Category Archives: Uncategorized

Have Hope and Focus on What You Know

When you don’t know what’s going on – whether it’s health, a relationship, your job – don’t focus on what you don’t know. Focus on what you DO know.Image result for focus Here’s five suggestions:

  • God is good. Psalms 119:68 “You (God) are good and do good.”
  • God is powerful. Jeremiah 32:17 “You (God) have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You!”
  • God is there. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
  • God has a plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

What can you add to the list?

If you say ‘I can’t go anywhere or do anything until I know where I am going,’ you’re not going to get anywhere. Have Faith. Trust. Have Hope. Focus on what you know.

 


 

I heard this on the radio as I waited to pick up my daughter. I really, really, REALLY want to give credit to the minister and broadcast where I heard this but I didn’t catch the minister’s name or the name of the program so my apologies for not giving proper credit. If someone knows, I will absolutely give credit! ~ Stephen

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Hope from the Tower of Terror

On the radio, the news reporters shared that Disney is replacing the Tower of Terror. My daughter immediately started passionately declaring that Disney should make sure that whatever they replace the Tower with had better be better than the Tower. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of breaking down the Tower taking away an attraction Disney fans have grown to love!?

I asked her who was doing this project. She replied Disney. I then asked her if she had ever known Disney to do something bad. She replied no. “Then why would you doubt that what Disney is doing – even thought you can’t see what they’re doing – is not going to be awesome!?”

God is good. Abundantly good! “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19 And everything he creates is good. (1 Timothy 4:4) so then when things don’t go our way, when things break down, when we can’t see what tomorrow brings, when we can’t see what will be come of our present situation, why would we doubt that what God is doing – even though we can’t see what he is doing – is not going to be awesome!?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Trending Now… Trends

It’s the most wonderful time of year… for #trends. You know, the speculations and forecasts of initiatives one must undertake next year to keep up with the Joneses. There are marketing trends and social media trends; e-mail marketing trends, content marketing trends, website trends and even customer service trends.

We were recently reminded that perhaps we need to not worry about the “next big thing” and get back to the basics. These 32 Marketing Tips are great, but what if we got back to the very basics of business, people relations, and simple kindness? Customers might find us and our businesses more pleasing. We might have lower stress, and 2015 might be the best year ever.

New Year 2015 Loading Background,happy New Year Template

Smile. We’re stressed. We’re busy. We have a dozen things on our mind when we greet that customer. They don’t care. They want to be treated like they are the only agenda item that day; the only thing on your mind. Heck, maybe they’ll smile back and make your smile genuine!

Be Positive. Whether you are positive or negative, the situation doesn’t change. So we might as well be positive. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.

Compliment Someone. Give genuine, personal compliments. You are so kind with co-workers. You listen so well before assisting the visitor. “I like how you remember everyone’s birthday.” You compliment every co-worker each week, it’s gonna be a very positive work environment!

Write A Note. Don’t type it. Write it. Do you remember pens, paper, envelopes, stamps…? Hand write a thank you note, or a compliment. It’s far more personal than an email or text. And the positive impression is far greater!

Let Someone Merge. Hold a Door Open. You remember common acts of chivalry for us guys, kindness for the ladies. Be a Scout and “Do A Good Turn Daily”!

Pick Up A Piece of Trash. You’ll make your city look better. You’ll make the front of your business look more inviting. Disney managers carry trash tongs. They recognize it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep things tidy. You can’t rely on the ‘wind sweeping down the plains’ to sweep the sidewalk or parking lot.

Be On Time. It’s respectful and courteous to with whom you are meeting. It’s less stressful on you.

Pray For Your Customers and Business Partners. It’s said “As long as there are tests in the classroom, there will be prayer in school.” Well, as long as there is stress in operating a business, there will be prayer. We are instructed to pray – “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Of course we’re thankful for customers and business partners! Why would we not want to petition for blessings upon them?

They’re simple. They’re easily forgotten in today’s hustle and bustle. Put on that smile again. Be kind. Write a compliment. Keep things tidy. Staff morale will improve. Your business team will be strengthened. Customers will want to come back. And your business will stay healthy.

Something to add? Leave your comments below. Thanks for reading.

12 Tips to Grow Your Email List and Grow Your Business

When it comes to email marketing, you know how valuable your email list can be. But coming up with new ways to get people to sign up for your emails isn’t always easy. That’s why I have put together a collection of list growth ideas! Here’s a dozen ideas to grow your list and take your email marketing to the next level!

