Review Category : Blog Posts

Marketing Strategy: Inbound + Outbound

The playbook of advertising is constantly evolving and in many ways is turning inside out. Facebook has augmented the social web experience in ways we never imagined a decade ago. The amount of content available for immediate sharing is overwhelming. In time, marketers learned that social sites would provide the widest audiences possible, so they started an outbound marketing strategy by flooding YouTube and Facebook with ads. Sounds like a good idea, right?  After all, that is where most people spend their time online. Not necessarily. These channels are a vital part of the marketing mix but in terms of lead generation and converting sales are some of the least effective options if not part of a broader strategy.

The problem is that you simply don’t have the individual’s undivided attention.  So much information is thrown at us that we have become somewhat numb to it, immune in some cases.  The solution is an inbound marketing approach that focuses on investing back into the company through social participation, blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO).  These tools provide a substantive way to show the engaged consumer how the brand is unique. The idea is that the consumer comes to you and not the other way around, so online lead generation is more organic which will increase the probability of sale tremendously. Organic leads are also the best way of increasing the probability of a repeat sale and eventually of building the brand loyalty we all wish for.

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Google+ is Now Open for Business(es)

Building an online presence via Google+ is now possible for more than just individuals. The social-networking site launched “Google+ Pages” today as a means of providing profiles for businesses, brands, places, teams and other non-entities. Page holders enjoy most of the same features that are included in personal profiles but are allowed additional features like “direct connect,” where users can type a “+” symbol into Google before a business name and be instantly directed to that business’ Google+ page. Google+, which moved out of its beta testing phase in late September, intitially removed all pages that were representative of businesses, saying that the platform was not yet ready for that kind of publication. Perks to the newer, better business-format include “hangout” chats, collaboration opportunities via Google Docs and doodling via SketchPad.

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Dot Coms Are So Last Decade

Dot coms are a thing of the past, at least according to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). The international authority over top-level domain names (TLDs) has approved a resolution to expand the list of generic TLDs which will allow companies and organizations to create domains for their brands.

What exactly does this mean? Well, for one, domain addresses will no longer be required to end in .com, .org or .net. For instance, a company could use its actual brand name as the end of the URL, such as .coke or .walmart. Companies could also use more generic names that categorize their domain by industry such as .car or .restaurant. Really, the possibilities are endless. But with countless options, and not to mention thousands of “dot somethings” to remember, how are consumers going to react to this significant change? If we had our guess, we’d say they’ll be lost… lost in cyberspace.

Despite the skepticism, large corporations are likely to benefit from the proposed TLD plan. If AT&T can acquire the .att or even the .phone TLD ending, just think of the drastic increase in online traffic that the AT&T site will see. The change could create an immense amount of brand awareness if they’re one of the first to use a customizable TLD. However, having the option to end your domain with your brand name won’t come cheap. To avoid squatters, the application fee for the new domain ending has been priced at $185,000 with an annual fee of $25,000!

Needless to say, the kinks of this proposed domain plan have yet to be ironed out. It is, however, a remarkable advancement as .coms have been the standard since the Internet’s creation in the 1990s. So will Madison+Main make the switch in the coming years? Only time, and technological progression, will tell.

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The Social Etiquette of Social Media

In a sense, social media is one big cocktail party… with 1 billion guests. And like an actual cocktail party, many of the same etiquette rules apply. You wouldn’t attend a social event in order to shamelessly self-promote and you certainly wouldn’t ignore everyone else in the room, so why do so on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter? Unfortunately, many people make this mistake. So with some insight from the OneForty Blog and some of our own suggestions, here are a few Social Media Etiquette Rules by which you should abide.

Don’t be selfish.
Ever go to a cocktail party only to sit alone and carry on a conversation with yourself? Of course not! Sure, social media allows you to set up personal and professional profiles that can help promote your ideas and your business, but don’t forget that there is still a “social” aspect to it. Twitter, Facebook and blogs are meant to provide information, spark conversations and engage users, and, like in real life, they require you to listen and converse with others. We recommend setting filters to tag blog posts, tweets or Facebook updates that you find relevant. From there, start a conversation, but be sure to take the time to respond to others. Once you begin interacting, you’ll find that social media can be not only a great promotional tool, but also a great resource.

