Category Archives: Marketing

6 Reasons To Think Mobile

“Because Google says so” apparently wasn’t a good enough reason for a client’s CEO to say yes to making his websites mobile-friendly.

We were reviewing a client’s web presence and one of the first things we noticed was that none of their three websites were mobile-friendly. We mentioned this to our contact and he said, “Oh I know, but our CEO will need some numbers and data to convince us to re-do our websites.”

If you or your CEO is needing additional convincing, we’ve compiled 6 data points and reasons to think mobile.

1. Because Google Said So. Remember “Mobilegeddon? The day this past spring when Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm went into affect? The change made it easier for users to find content formatted for their devices (smartphones, pads, etc.) The change is bad news for websites that aren’t mobile-ready – ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen on which they’re viewed.

Mobile-friendly sites will be ranked higher in Google search. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will get demoted.

“A lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web,” said one industry expert on the verge of Mobilegeddon.

2. More Mobile than Desktop. We are now past the mobile “tipping point” as a report from comScore shows. More people are using mobile devices than desktop devices.Mobile Number of Global Users

 

3. More Mobile than Desktop 2. Mobile media time is now greater than desktop and other media. 51% of internet usage is through mobile. 42% through desktop or laptop.

Mobile Internet Usage

 

4. More Mobile than Desktop 3. The trend in mobile device usage (‘vertical screens’) compared to desktop/laptop usage shows 2.8 hours of our days are spent on mobile screens vs. 2.4 hours on desktop or laptop screens.

Mobile Time  Spent on Screens

 

5. Search Begins on Mobile. Google’s mobile path to purchase report surveyed 950 US consumers across 9 different verticals to assess how they researched purchases via mobile. A key finding is the starting point for mobile research. As might be expected search was the most common starting point, but it’s lower than desktop showing the importance of branded apps and mobile sites.

Mobile Search

6. Enhancing the Visitor Experience. What experience are visitors to your website having on their mobile device? If they are finding the desktop version on their smartphone, they are finding small text and hard-to ‘click’ links. They are enlarging and scrolling left and right, left and right. We’ve all experienced it. It’s not a pleasant experience.  Give users the best experience on the devices that they’re actually using to access your site. It should be simple for shoppers to make a purchase directly from their mobile device.

Wondering about the state of your website? Is it mobile-friendly? Could it offer visitors a better experience?

Right now we’re offering a free scan of your website. Actually we’ll run it through three scans. We’ll provide you 10 tips to improve your website. Email me today. Let me know which website you’d liked reviewed and we’ll get right on it!

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Takeaways from the Oklahoma Conference on Tourism

Another VERY informative Conference on Tourism put on by the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association. I heard many co-conference attendees exclaim, “Information Overload!” Great appreciation to Debra Bailey and the Board for putting together such a great day of education.

OTIA Conference

So what were the key takeaways? Mobile, Content and Customer Service. Let’s break them down…

Mobile – The data shared by Santiago Jaramillo should not be surprising:

  • There are more smart phones purchased each year than babies born.
  • 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices.
  • 2 of 3 consumers are less likely to engage further with a brand if they have a poor experience with that brand on a mobile device.

So the key question to ask is ‘what kind of experience are potential visitors having through your website?’ We’ve shared Google search is rewarding mobile-friendly websites on search. Now is the time to build a responsive design website so your potential visitors have a positive experience with your brand on their mobile device.

Content – Daniel Levine encouraged attendees to ‘put online as much information as you can about your destination, hotel or attraction.’ Jennifer Kaulkman shared potential visitors want info so give it to them. ‘Draw them in with great content.’ What is great content? Howard Tietjen said it’s storytelling. Don’t just list the facts about your attraction. Tell the story behind the exhibits. Don’t just list the menu items. Tell the story behind your Oklahoma famous chicken fried steak. The story should also connect with the reader. Answer the question ‘why do they care?’

Content includes visuals. Kauklman encouraged “killer photography” on the website. How many pics? “As many as you can!” Budget to pay for a photographer to take quality photography. Video is probably more important than pictures. Shaun Auckland shared more than 50% of travelers search YouTube in 5 of 6 steps of the travel planning process. Put your story to video!

