21st Century Marketing – Don’t Do Business Like It’s Still 1966

30 Jun

By Tim Busbey, co-owner, Addisons Compass Public Relations

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That is not an original thought, by any means, but it often is true. Just look at politics. No matter who is in office or which party has control, the status quo remains largely unchanged. Or how about sports. Every year we can count on the Yankees, Lakers and Patriots to be amont the top teams. And in the world of advertising and marketing, it also holds true.

Recently, I’ve been doing some research into the history of one of our area’s oldest businesses that closed three years ago. As part of my research, I’ve been scanning through microfilms from 1966, looking for articles about this business and its sale to a major corporation. I’ve found many interesting things while spending hours searching through old newspapers. People were obsessed with UFOs. We were worried about the “national menace” of computer dating. It was OK to refer to the Vietnamese Communists as Reds. Daylight Savings Time was a choice, not a requirement. But the one point that struck home was the saying I shared at the top of this blog post: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It was interesting to see all the businesses that advertised in the Ashland Times-Gazette in 1966. Most of them are no longer in business 45 years later. But at that time, they faced the same challenges that businesses face today. They had a product or service and they needed to reach the right people with the message that their business was here and ready to serve them. Sounds a lot like the same equation we have to deal with today. The products or services may be different and we definitely have different ways of reaching people, but businesses still need a well-crafted, well-planned marketing strategy to succeed.

The equation has worked for as long as we have had commerce. If you have a product or service, but on one knows that you offer that product or service, you can’t expect them to magically appear at your doorstep looking to spend money. You need to let people know about yourself in whatever way you can afford and is appropriate for your type of business. In 1966, newspaper and radio were the media of choice for local advertisers. Today, thanks to computers and the Internet, we have email, websites, blogs, text messaging and social media as new avenues for our marketing messages.

Is your company still conducting business like its 1966? If you haven’t started using the myriad of new marketing tools at your disposal, why not? To stay competitive in the 21st Century, every business needs to take advantage of the technological wonders that the 21st Century has given us. Even the Pope sent his first tweet this week, announcing a new website that would serve as an aggregate for all of the Vatican’s digital messages. If the Catholic Church and the Pope can use these technological tools to reach the masses, so can you.

At Addison’s Compass, we love helping companies discover how they can use digital marketing to help their businesses grow. We can help you create a plan and then implement that plan with creative, attention-getting writing. Check out our website to see more details on how we can help your business take advantage of all the benefits of digital marketing.

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You, Too, Can Use YouTube – 5 Tips for Marketing on YouTube

23 Jun

By Tim Busbey, owner, Addison’s Compass Public Relations

We all know YouTube was responsible for introducing the world to the phenomenon that is Justin Bieber. Without YouTube, the world would have never heard of Rebecca Black and her ubiquitous tune proclaiming the joys of “Friday.” And we’ve all seen the hilarious videos of babies laughing or kids dancing or dogs doing tricks. While the video sharing site is great for entertainment, it also can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses.

With digital video cameras and easy-to-use video editing software, creating simple videos to help promote your business is relatively easy for most computer-savvy business owners. Or if it is beyond your area of expertise and you have some marketing budget to work with, there are plenty of businesses that can help. Once you have created videos, YouTube is the perfect place to post them. The site is free to use, is easy to use and has a massive audience.

A recent study found that 77 percent of users come to YouTube expecting to watch only one video but end up watching more. The average YouTube user spends 15 to 25 minutes a day on the site. As of February 2011, YouTube has 490 million unique users worldwide per month, who rack up an estimated 92 billion page views each month. More video content is uploaded to YouTube in a 60 day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years.

Those numbers are staggering and show the vast potential YouTube offers business owners. Just like any marketing tool, you need to find the best ways to use YouTube to maximize your results. Here are 5 tips for small business owners to get the most out of YouTube:

1) Create and customize your channel

Setting up a channel on YouTube is simple, and customizing it is important. You should add your company’s branding, customize the colors to compliment your company’s look, and add relevant information and links. Your channel serves as your company’s homepage on YouTube. Make sure you take the time to make sure it looks the way it should.

