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Top 6 Online Marketing Tactics

We have established in earlier posts that the new marketing environment tends to be a mix of traditional, non-traditional and online tactics centered around the concept that all will drive eyeballs to your online presence. It is this online presence that is the foundation of your marketing strategy and where potential customers garner the information on the products or services that you provide.

Certainly there are many tactics that can be employed from each format of advertising and over the next few posts I will share with you what I believe are the most effective. Keep in mind that I am a proponent of effective, efficient and measurable marketing spends – add this to the experience factor (grey hairs) and you formulate what could be considered a “tried and true” opinion. Still the caveat that I will place on the next few posts is that all of this depends directly on the client and the strategy/plan employed. The highlighted tactics are a great starting point once you have your marketing strategy in place.

Top 6 Online Marketing Tactics

1. Optimize your Website

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be done through a variety of methods including keyword targeting that increase your search rankings. Complete Web Sources of Florida reports that “of the people that use Google 79% go to the first five listings on page one of search results, 28% will go up to three pages and less than 10% will look at up to 5 pages”. Consequently you can see the importance of a high ranking and it is imperative to the success of your website and ultimately your business.

2. Keep your Website Current

Ensure that your site is dynamic and timely by consistently updating  it with news of your products, service or people. Search engines like new content and you need to employ the many ways to keep your website fresh.

3.  Utilize Online Marketing Channels

Identify which channels your target market is using and dive into those options. Whether it is Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or services like Squidoo or a combination of them all – simply ensure that you participate in these social platforms as it will undoubtedly expand your reach.

4. Blog and Blog Lots

Blogging demonstrates your passion for your industry and by blogging in a consistent manner you will drive more eyeballs to your site.  Blogging  takes  commitment  but those that blog consistently will reap the rewards. I found this 3 minute video on YouTube and it speaks to the importance of blogging and gives some useful tips as well – enjoy…

5. Pay-per-click Advertising

This form of online advertising allows companies to control where their adverts are displayed, when they are shown, and the budget they are willing to spend.  It is highly cost-effective if done properly and search engine services such as Google, Bing or Yahoo provide listings on a per-bid basis. Please note that this is in addition to their respective ‘natural’ search results (which are still powered by a combination of keywords found on your site). Pay-per-click ads require experimentation and analysis and over time any website can discover the keywords that work best for them.

6. Create Videos for your Website

Videos are becoming more important as people tend to click on links with videos more than those without –  even if the video link is ranked lower. Videos are a great way to show your passion and personality along with your products and/or service. It also gives you another marketing channel (your very own YouTube channel) which expands the reach of your online presence.

Should a company move forth and employ these six tactics then they would be well on their way to increasing traffic to their website. Certainly there are many more tactics available that feed people back to your site such as online contesting, newsletters and online published articles but the objective here is to find out what works best for you and your company. Experiment and measure your online tactics in order to make decisions that will eventually maximize your online presence.

The Marketing Environment – the New Look Marketing Plan

In my last post (The Marketing Environment – Change is Upon us) we established that the foundation of a marketing strategy must be your online presence. This holds true for industries, large corporate entities, mid-size and smaller businesses – this is indeed the fundamental change that has transpired in the last few years.  This change comes with many questions and most want to know where this puts the traditional and non-traditonal marketing tactics that have been employed by most entities for decades.

Marketing is More than Traditional Advertising

Some marketing firms seem to think that all marketing is underpinned by traditional advertising tactics. These people tend to be a little self-serving as they benefit from your spend on traditional tactics. The social media phenomena does not fit into the traditional ad agency business model – and it frustrates them as they are unable to monetize these platforms. This has been documented by many bloggers and articles but one of my favourites is this one by Micheal Klein from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan called three ways to tell if your agency sucks. To be fair, most of the progressive ad agencies are adapting their business models as best they can and allowing for online planning but it is still not the foundation. The traditional still recommend the traditional – print, radio, television, outdoor, restobar, direct mail et al.

