What to Know About Marketing

What to know about marketing.

“Marketing” is a big, broad umbrella term that we’ve all heard, but what is marketing really all about and how can it benefit your business? Chances are you’re using a bunch of marketing techniques without realizing it!
Marketing, as a general meaning, is “the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.” (Dictionary.com) This means that, yes, marketing is just the simple act of selling your product or services, but there is a lot more that can be done to promote and advertise your business.

Digital Marketing

This is probably the most important form of marketing, especially in the modern, digital age. Digital marketing includes:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Check out our blog about it here
  • Social Media posts and outreach. Check out our blog for tips and tricks on how to use it
  • Video marketing. Here’s a master list of all the different ways to incorporate video into your online marketing
  • Email and text message marketing. This is great to use when promoting an event or new product

There’s so much that goes into digital marketing, the possibilities are endless! If you’re not sure where to start with marketing, online is the place to begin. It’s a great way to not only promote your products and services, but it’s a great way to communicate directly with your customers.

Unique, High-Quality Service

While this one may seem obvious, the quality of your product is a great way to sell to customers and it’s the best way to stand out from competitors! Marketing your product becomes a lot easier if you and your customers understand the high quality value of it. Further, this extends to the unique face of your business. Not only do you want people to benefit from your services, but they want to get to know the unique personality of you.

Targeting Customers

This is another important aspect to understand about marketing. The best way to market your business, no matter the platform or medium, is to know who you’re selling your products to. Using Facebook or Instagram business account allows you to track the demographics of your consumers. Once you have those findings, take a look back at your posts and see which ones they interact with most, or if you’re just getting started, play around with a couple of different marketing techniques (email, social media, video, etc.) and see which one attracts the most people and go from there!

Branding

The face of your business is the first thing people see! From language to video style to the colors used in your logo, they should all be coherent and work together. This is a great marketing strategy because your consumers will become familiar with your work and find a sense of comfort when they see your posts, leading them to wanting to see your content more and more. Check out our blog on branding to get a more in depth idea of what it is.

 

Marketing can be intimidating, especially when you’re starting out, but these are great places to dip your toes into. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be diving into the world of marketing in no time. Make sure to check out our linked blog posts to help you on your journey!

Benefits of Email Marketing For Small Businesses

email marketing for small businesses.

Email is a tool most people use everyday. Email marketing is a cost effective solution to directly communicate with your customers, especially for small businesses. Whether it be a monthly newsletter, “Happy Birthday” message or seasonal specials, sending emails to your clients can be a great way to increase brand awareness and help drive sales. Here are five benefits of email marketing for small businesses:

  1. Increased Awareness

    Email marketing is an easy way to stay in front of your target audience. Send them messages to stay on top of their mind. Be consistent for the best results. If your email marketing schedule is inconsistent, people might not remember your business and will be less likely to open the message. Keep your messages fun and relevant for best results.

  2. Consistent Communication

    Like mentioned in the above point, it’s important to send out your messages consistently. Whether it’s once or twice a month or quarterly, make sure you have a plan. You don’t want to bombard people with emails all the time but you also want to stay in front of them. Sending out an email once a year is not going to be an effective solution for your marketing plan.

  3. Increased Website Traffic

    It’s important to have strong call to actions in your emails. Often times, an important call to action would be sending recipients to your website. This needs to be done strategically. You can’t always send them to your home page. Which page is going to have the most relevant information? It could be a service page, a product page, or the contact page. Send them to a page where they would be expecting to go based off the information in the email and a page that will give them necessary information to increase conversions.

  4. Build Credibility

    People are more likely to open a message from a sender they know. Make sure subject lines are relevant so the recipients can see who you are and how you can help them. You don’t want your messages to look like spam. Know your readers and make sure your content is relevant to the people receiving the message. All of these things build credibility for your business and can help increase sales through your email marketing. Get people to trust your business.

