KevinWax.com

Welcome to your weekly dose insight.

The Case of the Killer Squid

Most mistakes that we make in the normal course of business are not killers. And that’s a good thing of course. If most of the mistakes we made were killers, we wouldn’t be around to learn from them.

As a matter of fact, since most of our mistakes (squids) are not killers, our survival lulls us into a sense of complacency and acceptance. We make a mistake and we think, “well, the last mistake/series of mistakes didn’t hurt us all that much, so let’s just put this behind us as fast as we can and get on with the rest of our lives.”

That’s a dangerous mindset and one of the reasons why I wrote Killer Squids. Your complacency/accepting mindset of your mistakes can be fatal in the long term. As Bob Newhart would say, “Stop it!”

But some mistakes can kill you. Some mistakes are so big and so bad and the consequences so dire…there are Killer Squids.

I extended credit to a friend who was starting a business. Over the objections of my long-suffering wife, I allowed him to rack up bills of $20,000. When his house of cards came crashing down, we were stuck with big paper bills and labor costs. This was not a killer squid, but it could have been. The loss was great enough that it jeopardized our ability to stay in business.

My takeaways from this Squid?

  1. Listen to your wife.
  2. Don’t let friendship cloud your judgment when it comes to extending credit.
  3. Don’t extend too much credit to start-ups.
  4. Don’t let anyone go past a pre-determined amount of credit. Limit your potential losses.
  5. Have your credit policies in place before you encounter a problem.
  6. Know your policies and stick to them no matter what.

These are the lessons I learned (I hope).

This was not a Killer Squid, but it could have been. And there are mistakes that you can make that will kill your business, or your job.

I remember well a Killer Squid that took out a client of mine. Sad.

It was a big project for us; the client requested a bid for scanning and printing a 500 page book; the quantity was 2000. We won the bid and started scanning the pages. Early on in the scanning process, our production expert came to me and said, “hey Kevin, this project is not 500 pages…it’s 500 sheets, front and back. It’s actually 1000 pages.

Uh oh. Our client did not know the difference between pages and sheets. Of course when you are dealing with a 1,000 page book vs a 500 page book, the price is going to go up, a lot.

We quickly communicated the problem and a new quote back to our client, and then it went quiet. Real quiet. Crickets.

But the deadline was fast approaching, and still we heard nothing. We knew our price was good and we were prepared to proceed (not many other printers could knock this job out fast enough), and our client was in a bad situation. And so, our client authorized us to proceed.

We finished the project on time and on the newly approved budget, but our client lost her job. Painful. Killer Squid.

Takeaways?

  1. Double check your specifications.
  2. Understand the jargon of the industry.
  3. Slow down and think through ramifications of not understanding all the specs before you begin.

September Song Squid

I do love my playlists. I have playlists for different days of the week. I have unique playlists for months/years. For example, one of my favorite playlists was created in April 2014. Spring of 2014 was a particularly tough time, and almost all the songs are quiet and in minor keys. Playlists can bring back memories of how you felt then and there. A history of emotion in songs. Nice.

Here’s a screen shot of my April 2014 playlist:

See what I mean? Great songs…most of them in a minor key.

I recently created another new playlist for September 2017. I found a recording by Willie Nelson called September Song and since I made the playlist in September, I thought it made sense to include it. I love this particular recording of a classic that has been covered many times. Have you heard it? Here are the lyrics for you:

Oh, it’s a long, long while
From May to December
But the days grow short,
When you reach September.
When the autumn weather
Turn leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time
For the waiting game.

Oh the days dwindle down
To a precious few . . .
September, November . . .
And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you.
These precious days
I’ll spend with you.

September Song, sung by Willie Nelson

Composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson

Of course, this is a sweet romantic song, and I dedicate this blogpost to my incredibly long-suffering and sweet wife, Rhonda. Thanks for all the precious days we’ve been able to spend together. Thank you Lord Jesus for Rhonda, a gift worth far more than rubies.

And what do all of this playlists, September Song lyrics and lovely dedications have to do with Squids?

When you reach September, you don’t have time “for the waiting game.” The days “dwindle down to a precious few.” I’m not saying this well, please forgive me. It’s a struggle. Please let me try again.

Time is running out. Will you spend your time trying to cover up your mistakes? Or will you humbly embrace them and learn from them and get on with your life?

Life is short. Don’t waste it in pride and unwillingness to learn from your mistakes.

Oh, and by the way. It’s already October.

Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle? Part 2

Please see the previous blog post where I introduced two key decisions that were formative in our rolling out a “one-stop shop” destination for our customers.

These two decisions were to add Direct Mail and then Signs; one decision was made in the crucible; one decision was made in the timing.

This post covers two more key decisions that helped us become a “one-stop shop” destination.

This decision was made by our clients

I highly recommend peer groups. I used to be a cowboy. I thought I could figure it out all on my own, and I enjoyed trying to figure it all out on my own. But eventually I came to the end of myself and started asking for help. When I started asking for help, I realized the beauty of “the pool of shared meaning.”

Peer groups expand the “pool of shared meaning” and help you see your problems/opportunities from new perspectives.

It was in one of my peer groups that it dawned on me that we absolutely had to offer website creation and management to our clients. Even though I had heard my clients ask over and over for websites, it was not until my friends in my peer group hammered me that I finally got it.

The next decision was made in the personnel

We have wanted to offer marketing services to our clients for years. Such a natural extension for us. We have worked with over 5,000 different small businesses since 1966, and we’re a small business ourselves. We’ve seen ‘em come and we’ve seen ‘em go. We’re blessed to still be here!

We knew we could offer marketing services, but we were all so busy with design, direct mail and printing that we couldn’t prioritize them. So, when the timing was just right, two key persons joined our team, and we were off to the races. These key individuals were knowledgeable and dedicated to helping our clients.

These four decisions; to add direct mail, signs, websites and marketing services helped us become a truly a “one-stop shop” destination for our clients.

Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle? Part 1

Just about everybody, right? That’s what we thought too, and the answer to “Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle?”

I can’t say that we were able to accomplish this from day one. We just didn’t have the expertise or the money to roll out a fully formed “one-stop shop” destination for our customers back in 1966.

But I think we’re pretty close now. We haven’t “arrived” that’s for sure. But if our clients need marketing/design/print/digital/mail/sign integration…we’re there.

As I reminisce on 51 years of family business, there are two key decision points that defined our pursuit of the “one-stop shop” destination.

This decision was made in the crucible

One key decision point was 1996. We decided to go all-in on Direct Mail in October of this pivotal year. This decision was made in the crucible. We had printed well over a million direct mail pieces for the 96 campaign and I had trusted a friend to do the direct mail processing and get them all in the mail stream.

I was in the middle of my unsuccessful State Senate race at this point, and my friend called with some really bad news; he couldn’t get all of the mail done in time. One thing is for real about political printing; limited shelf life. The mail has to be in the mailbox BEFORE election day or it’s worse than worthless.

By the end of that difficult Monday, I had moved over 1,000,000 pieces of printing to three different mail houses in the Nashville area, and I had decided “never again.” Never again would I send mail to mail houses that may or may not meet my client’s deadlines.

Even in this difficult situation, we made all of our deadlines, and we were in the direct mail business.

The next decision was made in the timing

Another key decision point was 2015. We decided to go all-in on Signs. How did this happen? We had puttered around with sign making for years, but in 2015, our Sign Guru showed up on our doorstep. He was more than ready to join our team, and we were more than ready to welcome him!

So, the decisions to add Direct Mail and then Signs were key to our becoming a truly “one-stop shop” for our clients. One decision was made in the crucible; one decision was made in the timing.


The Difficulty of Making the Double Sale

Years ago, I launched a new business that just about everyone told me wouldn’t make it. Eventually, “everyone” was right. The business lasted 6 years, had increasing sales every year, but I shut it down when the first waves of the Great Recession washed up on our beach.

There were many reasons why the business didn’t make it, and the difficulty of making the double sale was a major contributor.

What’s a double sale? It’s easier to explain than define, so here goes. If you’re selling cars and your potential customers don’t even know they want or need a car, you’re trying to make a double sale. If you start with selling a car, you may indeed “sell” them on your car, and you will have made the second part of the sale. But then you have to go back and “sell” them on having a car in the first place.

A lot of sales efforts break down at this point.

Or, you could sell them on having a car (so far, so good!). But then a world of opportunity opens up and your potential client realizes that there are a lot of cars out there for sale. You’ve sold them on buying a car (first sale); but then you have to convince them that your car is the best for them (second sale).

Even more sales efforts break down at this point.

