When to market your business, in the good times or the bad?

goodtimesbadtimesAs with most businesses there is an ebb and flow to sales, productivity, and growth. I was at a business meeting at my favorite breakfast restaurant a few weeks ago. They have a few locations throughout the city and suburbs. This one in particular was not up to par as the ones I frequent more often. While the food and service are still consistently good, it is in a little older area of town, in a little older building, and was considerably less busy than the other ones.

As I was leaving I was speaking to the cashier, who it turned out was the co-owner of the restaurants in town. I asked about the decline in business and she agreed that it was becoming a problem for this location. I spoke to her about her marketing efforts. She said they are doing the same marketing approaches that they always have done. I asked if she and her husband would like to sit down and I could discuss how my marketing firm could come alongside them with a fresh approach to increase awareness and drive people to their restaurants. She said that things are getting tight and wasn’t sure if they could afford to do anything different.

Her response is not uncommon to business owners that may be experiencing a slump or may just be stuck in a rut and aren’t growing. Business owners can be divided almost down the middle into two ways of thinking about when to market:

  • The business owner that is thriving tends to push off marketing and business development efforts until you either get to the bottom of the barrel or you lose the big client that was paying all the bills,
  • The business owner that is in a slump or has plateaued believes they simply can’t afford to put money into marketing when their business is slow.

Both mindsets are at risk of skewing their growth and could permanently damage their business. The savvy business owner is the one that knows even when you are very busy you still market your business. The well can dry up at any time and sometimes for reasons that are out of our control. One of the outcomes of the recession is that business owners have been knocked out of their comfort zone and are being required to do marketing and business development differently.

Short term and long term marketing strategies are necessary to amp up your business. While short-term strategies will focus on sales and business development, there are several long-term strategies that will create sustainability and mitigate many of the slumps and plateaus from extreme ways of thinking about when to market your business. For our discussion here I want to focus on the long term strategies that can move you out of the slumps. Tammy Hawk-Bridges, author of the book Yanking Bootstraps – Bootstrap Your Business to Success, discusses long-term strategies. She provides several long term actions that can move your business forward quickly.

1.    Focus on new business often. Come up with a business development, marketing plan that you operate inside every single day! Waiting until you are thirsty to dig a well makes the process very difficult. If you make business development a consistent effort you will always have great prospects.

2.    Build a strong pipeline. This partners with #1. You need to fully understand the pipeline process. Think of a funnel, it’s very wide at the top and gets narrower as it goes to the bottom. The top is how many leads need to go in and the bottom is where only a few customers will come out. So for example if you want 100K in sales you could potentially need a prospect pipeline that is worth 400K. This is a great eye-opener and once you do this exercise you will realize immediately why you don’t have enough sales.

3.    Tools that attract prospects. It’s time to put some great tools in place that can create leads for you even when you aren’t trying to sell. This is the wonderful think about new marketing strategies! You can put great content out there and then people will come to you! Be the light and they are the moths, attract your ideal client to you. You needFire_Moth_by_maxine_photo to have great information that they need to run their business.

  • Grow your list – come up with a how-to or EBook of sorts that your ideal client can download from your website.
  • Internet optimized – Make sure your website is ranking for keywords that are relevant to your business. You want people to find YOU before your competitors.
  • Review your website – Is it focused on your ideal client, is it a great resource of information? Does it make someone want to get in touch with you?
  • Email Marketing – This gets you in front of your customers and ideal clients on a regular basis. Be a great resource of information, earn trust, and be authentic. Above all read your analytics and use the information to identify prospects!
  • Blogging – Create great content that brings prospects to YOUR door. This is a lot of work and only the truly committed will succeed at it but the payoff is huge when it hits! No more hitting the pavement for sales!
  • Sharing – Share everything! Social media and the digital world is built to share the love! Every blog article you write share it across all social media channels. Write great content that makes others want to share it and guess what? You are viral!

 4.    Treat it like a real business. You need systems in place for success. Set financial goals as well as goals for leads and business won. Close your business out every month and get real about where you are.

