Social Media - Is it worth the time for small businesses?

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Can social media really help increase your ROI; if so, is it worth the time and effort?

Setting up your social media accounts  on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can sound like a daunting experience when, in fact, the content you post will determine your ability to generate new business. Be prepared to make a commitment in time to reap the rewards of new prospects and customers.You need to look at social media as a resource that will give your business a corporate identity.

Posting informative, creative and engaging content will attract responses. Use images or post a survey. The goal is to create a buzz about your company, and get visitors to share it with others which will create a prospect base that will grow.


Rack Cards – Gain More Exposure

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Rack cards  are a great way to feature your businesses products and services; they are typically used to display and are also a convenient size to carry in a pocket or purse. You frequently see rack cards in stores, museums, restaurants, hotels and resorts, salons, Chambers of Commerce, etc. They can also be mailed in a standard size envelope making this a versatile “selling” piece for your business.

A custom designed rack card using bright colors and graphics will get your business noticed. Make sure to include your company logo, web site, phone number and e-mail so prospects can easily contact you for more information or to purchase a product. Rack card are another marketing tool to get your business exposure.

Tent Cards – Don’t Underestimate this Unique Marketing Tool

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Tent cards can be customized to meet all of your needs—from promotional to personal. Highlight a discount and send to existing and potential customers, or keep it more personal with loved ones and clients with a personalized greeting card for holidays, birthdays, or just to say “thanks”.

Getting Your Newsletter Opened

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014
With our busy lifestyles, many newsletters are sent to the Trash box without ever being opened. If the subject line doesn’t interest me I move on to the next e-mail. Here are a few things to consider when writing your next newsletter: 1. Your subject line can “make or break you”. 2. Write a newsletter that will bring value to your customer. 3. Write as if you’re speaking to the reader.

Client Referrals and Reviews Are an Important Piece to Your Success

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Over two-thirds of online visitors read customer reviews before choosing to make a purchase on-line. Client referrals and reviews are an important piece to your success and including these reviews on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is another avenue of marketing yourself in front of potential prospects. Positive reviews and five-star ratings are valuable content that shouldn’t be overlooked in your social marketing strategy.

Create a Business Card and a Resume Together

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Create a standard size business card and a resume so you can take advantage of every job opportunity that may present itself. Include a photo, contact information and key qualifications and job experience on a fold-over business card. Never miss another opportunity to promote yourself for that next job.

How to Avoid Costly Mistakes in your Direct Mail Campaign

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

It’s easy to make an error when implementing a direct mail campaign. Errors can be costly!  I’ve listed the most common mistakes people make when developing campaigns.

1.    Using the wrong list. The biggest and most costly, mistake you can make is not using a targeted mailing list that represents your audience. Make sure your list is current and targeted to meet your needs. If you’re purchasing a new list, make sure you have the exact criteria of the audience you’re trying to reach.
2.    Poor copy. Even if it’s only 50 words, it needs to be the right words. Take the time to review your copy and make changes until you know the text will grab the attention of the reader. Don’t write a book; stick to the key points of the product or service.
3.    No call to action. Not telling the reader what you want them to do defeats the point of sending the direct mail piece. Is the offer time-sensitive? Do you want them to respond by calling, e-mailing or visiting   the web site?   Clearly state what they need to do or you may not get a response. Offering a “perk” will increase your response rate; it doesn’t have to be a discount; it can be a “free”  or “discounted” add-on to the purchase.
4.    No testing. Too many people learn the hard way that their direct mail piece is not effective. It should be common practice to test out anything you plan to use to market or advertise your business to see if it makes an impact. Many times, post card copy needs to be “tweaked” to get optimum results or the list may not be targeted enough to reach the desired market.
5.    Using hype over benefits of your product and/or service. Talk about the benefits for the customer; don’t inflate the product or service as it will only backfire on you. Stick to five key points, and the reader will not be overwhelmed with information.

6.    Not proofing the copy. Too many times people send out mail pieces only to find there were spelling errors, incorrect pricing, wrong addresses or phone numbers, or misspelled urls. Have several people proofread your copy and re-visit the piece over a few days before going to print. It’s easy to miss errors when you’re been looking at a piece numerous times; a “fresh” set of eyes can spot costly errors.

7.    Not having an attention grabbing headline. Mail gets tossed if it doesn’t grab our immediate attention. Your opening statement needs to make an impact; this is going to affect whether the reader will continue to read the postcard.
8.    Over-thinking the design and not content. A mail piece needs to look good but the content must work with it or it will be become a disastrous campaign. You want people to focus on the wording not just the colorful graphics. Keep your design to 2-3 graphics along with 5 key points on your product or service. Make sure you have a “call to action”.

9.     Not following up. Repetition is key in the success of any mailing campaign. A successful direct mail campaign involves 2-3 mailings. The biggest mistake companies make is to send one mailing and stop if they don’t get the desired response.