Marketing is More than Non-Traditional Advertising

I have always been a big fan of the non-traditional tactics. Done correctly they can create great impact and are normally much less expensive than the traditional tactics. I like special event marketing, targeted sponsorships, affinity programming and networking opportunities. All of these tend to be overlooked or diminished in value. The little things like your business cards, your treatment of customers and, sometimes more importantly, your treatment of the non-customer are important marketing tactics that cannot be dismissed.  These plus many more elements like company signage and social responsibility programming all can be lumped into the non-traditional. Yet the non-traditional cannot stand alone. Companies understand that the tactics need to be augmented by the traditional. In today’s marketing environment they also need to be augmented by your online tactics – especially your social media connectivity.

What’s the New Look Plan?

I suspect you can see where I am going with this. The new look is a blend – a mix of the three (traditional, non-traditional and online). Unequivocally it must be underpinned by your online presence. Our clients understand the fact that their online presence is of the utmost in importance. They also understand that they will need to employ some non-traditional and perhaps an element or two of traditional to ensure that people know that they exist outside of the virtual world. For example, recently I know of a small business owner who purchased some radio to drive eyeballs to his website and he is quite pleased with the increase in traffic thus far.

The following video summarizes this discussion nicely…

Our process for helping companies create a strong marketing strategy remains the same. It is a process that is done in conjunction with our client. We do not build a strategy in isolation. We work with the client to ensure that they are vested in the long-term strategy. We work with our clients to plan their entire fiscal marketing plan based on a longer term strategy – a strategy that clearly defines their annual objectives and one that is measurable.  Depending on the client, the annual tactical plan may include some non-traditional tactics and these are always supported by the social media platforms. The non-traditional as well as the online may also be supported by the traditional. Still traditional tactics remain the most expensive. Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the authors of Inbound Marketing: Found using Google, Social Media and Blogs had this to say about the cost of outbound marketing (traditional and non-traditional) versus inbound marketing (online social media platforms)…

On average, inbound marketing leads are 61% less expensive than outbound marketing leads.

If a client decides to go the route of traditional marketing then we recommend the correct tactic based on several criteria. Here we also would rather see a client attempt to dominate a particular medium rather than spending a ton on a traditional mix. The goal here is to utilize the traditional as a driver to the online presence of the client.

Gord Gets It – A Tourism Leader in Saskatchewan – Sturgeon River Ranch

Picture yourself in the saddle, riding a well-trained and calm horse into the boreal forest of a National Park – the Prince Albert National Park. This is where the Hudson’s Bay Fur Trading Company had a post in the 1880’s. This is a park that was established in 1928 that covers off almost 1500 square miles. This is where the famous naturalist Grey Owl lived out his life. Now, picture you’re riding a horse into this very same park and you’re looking for wild bison. Yup – you heard right – you’re looking to get a glimpse of Canada’s only free ranging wild Plains bison still within their historic range. AND these animals are big AND they can be sometimes a little dangerous, but you’re going to be all right because you have a guide – a gent that is a 3rd generation rancher, an environmentalist, a guide that knows the area and knows the ecosystem. Christ, this is a guy who has been Mantracker’s sidekick  on the Outdoor Life Network – twice! See the video below if you’ve got an extra 45 minutes!

Gord Vaadeland – Friend of the Wild Bison

Gord - Sturgeon River Ranch

I met Gord Vaadeland at a Tourism Saskatchewan marketing meeting held in the Prince Albert National Park several years ago and right out of the chute (note ranching reference) I knew I had just met a smart rancher – one that understood his tourism business and where it fit in the provincial picture.  Over the past few years Gord and I have spoke often at tourism meetings for the Prince Albert National Park and Big River and we’ve come to know each other well. We learned that we have many things in common – Gord is a Norwegian descendant and so am I (my Mother’s maiden name is Gandrud); Gord grew up with horses and so did I (albeit we were a heavy horse family); Gord can play bluegrass music and I am able to listen to it. Yes, we were indeed kindred spirits. One from the bush – one from the flatland – but both looking to help the tourism industry in our home province.