2) Keep up with comments

Once you have videos posted on YouTube, people will be able to make comments about them. You should do your best to respond to any comments that are left, even if it’s just a simple “Thank you.” Be sure to respond to negative comments, too, especially if they are relevant and non-offensive. However, if there are comments which contain offensive language or are spam, you should delete those comments. YouTube does give you the option of moderating comments before they go live, so you can catch any offensive posts before they go live. You may want to use this option, especially if you start receiving a lot of comments that need to be deleted. But if you do, you need to keep up with moderating the comments. Otherwise, you will just end up with a backlog of submitted comments that never actually make it on your channel.

3) Engage your fellow YouTube users

Like any other social media site, the key to thriving on YouTube is interacting with other YouTube users. You should check out content on the site, comment on appropriate videos and add them as your favorites and make “friends” with relevant YouTube users. People will see you commenting on other videos and will check out your channel to see what you have to offer. And anyone who checks out your content is another potential customer.

4) Tag, you’re it

The key to letting people find your videos is tagging them appropriately. For example, if you are a dog groomer, you may tag your videos with “dog” and “dog grooming” and “grooming” and “pets” and many other related words – anything that may help people find your videos. Don’t be afraid to use too many tags. The more relevant tag words you use, the more likely your video will be found when people search on YouTube.

5) Promote your YouTube videos elsewhere

Like all your marketing tools, it’s important that you make them all work together whenever possible. When you post a new video on YouTube, let people know about it. On social media sites, on your website, on your blog, in an email blast. There’s no point in having a video up there if you aren’t going to let people know about it. Every video view is another potential lead for your business. Don’t let any opportunity pass you by.

At Addison’s Compass Public Relations, we can offer assistance to any business needing consultation to get started using YouTube. We can help you create promotional ideas and content that will engage your customers. If you are local to us in Ohio, we do house (business) calls too!

Are you Consuming Info like a Batch of Greasy French Fries?

14 Jun

by Erin Al-Mehairi, owner, Addison’s Compass Public Relations
*Article printed in May/June issue of North Central Ohio Events Magazine
http://www.ncoeventsmagazine.com/pdfs/EMAG2_WEB.pdf

There is no denying that we are a society of consumption. In America, we consume well over $100 billion of fast food each year, 156 pounds of added sugar, almost 600 cans of pop per person on average, and 375 million gallons of gas per day. We consume things quickly, leaving no second to spare.

Just as we consume fast food in our car on the way to our next scheduled appointment, we also consume information at what seems like the speed of light. We consume articles online via our smart phones and check out breaking news on Twitter before it even gets to the nightly news or before we can turn on CNN.

In a matter of minutes, we read breaking news, check our email, respond to a text message, scroll through our Facebook newsfeed, and schedule a meeting in our calendar.

As social networking and the use of social media has developed, our skills sometimes haven’t been able to catch up. We have more and more friends and followers, as well as fan pages, to view information on. We scroll and scroll through the feeds, consuming as much information as we can. We begin to read it as if it were a book, forgetting the entire human element that is so integrated into the success use of it.

That’s right, we forget that most of the feeds are written by people in our lives who have taken a minute out of their time to inform us about their lives, recommend a product, or share a link with great information. We forget it is not just a computer, and then we forget to respond.

The premise of social networking is just that — “being social with other people (social) in order to get to know them, their lives, their charities, their services and connect and support one another (networking).”

Keeping that in mind, that means that we shouldn’t just scroll and read without ever offering back a word of encouragement, recommendation, dialogue, or testimonial. We should take the time on product or business fan pages to say what we like and what we don’t like (just make sure it is constructive criticism) and use it as a platform to connect with brands and businesses we like. We should be an active player in the process, not just consumers who throw away information like we throw away Big Mac wrappers.

Here are a few tips to assist you with your interpersonal skills on social media:

1. Respond to people’s comments. Whether on your own personal page, a fan page or to a tweet, please respond to the comments that people take the time to make. For businesses, respond whether they are positive or negative. Responding to negative comments can turn the situation into a positive because it shows you care about your customer and finding solutions to their issues. Don’t ever delete their comments or block your wall so customers can’t write to you.