I’m not offering any solutions to the double sales difficulty; I’m just pointing out how hard it is to make the double sale. It is helpful to the sales professional if he or she realizes that they are in a double sale situation.

First step in making the double sale? Realizing that you’re in a double sales situation.

3 Tips to a More Powerful PR Strategy

Good public relations do not equal good marketing. They are related, but one is not the other. Marketing is the process of wooing your customers to buy from you. PR (Public Relations) is talking to others about your service, products, or industry.

WARNING; It’s not your sales pitch; it’s a conversation, verbal or written, as a guest on someone else’s established platform. It can be one of the most powerful tools in your overall marketing strategy because being a guest is a great endorsement of you and shows you are a trusted expert.

Marketing strategies are different than public relations strategies. Marketing strategies tend to send press releases to local or national media in hopes that someone will call for an interview. Public relations strategies mean skipping the “send and wait” mentality and, instead, getting out there and getting active.

To get active, know who to call and target them directly. Remember, your endgame is a public conversation with their audience. Be willing to be quoted and willing to talk on camera. Then, they’ll think of you first when they’re doing a story where you can help “dramatize” their point. Marketing and PR are similar in one respect: they both require you to think about your first step and then take it.

PR Tips:

  •  TIP 1: Pitch the right person. Find out who books guests or does stories related to your industry, etc.
  • TIP 2: Engage with the editors. The person with the final say can encourage their writers/hosts to use you as the go-to expert.
  • TIP 3: Follow up. Return calls and emails, and don’t wait to be contacted. Remind them you are here.

For more information contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com

Does your message/logo have the power of attraction?

Make your message magnetic—literally! Magnets are a powerful way to make your message stick. There are thousands of ideas for using magnetic marketing.

Sports:

Hand out the schedule for your local sports team on a magnet with your logo at the top!

Food:

From kitchen weight-and-measure conversions to nutrition recommendations, there are many ways your name can be a permanent fixture on any refrigerator. Think about what “sticks.”

Home and Garden:

Garden tips and home-improvement checklists are great resources you can give away.

For more information contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com

 

Destroy the typical FAQ with Video Answers

Did you know that most first-time callers to your business initially went to your website to find answers to their customer service-related questions? We live in a visual world. You may have a page of FAQs on your website, but is that enough for everybody? Many people need to “see” it to understand it. Why not put your answers on video?

Make quick, two-to-three-minute videos explaining the answers to the most asked questions. Start the video with something like: “Many people have asked us recently: how does…?” By starting with the simple question, you’ll know what to show specifically in your video.

Your call volume may go down and website visits may go up. The good news is customers are finding the answers they need, in a format they can easily consume.

For more information contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com

Can you See the Hidden Squid?

Some SQUIDS (S=Safety issue, Q=Quality problem, U=Unusual situation, I=Income costing, or D= Delivery) are hard to see because we don’t own up to them. Or maybe other team members around us won’t own up to them.

Why don’t we see our mistakes? Pride. Complacency. Inattention to detail. The list could go on and on. Sometimes we even cover up our mistakes intentionally. How many times have I walked through the production area of our shop and seen a print job in the recycle bin? Didn’t know anything about that squid, but sure enough, somebody else did and “hid” it in the bin.

But I’m not talking about the mistakes we know about, and then won’t acknowledge. I’m talking about those squids that we don’t readily see. There is a whole class of squids that lurk in the dark shadows that we don’t even know are there.

Former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield famously said, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

So, now we’re talking about “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns.”

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Our multi-talented sign guy was on vacation. We are not adequately cross-trained in that department, so wouldn’t you know it, here comes a nice sign order. This order was a bit unusual in that it was more complicated than normal. But we had produced this very job many times before.

We simply weren’t ready. So, we jobbed out this job to a friendly sister company. We cleared a couple hundred dollars, when we normally would have cleared somewhere near six to seven hundred.

Some would say, “where’s the squid here?” We got the job, we farmed it out, the customer is happy…” what’s the harm; what’s the foul?”

On the surface, this is all true. But the hidden squid is in what we lost. We lost the opportunity to make a better profit. The team lost the opportunity to be challenged with a difficult job when our lead sign guy was out. Lost opportunities are hidden squids. They must be acknowledged and learned from.

So, what did we do going forward? We did write up the Squid; we did discuss what we would do differently.

The biggest takeaway from this squid was that we simply were not ready for anyone in a key role to take a vacation, get sick, or simply be away from the office for a few days for any personal reason. This is not healthy.

So, we have to cross train vigorously.

The problem with a hidden squid is that you might not even know what hit you. So, make sure you spend time looking for the hidden squids.

For more information contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com

 

Keep your competitive edge so you can be on the cutting edge

Growing a business requires laser like focus and attention to detail. One of those details, is assessing what your competition is doing and how much of a threat they are to your company. Here are a few ways you can keep your edge in a competitive market.

·       Know the competition – Put on your best PI costume and take a look at what your competition is doing in person and online. How do their sales associates interact, how are they greeting people, is information easy to find, how hard is it to checkout, etc.  If you aren’t comfortable doing this, ask a close friend or family member to do it for you. Then compare notes and see where you could improve your own procedures.

·       Connect with leaders – You can learn a lot about what is happening in your industry by following industry leaders on social platforms and in LinkedIn communities. Connecting with like-minded individuals could create relationships that help connect you to new partners and customers.

·       Step up your marketing – Make more effort to tell people who you are, what you sell and why they should buy from you. It doesn’t have to be expensive; marketing can range from posters in your window and leaflet drops to Facebook ads and website enhancements.

·       Look after your existing customers – They will be your competitors’ target market. Provide better customer service by being more responsive to their needs and expectations. If feasible, consider offering low-cost extras such as improved credit terms, discounts or loyalty programs – remember, it’s cheaper and easier to keep customers than to find new ones.

If you need help with any of the above items, we’re happy to help! Give me a call at 615-893-4290 to talk more about it.

The right brochure is a “Salesman in Abstencia”

I often refer to brochures we print as “salesmen in abstencia.” What do I mean? A good brochure keeps selling long after I’ve left the presence of my client/prospect. And compared to paying the salary and benefits of a salesman, a good brochure is an awesome good deal!

Marketing brochures can be one of the most effective and versatile tools a business or organization can use to inform customers of their services or products. Simple to produce at an economical cost and easy to distribute, brochures are well worth your consideration when coming up with a marketing strategy.

By creating a brief, but informative version of your organization’s message, you can rapidly relay core ideas, or products and services you provide to your audience. A printed brochure can also be passed along by customers providing your business with even wider distribution of this information.

With good design, quality materials and the right message, your brochure could be the piece of marketing that differentiates you from the competition. If you need help creating a brochure that stands out, let us know!

Contact us at (615)893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

Creating customer profiles by answering these 7 key questions

“In order to know why John Smith buys what John Smith buys, you have to see the world through John Smith’s eyes.” If you’re looking to understand your customer’s wants and needs so you can continually provide them personalized service and create customer loyalty, try answering these 7 questions about your ideal customer(s):

·       Who are they (age, gender, location, income level)?

·       What products and services do they need?

·       Who else provides those products and services (your competition)?

·       How can you set your products and services apart in a positive way customers will notice?

·       How close are your target customers to buying what they want from your company?

·       What will it take to get them to make that purchase?

·       What will it take to retain their business?

Customers and prospects expect a high level of personalization. From marketing emails to sales pitches, communication must be tailored for the given prospect and their place within the sales funnel. Answering these 7 questions will help you create content and materials that will speak directly to your ideal customer.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

Common email errors; making stupid mistakes can hurt you

A typo in an email to a friend can make them and us chuckle, but for businesses, the same typo can damage your credibility. Some email errors can even make subscribers feel devalued by brands, potentially leading to social shaming and decreased loyalty, or loss of business completely. Here are some of the most common email errors:

1. Content errors:  These are simple typos that can occur in the body of the email or the subject line. Those in the body may go unnoticed, but typos in subject lines are likely to cost businesses at least a few email opens. They will also cause your more grammatically correct clients to roll their eyes!

2. Dated information: This refers to promotions for sales that have already ended or events that have already happened. Subscribers will be stumped by the call-to-action and aggravated that they wasted time reading the email. This mistake results in an instant loss of credibility.

3. Irrelevant offers: Even if offers are valid, they are still likely to confuse contacts if they are irrelevant to them. Take, for instance, notifications about events coming up in the local Dallas store sent to customers in Chicago.

4. Broken links: These mistakes are pretty straightforward; links can either take contacts to the wrong page, or take them to no page at all. This issue can cost brands serious bucks if the contacts clicking on those bad links were originally intending on making a purchase.