Since the first time we met I wanted to take the time to spend a day or two with Gord at his ranch and ride into the park form the West Side and look for the bison. Well that finally happened – just last month in October. My bohemian son Corbin (who writes for the award winning travel blog I Backpack Canada) was back home from Halifax visiting such great Saskatchewan destinations as the Big Muddy, Wanuskewin and Manitou Beach and he had planned a trip to the Big River area to see Gord. I tagged along and it was perhaps one of the best decisions I made in a long time.

Corb On Horse

Corbin in Prince Albert National Park

Gord took us on an adventure through the National Park that allowed us to see two wild bison herds. What a thrill! He certainly got us close – so close in fact that at one point Gord held our horses whilst Corbin and I trekked softly into the woods where we were barely 25 yards away from six of these magnificent animals. We did however flee the area quite quickly when they started to rustle. You see the bison tend not to walk around the trees – they opt instead to bowl them over, which makes a phenomenally loud sound when you are in a pristine forested area. Still – it was awesome! What a thrill! (Did I say that already?)

Sleeping in a Tipi

This ride confirmed my suspicions that there are great adventures awaiting us right here in Saskatchewan. We rode on what could be one of the most beautiful autumn days you can imagine; we had lunch in an area called the Long Meadow and that night we were treated to the culinary offerings of “One Pot Bill” and the good folks at Ness Creek. They even had a place for us to sleep – in a traditional dakota Tipi.

Gord gets tourism, and he is on top of how to share his genuine Saskatchewan adventure.  Gord is quickly becoming a social media gunslinger and can be found on his website at Sturgeon River Ranch or on Facebook . His Twitter handle is @GordVaadeland – check him and the Sturgeon River Ranch out – you’ll be glad you did.

 

The Marketing Environment – Change is Upon Us

I left my cushy job as a VP of a very large ad agency over 4 years ago – at about the same time that I came to the realization that the marketing environment was changing. Changing very quickly. This was due to the increasing utilization of the internet – a phenomena that has grown exponentially since the day I started out on my own in 2007.

The advent of social media platforms connected to fully optimized websites has changed the way any product or service can reach its intended audience – no matter how defined that audience is. In the tourism industry for example, bird-watchers now have dedicated blogs and those that are interested in birding follow birding sites, look for blog posts, and search for Twitter hashtags that pertain to their passion. Now those enigmatic great birding locations (like the Last Mountain Bird Sanctuary in Saskatchewan) can send out their message in an efficient, economical way and build their locale into a birding destination simply by telling their story. They will be found online by passionate birders. This, in turn, will increase visitation to their property.

This phenomenon is not just contained to the industry of tourism – all businesses need to establish their online presence as the foundation for all of their marketing efforts.

Companies are recognizing the shift in marketing practices.

Advertising Age Magazine reports that more than half of the marketers surveyed said that effectiveness of direct mail, TV, magazines, outdoor, newspapers, and radio would stay the same or decrease within three years. In contrast, well over 70% expected the effectiveness of channels like social media, online video, and mobile marketing to increase.

A recent Ipsos-Reid Survey found that 70% of marketers in North America are using search engine marketing and search engine optimization. This is up from 56% just two years ago. It also states that Canadian and US marketers appear to have increased the rate of adoption of the digital world. Here over 66% of senior managers are very interested in digital marketing which is an increase of 10% since last year. The rate of adoption is compounding as marketers race to understand the digital online tactics.

The same Ipsos-Reid Survey reported a jump from 35% last year to 52% of all marketers now using social marketing sites as part of the overall marketing approach. The study showed that 36% of Canadian and US marketers believe that “spending on TV will decrease over the next two years, ” – reflecting the sentiment of a shift in marketing budgets from traditional (radio, print, television) to digital (online, e-mail, mobile).

In addition, the Forrester Research/Association of National Advertisers proclaims that 62% percent of companies say TV ads have become less effective in the past two years due to increased advertising clutter. Of those surveyed, 77% said they would be moving TV dollars to social media this year; 73% plan to shift money to online advertising, and 59% will be spending more on search-engine marketing and 46% on e-mail marketing. Only 15% said they plan to increase spending in traditional media such as radio, outdoor billboards, magazines or newspapers.