 2. Start conversations. Ask your friends or fans questions about themselves or about something that relates to your brand or product. Initiate dialogue with them and don’t be shy. Being open and aware makes you trustworthy. On Twitter, start chats and use a #hashtag to talk about subjects that interest you.

3. Ask a question or post a poll. Facebook just made it even more fun and engaging to do this. On a personal level, it is fun to ask your friend’s favorite 80’s movie and from a business perspective, you may be able to garner the interests of you clients to help you better sell your services or products. Either way, it engages your audience.

There are many more keys and skills to utilizing social media networking and marketing in a more successful manner. Seek out information and remember to not just consume it, but put it to use.

We’d love to have you initiate conversations with us: www.facebook.com/addisons.compass, http://www.twitter.com/ErinAlMehairi, http://www.twitter.com/tbusbey, www.linkedin.com/in/erinalmehairi, http://www.linkedin/in/timbusbey.

QR codes – The Next Big Step in Digital Marketing

8 Jun

By Tim Busbey, owner, Addison’s Compass Public Relations

In marketing, as in life, the only constant is change. Thanks to the constant technological advances our society produces, there is an endless array of new tools that we as marketers have at our disposal. In the last half decade, we’ve seen Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, text messaging and location-based apps flourish and grow as avenues for businesses to market their products. One avenue that has grown in popularity in other countries but has been slow to catch on here in America is Quick Response codes, also known as QR codes.

What is a QR code?

A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode, (pictured at left), similar to the barcodes businesses use to track their inventory and price their products. However, QR codes have one big advantage over a barcode – the amount of information they can hold. Regular barcodes are linear one-dimensional codes that can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, while QR codes are two-dimensional matrix codes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters. That means you can embed numbers AND words into QR codes. This is a huge advantage and makes QR codes a powerful tool for small businesses. Businesses can use QR codes to promote coupons, special offers or discounts. They can also use them to build a mobile list of subscribers or to direct people to their website, online video or Facebook Fan page. The possibilities for using QR codes to market your business are nearly unlimited.

How do QR codes work?

First, a business owner goes to one of the many web sites that are called QR code generators. At these web sites, you can enter in the information that you want included in your QR code. Your QR code can be used to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone’s browser. Once you enter the information, the QR code generator will then create a QR code which you can download and use wherever you want. Most businesses use them in print advertisements, flyers or signs. You also can use them on business cards, brochures, product tags, menus or receipts.

There are many sites online that will allow you to create QR codes. Just do a search for “QR code generator” and browse through the results to find one that works for you and your needs.

Smartphone owners can download an app which allows them to scan the QR codes in your advertisement. Once scanned, the information you put in the QR code will be on the user’s phone. With more than one-third of cell phone users now carrying smartphones, QR codes can be a powerful tool for any business.

Example of QR codes

Here is one example of an ad containing a QR code from the July 2011 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. This ad for DERMAdoctor KP Duty. Scanning the QR code from the lower right corner of this ad will take the user to a web page where they can instantly order the product. Once there, even if they don’t want to order the product, they can easily follow links to get more information about the product or other similar products.

Benefits to using QR codes.

1) Tracking. When you use a QR code, intricate details on each access of your QR code can be compiled. Some QR code generating sites offer analytics to let you track usage of your code. There are both free and paid options depending on the site you use. This gives you valuable information about who is interested in your product – information that can be used to refine your message and methods. Be sure to explore the options each site offers when choosing a QR code generator. Another way to track QR code usage is to use the QR code to lead people to a website. Your current analytics will allow you to keep track of the number of people who visit the URL you embed in the QR code.

2) Save money. One of the biggest disadvantages to any form of print marketing is the cost. Billboards and brochures can be cost-prohibitive, especially for small businesses. However, most businesses already have a website. With a QR code on a flyer or a small newspaper ad, you can embed a link to a webpage or a downloadable ebook/brochure. That way, people can still receive the information about your business without you incurring the cost of printing. Also, if some information in the brochure or book needs to change, you can easily make the change online without having to reprint hundreds or thousands of copies.