  5. Cost Effective Option

    Email marketing offers more cost-effective benefits than direct mail, making this a great strategy for small businesses. With email marketing being a digital platform, you don’t need to worry about printing costs or postage. For an even more cost effective solution, collect emails from your customers and potential customers to build an email list so you don’t need to purchase a list. This will lead to best results and ROI as you’ve already established credibility and a relationship with these recipients.

7 essentials to brand awareness

brand awareness.

Recently Paragon has taken on a new effort of working with non-profits to help them grow. We feel it is very important and the more we give the more we receive.

While visiting these non-profits it is amazing how many of them have no brand guidelines. Now, this is not only for nonprofits, but with small businesses, as well. What is a brand guideline you ask? A brand guideline is how people view your company or non-profit. It is how they recognize it is you. Brand guidelines are a roadmap to automatic recognition of who you are.

 

Here’s what should be included in your brand guidelines.

  1. Your history, vision and your top values for your organization.
  2. Your mission statement including what we call “tone of voice” requirements. Yes, the tone of voice is important and must be spelled out as to what can and can not be said and how!
  3. Color palette is essential. Typically your logo will decide this for you but if you have a two color logo then add a couple of colors that you feel go well with it and stick to them.
  4. Where and how your logo can be used is one of the most important things that you will spell out. Can it be used on certain types of materials and on the website? How much white space around your logo? Can it be combined with any other logo? Does it always have to be color or can you do black and white? What sizes are allowed to be used? All very important.
  5. What fonts are people allowed to use is another one that needs to be thought of. There are literally thousands of fonts out there so do not leave it to chance. A good rule of thumb is having 1-3 options of fonts.
  6. What type of photos can be used with your logo? Not only the style but will you require special lenses, lighting. Maybe with your brand, you only want black and white with people in it.
  7. Please provide examples of the following: a business card, letterhead, brochure or pamphlet. Maybe provide a picture of proper use and unproper use of your logo.

Now, none of this matters if nobody knows about it.  Then you are not really creating a brand. Every time you send out your logo to anybody include these guidelines. If they don’t understand them then ask for a proof prior to print or publication. You must know where your logo is and how it is being represented at all times!

 

7 essentials to brand awareness

brand awareness.

Recently Paragon has taken on a new effort of working with non-profits to help them grow. We feel it is very important and the more we give the more we receive.

While visiting these non-profits it is amazing how many of them have no brand guidelines. Now, this is not only for nonprofits, but with small businesses, as well. What is a brand guideline you ask? A brand guideline is how people view your company or non-profit. It is how they recognize it is you. Brand guidelines are a roadmap to automatic recognition of who you are.

 

Here’s what should be included in your brand guidelines.

  1. Your history, vision and your top values for your organization.
  2. Your mission statement including what we call “tone of voice” requirements. Yes, the tone of voice is important and must be spelled out as to what can and can not be said and how!
  3. Color palette is essential. Typically your logo will decide this for you but if you have a two color logo then add a couple of colors that you feel go well with it and stick to them.
  4. Where and how your logo can be used is one of the most important things that you will spell out. Can it be used on certain types of materials and on the website? How much white space around your logo? Can it be combined with any other logo? Does it always have to be color or can you do black and white? What sizes are allowed to be used? All very important.
  5. What fonts are people allowed to use is another one that needs to be thought of. There are literally thousands of fonts out there so do not leave it to chance. A good rule of thumb is having 1-3 options of fonts.
  6. What type of photos can be used with your logo? Not only the style but will you require special lenses, lighting. Maybe with your brand, you only want black and white with people in it.
  7. Please provide examples of the following: a business card, letterhead, brochure or pamphlet. Maybe provide a picture of proper use and unproper use of your logo.

Now, none of this matters if nobody knows about it.  Then you are not really creating a brand. Every time you send out your logo to anybody include these guidelines. If they don’t understand them then ask for a proof prior to print or publication. You must know where your logo is and how it is being represented at all times!