5. Invalid personalization: Including a person’s name in the email greeting can impress contacts, but when emails show up saying “Dear First Name,” or “Dear […],” the intended effect is reversed.

The easiest way to avoid sending an email with the above issues is to test, test, test! Send test emails internally before sending out a campaign; others may likely spot typos that the creator overlooked.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com..

Can in-store signage maximize newsletter subscriptions?

Continuing with the theme of increasing your marketing reach by combining digital and print advertising, in this blogpost, we’ll look at how you can use your in store promotional space to encourage newsletter subscriptions.

Whether you run a restaurant, a school, a retail shop or a business to business service based company, chances are good that you’ll have a client visiting you at some point.  Use in store promotional posters, table tents, hang tags, window clings or other signage to encourage customers to visit your website and sign up for your email newsletter.

Include a QR code that links to a mobile optimized page on your site with a short subscription form for a great customer experience. Entice customers to subscribe with an instant money saving coupon that can be emailed directly to them and shown to staff as proof of subscription.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

Low-tech ways to increase your social media interactions

Recent research from Forrester finds that posts from top brands on Facebook and Twitter reach just 2% of their followers.

Of the 2% that see the post or tweet, a mere 0.07 percent of followers interact with the posts.  The low reach and engagement has gotten even worse since Facebook drastically cut the organic reach of a post in an effort to encourage boosted (paid) posts. With so few people seeing and engaging with posts, it is hard to truly have a social relationship with your customers.

While having and updating a Facebook page and twitter account is still an important component in an overall marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the center of your marketing strategy. So what should you be doing to help build a social relationship with your customers? Try the tips below:

  • Email marketing – The average open rate for an email campaign is between 17 and 30 percent based on your industry and relationship with the customer. If you have to decide between gathering an email address and gaining a fan on Facebook or Twitter, get an email address. The chances of their viewing and engaging with an email is much higher than the view and engagement stats on any social media platform.
  • Blogging – Blogging allows you to create a branded community full of information, anecdotes, case studies and will help showcase your corporate personality/culture. Not only will an active, relevant blog drive traffic to your website, it will also create a space for your more outspoken fans to share with others what they like about your company. Encourage interaction with each post by posing questions and encouraging users to make comments.
  • Bring your Social Updates to your Site – Just because your latest Facebook post wasn’t seen on Facebook, doesn’t mean it can’t be seen on your website, blog or email updates. Add a “weekly” update section to your website where you round up all your social posts into one page. This could showcase your latest Instagram image, your tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and blog posts all on one page. If the users won’t see the posts in their original form, they can at least review them on your site.
These tips are all fairly low technical ways of increasing your social interactions with current and potential customers, however, if you need help with any of the above, let us know. We’d be happy to help create a social strategy that maximizes your brand awareness.
Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

Creating the right magical mix; Digital AND Print

Finding the right marketing mix is less about your business and more about your customers. Thinking about who they are, how they purchase and what influences them will help you determine how to reach customers with a good mix of print and digital advertising.

In the last two blogposts, we looked at using postcards to encourage website visits and using in store signage to promote newsletter signups. Today, we want to look at using print to engage your social media fans.

The digital world is cluttered. Very cluttered. Every 60 seconds 700,000 Google searches are performed, 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and 168 million emails are sent. Making sure your fan base sees your posts can be a challenge unless you find other ways to promote your social media accounts.

Help people find your social media accounts by including your most used and valuable information on all of your marketing collateral. From business cards to brochures, make sure the addresses to your social media accounts are printed clearly for all to see. You may even want to include a blurb about why someone might want to go follow or friend you on a certain account.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

HTTP or HTTPS; Does it really matter to people in the real world?

Still thinking about adding an SSL Certificate to your website so you can go from http to https?

SEMrush has published data on websites’ use of the HTTPS protocol; does an HTTPS get you better rankings in Google?

SEMrush analyzed the top 100,000 domains in its U.S. database and found that over the past three years, HTTPS usage has tripled among these websites. From 2014 to 2017, the percentage of domains in this group using HTTPS increased from 7.6 percent to 31.5 percent.

The SEMrush team also analyzed the correlation between search engine results page positions and HTTPS usage. They sampled 100,000 random keywords using SEMrush data and discovered that nearly 45 percent of results in the first position and nearly 50 percent of results in the second position used HTTPS.

If your website is not utilizing an HTTPS connection, now is the time to start. Contact us at(615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com. for more information on SSL Certificates and HTTPS connections.

 

Are you using Powerful Print to Enhance your Marketing?

The Internet has changed the way small business owners market their business.

Digital marketing (e-newsletters, search engine optimization SEO, social media and search engine marketing) can be a powerful form of advertising. For even more bang for your marketing buck, combine your digital marketing with a collaborative print marketing effort. Over the next few blogposts, our weekly marketing messages are going to focus on how you can increase your reach by combining digital and print advertising.

Tip: Postcards Rule. One of the most powerful marketing strategies today is to promote your website via direct-mail postcards. Postcards serve many purposes. Whether you want to invite people to an upcoming webinar/class or showcase a few of your bestselling products, using a postcard to direct traffic to your website is a great idea. Motivate response with an exclusive offer or personalized URL which will allow you to track your response rate, conversion rate, and ultimate return on investment.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com for questions or more information.

Is Brick and Mortar Still an Option for Millennials?

Traditional brick and mortar stores remain highly relevant within the retail market.

In a recent survey, 87% of consumers are shopping in store as often as they did in 2014 and as many as 85% of consumers still prefer to shop in store. The study shows that this preference is primarily driven by a desire to be able to see and handle the physical products before purchasing.

Having a mobile website is an important driver of traffic to a retail location. 50% of respondents report using their mobile device to research products, more than 60% for price comparison purposes, and, perhaps most importantly, 46% to find the location of the closest relevant store.

“Millennials” – people between 18-34 years of age – can be a significant market for brick and mortar retailers. 90% of millennials report planning to shop in-store at least as often as in previous years. And 87% admit to having spent more than they intended upon entry.

All of this means that effective in-store marketing is as important as it ever was – and point-of-sale and large-format display advertising should be a major consideration for retailers.

If you need some help or ideas on how you can spruce up your in-store sales, give us a call at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com; we’d be happy to provide some attention-grabbing ideas.

You can make your value proposition memorable

Most people think a value proposition is a statement of what you do; what makes you different or better than everyone else.

That’s hard to define in a world where it seems like there are more choices than customers.

A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible business value that people/organizations get from using your product or service. It’s the outcome of using what you sell – not what you sell. The best value propositions include measurable business objectives that cause movement – lower costs, speed delivery, improved quality, increased efficiency, decreased churn, etc. Working real metrics into your value proposition statement makes a bigger impression and improves recall when your prospect has a need for your product or service.

Try it out on us! Does your value proposition need an update? Let us hear it. We’ll let you know where you could improve and where you are doing great! Email us at info@waxfamilyprinting.com and let’s get started.

How important is a good review?

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always No”, this saying holds true for reviews as well.

A recent survey by Bright Local revealed that 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review if asked. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and ask your customers to leave a review. Some of the key takeaways from Online Review Survey Research:

·       84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

·       74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

·       73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant

·       90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business

·       58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important.

·       54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews

Yelp, Google and Facebook are all popular places for consumers to leave and read reviews about your company. When you ask for a review, be sure to send the customer a link to the profile that you want them to leave the review on.

Customer Service reviews are our lifeblood. We review our reviews every week and report every customer response to the whole team. Interested in knowing what your NPS (Net Promoter Score) is? Give us a call at (615)893-4290, or email us at info@waxfamilyprinting.com and we will help you find out!

Quick tips to create growth this quarter

Looking for some easy ways to make business better right now? Here are some ideas you can use to grow your business right away:

  • Ask your customers to write a review of your business (According to Yelp, a ½ star increase causes a nearly 20% increase in reservations with restaurants). What your customers say means more to your future customers than what you tell them.
  • Update your website content on a regular basis. If you have a blog, write more articles. Set a weekly schedule and involve members of your team in your blog strategy.
  • Make sure your mobile website experience is positive. The shift to mobile is undeniable. In 2017, you must have a website that is designed for mobile, not just mobile compatible.
  • Create shareable content. Search engine optimization used to be about linking to other sites. Today it is about compelling, unique and relevant content.

If you need assistance with any of these tasks, feel free to give us a call. Not only can we can help you create and implement these suggestions, but we also provide solutions for your other marketing challenges, so contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com to learn more.

Come on! Does Font Choice Really Matter?