3) Ease of storage/transportation. If someone likes or wants to keep some information about your business, instead of finding a pen and paper, all they have to do is use their smartphone to scan the QR code. The information from the code will be saved on their phone if they want to retrieve it again later or share it with someone else.

4) Build customer excitement. People are curious. People who know what QR codes are will want to know what information you have stored in your company’s QR code. They can quickly and easily scan your code and find out more information about your business or find a special offer or coupon you may offer exclusively through the QR code.

No matter what kind of business you have, there are many ways to utilize QR codes to help grow your business. At Addison’s Compass Public Relations, we can offer assistance to any business needing consultation to get started using QR codes. We can help you create promotional ideas and content that will engage your customers. If you are local to us in Ohio, we do house (business) calls too! Scan our QR code at the left to visit our website.

5 Reasons Your Business Needs A Blog

1 Jun

Tim Busbey, owner, Addison’s Compass Public Relations

Everyone is blogging these days. OK, maybe not everyone, but the world of Cyberspace certainly is full of people using blogs as their sounding board. According to The Nielsen Company, there are more than 160 million blogs with more than 71,000 new blogs popping up in the last 24 hours.

Besides this blog for our business, Erin and I also have personal blogs. Mine features a mix of book reviews, comments on pop culture and a look at the process of writing my first novel. Erin has two – one about books and one about photography and art. We both enjoy the opportunity to write about subjects we enjoy and are passionate about and interacting with other people who are interested in similar topics.

A blog (a blend of the term “web log”) is also a great way to market your business. Maybe you don’t think you have anything to say or you don’t have the time or you aren’t sure how to start. But if you have a business, you probably do have something to say about your product or service, and you should make the time to use this valuable marketing tool.

Here are the top 5 reasons your business should have a blog:

1) Blogs are very easy to set-up and use. If you’re a small business, you probably don’t have a whole department for your computer and Internet needs. If you aren’t skilled in website design and can’t spend a lot of money on a website, a blog is a great way to get started. Just type your thoughts for the day, include a few photos or videos, hit the “publish” button, and instantly, your thoughts are posted for the whole world to see.

2) Blogs are the perfect place to post news and announcements about your business, as well as to share your thoughts on subjects relevant to your business. The former gives you an opportunity for free advertising, and the latter gets you noticed and allows you to position yourself as an expert and a leader in your field. This will make people more likely to buy from you.

3) Blogs are a great way to put a personal face and voice on your business. As you write about your business or share your thoughts, this allows your customers to see who you really are, which is really the purpose of any blog or social media marketing tool. Customers love to see “behind the curtain” and get a glimpse at the people who make a business tick. This is another way to build trust with your customers.

4) Blogs are great for SEO. Search engines love pages that are regularly updated. Posting regularly and filling your blog posts with relevant keywords is a great way to build traffic on your blog.

5) Blogs can help you generate leads. Most blogs offer readers the chance to comment on your posts. You can use these comments as a great opportunity to build a relationship with someone who may not be a customer. Also, if you are sharing relevant information and posting about your business on a regular basis, this will help move your customers to that conversion point, where they trust you enough and believe in your product enough that they decide to make the purchase.

There are many opportunities and many ways to use a blog that can help your business as more customers are looking online when making their purchasing decisions. At Addison’s Compass Public Relations, we can offer assistance to any business needing consultation to get set-up with a blog, or would like to have the set-up done for them and/or managed as well. We can help with writing your blog posts in a way that will engage readers and keep them coming back for more. If you are local to us in Ohio, we do house (business) calls too!

Beginning foursquare: Build a Village and Keep them Coming

24 May

by Erin Al-Mehairi, owner, Addison’s Compass Public Relations

A common joust in our household between Tim and I is this: “Darn it! You stole my ‘Mayorship’ again!” I just love getting an email in the morning that reads “Sorry, but Tim Busbey is now Mayor of (any given place), but a few more check-ins and you could be on top again!”