 

The first step to a successful Email Marketing campaign. Understand the law!

These are the words, Know the rules, written on a blackboard.

Email marketing is one of the highest converting forms of advertising. Starting email marketing involves many factors, however, the most important factor is the law. I myself have made mistakes that made an email not conform to the law and I completely missed it. That is one reason why I want to make sure that people don’t make the same mistakes I have.

 

The biggest law out there has been the Can-Spam act that was signed into law in 2003 by George Bush. I won’t bore you with all of the political words but I will tell you what the law says in simpler terms.

 

  1. You must have the email address that the email is coming from. You cannot hide your email or not tell people who you are in it. This should either be a person at the company that is responsible for this or the company name. Either one shows the receiver what is happening and more importantly from where it’s coming from.
  2. Be honest and forthright. Your subject line should be straightforward and honest. Say in the subject line I have an offer for a free consultation for you, that better be what is in the email. Do not say, “I have a gift card for you” and not actually give one. You cannot say, “I have a gift card for you” and then it turns out to be a contest. You must be willing to give what you say. If you are sending an ad then say, “ad from ……”
  3. Where you are located is very important to this rule. Really, this should be important to you anyway as it shows that you are a reputable company. In this rule, it is required that you have a physical address in the email.
  4. Offer your recipient the opportunity to opt out of future emails. The law states that you have 10 days to remove them from your list but I would highly suggest you do it within 24 hours or before another email goes out, whichever comes first.
  5. If you are using a company to send emails on your behalf then make sure they are conforming to these laws. It is you that will get fined and not them. You have to make sure you are working with a reputable company at all times.

 

Recently, we have also been hit with a new rule called GDPR or General Data Protection Regulations. This was created in Europe and took effect on May 31st. I would highly suggest that every company conforms to these rules as you do not know when your site will be viewed outside of the country. A lot of the same rules apply as the Can-Spam act.

  1. You must get all data legally and you cannot spam to add to your email list.
  2. There must be a purpose for the email and they must opt-in for that purpose. You can not use their data for ANY other purpose without explicitly asking and getting permission.
  3. You must confirm all data is accurate. I would suggest sending an auto email to confirm the data prior to adding them to a list.
  4. You will only keep the data as long as you need it. If it is a 6-week campaign then you cannot use it for another campaign after the 6 week period.
  5. Confidentiality is the most important new rule. In the past, you technically had the ability to sell your list to others and make some extra income off of it. Although I have never done this, I heard it was pretty lucrative at times. It cannot be done the same way now. Permission must be given to sharing data across multiple entities. You must have security systems on all data to ensure that nobody can take data without your knowledge.

 

Understanding the laws of email marketing is the first step in starting a campaign. Without this understanding, your email programs will fail and you may or may not be fined. The personal information of individuals is very important to keep secure and not shared. Most email programs do conform to these rules so I highly suggest you use a program like Constant Contact or MailChimp.  

www.paragonmarketinggroup.com

 

Why is video needed in your Marketing mix?

This is a business team gathering around a laptop.

According to Wordstream, viewers retain 95% of information from watching a video compared to retaining 10% from reading the same information. This trend is astonishing to me but also understandable. When I look back at things I buy online or things I learn, it is the same for me. As a matter of fact, I think it may be worse because I can’t read a long article with my attention span but I can definitely watch a video or listen to a podcast. At this point, I am wondering how much more to write and how to line it up. According to that statistic, I should end it here! However, please continue and choose to be the 10%, then please go and watch the video or listen to the podcast to remember the rest.

 

Every good content marketing strategy encompasses a mixture of different things: blog, video, social, web, ads, and podcasts. Obviously, it is called content marketing for a reason! Think about those things, how many of those strategies can you incorporate into a video? The big question that we always get is, why?