There have been many studies that explore the importance of font choice to customers’ buying habits. If you’re looking to change up your marketing a bit, something as simple as a font change can make a massive difference.

If you’re looking to elicit a simple action—”call for a consultation,” “order now,” “try our new product”—then you may be better off using a super-simple, clear font. People who feel bogged down by processing a hard-to-read font may be less likely to answer your call to action.

Conversely, if you’re selling a high-end, technical product, selecting a font that requires a little more work from readers can make them feel more invested in the experience of learning more. In turn, they may be more likely to purchase.

The most important thing to remember is to use typography to complement and enhance your copy. When done right, it can trigger the right emotion and mood required to get a prospect to take action.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

 

Have you thought about leveraging FOMO?

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a relatively recent phenomenon.

FOMO is fueled and intensified by technology and social media. People take action based on perceived social pressures and fear of being excluded or not ‘in the know’.

Today’s shoppers are armed with more knowledge and buying options than ever before. And, thanks in part to social media, buyers are also privy to their neighbors buying options and purchase history. A JWT Intelligence report suggests, “Because we’re exposed to more of what other people are doing, we question more whether we’re making the right choices”.

Businesses can leverage this phenomenon and encourage a more rapid sales cycle by:

1.     Fostering FOMO – battle the status quo by providing a well laid out case for change. Identify the problem your prospect has and highlight the impact of not acting quickly. Attaching a time limit or expiration date to your estimate can help encourage the prospect to act quickly as well.

2.     Help the customer feel smart – with so much data circulating, it is hard to know what information is true and impartial.  Sharing success stories of customers who had similar apprehensions or problems can help the customer feel comfortable making a decision. Provide the customer with information that will help them see the value that you offer.

3.     Focus on the customer experience – buyers want to feel confident that they made the right choice after the sale. If you believe they have made a right choice, tell them! Prospects purchasing from a fear mindset may feel buyer’s remorse, and you do not want the thought of making a mistake lingering in the back of their minds. Thus, it’s particularly important at this stage to provide educational content so that the customer can successfully onboard, incorporate your product into their workflow, and attain the maximum benefit from it as quickly as possible.

Successfully selling in a fear environment can create customers that turn into brand advocates. Focusing on the customer and their needs will make you the clear choice in a crowded market.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

Do these 3 things to explode your sales

Are you stuck in a sales rut?

Are you still using the same techniques and tactics that you always have? Take a step back and evaluate what you are doing. Get rid of your bad habits and encourage a more productive sales strategy.

Here are three sales encouraging behaviors you can implement today:

1.     Focus on the client – Your customer typically only cares about one thing; “what’s in it for me?” If your sales pitch or marketing materials focuses on anything other than the customer’s wants and needs, you’re likely starting off on the wrong foot.

2.     Ask questions – If you ask the right questions and listen carefully, your prospect may tell you everything you need to do to acquire a new customer and then keep them happy.

3.     Make yourself available and communicate – You’ve likely heard the saying that “time kills all deals”. If a client or prospect reaches out to you to ask for an appointment or quote, make sure you respond in a timely manner. If you can’t get them what they need that day, respond with when the client can expect to get what they need from you.

If your sales strategy is already client focused, you’re probably on the right track. Asking questions, paying attention and taking notes isn’t a flashy sales strategy, but it works.

Contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com.

Do you know how to use #hashtags effectively?

Hashtags are a cross-media way of communicating and connecting on social media channels.

They’re on paper tickets, TV shows, commercials, the Super Bowl, and everyone from pop idols to political leaders use them. Like them or not, they’re here to stay. Even though our attention spans are decreasing…even though content is so easy to consume…even though online dialogue is so important,  you gotta know hashtags.

You need to know how to use hashtags effectively to drive more traffic to your business.

·       Target your audience – categorize your social updates by finding relevant and active hashtags. Then use them to target specific audiences.

·       Identify the right hashtags – you can find actively used hashtags by using the search feature on social sites. Tools like hashtags.org can also help you identify popular and relevant hashtags.

·       Create campaigns – a recent survey found that 51 percent of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product-based hashtags. Design your own hashtags for content marketing, events, and promotions to help build community around your brand message.

·       Buck the trend – even though ironic hashtags are a trend, they won’t help you engage your customers or reach new ones. Stick with hashtags that will speak to your audience and bring in more traffic. I’m a big fan of irony (irony sharpens irony), but this is not a case where you would want to use irony.

Using a hashtag can make your content more visible. Tweets with one or more hashtags are 55% more likely to be retweeted than those that did not include them (Hubspot). Hashtags are communities, and when used appropriately, they can help you engage with a larger audience.

Have you ever asked a question on Yelp?

Earlier this year, Yelp released a new Question and Answers section tied to a specific business.

For example, you can now visit a specific restaurant Yelp page and ask the community if the restaurant allows dogs, has average prices, etc. By using this section, you can get answers from other users or from the business owners themselves. Users can up-vote or down-vote the answers based on how helpful they are and can sign up for notifications whenever a specific question gets answered.

Why this matters…

Product Manager Brian Boshes described this as “great, Yelp-y content” that can help people find the information that’s important to them (which might be mentioned in some reviews, but could be tough to find). He also noted that this is a “potentially limitless way” for someone who’s a supporter or fan of a business to stay engaged with their Yelp page — they can’t keep posting reviews, but they can keep answering questions.

As a business owner, this feature can help you identify key information that is missing from your website or other social media profiles.

How do you increase revenue when sales are slow?

Every business experiences lulls in sales. It could be seasonal or just an unexpected slow time.

No matter the reason, looking at your slow times as an opportunity can help you find new clients or maximize existing relationships.

Here are three ways to keep the cash flowing when business slows down:

1.     Ramp up lower budget marketing – Promote and reconnect with your mailing list and give your email newsletter a makeover. Create discounts just for your mailing list or social media followers.

2.     Host an event or pop-up sale – If you have a physical location, an event or pop-up sale is a great way to bring traffic into the store. But online retailers and service providers can have events too. An educational webinar with an attendee only discount can also be an attractive way to create new relationships.

3.     Create content – take a look at the FAQs you get during your busy time and create content around those items. A series of blog posts, videos or infographics that you create during a lull can help make your life easier when you’re super busy.

Don’t let lulls get you down. Taking steps to prepare ahead of time—and taking the opportunity during a lull to invest time into your business—may help you generate revenue even during slow seasons.

Never a bad time to ask a question

If the business world learned anything from the 2017 Oscar’s Best Picture screw up, it’s that there is never a bad time to ask a question.

Handing someone the wrong thing or reading the wrong name is a mistake that could happen to any of us. But making that mistake at the end of a ceremony that cost millions to produce, in front of more than 34 million people? Yikes. The entire situation could have been avoided if Warren Beatty or co-presenter Fay Dunaway had simply said, “hang on a minute.”

If something just doesn’t seem right as you are working on a project and your gut is telling you to get more information, do it. It’s always better to take a step back and push a deadline a little to give yourself that certainty. Most clients will appreciate your thoroughness and dedication to understanding.

What’s trending with millennials these days?

If you haven’t noticed, the Millennial generation is now the largest population group, with equally large buying power.
You may be wondering what kind of marketing tactics get the best results with them. Look to product demos, case studies, and customer reviews as the biggest influencers on their purchasing decisions.
• Product Demos: You must “show” how your product works, how it works better than your competition, and how it is the must-have solution to the problem. This group is a “believe it when I see it” bunch, and product demos, whether on paper or on video, will make all the difference. Vibrant photos of your product or service in action will catch the Millennial’s attention.
• Case Studies: Focus on real customers that have received real benefits from doing business with you. When you can, include the customer’s name or business. Case studies capture the imagination and help people relate to the possible solutions you have to offer them. They want to know how you have helped others just like them.
• Customer Reviews: This is big. Millennials will believe what their friends say and what other independent parties say about your product. The important thing to remember about reviews is that this digital generation is savvy to fake reviews—so do what you can to get your best customers to give real write-ups on Amazon, Google+, or shared on Facebook. It has to be the real deal.
All traditional means of marketing work with the Millennial generation, but focusing on this kind of content will yield increased results. The delivery is not the focal point. Yes, they are on their smartphones all the time, but don’t think that they are swayed only by digital means. Print, especially direct mail, works very well, but focus your content on “showing” your product through actual case studies and getting your customers to support your greatness. Take these steps and, if you’re lucky, you’ll soon be “trending” in Millennial social-media feeds.