Whatever methods you use, be sure to start with a reason “why” someone should join your email list. What’s in it for them? This will make it more likely that people will say yes. Now to the list:

Email Marketing Image

1. Use a paper sign-up sheet. Set at the counter a legal pad with First Name, Last Name and Email Address across the top.
2. Ask face-to-face. Train yourself and your employees to always be asking prospective contacts to sign up.
3. Look at your database. Don’t overlook the obvious. You probably already have a database of contact who would love to join your list. As them to sign up.
4. As your family and friends. Look to your personal network to kick start your list growth.
5. Put a fish bowl on your counter. Maybe customers won’t write an email address on the legal pad, so give them an incentive to drop in a business card to join your list.
6. Over the phone. When you are speaking to a client, ask them to sign up.
7. Sandwich Boards. Using a sidewalk sign or sandwich board to bring in foot traffic? Tell passersby about all the great info, discounts, and news they’ll find by signing up for your emails.
8. Add a sign up link to your email signature. Get more exposure for your email list by including a link in your regular emails.
9. Use a brochure. Giving out flyers, flyers, or pamphlets at the store or the office? Let people know your emails are the best source for up-to-date information.
10. Run an ad in the paper. Get the most out of your print advertising investment. Tell people to visit your website and join your list!
11. Run an in-store raffle. Raffle off a prize your customers will love and collect email addresses in the process.
12. Offer a coupon. They go to your site to print the coupon. Before they are able, they provide a name and email address.

Those are a lot of measurable benefits of email marketing. Of course, I recommend that email marketing be an important part of your marketing mix – not the only ingredient in it. However, if you’re not incorporating email into your marketing plan, then you’re missing out on a number of benefits that can improve your overall sales and user engagement for a very low overhead cost and, in many cases, a very limited amount of time and effort. If you’re not continuously adding contacts to your database, you’re missing out on a way to grow your business.

Koranda Named A Constant Contact Solution Provider

Stephen Koranda, Back To You Marketing, Named a Constant Contact Certified Solution Provider

Norman, Oklahoma, marketing expert to help small businesses and nonprofits achieve meaningful marketing results 

NORMAN, OKOctober 1, 2014 – Stephen Koranda, Founder and President of Back to You Marketing, has been named a Certified Solution Provider by Constant Contact®, Inc., the trusted marketing advisor to more than 600,000 small organizations worldwide.

As a Certified Solution Provider, Koranda has completed the Constant Contact Certification Program which provides training on the Constant Contact Toolkit™, marketing best practices, and business development. This training imparts industry-leading knowhow on marketing and services to create meaningful results for program participants and the clients that they serve.

“I’m delighted at the certification as it allows me to combine this education with more than 25 years of marketing experience and success and help Oklahoma small businesses achieve meaningful marketing results,” said Koranda.

“Our Solution Providers are an incredibly valuable asset to small organizations—they’re the agencies, consultants, designers, and developers who we trust to provide hands-on assistance to small businesses and nonprofits. The certification program gives our most engaged Solution Providers access to the education that keeps them on the leading edge of marketing best practices. Small organizations can be confident that when they’re working with a Certified Solution Provider, they’re getting quality expertise that will drive the success of their business,” said Arthur Steinert, vice president and general manager, channel partner sales and marketing, Constant Contact. “By becoming a Certified Solution Provider, Koranda has shown true commitment to understanding and implementing best practices in online marketing—and delivering measurable results for the clients that seek the services of Back To You Marketing.”

About Back To You Marketing

Back To You Marketing is a full-service marketing firm. While their strength is in destination marketing (tourism) and economic development, their experience and skills transcend industries.  From advertising campaigns to marketing plans, print ads to social media, Back To You Marketing have assembled a team of professionals able to connect you to solutions, creatively solve problems, and strategize solutions. 

About Constant Contact, Inc.

Constant Contact helps small businesses do more business. We have been revolutionizing the success formula for small businesses, nonprofits, and associations since 1998, and today work with more than 600,000 customers worldwide.  The company offers the only all-in-one online marketing platform that helps small businesses drive repeat business and find new customers. It features multi-channel marketing campaigns (newsletters/announcements, offers/promotions, online listings, events/registration, and feedback) combined with shared content, contacts, and reporting; free award-winning coaching and product support; and integrations with critical business tools – all from a single login.  The company’s extensive network of educators, consultants/resellers, technology providers, franchises, and national associations offer further support to help small organizations succeed and grow. Through its Innovation Loft, Constant Contact is fueling the next generation of small business technology.