 

  1. According to the same article on Wordstream, a video on your home screen can increase conversions by up to 80%. Who can’t use more leads?
  2. Video creates a personal touch that you can’t get anywhere else. The old saying, “People do business with people they like” is still important today. It may actually be more important because of the internet.
  3. According to an article written by Vidyard, 65% of viewers watch more than ¾ of a video. This is not even close to what people read!
  4. Search Engine Optimization asks you to link and backlink as much as possible as long as it is relevant content. What can be more relevant than you talking about your product on a video?
  5. Content Marketing Institute says that audiences are 10 times more likely to engage, share, and comment on a video than they are a blog or social post.
  6. Last but certainly not least, email is more seen and more returned with a video in the message.

 

About a year ago, a friend of mine told me that he was going to start doing a weekly video newsletter along with his regular newsletter. I got his newsletter and I fully admit that I only read about half of it on a regular basis. Since he started doing a video newsletter every Monday, I have learned so much about what is happening and what he is doing. I never knew most of that information before, even though I received his regular newsletter. This is an example of the power of video at its finest and a perfect reason to incorporate video into your marketing campaign.

 

The big obstacle that you will face with this is yourself. Most people do not like to be on video and admittedly, I am one of them. I believe I have a face for radio but I do videos on a regular basis because that is what is being asked of me by our clients. In the next article, I will talk about what you will do with a video once you have it.

Cybercrime affects Small Business

This is a blue circuit board with a blue lock in front.

We have all heard the word Cybercrime and we know that we need to protect ourselves. What most small businesses do not understand is how much it affects them. We have heard all the stories from the news about the big companies getting hacked and information being leaked. What we never hear about is the small businesses that get hacked on a daily basis. According to a survey done by CNBC less than 2% of American small businesses say that they are concerned about getting hacked.The big reason why is, “We are the little guy, they don’t want to hack us.” This thought process is incorrect and is exactly why you should care more than the big companies.

Hackers know that you do not have the time, money, or knowledge to protect your site like the big companies do. Therefore, your website is targeted more than any other. Just because you only have 100 clients or 1,000 clients does not make you immune. It makes you a perfect candidate for hackers. They can go in, get what they want, and get out without anybody knowing. What’s better is that because you are a small business, the word that you got hacked won’t go out to everyone in the world because it won’t be considered a big story.

So, what can a small business owner do to protect themselves? More importantly, what can a small business owner do to protect their customers? Well, here you go!

1. Make sure your website is on a secure server. You have a lot of options when it comes to hosting your website. We highly suggest that you find out what equipment or software your host has to combat hacker attempts.

2. Redundancy is very important. Make sure your host has more than one copy of your site. Having multiple servers in different locations would be ideal. This way, if one location gets hacked then they can quickly change over to a backup copy.

3. Consistent security scans. Security scans should be happening weekly on your site or at the minimum monthly. If you keep up on your security scans you will remove any trackers that may have attached to your site in-between scans.

4. You must be updating your site monthly at the minimum. By staying up to date you are also keeping away any new hacks created by having an old version of the theme or integrations your site requires.

5. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypts any conversation that you have with the customer, the website and your office computer. This item is so important that Google is now requiring this if you want your page to be found on Google. It is required as of June 1st to have it. You’ll know you have one by seeing HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// in your URL.

By following these steps we cannot guarantee that you will never get hacked or that your information will never get out. Hackers are getting smarter and smarter every day and nobody can ever guarantee that. What we can tell you is that by following these 5 things you are giving your clients and yourself the best protection you can.

6 steps to retail marketing

This is a view of a mall from the top floor.

Marketing in the retail world can be a lot of fun. It also can be very time consuming and monotonous. However, without marketing in the retail world, you will not maintain or grow. Retail has an attrition rate and it doesn’t matter how long you have been in business or how great of a reputation you have, there still has to be marketing. You have to replace the people you lose yearly or you might as well shut your doors right now. How do you do this, is the question and how do you do it well?