Some skills will never become obsolete

Margaret Wheatley said, “The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances—are the primary sources of creativity.”
This was true for a business owner who was feeling helpless as the innovations around him pushed his industry into obsolete status. It kept him up at night, and his employees started fearing for their jobs.
One day, just when he thought closing the doors was inevitable, he saw his employees messing around—acting out like children. Instead of disciplining them and getting them back to business, he just stood back in awe.
An amazing new idea popped into his head. He saw his employees’ capabilities in a whole new light and realized that his company wasn’t dying at all. It was on the verge of innovation. The skills they had developed through years of hard work and success were not obsolete in spite of the movement of the industry.
The excitement of creating something new inspired forward momentum that took them from concept to finished product in 45 days.

Facing Darkness, Part 2 (Movie Review)

Facing Darkness is one of those movies that will stay with you. It’s been almost a week since I saw it, and I find myself still going back and thinking about what I saw.

This is a good documentary. Like most good documentaries I’ve seen, the pacing and timing is a bit slow and plodding, but the content is so good, the slow unwinding of the story will be forgiven.

I also found that I was never quite sure when the film was going to actually roll the credits. Like a pastor who says “and in conclusion…” and then doesn’t get to the last Amen for another 20 minutes, Facing Darkness kept me guessing when it was going to be complete. Still, this can be forgiven too, since the story was well told.

In the first part of this review, I mentioned that there were two “grabbers” that got me in this movie. The first grabber was Fear. Click to read Facing Darkness, Part 1 Movie Review.

Second Grabber – COURAGE The second grabber was Courage. The medical professionals willingly submitted themselves to an extensive robing and taping process that was extremely thorough. The very act of donning the space suit like attire was frightening; everyone who went through the process knew that any little mistake or misstep could result in their death. And a horrible death Ebola is.

The documentary tells the courageous story of Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia as they rose to meet the overwhelming challenge of history’s worst outbreak of Ebola. Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian relief agency that ministers throughout the world. Known primarily for distributing millions of shoeboxes to poor children (over 135 million shoeboxes have been given out since 1993), Samaritan’s Purse is one of the most widely recognized charities in the world.

I didn’t know that there were only two organizations on the ground battling this terrifying disease; MWF (Doctors Without Borders) and Samaritan’s Purse. Eventually, the US Army would arrive with much needed personnel and material, but for a long time the MWF and SP were the only ones there.

Facing exhaustion (imagine being taped into those space suits for four hours at a time) and mental/emotional fatigue, the volunteer workers fought Ebola with everything they had, and then three of their own medical staff were diagnosed with the dread disease. The documentary tells the story of Franklin Graham and SP and all they did to save the lives of these brave medical professionals.

The spiritual battle was just as real as the medical battle. Liberians reacted to the dread disease in a variety of ways, and their reaction to Ebola was both terrifying and frightening at the same time.

Good news! Facing Darkness is coming back to select theaters across the country on April 10. Click here to purchase tickets at a theater near you. Don’t miss this opportunity to see this film on the big screen. Your participation in buying tickets will send a good positive encouragement to our friends at Samaritan’s Purse too.

The Difficulty of Making the “Double Sale”

Sales can be tough (News Flash!). For me, sales is/was a lot like swimming.

I’m not a natural swimmer, and I certainly am not a natural salesman. When I was ready to swim across the deep end for the first time, I had to brace myself, think my way thru it and then just do it. Pretty much the same for sales; brace myself, think thru it, just do it.

I’ve also noticed that it’s more than doubly hard to make the “double sale.” What’s a “double sale?” Any sale that requires the selling of a concept and then the sale of a product is a double sale.

Here’s a real world example. When I started a local interest magazine, I knew that advertising sales was going to be the break or make aspect of the project. So, I started selling advertising anywhere and everywhere I could. One thing I learned fast…if I had to convince someone of the importance of purchasing advertising, and then sell them on advertising in my publication, my chances of actually making a sale would plummet. That’s a double sale.

Sure, I could convince someone to advertise, but then a whole new world of advertising would open up to potential client, and my publication was just one of their new options. In these situations, I might be able to convince my prospects they needed to advertise (Sale 1), but then I still had to sell them on buying from me (Sale 2). Pretty tough to make two sales to one person, especially if that person had not been convinced to invest in advertising prior to our conversations.

 

This chart demonstrates the difficulty of the double sale. Suppose you want to increase sales. Here are your three options.

  1. You can sell more to your existing customers.
  2. You can sell to prospects (add new customers).
  3. You can sell new products.

When you try to sell a new product to a new customer, that’s a double sale. You’re actually combining number 2 and number 3 from the list above. And a double sale like this is going to be much tougher than a normal singular sale.

In these scenarios, it will be much easier to sell a new product to an existing customer, because that’s just one sale. Existing customers are already sold on you; they’ve bought from you before. If you’re selling a new product to a prospect, that’s a double sale because you have to convince them that you’re trustworthy (Sale 1), and they need your product (Sale 2).

Even if you can make the double sale, you will have to spend more time to make those sales. I’m not saying you should pull the plug when you realize you’re in a double sale situation, but I am saying that you should be aware; this is not gonna be easy, and this is gonna take some time.

Facing Darkness, Part 1 (Movie Review)

Some movies are like a little blip on the radar.

You see ‘em coming; you watch ‘em for a little while; then they’re gone. And once they’re gone, they’re so gone, you wonder if you ever really saw them. I saw at least two movies like this in 2016. Fences and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Now, before all my Star Wars friends and my Denzel Washington friends get all up in my grill, please note that I’m not saying these were bad movies or that I didn’t enjoy some parts of them; I’m just saying that they really didn’t move me or affect me past the point of actually seeing them.

Facing Darkness is going to be with me for a long time. I’ve ministered in more than one third world country, so the clips and B roll of poor, suffering people were not a total shock to me. Still, the abject poverty of the people in Liberia moved me. Their physical situation is graphically portrayed in this documentary.

Movie trailer here

But what really grabbed me in Facing the Darkness…well there were two things that will stay with me for a long time.

First Grabber – FEAR

The documentary told the story of Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia as they rose to meet the overwhelming challenge of history’s worst outbreak of Ebola. Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian relief agency that ministers throughout the world. Known primarily for distributing millions of shoeboxes to poor children (over 135 million shoeboxes have been given out since 1993), Samaritan’s Purse is one of the most widely recognized charities in the world.

Since Liberia is relatively poor, Samaritan’s Purse had full time staff present and working throughout the years to bring the good news of the gospel and meet as many of the physical needs of the people there as possible.

When Ebola pandemic broke out in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in 2014 two relief organizations were on the front lines of the battle and rose valiantly to meet the challenge. Or at least they tried to meet the challenge. The situation was so desperate and devastating, that existing resources in place were quickly overwhelmed.

Facing Darkness documents the epic struggles of Samaritan Purse and three of their employees as they warred with Ebola personally. Dr. Kent Brantly, nurse Nancy Writebol, and nurse Barbara Bono tell their stories of the exhaustion, the terror, the sadness of watching their patients die and then the horror of realizing that they too had been infected with the deadly disease. The movie also follows the families of these health professionals as they wrestle with their deadly diagnosis.

I live thousands of miles from Liberia, but I remember the fear I felt when I learned that some of the Ebola victims were being flown to the USA for treatment at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the most pervasive feelings that the film communicates is fear.

More on Facing Darkness, and the second grabber of the film on Friday. I will still be thinking about this movie…more than I can say for Fences.

Facing Darkness can be seen in select theaters across the country on April 10. Click here to purchase tickets at a theater near you.

Sometimes a happy accident pays big dividends

A department manager, known for micro-managing employees to the point that his department had the highest turnover rate in the company, could not understand why exiting personnel all complained about his “micromanagement” style.
One day, this manager had an accident that resulted in a broken leg and three months of rehabilitation. Because he was unable to be in the office, his team adopted the practice of quick check-ins instead of long meetings. As a result, their productivity improved. Team members were also able to prove they were capable of producing quality work, staying on task, and working well as a team. Things ran so smoothly while he was out that he began to rethink the ways he interacted with his team. He realized he could trust his employees to do the job they had been hired to do.
No matter how many times he was told to relax with his team, he just didn’t know what that meant until he saw them in action from the outside. Now he’s enjoying a happy team that is dedicated to him and to the company.

Fresh eyes or old hat? You decide…

If you’ve been at your job for any length of time, you understand how something can just become “old hat.”
We get used to the way things are done;  this routine can lead to accepting things as they are and missing out on what they could be.
It’s important to give yourself a chance to look at things in a new way. Step back and look at things like you have those fresh eyes again, like you’re the new kid on the block. Take another look at those employees who irritate you, those things in your job that would be hard to teach someone new, and remember what it was like to be new. Then, use that opportunity to change it up and make it better with your many years of experience.