We’ve Got a Long Way to Go.

The following graph by Morgan Stanley equates the time spent on available forms of gathering data versus the ad dollars spent and it clearly shows the real opportunity lies within the online initiatives.

The lesson here is quite simple – and I repeat – all businesses need to establish their online presence as the foundation for all of their marketing efforts.

Does this mean that we do not require traditional forms of advertising?

The answer is an emphatic no but the strategic direction of these tactics have to adapt to the new Marketing Environment.

More to come in forthcoming posts – stay tuned!

There is No Room for "Board Resume Padders" in Volunteer Organizations

Volunteering and “giving back to the community in which you live” remains one of my core beliefs. I believe that you need to become engaged with an organization that you believe in – one that you are passionate about – and one that you will contribute to. Too many times have I had the good fortune to sit on a Board only to find that some of my fellow members are there for all the wrong reasons. They have no intention of contributing at meetings. They miss meetings. They are what I like to call “Board Resume Padders”. Their only goal is to be able to mark down their position on their own resume. I have deemed these act to be called “resume padding” – a concept that sees this self-serving so-called volunteer undermine the work of the dedicated volunteer.

What is a Board Resume Padder?

Cartoon by David Feiss

The Board Resume Padder (BRP) is prevalent in many of today’s volunteer organizations and unfortunately they are allowed to exist in many cases. Many volunteer organizations are scrambling for help and due to poor board development practices they tend to take on a “warm body” just to fill a seat. Like a weasel, the cunning BRP seeks out these weaknesses and exploits them to the fullest. This cunning volunteer abuser is quick to second motions such as the approval of an agenda simply to ensure that their name is in the minutes. They are wily and devious in their facade – they disguise themselves as caring individuals and often fool board executive based on bravado and b.s.

How To Get Rid of a BRP

Responsible volunteer organizations and their dedicated Board members need to eradicate the presence of BRPs. Preventive measures such as conscientious and honest recruitment of prospective Board members is a practice that all volunteer organizations must implement. Done correctly the chances of a BRP infiltrating a Board are minimized to a great degree. Nevertheless, from time to time, a BRP is bound to get by even the strictest of defenses. Once a responsible Board recognizes the existence of a BRP in their presence they must take action. The Board, or more likely the Board Chair, can confront the individual in question and often they will offer up their own resignation based on lame excuses as “being too busy” or “this was not what I expected” – this matters not as the goal has been achieved – the eradication of a BRP.  Even if the BRP insists on staying there are often stipulations within organizational bylaws to make a motion to remove a non-productive member. I recently made a  motion on a provincial Board to remove a non-contributing member after she missed three consecutive meetings – this was our opportunity to act based on our bylaws.  It should be noted that your organization should seek the advice of legal counsel to ensure that the Board and its dedicated members are protected. Simply put, do the necessary due diligence in order to achieve your goal – the eradication of a BRP.

Board Development

A list of the productive elements that a Board member should be evaluated on is provided at Non Profit Expert.

  1. Attend no less than 75% of regular Board Meetings
  2. Chair and/or serve on a standing committee or special project.
  3. Make a personal and if possible business contribution to the organizational’s annual operating needs.
  4. Participate in or attend most of the program activities involving the operation.
  5. Arrange for and/or make an organizational presentation to a civic club, church group, business associate or group of friends.
  6. Make at least five person-to-person visits to individuals, foundations, businesses, or civic groups to request financial contribution to the organization.
  7. Invite and accompany a friend or associate to visit the facility.
  8. Recommend a potential candidate for Board membership to the Board Development Committee.
  9. Secure a volunteer, in-kind service or material goods for the organization.
  10. Review and consider your capacity and willingness to make a planned gift or bequest to the organization.
  11. Secure at least ten new donors for the organization.
  12. Actively assist with the special events of the organization.