1. It all starts with building a brand. You have to have a brand recognition or you will not grow. When people think of the typical products you sell, you want your name to come to mind first. In marketing, there is a rule called the rule of seven. Now, some marketers will say it is the rule of 10 or a rule of 5, regardless, it is still important that you follow it. A person must see your brand 7 times before they start thinking about you for a certain product. How those 7 times is achieved can be hard, however, the rest of this blog explains a few tricks.

2. How you are found is important and that is where listings come into the equation. There are literally hundreds of sites that your business should be listed on depending on exactly what your product is. Personally, I believe that if you are listed properly on the top sites then the rest will follow over time. What people do not realize is that everything HAS to be exactly the same across all of your online listings, right down to the dot in the same place.

3. Social media marketing is going to give you the most bang for your buck. Depending on your demographic you will utilize Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Anyone of these 4 are going to be important, however, the two most important are going to be Facebook and Twitter. The most important thing with these platforms is to not post just 1 time per week about your store and expect people to flock in. You have to post regularly and you have to not only educate the consumer about you but also about your products.

4. You have to create a personalized experience. Just as we talked about social being important well, so is mobile marketing. It is said that 58% of people will look on cell phones before they look for your store on a desktop or laptop. With the world of artificial intelligence growing it is very important to learn new ways to use personalized mobile marketing in order to attract new clients.

5. Reward programs are becoming very popular. Create an awards program through email marketing and offer a free product for being a member of your newsletter program. Once you start getting emails from consumers, do not miss a single month of sending newsletters out. I would suggest that you send out an email at a minimum of bi-weekly. One can be a newsletter talking about anything new that you have done and the other can be an offer of the month for members of the group.

6. People will come in and spend more if they know you are supporting the community. Your local chamber of commerce or business group will have a list of events that are community-based in order to help you find a great charity or event to support. Once you find one, offer your support or sponsorship then market about your contribution. Millennials today want to know that you support a charity or local event. They will remember that and come back to you because of it.

Having a retail establishment is a very exciting and fun thing. In today’s world, you have a great opportunity to provide a great location for people to get what you need. The more people that know who you are, the better. With the digital world, you have a great opportunity to tell the world about you! Have fun with it but remember to be respectful and responsible. You will be successful with these suggestions.

What are the top 5 things to do as a B2B Marketer?

This is an overlook of a city.

Whether you have a small, medium, or large business the essentials are the same. If you are in the B2B marketplace there are essential marketing trends that you must follow. Marketing for B2B is unique because you are not trying to get consumers, however, a lot of the same principles apply.

 

  1. First you have to have a story and you have to tell it properly. Your story should involve things like when you opened, who your owners are, and the history of the company.  However, most people do not think of the most important things. You have to show relevant content and education.
      1. Relevant content talks more about why you created the product, why employees like being there, and what sets you apart from your competitors in that space.
      2. Education includes what certifications you have regarding the work that you do, what classes or degrees you have, and what makes you an expert in the field that you are promoting!

 

  1. You need to be easily found. In the digital world that we live in, you have to have your correct information showing in the digital world. There are some basics that you have to do.
    1. Listings have to be keyworded and the proper information relayed to the top site across the internet. This applies to sites like Google, Apple and Yahoo. It is essential that you show the same accuracy and same information across the web.
    2. Your SEO has to be top of mind. There are two different kinds of SEO however. There is on page SEO and off page SEO.
      1.  On page SEO includes things like:
        1. Metatags
        2. Title tags
        3. Heading tags
        4. Submitted site map
      2. Off page SEO includes things like:
        1. Facebook
        2. Twitter
        3. Instagram (If needed)
        4. LinkedIn
        5. Blogs
        6. Podcasts

 

  1. Paid advertising is a very useful tool for B2B because you can be specify who you are trying to advertise to. You can advertise to a purchaser of your product specifically. There are many forms of paid advertising but here are the top 5 to use:
    1. LinkedIn
    2. Facebook
    3. Google Adwords
    4. Bing Ads
    5. Instagram