Constant Contact and the Constant Contact Logo are registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All Constant Contact product names and other brand names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

The Fifth P of Marketing

A colleague at a recent tourism function was sharing how her DMO was getting in a “turf war” between the City and the Chamber – both trying to take over the management of the organization. She concluded by sharing ‘I’m staying out of it. I’m not in politics.’ A few of the glancing looks from others at the table communicated that we were thinking the same thing, “Oh yes you are like it or not!”  (And you’d better engage now or you may find yourself in a place you aren’t going to like!)

 

I thought going from a DMO to an attraction I’d find less politics. Boy was I wrong. On the heels of her statement above, I thought I’d dust off this post from April, 2011. Still as timely today! 

 

Remember the Four Ps of Marketing?  Product – Price – Placement and Promotion.  It’s Marketing 101. It’s the core of what we do – destination development (Product), drive hotel rates (Price), advise on the location of the attractions (Placement), and of course advertising and media relations (Promotion.)  But the longer I spend in destination marketing, the more I realize there is indeed a fifth P of marketing.  That fifth P is Politics.

 

I once read that destination marketing professionals are “politicians with marketing skills”.  And while I don’t like to consider myself a politician, I recognize more and more frequently that we do a lot of politic-ing.  Consider that…

 

– The CVB was active in recent City Council elections.  We assisted with candidate profiles and submitted questions for the candidate forums.

 

– Recently we’ve monitored and spoke on City issues related to business lighting and storm water runoff.  Further back, we took a stance on a state education issue and supported both a parks master plan and funding for a business park. (Following this post, we monitored and spoke on high density housing near a popular shopping district and engaged in the passage of a bond issue to improve one of the main corridors into the destination.)

 

– I accompanied our Chamber of Commerce on a ‘fly-in’ to DC to meet with our five representatives and Senators. We also met with NOAA as weather is big business in Norman! (Delighted to see my successor continued the practice!)

 

– In the near future we’ll discuss raising the transient guest tax and the split of that tax to maximize it’s economic impact on the local economy. (It passed increasing the DMO budget by $250,000.)

 

US Travel Association has long recognized the fifth P of destination marketing.  DMAI is engaging more and more in advocacy.  A committee is developing a tool kit for a community to utilize.  Not soon enough as we spend less and less time on the Promotion side of our jobs and more time on the Politics of our job. Update: that tool kit has been developed. It and many other resources can be found here.

 

It’s not the customer interaction we crave. It’s not the full conference hall corridors we like to see. And it’s not the dynamic new advertising creative we like reviewing but politicking has become a vital part of our jobs. Again, like it or not.

 

I’d love to hear success stories or best practices.  Please share those below.

What’s the Plus Side? Using Google+ for Business

I do nothing with and know nothing about Google+.  I don’t even believe I can remember how to login to my account.  Not knowing anything about this social network is what made a former colleague’s blog on Google+ appealing.

Amy Garton, is the Director of Interactive Solutions for the Overland Park (KS) Convention and Visitors Bureau.  I share her blog as a guest column this month…

What is Google+ and what do we know about it?

Google+ is a social network that was created by Google. It is the social element to all of Google’s other services (search, Gmail, YouTube, Blogger) – bringing the social elements people love from other social networks to the Google Family.

  • Launched in 2011. Google had previously launched five other social networks, of which only 1.5 exist today. (The .5 is a feature of G+.)
  • More than 540 million users and more than 300 million active users (versus Facebook at 1.19 billion active users.)
  • Average time spent on G+ per month is 6 minutes and 47 seconds (versus Facebook at 15 hours and 33 minutes.)
  • The +1 button is clicked more than 5 million times per day.

What’s the Plus Side?

1. It is Google. This is not meant to say Google does everything right, but rather we know that Google is the number 1 website in the world so it matters by virtue of size.

2. It is not just another social network. While people like to compare G+ to other networks, and it offers similar features to a variety of the networks, it is unique in both implementation and value.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search is now social and Google+ is Google’s answer to this.