Elevate your team into the stratosphere; it’s time to power up!

Get more from your team by shaking up the normal routine in these positive and impactful ways:
• Compliment Day: Employees will be more receptive to criticism if they also receive positive reinforcement. However, compliments can be instantly forgotten when followed by criticism, so make one day a week criticism-free. Don’t worry, your team already knows what isn’t great. Reserving one day a week for only positive words will not destroy their work ethic or create a giant ego. You will find your employees work harder when they know they are appreciated.
• Emotional Incentives: Do all of your employees value the same things? Chances are they don’t. That also means monetary incentives do not hold equal weight with all employees. Take the time to figure out what motivates your employees and create incentives that excite them. A $1,000 bonus and a three-day spa retreat cost about the same, but you may find that one suits a certain employee more than the other. If your budget is tight, learn what’s truly important to them. Not everything’s about money.
• Change It Up: We come to the same place to do the same work every day, and then are often asked to brainstorm to help solve problems or innovate in some way. You can get fresh new answers by changing up the scenery. For example, tell people to bring their walking shoes to the meeting and take them on a scenic walk. When immersed in new sounds, new smells, and new things to look at, it is easier to come up with new ideas and to see the old problems with a new perspective.

Do you have what it takes to be an inspired leader?

Do you dream of being a leader that inspires all of your coworkers to greatness?
Accomplishing this is may be easier than you might think, and a large part of this rests on whether or not you are inspired personally. What we are rubs off on people, and if you are driven by inspiration, it will eventually influence others.
What is inspiration? Is it having great ideas all the time? No, that’s too much pressure to put on yourself. Inspiration comes with curiosity. It is the wonderment of the every day that leads to inspiration. The clear, judgment-free nature of curiosity helps you see problems for what they are, and helps you see people for who they are.
When you are able to look at your biggest problems with pure curiosity, you can ask the right questions. This is the illusion of inspiration; we think it equals all the right answers. It actually means we’re asking the right questions.

Have you made security your top priority?

Google’s Chrome browser (55% market share) recently began marking any page with a password or credit card field as insecure if the page is not on an HTTPS connection. Moreover, Google has alluded to a plan to eventually mark all non-HTTPS sites as not secure.

What does this mean for your website? If you have been dragging your feet about ordering an SSL for your site, now really is the time to make the switch. If your site appears untrustworthy, users will leave without transacting even if the product is something they want or need.

This isn’t the first time Google has placed an importance on a secure connection. Back in August of 2014, Google informed webmasters that they had started using HTTPS as a ranking signal.

If you have questions about making your site secure, contact us today.

It’s time to create your marketing calendar (it won’t evolve by itself)

Creating a marketing calendar can help make sure you are continually getting your message out in a consistent and relevant manner even when you are too busy to focus on marketing. Here’s how to create your marketing calendar; you’ll need a couple hours and a spreadsheet (there are apps that can help you organize too, however, a simple spreadsheet will do the trick).

Create a grid with one axis listing the time intervals and the other listing your marketing activities. Be sure to list all marketing activities (including any major events you may be attending). If you end up with a time period that has a lot of events, you may be able to cut back on nonessential marketing. Conversely, you can use slow times to work on building your brand with more long-term marketing efforts (direct mail, email marketing, social media marketing).

For each time frame, get specific on what your marketing plan will be. List out who is responsible, the budget, materials needed and any other key details.

As always, if you need help creating your calendar or any of the items listed on the calendar, let us know! We are always happy to help.

Should you use fear to increase conversions?

Now that the major shopping event of the year is in our rearview mirror, let’s take a look at some of the tactics you encountered when you did your online shopping. Marketers and web-masters alike use emotion to help drive sales. Fear is a strong emotion; if used correctly, fear can actually boost your sales.

  1. Fear #1: Offer valid today only – this can help nudge people who are on the fence to act before leaving your website.
  2. Fear #2: Feature availability – this idea focuses on two things
    • There is a specific configuration available that the shopper wants
    • The configuration is in demand and limited
    • This works for products and services. This could be the aisle seat of the airplane or the widget that only comes in camo during hunting season.
  1. Fear #3: Item scarcity – knowing that there is a limited stock of the product you want can entice you to purchase now. On a website you’ll often see the inventory number listed on the site indicating just how many products are left. Knowing that you might miss out on this deal is a great incentive to buy now.
  2. Fear #4: Delivery time – knowing when you need to purchase by in order to receive a gift prior to a holiday helps people plan their purchases and eases their fear of needing to pay expedited shipping or missing the window for delivery all together.

Fear can be a tricky emotion to use in marketing, however, those who do it correctly can help users make purchasing decisions more quickly.

Ready to do battle to get more attention for your inbox?

If you are currently or considering sending emails as part of your marketing campaign, studies show that if you include a percent-off deal, a question and a 6 – 10 word email subject you will see better results.

38% of customers are more likely to click an email with a percent-off deal and 47% are more likely to convert when compared to emails with dollar-off deals. Add a perfectly timed question…a question can increase your open rate by 44% as compared to an exclamation point. Your emails need to have maximum conversion potential

Need help starting your email marketing campaign? Let us help you create an effective campaign!

Are your meetings killing your business?

Meetings are a necessary part of doing business. Some even call them a “necessary evil.”  

Business meetings often have little return on a large time investment. Try these tips to make sure your meetings are productive.

  1.     Read and study Patrick Lencioni’s book Death by Meeting.
  2.    Communicate a clear objective for the meeting in advance.
  3.     Create and send out an agenda with the meeting invitation.
  4.     Make sure all, and only, necessary individuals are included in the meeting.
  5.     Stick to start and end times.
  6.     Have a clear leader.
  7.     Take notes.
  8.     Follow up.

Paul J. Meyer said, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Try these 8 tips for your next meetings and see how much your productivity increases as a result of intelligent planning.

What’s the best way to acquire desperately needed customers?

Rapid and continued customer acquisition is one of the biggest challenges business owners and managers face.

Using a combination of traditional and new digital strategies may be the best way to find new clients.  Here are some tried and true suggestions for increasing your customer acquisition…

  • Ask for referrals. It may sound old-fashioned, but referrals from satisfied customers can be an effective customer acquisition strategy. Consider creating a system for gathering referrals from customers after the sale, and making asking for referrals a part of your sales team’s process. Ask me about a great program that “automatically” brings you referrals.
  • Use content marketing. The way B2B buyers search for products and services has changed. Today’s buyers may do a great deal of research online before ever reaching out to prospective vendors. Customer acquisition may include doing some inbound marketing—that is, drawing prospects in by providing content that answers their questions and solves their problems. We can help you with quality content marketing.
  • Maximize your website.  Your website can be a vital element in the customer acquisition process. Use appropriate call to action buttons/links and update your keywords regularly to help keep pace with customers’ interests and searches as well as industry trends. Websites are just one of our key specialties. Email me at kevin@waxfamilyprinting.com.
  • Partner up. Working with a complementary business can be a great customer acquisition strategy. The partnership may enable both of you to expand your network of prospects. Consider hosting a webinar or creating an e-book that could be distributed to your partner’s network.

Attracting new clients is an absolute necessity to keep your business alive and thriving. If you’re struggling to keep your pipeline full, talk to us about updating your website or creating a print campaign to draw in new customers. 615-893-4290

Is your heart focused on delivering a great customer experience?

Customer experience is a top-five area of technology investment for chief marketing officers.

56% of these decision-makers prioritize it ahead of advertising operations. And it’s no wonder, 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience. Here are a few ways technology can help improve your customer’s experience.

  • 50% of smartphone users would prefer to use a mobile customer service application instead of calling a help line to resolve their customer service issues. Consider adding live chat to your website to help capture the users who don’t want to make a phone call or send an email.
  • Social media gives business owners the ability to share timely news, tailored offers and build a brand profile. Social media can connect you to your customers around the clock. Merchants can now open the conversation to a larger audience and poll their customers. Who doesn’t want to hear direct feedback and user-generated content? These capabilities give small businesses greater access to their customers. More importantly, this access can build stronger and more meaningful connections.
  • Arm your whole team with the ability to make a sale. Most shoppers want to find what they are looking for, buy it, and go. Getting stalled by crowds, unavailable inventory, or lack of customer assistance are classic examples of a disrupted shopping experience. If technology can streamline these issues with features like self-checkout, product locators or store associates that can check them out on a tablet, they will keep coming back and spending.

 

Creating a good customer experience can keep a good customer coming back. And then they will tell their friends about you.

Is Instagram the best bang for your precious marketing bucks?

pexels-photoWith over 200 million active users, Instagram is one of the 10 most popular social media sites.