 

  1. Reputation Management is a very important part of your world. There are literally hundreds of sites used to review a company. You must be able to see the reviews and have the ability to respond to them in a timely manner. You can do this by not only getting your listings updated and tracking them there, but you can also set up a Google Alert. This way, anytime somebody mentions the company name on the web you get an email and you can go to that site to respond. Responding quickly and correctly shows everything about you and your customer service. The last thing you want to do is argue with the person that left the review. The second worst thing is responding with a blanket response that looks like every other response you have put out there. Be sure to individualize your responses.

 

  1. Create a one on one online conversation with every person you can. They contacted you so they obviously want to know more. People do business with people they like so make sure you are pleasant, to the point, and direct. People do not have time to spend hours trying to find an answer. That is why they messaged you, so give them what they want. The important part of this step is to also educate them.

 

The world has changed in many ways for marketing in a B2B business. If you follow these things however, statistics show that your success is imminent. The olds days of networking to get your business does not work the same. Millennials do not go to networking meetings like most of us have or do today. They would rather attend a seminar or online virtual meeting than go to a one on one meeting. It is important for the future of all of us B2B businesses that we adapt to them and still hold true to what got us where we are today.

Top 8 tactics for Restaurant marketing

A marquee sign that reads BUZZ installed into a bark textured wood wall beside a white tiled commercial kitchen and serving area.

Restaurant marketing is not the same as marketing a non-restaurant business. Restaurants work off of reputation, quality and environment. When we market a restaurant we take these things to heart. Here is our top 8 things we suggest making a restaurant program successful.

  1. Photography: Hire a professional to take pictures of your menu items. People are visual and visit restaurant’s because food is appealing. Great visuals equals great food to customers.
  2. Digital Listings: Digital listings are how search engines find your restaurant. The most important sites are Google, Apple and Yelp for a restaurant. There are 72 that should be updated on a regular basis. Last thing a restaurant wants is for customers unable to find your restaurant online, wrong address, invalid operating hours or incorrect items no longer available.
  3. Geo-target ads: Sites like Google adwords, Facebook or Twitter use 4 different tactics if applicable. Text ads, Display ads, Video ads and Retargeting ads.
  4. Online Ordering: Use an online ordering system like Zuppler (no need to offer delivery to do this). Allows for ease of use 1 page site enabling local business to order food for meetings or lunch. These systems also will take payments and integrate with POS systems, send you a text, Email or send the order directly to a printer installed in your kitchen.
  5. Social media: Mobile is the way of life and social media is imperative to your success in Marketing. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be the most important three. These sites can display the environment that they will dine in. Social media creates a relationship with the potential patron prior to them visiting the restaurant. You can feature an employee, feature a patron or show pictures of events happening at your location.
  6. Reviews: Reviews are the lifeblood of a restaurant. However if you don’t ask for a positive review it most likely will not happen. Negative reviews are 10 times more likely to be made than positive ones. You must ask, make it simple and educate where to go. Train your staff to say “If you believe you had a good experience today please go to Google or Facebook and tell us about your experience.” Print this information directly on your receipt and place placards around the restaurant asking for reviews. The more you get the better search engines find you.
  7. Community: Be a part of your community. Patrons love restaurants supporting their community. This includes working with local non-profits and sourcing from local growers. Most people believe in helping their community not for prestige or publicity, but it is the right thing to do. Restaurants can do the right thing and gain publicity.
  8. Rewards: Contests to promote traffic, things like Fishbowl business card is a brilliant way to get email addresses. Offering a free lunch once per month you now have the ability to send them special offers or updates to events. You can invite to your Facebook Twitter or Instagram.  It is a WIN/WIN situation for everyone.

 

Following these steps you will have a great leg up against your competition. You will obtain new patrons and retain them. Consistency is key with these, so stay on top of it or better yet hire somebody like us to do it for you!