5.    Accountability. Hold yourself accountable for your own success, adapt to a NO EXCUSES and no self-inflicted obstacles mentality!

It is human nature to pull back when business is slow or forget marketing is needed when business is booming. When to market is now. It’s proactive and preventative at the same time. Take stock, take control and let’s grow our businesses together! What do you think?

Richard Rose, CEO, Kroma Marketing

Richard Rose, CEO, Kroma Marketing

Social Signals—You Can’t Miss Them

socialsignalsI used to think that my “let’s go” signals to my husband at parties (which were agreed upon prior to said party) were obvious. There were times when the signals had to be so grossly over performed that if one had been looking at me, they might have thought I was having a spasm. If I was close enough I would definitely have kicked him, but my husband had learned early on to stay at least a kick length away in those situations.

Social signals are increasingly becoming more important in the social media world so much so that in the last few months there have been an increase in the number of articles written about it. It is a hot button in terms of SEO because Google is now paying more attention to this dynamic, and basically Google is the “godfather” of SEO, with its mysterious algorithm formulas.

Gabriel Gervelis of Search Engine Journal said in the February 2013 edition, “In the evolution of SEO best practices, we’re likely to see movement toward increasing value socialsignalmapplaced on the quantity and quality of social signals contained within any particular domain,” whereby social signals may replace links for SEO.

“The reality is that, based upon extensive testing that we’ve been running (not to mention some of the things that Google has said over the last couple of years), social signals have a significant impact on the overall SEO of websites,” says JD Rucker of Soshable. “As pointed out by Search Engine Watch last month, Google is paying attention to social signals through Google Analytics. When Google says something with their actions, it behooves those in SEO to listen.” (March 2013)

So, if Google is paying attention so should we all. Social signals can help a business change the way it deals with social responses to its products and services. This infographic link shows how a business can use those signals to create responses more efficiently and effectively.

What do the social signals mean to you in your business? We’re paying attention—you won’ t have to flag us down.

bethrose14

In Denial

“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” —C. Northcote Parkinson 

De · ni · al:  a river in Egypt; refusal to admit the truth or reality. (Merriam-Webster)

Probably one of the biggest examples of denial in recent history is the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, the denial of terrorism “poster child”. It’s denial at its worst, albeit. There isn’t any upside to denial at all other than blissful apathy until the realization of what the denial has wrought. It really is bad news all around.

In business, denial will most likely lead to financial failure. Yet businesses are still in denial regarding not only the need but the necessity of social media on a daily basis. Harvard Business Review Analytics Services report “The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action” [Report PDF; sponsored by SAS] discovered that most of the commitment to social is future-oriented. The report went on to say, “Although 79% of the 2,100 companies surveyed are either using or planning to use social media channels, a measly 12% of those firms feel that they are using them effectively.” Only 12%. Pitiful, when you think about how brands are being represented on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, to name a few.

But is it just the non-use of social media that makes business efforts ineffective or the fact that there is still not an “all in” belief in the necessity of social? Rob Ployhart, a professor of business administration at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, believes there is a “skepticism” in social media because companies haven’t seen the data showing the return on investment from social media. Ployhart says the ROI data will most likely be available within the next three to five years, making social media more credible in the eyes of some businesses.

Until then, what does a company have to do to engage in the social impact of business? Believe. They have to put their faith in it and engage in it daily or they’ll be left standing on the sidelines in their cynicism.

The facts are all there. Businesses engaged in social media are investing in their own future. Ployhart says, “In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology. I’d be surprised if the first few companies that get in there don’t have a lasting competitive advantage.”

The experts are all saying the same thing:  businesses that are engaging in social media have the upper hand.

It’s almost 2013. What’s on the horizon, then, for engaging in social media in business?

According to Simon Mainwaring, New York Times bestseller We First and social branding consultant to Fortune 100 brands, “Every company or institution must now function as a social brand due to the mass adoption and penetration of social media in our lives as citizen and customers (and by social brand I mean an organization that uses and engages in a real time dialogue with its customers using mobile, social and gaming technologies to build its reputation, profits and social impact.)”