Even though Instagram is wildly popular, many small businesses aren’t utilizing Instagram to its fullest potential. Just like Facebook or Twitter, your Instagram strategy will require careful planning before you post.

Here’s how to get the best bang for your buck with Instagram:

  1. Use Hashtags – Hashtags make it possible to associate groups of images or a series of photos related to a central topic. Using popular hashtags relevant to your business is a useful tactic to gain visibility with your target audience.
  2. Create Contests – Encourage your followers to regram (repost) your photo or have them post a photo of themselves using your product or service to be entered to win a prize. Make the prize truly worthwhile.  Do a bit of figuring and tell them the chances of winning. If you make the chances relatively favorable, engagement should go up.
  3. Be authentic – Instagram allows marketers to build connections, not based on words and one-way communications but on the development of visual connections. Over time, these connections can help build understanding, loyalty and advocacy.

Even if you aren’t ready to start using Instagram today, you should at least secure your handle (ID name) before someone else does. Getting your company name or product name as your Instagram ID will help people find and follow you on Instagram.

Is there an easier way to get good customer feedback?

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It may sound simple, but the easiest way to get customer feedback is just to ask.

Whether the feedback will happen by phone, email, mail or social media, create a process that sends an email or letter after a purchase to start the dialogue. Getting customer feedback is an underutilized marketing tool that could help you unearth product or customer service flaws, areas of excellence and fantastic verbiage for marketing materials. It can be scary to open yourself and your business up to unfiltered reviews, however, the learning that comes from this feedback can be invaluable.    

Ask me about a service we’ve been using for years to get GREAT customer feedback. Email me at Kevin@waxfamilyprinting.com and we’ll talk about Net Promoter Scores and the ONE question you need to ask every one of your customers.

So my marketing budget is minuscule? What, me worry?

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What happens when times get tough?  

What’s the first place to cut? Many people opt to cut their marketing budget. Unfortunately, since marketing your business is essential, this short-sighted approach can kill your business–especially in tough times.

Try these tips to create ‘buzz’ even when you don’t have a pile of cash to spend.

  • Social Media. Devote time to setting up or improving your Social Media footprint. SocMed requires little in terms of financial investment. However, SocMed does require a time commitment when you’re providing high value content and frequent updates.
  • Public Relations. Getting PR for your business does not require paying a PR firm. Check out local journalist gatherings or contact media directly. Get to know your contacts and help them learn about your business and how you provide value to your clients. Come up with your own questions and answers to make their jobs easier too.
  • Network.Expanding your circle of professional contacts can help drum up more business. Consider bartering your services for services you need but do not have adequate skills to perform.
  • Increase your community involvement. Get involved and get your name out by renting a booth at a local event or by donating your products or services to a local charity. Not only will you meet new people but the publicity will be good for business as well!
  • Try Direct Mail. Direct mail has been producing solid returns for years. If you haven’t sent a mailed piece to your list in a while, it might be time to consider sending a campaign via mail to help support what you are doing online as well. We’re direct mail experts; we’ve been working with the USPS for 20 years this October!

And remember… testimonials and word of mouth marketing from great customer service is the best form of advertising you can get!

Does your Mobile Website have these 5 Key Items?

By 2017, it is expected that 64% of users worldwide will access content via their mobile devices instead of personal computers.

This change in access is necessitating a “mobile first” attitude when creating or editing your website. When you are reviewing your site on a mobile device, be sure to check for the following items:

1.     Fast load time – improperly sized images often cause a delay in loading. Watch this short video for a tutorial on how to resize your images for use on the web. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLx_tqBX6Ek

 2.     No pop-ups or flash – pop-ups can be difficult to close on a small screen. Try to avoid using anything that would cause the user to be unable to view your main content.
3.     Easy to find information – the most important and relevant information should be easy to find
4.     Prominent calls to action – whether you want someone to buy now, or sign up to your e-newsletter, calls-to-action should be easy to spot, click on and complete.
5.     Design for the fat finger – reduce accidental clicks by making links and buttons obvious. There is nothing more frustrating than accidentally clicking on a link or button that you had no intention of clicking on.
A little effort and planning can go a long way when you take advantage of the mobile web. Think Mobile First to gain a clear advantage over those who are not quite as swift.

Need Just One Powerful Tip to Boost Productivity?

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Productivity is critical to your success.
If you need to boost productivity in an increasingly busy workplace, try planning out your day the night before.  Prioritize the tasks that MUST be completed. When you are interrupted by unexpected assignments or emergencies, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done when you return to your desk. Not only will a schedule help keep you organized and focused, you’ll get the satisfaction of crossing items off your “to do” list once you complete them.
I remember many days where I would chat with Rhonda about the accomplishments of the day.
Sometimes, I would come home exhausted, but could only recall one or two salient activities or interactions. Keeping and crossing off items on a to do list really helped me gain some satisfaction from the day. And the unfinished to do list from today became the basis for a new to do list for tomorrow.
A quick review of the past day and what is ahead the next day could be the key to making a positive impact on your productivity.

Are You Using Pokemon Go to Capture Awesome New Customers?

 
Over 30 million people have downloaded the new Pokemon Go game.
You’ve probably seen groups of people moving past your home or office in search of game pieces at “PokeStops”.  The game is fairly simple; players walk around an area, the game alerts them when Pokemon are near and players have to try to capture them. “Lures” can be purchased for about $1.19 per hour, bringing Pokemon game pieces to a specific location.
Food establishments, retail stores and convenience stores are increasing business by purchasing “Lures” to bring in new customers. One pizza restaurant in NY saw sales increase by 75% last weekend after the manager spent $10 to have a dozen Pokemon lured to the location.
Even if you don’t sell a product, offering your office as a “charging station” for Pokemon Go players could be another way to attract more eyes on your brand.  And if you’re thinking you don’t need an office full of pre-pubescent teens standing around charging their devices on your dime, know that the average Pokemon Go player (according to Forbes) is a 25-year-old, college educated woman making over $50,000 per year.
We can help you design/print/mail flyers or cards to hand out to people who need to visit your location during the Pokemon Go craze. These tools can be used to invite them to come back again and again.

What’s wrong with this email?

100 billion spam email messages are sent every day.

Even with the best email filters, you are still going to end up with some in your inbox. Trust me, I’ve been refining and tending to my Gmail filters for three years now, and I still end up with apx 10 spamessages a day. Take a look at the example message below to see how you can identify a spam/phishing message in your inbox.

 One notorious type of phishing email is The “Your Mailbox is Almost Full” email.
This email comes from “IT Support” and states your email account is over limit. In the email image below, I’ve pointed out three places to look for to see if this email is legitimate or not.
First, I look to the “to field”. My name and email address are not in the to field. In fact, no email address is listed in the to field. This leads me to believe that I was BCC (blind carbon copied) on the email along with many others.

Second, I look to the from name and email address. The email address is not one that I recognize. The URL is not known to me and neither is the person’s name. I also happen to know that we don’t contract with a company called ICT, so there is really no reason they would be sending me a support email.

And third, when I hover over the link in the email (Clean-up system) I see the URL is questionable and built on a free site that was likely put up just for this scam. Now, I didn’t click on the link, so I don’t know what is on that site, however, I can guess at what I would find. It would likely ask for my username and password at which time they would have all the info they need to hack into my email account.

So what should you do when you get an email like this? Delete it.

If you aren’t sure whether it is legitimate or not, forward it (or a screen shot of it) to your actual IT person to have them verify the contents of the email.
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Is it Time for you to start planning for the holidays?

family-557108_1280It’s October and we’re still wearing shorts and sandals, however, now is the time to start planning holiday promotions.  

In a HubSpot blog post, marketing expert Rachel Sprung outlined a six-step process to prepare your marketing for the holidays. Develop a campaign strategy. This will provide structure and guidance so the holiday frenzy does not overwhelm you.

  • Design your marketing for both niche and mainstream holidays. Christmas isn’t the only day people care about. Think about the different holidays that resonate well for your users.
  • Produce holiday-themed offers. Keep your marketing efforts timely and relevant to maximize audience engagement and ROI.
  • Create a social media plan. Audience engagement on social media during the holidays is typically smaller than normal. Plan accordingly so you aren’t relying on social media for exposure.
  • Rethink ad copy. Many of your existing ads can be recycled for your holiday campaign. Include holiday-themed keywords and graphics to grab people’s attention.
  • Prioritize customer delight. Brands need to remember that the holidays are about enjoying good company and having fun.

Planning your marketing and promotions for the holidays now will help ensure a successful and profitable season. Let’s get to it! If you need some help, email us at info@waxfamilyprinting.com or give us a call at (615) 893-4290 and we’ll be glad to help.