Customer Service – It’s not sexy. It’s not a cool, hip trend. But it’s what travelers want. Actually Levine clarified that – travelers want OUTSTANDING service! “Forget the sales. Focus on guest happiness.” Jaramillo put it this way: “If we sell a visitor, we get them for a weekend. If we help a visitor, we get them for a lifetime.” If through the website and social media and apps and videos and SEO we forget customer service, we’re forgetting that we are the destination’s brand and the service beyond expectations is what visitors will remember, tweet, post, and share with their friends! It will also be why they return!

A Logo Is Not a Brand

Casper, Wyoming, has “released a new brand” OilCityWyo.com announced last week. It would have been okay if it was just poor wording that a business or destination could release a new brand. But it was aided by the destination marketing professional when he stated, “This community has never had a brand and you get one shot.” Sorry, Aaron McCreight, but Casper has had a brand since the city was founded after the Fort closed. It may not have had a logo to communicate the brand, but it’s had and has a brand.

This isn’t intended to pick on Casper and Aaron. They are merely the spark to share a piece I dusted off recently: A Logo Is Not a Brand

Lots of organizations come to our company, Advertising for Humanity, asking for “a new brand.” They typically mean a new name, or icon, or a new look and feel for their existing name. Lots of people think that brand begins and ends there – that once we shine up the name they can stick it below their email signature, pop it on their website, and, voila, they have a new brand. Much of our work consists of disabusing people of this notion.

Brand is much more than a name or a logo. Brand is everything, and everything is brand.

Brand is your strategy. If you’re a consumer brand, brand is your products and the story that those products tell together. Ikea’s kitchen chairs’ tendency to fall apart after two years is part of the company’s brand. If you’re a humanitarian organization, brand is your aspirations and the progress you are making toward them. Share Our Strength’s audacious goal to end child hunger in America in five years is its brand. The work the organization is doing to get governor after governor on board is its brand. Its seriousness is its brand. Back in 1969 NASA didn’t have the best logo. But man did it have a brand. It has a nicer logo now – but the brand no longer stands for anything. If you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, that’s your brand no matter what fancy new name you come up with.

Brand is your calls to action. If Martin Luther King had offered people free toasters if they marched on Washington, that would have been his brand. Are your calls to action brave and inspiring or tacky? Are the consistent with some strategy that makes sense? Getting more Facebook “likes” isn’t a strategy, in and of itself. If you’re a humanitarian organization, the things you ask your constituents to do are your brand.

Brand is your customer service. If donors call your organization all excited and get caught up in a voicemail tree, can’t figure out who they should talk to, and leave a message for someone unsure if it’s the right person, that’s your brand. It say you don’t really care all that much about your donors. If they come to your annual dinner and can’t hear the speaker because of a lousy sound system, that’s your brand. It says that you don’t think it’s really important whether they hear what you have to say or not. If the clerk at your checkout counter is admiring her nails and talking on her cell phone, she’s your brand, whether she’s wearing one of the nice new logo caps you bought or not.

Brand is the way you speak. If you build a new website and fill it with outdated copy, you don’t have a new brand. If the copy is impenetrable – a disease of epidemic proportion in the humanitarian sector – that’s your brand. If you let social service jargon, acronyms, and convoluted abstractions contaminate everything you say, that’s your brand. If your annual report puts people to sleep, that’s your brand. If it’s trying to be all things to all people, that’s your brand.

Message is the central part of your brand, but message alone cannot make a great brand. How many times have you encountered a product or service that didn’t live up to what the copy writers told you about it? That disconnect is your brand.

Brand is the whole array of your communication tools. Brand is the quality of te sign on the door that says, “Back in 10 minutes.” It’s whether you use a generic voicemail system with canned muzak-on-hold, or whether you create your own custom program. The former says you are just like everyone else and you’re fine with that, the latter says you are original. You might have a pretty sale banner that adheres to all the right visual standards, but if it’s sagging and hung up with duct tape, that’s your brand. It says you don’t pay attention to the details. Can you imagine seeing a crooked banner with duct tape in an Apple store? Never. And that’s their brand. It says that the motherboard in the Mac isn’t hanging by a thread either.