So, if you are in business and you are in denial of the social media bull breathing down your neck, don’t turn around. Just get on the social media train and ride it all the way into the station. That’s where you’ll find relevant business being done. Welcome to the new world.

Are you in denial or are you using social media in business? We would love to hear from you. Kroma Marketing.

Epitaph

George Lewis – When The Saints Go Marching In

Yesterday I went to a funeral. I know you must be thinking, “Why in the world do I want to read a blog about going to a funeral?” But it wasn’t just any funeral. It was a celebration of a man my family has known for many years, who has impacted his world, who has made an impression so great, people from all over the world wrote epitaphs of love, honor, and respect. If you had been sitting there and hadn’t known him, you would be able to walk out of that church with a great admiration for the man.

It got me thinking, what do I want people saying about me when I’m gone? And what about you–what do you want people to say about you when you are gone?

But why plan for the end of life when you could plan for now; so what do you want people saying about you tomorrow? And what about your business–what do you want people saying about your business tomorrow?

It doesn’t have to take a funeral to put things in perspective. Or does it?

I think by now you’ve read the statements regarding the importance of social media. If you aren’t using social media for business, you could be playing your own funeral dirge . . . soon.

Jeremy Blanton in The Social Revolution says,“The ROI of Social Media is your business will still exist in 5 years,”and he said that in June of 2011.  Eric Qualman said in May 2010, “Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.” He also said, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.” We are almost in 2013. Watch this:  http://youtu.be/QUCfFcchw1w

It’s not too late but you’ve got to jump on board now or you could be hearing this soon:

Magnificent Sevenths – Funeral Procession: In the Sweet Bye and Bye

Talk to us . . . does social media make you feel impending doom or celebration? We can help you celebrate and embrace the future instead of dread it. www.kromamarketing.com

Taking Care of “Baby”

“Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.”
–Marshall McLuhan

As we Skyped with a client this week, we got to look into the eyes of reality for most business owners:  wide-eyed, blurry, confused, and scared spit-less. Like parents of a brand new baby for the first time, this client’s realization has become one of shock and “Awwwww”. I have this business, a precious commodity, that I must take care of but how in the world do I manage, let alone afford to feed it and keep it in diapers! Ok, maybe I was getting my analogies mixed up but, seriously, that is the agonizing question:  How do I keep this business going, growing, thriving and building in this economy? SOCIAL, that’s how!

Beverly Macy is co-author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing, who teaches Executive Global Marketing and Branding and Social Media Marketing for the UCLA Extension and is executive producer of Gravity Summit TV. She recently wrote an article for Huffington Post and in it she said “A corporate officer of a large multinational bank recently said to me, ‘It’s as if there is a red line drawn down the middle of the organization. On one side are those who ‘get’ social media and the importance of becoming a social enterprise. On the other side are those who simply don’t. And it’s starting to affect our productivity and business results.’ Bringing the ‘other side’ to the table is the next big wave inside Fortune 500 organizations. This is one of the biggest management undertakings ever — bigger than pay for performance; bigger than quality management; bigger than Six Sigma; certainly bigger than sustainability.”

Hey, those of you on the other side of the red line! Yeah, you! Wake up and smell the poopy diaper! It’s time for a change! We are already on the crest of the social media wave, and we all know what happens if you can’t ride the wave. Here’s how B2B’s are trying to ride the wave now:

Temple Stark in Keep Up With Marketing Trends The Smart Way says, “Keeping up with what’s going on in promoting your industry means you don’t fall behind. Keeping ahead means you make the competition look like they’re falling behind.” That means we need to go with the trend now because many won’t. We’ve got to get on board and make the journey, even if we’re kicking and screaming, because we will be left behind if we don’t. The trend: SOCIAL and CONTENT MANAGEMENT!

Ms. Macy concluded by saying: “2013 is going to be super exciting. The economy will eventually improve. When it does, the organizations that are social, mobile, in the cloud, and using big data will be on top. The rest of you will wonder what happened. It’s not a bubble, it’s a wave. And if you don’t know that, you’re not on it. Get social now!”

