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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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‘sō shəl (verb) people engaging with each other

We all know the social media statistics: 198 google billion posts on Facebook, 55 quaple million tweets, 127.4 hoople billion pics on Instagram, and more pins than all of Oklahoma and Iowa’s wrestling programs combined. Social media is today what websites were in the 90s meaning if you’re not on social media, well, you’re not in business. But social media is, well, social.

Social Media

Try this: ‘sō shəl (verb) to design activities in which people engage with each other for pleasure – or in your situation – commerce! You won’t find that in Websters but we should. I have noticed a few practices or in some cases, lack of practices, that really doesn’t help social media be social. Bottom line – we’re not engaging! Here’s some thoughts on engaging through Twitter. (Next month, Facebook.)

– If someone comes into your welcome center or business, you greet them right? You thank them for visiting and/or becoming a new customer, yes? When someone follows you on Twitter, thank them!

“@traveler123 – Thanks for following us @VisitAnywheresville.” Keep it simple!

Toss in the hash tag #loveourcustomers for added appeal. If you’re a destination, perhaps use #loveourvisitors.

– Someone mention you on Twitter? Favorite the tweet! If someone took the time to search for @VisitAnywheresville and mention you in their tweet, you have to, HAVE TO, HAVE TO acknowledge them and engage!

I am shocked at how many times I mention someone, some place or some entity and don’t get a favorite. I went to the OKC Energy (semi-pro soccer) game a week ago. Took a picture and mentioned @OKCEnergy. Nothing. Crickets. You think I want to do that again? You think I believe they care that I attended and want me back? Not so much.

I’ll pick on my friends in Branson. We visited Branson over spring break. Seven tweets about our activities. Mentioned @ExploreBranson each time. Only one was favorited.

The mentions should be easy to know about. Log into Twitter and check your notifications. If you’re mentioned, it’s there. Hash tags require a little more searching but if you’re promoting a hashtag and someone uses it, a favorite is required. I only run in Saucony shoes. Every ad of theirs includes #findyourstrong. As I come back from a hamstring injury and begin running again, when I tweet about a run and include #findyourstrong, I’m surprised, nay, shocked Saucony doesn’t favorite the tweet to encourage me to keep using the hashtag and their shoes.

– Don’t just favorite a tweet, reply.

“Really enjoyed the @AnyZoo in @VisitAnywheresville! The monkeys were especially lively.”

Reply:

“@traveler123 Glad you enjoyed your visit to @AnyZoo and @VisitAnywheresville. See you again soon!”

Heck, suggest another attraction to them.

“@traveler123 Glad you enjoyed your visit to @AnyZoo. If you like animals, you may like the @AnyPettingZoo.”

Or (dare I say) send them to your website

“Find out information about @AnyPettingZoo at http://www.VisitAnywheresville.com/AnyPettingZoo”

If I ever get the chance to hike I do. I hiked my fourth location in the state. Tweeted “Hiked Roman Nose, Beaver’s Bend, Wichita, Quartz Mtns & T-bird. What’s next @TravelOK.” They responded with a link to their webpage describing five beginner, five intermediate and five expert hikes in Oklahoma. Just added 15 more destinations to my list!

Hey social media isn’t easy! It’s not just posting or tweeting something, 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!

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