10.   Tracking your success. It’s key that you track your response rate as it will play a key role in future mailings. Create a simple “in-house” tracking method that allows you see the number of calls, sales, etc. that have been created from the mailing.

Direct mail campaigns can be very successful if you use a “check and balance” system. Don’t rush to put a campaign together – remember, the mail piece is going to represent your company. You don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression.

Tips for Creating Your Mail Piece

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

There are numerous tricks to the trade when creating your mail piece . Color,  print, wording and size of the piece are just a few of the components that can “make or break” the success of your campaign.

Industry standards for the return on investment (ROI) are 1 – 2%. However, a well thought out campaign can see as much as 4-6% return on investment. Once  you’ve created the piece you want to mail, you should consider a test run before mailing to your entire list so you can see the impact it has on the recipients. Once you’ve “tweaked” the mail piece, and achieved your target response, send it to your entire list.

Here are some key points to consider:
•  Paper quality, size, color and texture are all part of the presentation, not just what you have to say. Don’t cut corners – you’ll never have a second chance to make a good first impression.

•  Don’t over-design;  keep it simple. Remember you want people to read what’s on the card.
•  Send a separate mailing to repeat customers with special offers, promotions or advance notice of
upcoming sales. They are vital to your business.
•  If you are mailing to a business, try to find the best name to send to.
•  If possible, ink jet your addresses directly onto the mail piece. It’s more professional looking.
•  Write copy that states what your product or service can do for the reader.
•  Avoid technical jargon – keep it simple so the recipient understands the key points.
•  Make your phone number prominent on the mail piece.
•  If you are requesting a return by mail, make the process simple and the instructions very clear.
•  If you have a web site, include it on all direct mail pieces.
•  Add a personalized touch when sending letters; merge the names into your mail piece.
Direct mail campaigns can get costly; keep track of your expenses. A successful direct mail campaign should generate a profit, so keep track of your spending versus your return on investment (ROI).

Who Are Your Customers?

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

You probably have a database of your customers already – it could be as simple as a card file or spreadsheet. The important thing is to use it wisely. If you don’t have a database, or you need to have a bigger list, then you can buy or even rent databases.

To target your best customers effectively and efficiently, you need a deeper understanding of who they are, where they live, what they do, what they like and dislike, etc. This is called profiling. You don’t have to profile to send direct mail, but it will improve your results.

Profiling helps you:
•    Visualize the people you want to reach
•    Fine-tune your offer to a well-defined audience
•    Create more appropriate and more effective mailings

What is a profile?

Put simply, it’s a set of characteristics that help identify and group your target audience.
•    For consumer mailings, you can use age, gender, income, geographical area, home type, hobbies, and special interests, or any combination, to provide a profile; for example: men, aged 30 to 40, who enjoy scuba diving, and live in San Francisco, California.
•    For business mailings, typical characteristics may be: industrial classification, sales turnover, number of employees, geographical area and technology or machinery used. Are you looking to contact small-to-medium enterprise company car drivers in New York?

What if I have a little in-depth information on my customers?

If your database holds little or no profile information, you can usually get a much fuller view by matching it against external data, such as one of the major demographic or lifestyle databases, such as Experian.

Cross-referencing data in this way can be quite illuminating at times. You might, for instance, find that a segment of your database is actually youngish, just-married and enjoys rock-climbing and other active sports. Not ideal for that cruise you’re trying to sell… but you could position a mailing as ‘a gift for your parents’.

Checklist for Planning Your Direct Mail Campaign

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

1.    Know your consumer.
2.    Provide your mailing list broker with an accurate description of your product or offer. The broker may have suggestions as to the type of list that would best suit your needs.
3.    Know the difference between a response and a compiled mailing list.
-Response mailing lists are comprised of individuals who have responded to an offer either through the mail, phone, and television or through other means of mass communication.
-Compiled mailing lists are a compilation of information from public records and sources such as the phone book, courthouse records, bankruptcy filings, mortgage deed records and more.
4.    Have a customer profile-address your offer to an individual. Understand your customers’ needs and desires.
5.    What is your offer? Be straight forward and enticing in the merchandising of your product
6.    Make sure there is quality in your offer. How can the consumer or business benefit from your product and/or service?
7.    Evaluate your costs. What is the cost per lead verses the pricing of your product?
8.    The appearance of your mail piece should look personal so the consumer is more likely to open it.
9.    You may want to include informative brochures and testimonials regarding your offer.
10.    Track responses. You can evaluate the success of your mail campaign by analyzing and tracking the response so with your next mailing you can make adjustments to increase responses, thus increasing business and profitability.

Many times it does take more than one contact with a consumer or business to turn a prospect into a loyal customer. Success campaigns usually have multiple mailings for optimum results