Bam, there you have it. How are you taking care of your “baby”? Tell us, we really want to know!

If you need more information on how to get SOCIAL then contact us at Kroma Marketing.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Who has the power? In a consumer driven society, it would be nice to think that the people who control business decision making—the CEO, the CFO, the COO, or even the CSO—would be the power dealers in business. Ah . . . you would be wrong. In fact, you couldn’t be more wrong. Now, more than ever before, business must bow down to the power-brokers:  the people. And social media is their weapon.

We’ve seen multiple examples of the social media impact on politics, especially lately, on this “eve” of one of the most important elections to date. We’ve seen the immediacy of social media impact on entire countries and their dictators (see the infographic below). An example of social media in the everyday workings of government was recently presented by Odysseus Bostick, educator, social media believer and speaker for TedX  conference in Santa Monica on “Collaborative Governing Through Social Media” when he talked about Cory Booker, Mayor of New York/New Jersey.

“He’s like a dynamo. He just never stops. He has over a million people following him on Twitter; a lot of them living in the city. They use it because he responds. And they’ll ask him [something] . . . because they know Mayor Booker will answer it. He actually answers them which builds a relationship between him and his constituents. And it’s every day and it’s real and it’s in real time and it’s instantaneous. And so that’s kind of a mutually beneficial relationship because he always knows what’s wrong, when it goes down, and who’s complaining. With other social media tools, he can actually aggregate all the tweets that come to him geographically and pin point series of problems.”

And so it is in business. It’s the people the business serves that have the power. If the business owners, C-levels, management, or front liners don’t have people, they don’t have a business. If they don’t have a buyer, they don’t have an income. If they don’t have anyone listening, they don’t have an audience. It’s really pretty simple, isn’t it? Yet, do we really get it? Those in business may keep taking the baton back, as if they had in the first place, because, frankly, BUSINESSES WANT THE POWER! Right?

Consider this . . . If the people have the power, what do businesses do differently that hasn’t been working for them up until this moment? That is the million dollar question, isn’t it? Because, if a business can answer that, they might just do business right.

What do you think needs to be done differently in “business” (yes, I’ll let you act like it’s hypothetical)? We would love to hear from you! www.kromamarketing.com

Social Media’s Crib Sheet

“To business that we love we rise betime, And go to’t with delight.”
Antony and Cleopatra, IV.iv

Remember in school when you were told you had to read a Shakespearean work and you had that pit in your stomach because you knew when you actually sat down to try and read it you would have no idea what they were talking about. What was the first thing you did? You went for the crib sheet or “Shakespeare for Dummies,” the days before there were “SparkNotes” websites.

The social media layman probably feels the same way when it comes to navigating through the throngs of various types of networking sites and media share possibilities! IT’S TOO MUCH INFORMATION! Not only that, sometimes it’s in a @completely #different #language!

In talking to a client the other day about the state of their social media assets, I realized they really didn’t have a clue about what we were doing as their marketing firm. They sort of knew we were “posting” and “blogging”, linking and connecting but they really didn’t understand the “why” or the “how” of what we did and how that impacted their business (even with analytic reports every month). It was amazing to watch the client’s face when she began to get it. In fact, it really kind of scared her a little. We were bringing in business!

Those of us in the throes of this business every day lose touch with our clients’ level of understanding. So if you are a little “social media illiterate” here’s a “cheat sheet” breakdown of the top tier in social media. Or in the spirit of Shakespeare, “Hither thou to thine crib sheet (below) and make haste, pray thee, to possess thine social media wisdom!”

What’s got you scratching your head in the social media world? We would love to hear from you! www.kromamarketing.com

Emotional Investment . . . Emotional Capital

Upon sending our daughter off to her first school homecoming dance with a boy we hardly know, I realized the emotional investment it took to prepare her and us for this giant leap and to making sure she was safe and in good hands. Of course, my husband made sure to grip the boy’s hand, make eye contact with him, pull him in a little and say “Make sure my daughter gets home safe, son.” All the while, my husband was grinning a little evil grin to remind the babbling boy that he knew where to find him should anything happen to her.