What is foursquare exactly?

Light-hearted fun or not at home, the application foursquare already has grown to more than 6.5 million users. Anyone with GPS-enabled mobile devices can “check-in” at venues by running an app on their phone and choosing from a list of venues that the application locates nearby (or add one in if it is not already in the list). Each check-in awards the user points, can make them a “Mayor,” and assist them in working toward “badges.” Users can choose to have their check-ins posted to their Twitter and Facebook accounts so their friends can see where they are, have been, what venues they like, and even get tips for certain locations. If a person frequents an establishment often enough they will become “Mayor” or oust someone who is a current “Mayor.”

Register Your Business and Offer Specials!

As a business owner, you want to make sure you register your business on foursquare. Users can “check-in” at your business, whether you are registered or not, giving you free advertising. However, having a registered business is more advantageous because it allows you to interact with your customer base.

For instance, you can monitor the reactions and tips posted about your business. You are able to offer coupons to anyone who checks-in and you can offer royal deals to those who frequent enough to be your “Mayor,” which we recommend doing since they are your best customers!

Examples of How to Offer Specials on foursquare

It doesn’t matter what size your business is, you can attract new customers or reward loyal ones by offering these foursquare specials – mobile coupons, prizes or discounts – to users when they check-in at or near your venue. Everyone likes a deal right? Why not reward your most loyal customers or get more traffic on a slow day?

1.) Offer 25 percent off a meal, a BOGO (buy one get one) coffee, or maybe even roll out the red carpet (literally) once your “Mayor” steps in the door. Specials can be tailored to fit the needs of your business.

2.) Just like reward programs offered across the nation utilizing a reward card, you can use the same concept for your loyal customers who use foursqare. For example, check-in 10 times, get a free product, gift, or prize at your 11th visit.

3.) Use it to increase traffic on a slow day by offering a buy one, get one half-off lunch special for one day only, or between certain hours. Offer happy hour or early dinner deals on certain days for those that check-in at certain times.

For instance, near where we live in Ashland, Ohio, where small business abounds, College Hills Honda in Wooster, Ohio gives a free Honda hat to you on your third check-in. Harry and David chain store at the Lodi Outlet Mall in Burbank, Ohio (near Lodi and Wooster) offers $10 off your purchase $50 with foursquare check-in (for which if you show retailer, they will put in a code at check-out). Also at the Lodi Outlet Mall they give a special exclusively for foursquare users: a free lunch at Steam Cafe for every 10th check-in and for the “Mayor,” a free Lodi Station Outlets hoodie and a FREE lunch at Steam Cafe.

What foursquare Customers Can Do for You with Social Media

They can offer much more in return to you as their check-ins post to their followers on Facebook and Twitter, as well as to their friends on foursqare, giving you a wealth of free advertising and testimonials. If they have their foursquare set-up to post to social media (they can post all or choose which), their check-ins, Mayorships, and badges will post each time to Facebook and Twitter alerting even more people to your business. If they leave a great tip about your business, even better! Monitor your Twitter stream for your brand or business, and send a tweet to those who have their foursquare use sent out into Twitterverse. I loved when I became Mayor of my local Drug Mart one day and the Drug Mart Twitter account thanked me for my patronage and started to follow me!

Free Venue Statistics

Having a registered business also allows you to also use the merchant tool called venue stats. foursquare offers these free of charge to registered businesses and the stats will give you a great deal of information on your visitors, including what time of day they most generally arrived, a break-down by gender, and even which portion of your visitors’ check-ins were posted to Facebook and Twitter! This is a great tool to use after launching a special to see what kind of activity and return you received.

Need Assistance?

There is a lot more to using this marketing tool than you may think that can be quite good for your business as the world turns more to online marketing, mobile use, and digital media. At Addison’s Compass Public Relations, we can offer assistance to any business needing consultation to get set-up on foursquare, or would like to have the set-up done for them and/or managed as well. If you are local to us in Ohio, we do house (business) calls too!

You can find both Tim and I on foursquare as avid users and would be happy to be your friend on foursquare and frequent your business!