In the digital age, user interface is your brand. If your website’s functionality frustrates people, it says that you don’t care about them. Brand extends even to your office forms, the contracts you send out, your HR manuals. Do you rethink traditional business tools or default to convention? The choice you make says a lot about how innovative your brand is.

Brand is your people. Brand is your people and the way they represent you. Having a good team starts with good hiring and continues with strong and consistent training and development. No matter how well your employees adhere to your new brand style guide, if they couldn’t care less about the job they’re doing, that’s your brand.

Brand is your facilities. Are the lights on, or is your team working in darkness? Is the place clean and uncluttered? Does it have signage that’s consistent with your visual standards? Does it look and feel alive? You home is your brand.

Brand is your logo and visuals, too. A great brand deserves a great logo and great graphic design and visuals. It can make the difference when the consumer is choosing between two great brands. But these alone cannot make your brand great.

Ultimately, brand is about caring about your business at every level and in every detail, from the big things like mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small.

Whether you know it or not, whether you have a swanky logo or not, you do have a brand. The question is whether or not it’s the brand you really want.

Copyright 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. From http://www.hbr.org. By Dan Pallotta.

It’s Legislative Season – How to Play a Role

Like Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer, last night’s State of the Union Address by our President marks the unofficial start of Legislative sessions, not just in Washington D.C., but in capitals in every state. How are you engaging in the process? You cannot leave it to your state association to advocate for you. You have a responsibility as a business owner, industry leader, voter, to engage with your Legislator.

I dusted off a piece How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government. I did not pen it. I would freely give credit to the author but there is none so with that disclaimer of plagiarism, here’s How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government:

Get to know your local Senator and Representative. You should become personally acquainted with your senator and representative. Take a sincere interest in them, and get  know their political philosophies. If you contact your legislators only when you want their support on a legislative matter, it may be too late. It is better to be in touch with them throughout their term of office, thereby creating an ongoing, working relationship.

Make sure your local views are heard and listened to. Few people ever contact their legislators. This reluctance usually results from the belief that legislators have no time or inclination to answer their phones or read their mail, and that one single contact will not make a difference anyway. In most cases, these views are wrong. Thoughtful and persuasive contacts can change a legislator’s mind and bring about a review of his or her positions.

Arrange for meetings when your legislator are back in the district. Talk to your legislators when they are back home as they are more likely to listen and respond positively in a local environment – on your turf. Your senator and representative need to directly exposed to the people they represent – including you as a local businessperson/community leader. They need to know what you think about the issues facing your community and the state, and how legislation pending in the capital will affect your operation. That is why they are in the Legislature.

Helpful Hints:

Know the Procedure – How does a bill become a law?

Evaluate the Issues – Give priority in your lobbying to important issues.

Deal with Principles – If your legislators really support business, most of your battles are won.

Recognize their Problems – Your legislators represent all of the constituents in your area – rural and urban, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, business and labor. Try to understand their problems, outlook and objectives.

Never Threaten – Never threaten political or other consequences if your legislator refuses to see an issue your way.

Inform Allies – If you request introduction of a bill by your legislator, let potential allies know.

Communicate in a Timely Manner – Contacts with legislators before a committee vote and before floor action by the committee of the whole. In both chambers of the legislature, are most effective.

Be Accurate – Be sure to have accurate facts and good arguments about any issues you discuss with your legislators.

Do Not Be Argumentative – Make your point, but do not engage in a quarrelsome debate.

Follow Up Your Request – If you have made your request for a certain action – in person, by letter or telephone call – follow it through.

Show Your Appreciation – When your legislators do a good job on a piece of legislation, tell them about it. Do not take it for granted that they know you are appreciative of their efforts.

Give Them Your Support – If you believe your legislators deserve re-election, do not hesitate to get involved when they are campaigning for another term.

You have additional tips or hints you’d like to share? Or an antidote to support any of the points above? Please share with us below.

Thanks for reading.