 

Make Mistakes… and Learn.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

George Bernard Shaw

Old style management

One of my pet peeves in business is when the culture does not allow for creativity, ingenuity and innovation. It is my experience that many companies – mostly larger corporations – tend to “play it safe”. You’ve heard all of the sayings…from “nobody moves, nobody gets hurt” to “make sure you cover your a**”. This is an unfortunate result of old-style management and leadership where many believe that the status quo is better than actually being progressive. The questions is: what do you learn from the status quo?

Hockey Players Are Being Smothered.

I have coached minor hockey for over 21 years now and every year we have the same issues with the new players that join our hockey team. It is a sad reflection on the state of coaching in minor hockey but most coaches work hard to “not lose” and therefore hammer the kids on making mistakes. They build a culture of “playing it safe” and therefore they stymie the creative process – the very process required for young players to develop. In business it is called “paralysis by analysis” but in hockey it is called players being scared to do anything. Some don’t even want the puck for they are afraid to get yelled at if they do something wrong.

So every year it takes four to six weeks for the new player to understand that my coaches and I subscribe to a different philosophy. We will not come unglued and yell at them when they make a mistake on the ice. On the contrary, we normally ask if they know what they did wrong and if they say yes we do nothing and if they say no we explain it to them – right then and there – in a very controlled manner. Pretty soon they figure out that they will not be chastised for trying something new and then a wondrous thing begins to happen – the player actually becomes creative. Then the next player becomes creative and pretty soon you have a hockey team made up of young men and/or women that become a force that nobody wants to play. They work hard; they try new plays; they look out for one another; they have success and most importantly they have fun. What a concept this is. What if you could do this in a workplace environment?

Make Your Culture a Culture of Learning

I once heard that the many First Nations languages throughout North America do not have a word that stands for the word “mistake’. The closest word they have to this word is “learning”. Wow – so simple and so brilliant. Instead of focusing on the “mistake” why would we not focus on the “learning”.

In our business model we have built a culture that pushes our associates to learn – to make mistakes – to try new things – to look out for each other – to strive for new successes and to have FUN. We are like that minor hockey team who learns by being innovative.

Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.

Samuel Butler

 

How does one get the Boomers to Blog?

Boomers-Blogging

Baby boomer (definition):

  • a baby boomer is known to be someone born during the demographic post World War II  birth boom between 1946 and 1964, including 1964.

Let it be known that I am a “young” baby boomer and please note that I will ALWAYS be considered a “young” baby boomer. And I like to consider myself as someone that fully embraces the new media platforms available to us including blogging, Twitter and XBOX 360 (Red Dead Revolver rocks!) I am also fortunate to work with some younger people who are pushing for us Boomers within the company to blog more.

"Baby Boomer Graph"

United States birth rate (births per 1000 population). The blue segment is the postwar baby boom

What can a Baby Boomer Teach us?

Apparently these same young people believe that us folks with the “grey hairs” have something to contribute. They are probably right but the blogging world is new to us. Still we need to dive in and participate in this new social setting. I have and I need to say that I actually enjoy it. Blogging is an avenue for me to tell the stories and examples that I often use when dealing with clients in a private or group session. Experience is indeed a wonderful thing and blogging has provided me with a virtual soapbox to tell those stories and give you my perspective on the best ways to approach different situations. Indeed the other “grey hairs” have lots to share but how do we get them to particpate in a consistent manner?

Help the Boomer help the Boomers.

I’m looking for some input from the readers – young and old. Please comment about ways of convincing the boomers that their blogs are welcomed and appreciated. Is it free beer? Perhaps it is a DVD prize of old TV shows based on ‘x’ number of posts? What baby boomer could turn down the full season set of Get Smart or the original Star Trek series? How about the original Battlestar Galactica with Lorne Greene? This has got to make them take notice.

Please post some ideas below in the comments or on twitter – we need to get the boomers to blog. Your contributions will ensure the experience will not be lost before Alzheimer disease sets in.