Google+ versus Facebook

One of the biggest barriers to success is Google+ is the public’s opinion that G+ is Google’s answer to Facebook.  Some of the key factors to keep in mind include the following:

  • Facebook is designed to connect us to our existing friends. Your goal is to stay in touch. G+ is designed to connect us to new people via shared interests. Your goal is to connect your brand with Google’s platform to raise awareness for your message.
  • Facebook is designed to build relationships with customers and prospects. G+ is designed to build recognition with a niche.
  • For business, Facebook is designed to demonstrate accessibility to your customers, providing them with service and information they need where they are online. Google+ is designed to support search engine optimization, create brand identity and authority and share content including links.

You can think of Facebook as your short-game and Google+ as your long-game.

Facebook Fans already know and love your brand, but your message has a short shelf life. Google+ Circles are very niche, but your message is tied to search and actually gains momentum with longevity.

The Google+ Features

* Circles: While all networks allow some degree of targeting, especially with their ad platforms, Google really understands the importance of niche marketing and messaging. You might not want to share your child’s latest adventures with your business acquaintances, just like you might not want to share your every thought on the state of social media with your friends. For business, this is an extremely important tool and one of the most useful features of Google+.

* Communities: Google’s answer to groups. Give people a place to hangout around a specific topic

* Hangouts: This Skype like feature allows you to video chat with your connections – bringing once tedious conference calls into a new dimension. The plus side of this feature is you can invite people to Hangout or do an “On Air Hangout” which feeds live into YouTube.

* Events: Create events and invite attendees. Unique feature to this events option is that it will add the event to anyone that uses Gmail or Google Calendars if they are attending and automatically adds it to the calendars of those in your Circles.

* Local: A way for people to review your business and find places near them. These reviews will “help” Google determine what to recommend in the future.

* Hashtags: Google gets this right. They actually add tags to your post if you have not added tags that deem appropriate.

Search brings you information from across the web. Now, search recognizes those you think are important and brings you their information in a personalized results based on your connections, interests you’ve established, location, etc.

According to a study connected by MOZ, the number of G+’s a website has is the second most influential indicator for the Google Algorithm, only behind page authority.

You need to establish a personal and professional network on G+ to demonstrate authority in the industry. And then create a Business Page with a Network to establish authority directly connected to your company’s web presence.

To optimize your Google+ account for SEO, you should:

1. Give your Google+ Page a Name.

Visit Overland Park is the name we use because it is our social profile and our website address.

2. Customize your Google+ Page URL.

To set your custom Google+ page or profile URL:

  • Go to your page or profile and click About.
  • Scroll down to the Links box. You’ll see your existing Google+ page URL.
  • Click on the link and Google+ asks you if you want to convert to a new custom Google+ page URL.

3. Local Page

Merge your Local with Places for easier management. Here is an article on merging the two.

4. Establish Authorship.

Authorship is a form of HTML coding that tells Google that your Page is being managed by an authority related to your website. Your email address must include your website (example agarton@visitoverlandpark.com). You can go further and establish Publisher, which connects all your employees as authors, which is especially useful for blogging.

Seeing Success

* Posting

* Be sure that the information is keyword rich.

* Use links to your website and blogs.

* Use hashtags and review the hashtags Google creates for the post.

* Reshare your evergreen content to increase the number of +1s and increase your SEO.

* Ask for +1s and shares.

* Share your posts publically, unless best fit for a specific circle or needed on a targeted basis. This will reach those in your Circles, but will also go public so more people can find you.

Beyond the Post

* Grow your Circles to grow your Circles. You need to network here. This is one social network that does not punish you for following more people than follow you (and the best way to get new followers is to follow someone else). In fact, it rewards you for having a large network and degrees of connectivity (note that you can only circle 5000 people for your Page). This is a true content-contact marketing effort.

* Add Google +1 Button to website pages.

* Include +1 Button in emails.

* Measuring

* Review posts to see what is getting +1s, comments and shares to drive content curation.

* Establish unique URLS for links to follow in Google Analytics.

Some great tools are available to measure success in a variety of areas. For more

on these tools, go here.

Other Tools that are Available:

* Friends + Me is a website application that allows you to set up an auto share from your google+ page to your other networks. This app allows you to customize what people see by network.

* Chrome Do Share allows you to schedule posts in Google+, but the Chrome browser must be open at the time you want a post to share.

* SteadyDemand.com will give you an analysis of your Google+ page and how it can be better utilized to gain the full SEO benefits of your G+ account.

Thanks for reading.