Know when to take the conversation offline.
It’s happened to all of us at some point. You approach a group at a gathering and somehow manage to sneak your way ever-so-slyly into position so that you can hear the conversation, except no one acknowledges you. Instead, they carry on a lengthy debate while you nod in agreement but have no earthly clue what they’re talking about. Sucks, doesn’t it? Your followers on Twitter follow you because they’re interested in what you have to say. However, when you choose to carry on a personal conversation using @ replies, you’ve left the rest of your followers lost in the dark (and probably annoyed!) Direct @ replies are useful, and sometimes necessary, as long as you don’t get too carried away. If you’re interested in addressing someone beyond two or three replies simply send a direct message, email or even call that person. Your other followers will greatly appreciate it.

Know your audience.
If you were going to an event for work, you would dress and act in a more professional manner than you would if you were going to a close friend’s birthday dinner. Similarly, your business prospects are not interested in seeing a YouTube video of you dressed in a sombrero taking tequila shots at the local Mexican joint. While linking all of your social media platforms seems like an ideal option, it often comes with a price. Each social media platform serves a different purpose and speaks to a slightly different audience. If your contacts on LinkedIn differ from those on Facebook, your content should as well. You’ll get better responses and find it more beneficial when you tailor content specifically to each platform.

You are not a robot.
You’re not feeling well and you can’t make it to the party. Bummer! But don’t worry, because there’s always the option to send a robot in your place. Sounds crazy, right? But that’s essentially what you’re doing with automated Tweets regarding a product, service or blog post. Or even better… the automated DM. Have you ever met a person who just loves getting automated DMs? Didn’t think so. While scheduling posts can be helpful in some instances, using them consistently is impersonal. They’re no different from automated customer service lines that leave you muttering “Can’t I just talk to a real person?” So avoid the auto messages and let your followers press “0” to speak with a living, breathing human being.

Build your social circle gradually.
Your friend introduces you to a great guy and you both instantly hit it off… but that doesn’t mean he’s going to put a ring on your finger the following day. Building a relationship is something that takes time. The same can be said of social media “relationships.” Unless you’re Charlie Sheen, chances are you won’t be able to gain 1 million Twitter followers in less than 24-hours. Building up your fan base isn’t going to be instantaneous. And it shouldn’t be! If you’re looking for followers who are sincerely interested in you and what you have to say, then they’re worth effort and patience. Gaining true followers will help validate your brand as well as yield better results in the long run.

Treating your social media accounts as you would your social life is a good way to approach promoting yourself and your brand in the digital realm. When you look at it that way, it’s easier to understand the best way to interact with and engage users. Now get out there and socialize!

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Why Content Will Always be King

Is your brand suffering from Attention Deficit Consumer Disorder? It’s not them, it’s your ads.

Two contributing authors to MediaPost, an online and print resource for all things advertising, have engaged in a debate over the state of advertising today (links to the back-and-forth are at the end of this post). It all started with an article by Joe Marchese called “Advertising Is NOT Content”. Joe’s point is that advertising is becoming a “consumer’s choice”. Offered technology like Tivo and DVR options which allows purchasers to skip ads, we’re also embracing this option across a variety of other platforms – Pandora upgrade, anyone?

The attention economy, he explains, is changing the dynamic of advertising. No longer will consumers sit idly and be subjected to ads, nay!, advertisers must demonstrate that the ad is worth the consumer’s time. “Good” advertising and “bad” advertising are subjective and “largely irrelevant” he states. Hmmm…irrelevant? Not really.

Where attention economics views human attention as a scarce commodity, thanks to our over-exposure to information, relevancy helps to bring it back into focus. The difference between a “good” ad and a “bad” ad starts when it becomes immediately boring and irrelevant. Consumers don’t want to be barraged by ads that mean nothing to them – ads that offer neither information or entertainment are annoying and frustrating. This is why we’re skipping ads – we don’t want to be served mediocrity.

And isn’t this the real issue here? Poor advertising content. Engage us, please!

Some consumers will pay to avoid ads, and some will put up with a few commercials – but eventually everyone is a consumer and we all want to make informed choices. Brands need to be ready to engage that consumer in the ways that they seek product knowledge; know your audience, know your demographic, and understand the mediums – however they are evolving.

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