Emotional investment . . . emotional capital. In the age of social media becoming one of the greatest influences on how we do business and how we market business, we need to pay attention to the things we do to invest emotionally in making our business a success so that the emotional capital that is gained is positive. Since social media has come into play, it’s more important than ever to realize the immediacy of what we do to invest in connecting with the customer.

First coined by Coca-Cola president Steven J. Heyer, “emotional capital” is the value of the feelings and perceptions held by the customer towards your business.  I can think of nothing that will influence that value more in today’s business than social media. Our investment in connecting with our audience through the social arms of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or blogging through Reddit, Tumblr, Blogger, or sharing media through Instagram, Youtube, or Flickr will say everything about how our business values knowing our customers and what they want.

In “The Key to Social Media Success Within Organizations” Huy and Shipilov explain the study they did to see what resonated with organizations internally that builds emotional capital. They found that there are four components that make the difference to the internal customer:

  • Authenticity
  • Pride
  • Attachment
  • Fun

What if we marketed our business the same way to our external customer and used social media to do it? What would that look like?

1. We would create connection with the customer through our blogging or posts that reveal the authenticity of who we are as a business and what we really want them to know and to feel as a customer.

2. We would show our pride in the quality of what we produce as a business by displaying it through our social networks and how we interact with and treat the customer in going above and beyond their expectations.

3. We would connect with the customer on a more personal level to show that we as a business are committed to attachment with them for the longer term.

4. We would show the fun side of the company through Youtube or Facebook and how we as a company are just people too through celebrations and achievements we have made along the way.

Emotional capital can be a positive or negative value. If we are to make it positive, we need to invest in social media to make it happen. The customer is watching to see if you are committed to connecting with them. If you don’t show up on the social media scene, that will be their answer.

Let us help you make that connection. www.kromamarketing.com

The ROI Mammoth or “Aaaaagggggghhhhhhh, this ROI blog is going to kill me!”

As a blogger, I pride myself on good research, creative content and being relevant. For this week’s Kroma blog, I was asked by my boss to write on the ROI (Return On Investment) of digital design. Inside I thought, “Uh oh. That doesn’t sound like as much fun as what I’ve written on, oh . . ., up until NOW!” But, I thought, “Ok, maybe it will be a great time to brush up on this ROI thing and learn something that will help our clients understand it.” Hours of research later, late nights with coffee stains on my shirt, bleary eyed, frustrated, and nowhere close to a final blog copy here I am; empty.

What I have learned is that the ROI idea is huge, very ethereal to a lot of people and it’s very relative to the object of its assessment. Just what is the return value? In fact, there are bloggers out there who say that ROI is such a broad idea that we sometimes ask the wrong question:  What is the ROI of such and such? When the real question should be:  Did such and such turn out to be worth doing?

In Social Media and ROI: Some clarity. (Again.) Olivier Blanchard says, “ROI went from being a simple financial calculation of investment vs. gain from investment to becoming any number of made-up equations mixing unrelated metrics into a mess of nonsense . . . They measure nothing. Their aim is to confuse and extract legal tender from unsuspecting clients, nothing more. Don’t fall for it.” Wow, well that just instills confidence, doesn’t it?!

I think the main thing I learned on this ROI quest was that value is relative. What return we get, depends. (Don’t you hate it when you ask someone something and all they can say is “It depends.”) It depends on what you expected of the investment as to the value it gains. It depends on the formula you use to calculate the ROI. (Apparently there are various calculations. Very confusing!) There’s also the value that isn’t inherent to the outcome i.e. not monetary but still valuable. All in all, there really isn’t a clear cut way to determine the ROI of anything unless you determine what it is you are looking to calculate in the first place. So, it just depends.

If you aren’t much clearer on ROI, you’re in good company. Let’s commit to this:  know your product, see the value as more than a monetary input or outcome, and determine ahead ”What is value?”

Talk to us. Let us know your questions on ROI or marketing or social media. We can help you sort all this out for your company, here at Kroma Marketing.