10 Step Promotional Plan to the Most Success Ever

You have a great promotion. Buy one, get one half off (or free.) 45% off in celebration of your 45th anniversary. Or certain percentage of purchases are returned to local schools. But what’s the promotional plan around it? A post on Facebook and a tweet but crickets. Try the newspaper again?

Let’s look at an easy, 10 step plan to help you execute the promotion and have the most success ever!

Step 1: Create signage. Something to put on the door(s) to your store, hotel or attraction. If you’re a restaurant, also include table tents. Have signage at the counter(s). Signage in hotel rooms or on the doors to the indoor pool. Put a sign next to the hand dryer in the restroom. Where ever your customers may be able to see a sign, hang, post, mount, place a sign.

Step 2: On Facebook, ask people to join your email list to get a special offer. Include a link to your sign-up form.

Step 3: Email your customers announcing your special offer. Let your customers know about your special offer and why they should act on it.

Step 4: On Facebook, remind people they still have time to get your special offer. Post a relevant image to your Facebook Page with the following status (be sure to include a link to your sign-up form): “There’s still time to get our special offer. Join our email list to get it sent to your inbox. ”

Step 5: Send an email reminder just before your offer expires. This is it. Your offer is almost up. Let your contacts know this is their last chance to take advantage of it.

Step 6: Be sure to ask new customers to join your email list while they’re in your store. This way you’ll be able to keep in touch with them!

Step 7: Send a “Thank You” email to your customers. It’s time to say “Thank you!” to everyone who took advantage of the special promotion. Expressing your gratitude goes a long way in creating long lasting
customer relationships. You can even send along another offer they can use later so you get people back to the store.

Step 8: Post on Facebook a “Thank you!” Post an image of you and your staff to your Facebook Page with the
following status: “Thank you for shopping with us.”

Step 9: Send a bonus coupon or reward to the customers who redeemed your offer that can be used at a later date. This could either be a part of the “Thank You” email (Step 7), handed out to them directly when they are in your store, or a fourth email after the “Thank You” email.

Step 10: Send a survey to your email contacts to find out what they’re interested in so you can keep them engaged all year long.

Okay, that last one may be more in preparation for the next promotion, but it’s also relevant information to let you know if your customers really appreciated the special promotion or not. Of course your cash register should indicate that as well!

Signage, three emails, three Facebook posts and a survey. You’re on your way to the most success ever!

Tourism Industry Undervalued – Needs Repect

At a recent town hall meeting, Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb made a pretty good case that the tourism industry is one of, if not the most undervalued industry. “Few grasp the tourism industry’s impact on Oklahoma. They don’t realize U.S. travelers spend $7.2 billion in Oklahoma in 2012 or tourism generated $385.3 million in state taxes – the third largest revenue stream in state government – and $188.5 million in local taxes that year.”

rodney no respect

Beyond the numbers are all of the issues destination marketing professionals have to deal with. I recently spoke to a Chamber Leadership Class about issues related to tourism. After I shared my list, they started sharing theirs and frankly, I was speechless.

There’s the issues to be expected:

– the belief by residents that there’s ‘nothing to do’ and thus, they don’t help promote the destination.

– the lack of a high-class, ‘white cloth’ restaurant

– the lack of night life

– the lack of quality and variety of retail

– the need to improve downtown

But then there were the issues that again, left me speechless. Destination marketing professionals work with real estate developers, volunteers, elected officials, our Chambers and economic development offices to spur growth in our downtowns, add variety to the retail mix (or add retail to a heavy office use.) We work to beautify our entryways and make good first impressions.

How do you deal with out of state oil companies that don’t ‘buy into the local community’ through sponsorships or volunteerism? They certainly don’t show appreciation to the community by keeping their work spaces clear of debris or mowed (let alone landscaped.) What’s the solution to those same companies that over occupy the hotel rooms and stain them with their dirty, grimy work boots and clothes? And find an answer to very high paying drilling positions – so high that mothers and girl-friends don’t have to find a job leaving many retail and service (restaurant) jobs left unfilled.

Then there’s drugs. I have been privileged to go through DMAI’s Certified Destination Marketing Executive program and countless tourism conferences. Never once did the subject of drugs come up. But in some destinations, it is a real issue that is affecting tourism.