Avoid Bad Decisions in Bad Times

Rain – we have had a bit of here in the Flatland as of late. OK, you’re right – we’ve had nothing short of  “a ton o’ rain” in the past few weeks. It’s brutal. There is no doubt that we are all sick of it. It affects us all. It affects us from a recreational perspective – whether your kids miss ball games or you miss camping, golfing, biking and the list goes on. It affects us from a business perspective – landscaping companies, farming, construction, excavating and the list goes on.

The business perspective is the hard one to deal with. Your livelihood has been affected by something that is beyond your control. In these trying times one must make sure that you control how you deal with it. Don’t chase the bad times with a bad business decision.

Rainy Golf Day

I recently volunteered for a golf tournament fundraiser on a day (June 17th) that saw some people giving consideration to building an ark. The rain had been coming down for over 24 hours and our 1pm shot-gun start was not looking so good. We had some foursomes phoning us that morning and cancelling out – rightfully so – based on not wanting to play in the Saskatchewan monsoon rains. Our tournament Chair was in contact with the golf course who insisted that they were not cancelling the tournament due to weather. In other words, they were not willing to give up the revenue even though the experience for the organization, the players and the sponsors would have been brutal.

The Bad Decision

The only “out” for our organization was to postpone but in order to do so the golf club was going to have to charge $1500 for the thawed-out steaks. This seemed reasonable enough until our Chair asked for the steaks as the organization was paying for them regardless. Interestingly, when he picked them up from the course that afternoon the meat was still frozen. The golf course had lied and they were caught in the lie. The end result is that the “more than accommodating” organization paid the “unthawed steak fee” and actually re-booked with the same club but I would bet money on the fact that this tournament will move to another golf course in 2012.

Turn the Negative into a Positive

Clearly the inclement weather was beyond the control of the golf course and the organization in question. How refreshing would it have been to have the golf course manager tell us that he would re-book at no charge. He could have even offered up discount vouchers to distribute to the golfers we had booked in the tournament to “kick start” his traffic flow when the sun began to shine again. He could have turned this brutal weather situation into something where he (and his course) were applauded on Twitter, word-of-mouth and by being named in a positive fashion on blogs and other posts.

Learn How to be a Great Client

One of my associates and I just got out of a meeting this afternoon with a new client that knows exactly what they want out of us and the project we are working on. This is so refreshing! We often spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what the client wants. For us it is important to know what a successful outcome is for the client. Although we can help develop this end result it is so much easier if the client can help us “paint that picture”. We can all learn from this – when the tables are turned are we being a good client?

Top 6 Features of A Great Client:Great Clients

1.  Communicate Clearly

Ensure you have done your homework prior to meeting with a supplier. Clearly state what you want in terms of deliverables and don’t forget to establish timelines.

2.  Don’t Micro-manage Your Supplier

If you are hiring experts then let them do the work! Keep an open mind about new ideas and don’t constantly second guess or pass judgment on the insignificant – as long as the “eye is on the ball” which is the pre-determined successful outcome then give some space to your supplier.

3.  Have a Point Person Readily Available

It is always best that the supplier has one person – not a bevy of silo-builders – that is put in charge of managing the project from the client’s perspective. Questions and obstacles will arise.  Your supplier is an independent expert yet they will still need to have someone that is available to them when the need arises.

4.  Give Plenty of Time (if possible)

Although most suppliers understand that the odd “rush” job is inevitable it is always best to allow for a reasonable amount of time. This will ensure less mistakes and miscommunication and will save you money. Suppliers tend to increase fees for the rush jobs as the risk is far higher for them.

5.  Be Fair on Fee Payment

Value is often directly related to price. Those suppliers that are less than the market rate tend to be less in terms of quality. AND pay on time – when the work is done and the terms of payment have not been adhered to (in other words the supplier has to beg for his owed money) then this hurts your reputation. Suppliers tend to talk to each other and you don’t want to be the one that is known as the “the client who does not pay on time.”

6.  Recognize the Extra Effort

Most suppliers want to produce a high quality end result and often they will “burn the midnight oil” to ensure that your work is done. Notice this extra effort – a thank you is often enough!