy-five million visitors and statistics show it’s still growing. Maybe now’s the time for you to give it a chance.

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing and the Marketing Director for both JV Media Design and Christian Work at Home Moms. She is also a creative managing partner at Radiant Lit and a reviewer at Fiction Addict.