Too many believe a CVB simply places ads, mails visitor guides and on occasion, put on an event. Destination marketing involves management of the issues related to the community as an attractive destination to visitors – valuable visitors spending a LOT of money – so much money that, at least in Oklahoma, tourism is the third largest revenue generating industry in the state. That is a profession worth some respect.

‘sō shəl (verb) people engaging with each other – Pt. 2

“Social media” suggests that we are sociable with those that like us, follow us or connect with us. However, as we get busier and busier, we too often either use a social media management tool like Hootsuite, schedule our posts/tweets and never review them after they are posted. Or we quickly log on to Facebook, post and log off, never reviewing the interactions.

Last month I shared a few ways to engage more through Twitter. As Facebook changes their algorithms and our posts appear in less and less news feeds, we focus on Facebook and – as our new definition of social suggests – design activities in which people engage with each other for pleasure.

1. Like every comment. Simple enough. Outside of the absolutely bashing comment – “The Anywheresville Zoo is the worst ever…” – like every comment! They took the time to comment on your post so like it. Is it the most eloquent endorsement? Can you use it in your marketing materials? Maybe not. But like it! It encourages more comments. And you want “Joe commented on Anywhereville’s post” to appear in his friends’ news feeds. Gold!

Fort Worth FB

Even more so, comment yourself – “Thanks for sharing Julie!” If it’s negative – “We didn’t particularly like the zoo. A lot of walking!” Comment with “Thanks for sharing. Did you know about the tram back to the elephants?” You acknowledged their comment and provided assistance. How can you go wrong with that? Plus you showed your DMO is knowledgeable about services at attractions. (It’s that whole relevancy thing…)

2. If someone asks a question, for crying out loud, respond! Again, they took the time to ask a question. I totally understand – no one can watch the page 24/7. Glance at it every now and then – first thing in the morning, before or after lunch and right before you leave for the day.

3. Do you have a friends page? Your Facebook page isn’t really a business page. “Anywheresville” is the first name and “State” is the last name? It’s common. And really it’s to your advantage! Birthdays! A client of mine had both a friends page and a business page. I kept them both and wished all of their friends ‘happy birthday’. Numerous times I’d get replies surprised they’d get a greeting from an attraction. It’s as personal as you can get with your customers!

facebook birthday

4. Pictures! When you scroll through your news feed, what grabs your eye? A text only post or a picture? So then why don’t you use pictures for your DMO or business’ posts? “A picture is worth a thousand words.” A picture might be worth a thousand likes.

Charlottesville Picture Post

5. Start conversations. Go ahead and prime the pump. Encourage dialogue. About once a week, a local Mexican restaurant posts a conversation starter. A recent one: Imagine you can only order one thing off our menu for the rest of your life: What is it? 28 comments. Try fill in the blanks. “In one word, our quacamole goes best with _____________” Combine this with pictures and have then provide the caption. (Possibly less successful as it really requires creativity more so than one adjective or commenting with your favorite burrito but worth a try.)

6. Feature customers. Get comment cards? Post the comments. “Thanks for the kind words Julie (followed by her quote)” or just a waitress in your restaurant was just asked to take a picture of guests at a table. Take a picture yourself and post it. Get their name and say “Peter and his friends celebrating his landing a big account.”

7. Ask for a like, a comment or a share. Word is Facebook is tweaking their algorithm to combat ‘spammy’ posts: How many likes can we get for the new dinosaur at the museum? Or What’s your favorite ride a the waterpark? Like for lazy river, comment for raft ride, share for death drop. I believe it you ask in a subtle tone, it’s still okay. “Let’s hear what you have to say” or “you gotta like this”.

Facebook-Like-Baiting

There’s other ways to engage – contests, exclusive promotions, apps – but let’s keep it with these seven tips this month. Social media isn’t easy! It’s not just posting, checking it off your to-do list and moving to the next task. Yes, it takes time and we’re all super busy – especially in the one man/woman offices. Perhaps it’s time to consider getting some help. Please let me know if we can help in any way. At the very least, the above can help you engage with visitors and potential visitors.