How do you put the “why” in your marketing?

In a 2009 TED Talk, leadership expert Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

 Do you know your company’s “why”? (Hint: It’s not to make money). Think about the core purpose of your business, and then think about how you market your products or services. Are they aligned? As Sinek has found, having loyal customers is all about attracting the people who share your fundamental beliefs. Wax Family Printing’s “why” is found in our Mission Statement. “We help our customers communicate clearly from concept to completion.” We exist to help our clients better communicate.
Once you are clear on your “why”, share it with your customers and your staff; and sprinkle it into all your marketing efforts. You may have the best product or service on the market, sharing your “why” will help potential customers understand how working with you will benefit them.
Curious to hear more about what Sinek had to say? Join the 27 million+ other viewers and watch his TED talk here

Can you guesstimate the perfect price for your market?

What is the perfect price for a product or service? Simply put, there is none.

Why? Each customer has unique needs and a unique budget and therefore values every product or service differently. What may strike one customer as a terrific bargain could be prohibitively expensive for another. Your ability to meet all the criteria of a very demanding prospect may not have the same impact on a client with less demanding requirements.

There is zero chance of finding the single right price prior to sale. However, and here’s the good news…that doesn’t matter. Prices aren’t set in stone and can be modified over time as needed. Creating different pricing options for different versions of your products and services allows you to serve a broader spectrum of customers delivering what they need at prices they are willing to pay.

Creating multiple options at different price points gives you a wider range of profitable customers because you’re not over-servicing them relative to the price they pay. Ideally, your offerings along the scale should be priced in a way that reflects the value you provide.

Need help designing and laying out your offerings? Our designers can help you create marketing material that communicates your offerings clearly. Call me at 615-893-4290 today! Or email me at Kevin@Wax.news.com.

Want to master direct mail best practices?

Direct Mail should be an essential part of your comprehensive marketing plan. Direct Mail can deliver a high level of personalization with response triggers that hit the target at just the right time. Though direct mail has been around forever (see Ben Franklin for details), it still has an incredibly high ROI with an average of $12.57 in sales for each $1 spent. If you are thinking about a direct mail campaign, consider the following tips to generate the most response.

  • Targeting and personalization – better lists and access to information allows us to target and personalize printed pieces like never before. Personalizing can go beyond adding the recipients first name to the printed piece. You must start here…with a good list. It’s key.
  • Send multiple campaigns – as with many marketing tools, sending one direct mail piece will not yield you the desired results. A consistent campaign that builds upon itself will see the highest ROI. Better to send 4 pieces to the same smaller target than to send once to a bigger target.
  • Calls to action – each piece that goes out should have a call to action (CTA). Each CTA should be clear, compelling, varied and repeated many times on the printed material.
  • Ways to respond – to maximize response rate, give the recipient multiple ways to respond. Pre-paid postcards, order forms, QR codes linking to a landing page, SMS response are all ways you can encourage a response to your mailing.
  • More is better – recipients spend more time with physical mail than with digital messages. Make sure all of the necessary information appears on the marketing piece. If space is an issue, be sure to tell the reader where to get more information.

Need help creating the perfect direct mail campaign? We’re here to help you! Give us a call today at 615-893- 4290 to discuss how direct mail can help your business grow.

How can you connect positively with your audience?

Approximately 100 billion emails are sent and received every day. Email is the primary form of communication in business world. This trend is expected to continue with a projected 132 billion emails being sent and received per day by the end of 2017. There are so many pieces of communication vying for your audience’s attention! What should you do?

Try using some of these tips to make sure your messages are connecting with your audience:

  • Tell a story – storytelling takes your audience on a journey with you. Write a compelling story that draws your audience in and makes them want to learn more.
  • Use clear language – are your messages clear and easy to understand by someone who has no idea who you are or what you do? Avoid using acronyms or industry jargon that may leave some people scratching their heads.
  • Tell them what you want them to do – at some point in your message you’ll need to give your audience the resources they need to take the next step. Make the next step appropriate and easy for the user.

Powerful communication is relevant, timely and pulls the user in. Using the tactics listed above, you’ll be on your way to positively connect with your audience.

Can reciprocity warm cold traffic and make them buyers?

Earning the attention of a potential customer is one of the biggest challenges that marketers face.

The ability to convert cold traffic (visitors to your site who don’t know anything about you or your brand) to a warm lead is often expensive and time consuming. Blogs and content marketing may be helpful in solving this problem. When you create content that helps a user without attempting to sell to them, they are more likely to revisit your brand in the future. Social psychologists call this The Law of Reciprocity – when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return.

By answering a question, offering a tutorial, explaining how-to, etc. you are satisfying the reader’s curiosity. If/when they see your brand again, they will be more willing to sign up for your newsletter, take your class, or complete that online purchase.

Would you love to see your online conversions skyrocket?

According to a recent comScore study, PayPal is better at converting online shoppers than other payment solutions.

PayPal converts online shoppers at a rate of 87%; Visa Checkout converts online shoppers at a rate of 51%; all other payment types at 45.6%. Why is PayPal so dominant? Experts say that PayPal provides a sense of security because it is a known system. PayPal also uses the One Touch frictionless payment system. Adding PayPal as a checkout option is one way to increase your conversions.

For an even bigger boost, make sure your cart has sufficient product content, images and reviews. 94% of prospective buyers will abandon an e-commerce site if they can’t find the information they are looking for. According to research, shoppers want to see at least 3 product images and a minimum of 3 product reviews before making a purchase.

Your marketing efforts break my heart…

Creating the perfect direct mail piece that generates a large response and hits the audience at just the right time is a marketer’s dream.

One key to generating interest in your direct mail piece is to appeal to emotion.

Swedish direct marketing entrepreneur Axel Andersson and Seattle direct marketer Bob Hacker identified seven key copy drivers that persuade people to buy a product or service, or to join a cause. They are: guilt, flattery, anger, exclusivity, fear, greed and salvation. Tap into one of these emotions and use some of the 12 most powerful, most evocative words in the English language. Oh, you would like to know what the 12 most evocative words are?

You, save, money, easy, guarantee, health, results, new, love, discover, proven and safety

Use these words and emotions in your copy and you will increase the response rate of your marketing efforts. When using emotion in marketing, be sure to match the emotion with the purchase. Attempting to create too strong of an emotion can come off as unbelievable and inauthentic.

Tips to get out of being stuck in a rut

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THE MIDDLE OF THE YEAR APPROACHES….

The beginning of a new year always brings new goals and a chance to start fresh! By mid-year, however, many people have gone back to their old ways of doing things and are making little progress towards the goals they set at the new year.

Use these tips to try and re-motivate yourself and get out of your rut…

  • Change your surroundings – sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective… this could be something as simple as rearranging your office or changing up your daily routine.
  • Talk about it – find a business professional that you trust and respect and let them know how you are feeling. Oftentimes, they have been there before and can provide you with advice on how to get out of your funk.
  • Reevaluate your why – why are you doing what you are doing? If your reason isn’t big enough, it could keep you from reaching your full potential. Check out Simon Sinek’s Start with Why.
  • Complete your to-do list – Oftentimes a rut can happen when you see the same items on your to-do list over and over again. Take a day or two and work on wiping out any old items that have stayed on your to-do list for too long. Being able to start on something fresh can provide immediate motivation. Eat the frog. Get that one thing on your list that is bugging you…and eat the frog. When you eat the frog, nothing you do the rest of the day seems near as bad. J

Finding motivation mid-year could be just what you need to have a great 2016! Let us know if the tips above work for you. My email is Kevin@WaxFamilyPrinting.com.

What can a marketing calendar do for you?

Too busy to focus on marketing?

Create a marketing calendar so that you are continually getting your message out there. To create a marketing calendar, you’ll need a couple hours and a spreadsheet (there are apps that can help you organize too, however, a simple spreadsheet will do the trick).

Create a grid with one axis listing the time intervals and the other listing your marketing activities. Be sure to list all marketing activities including any major events you may be attending. If you end up with a period that has a handful of events, you may be able to cut back on nonessential marketing. Conversely, you can use slow times to work on building your brand with more long-term marketing efforts (direct mail, email marketing, social media marketing).

For each time frame, get specific on what your marketing plan will be. List out who is responsible, the budget, materials needed and any other key details. Here’s where a Google calendar is so helpful. Set up reminders and recurring events to help you be consistent and relevant.

As always, if you need help creating your calendar or any of the items listed on the calendar, let us know! We are always happy to help.

Need to know how to Monetize your blog?

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I blog. My blog helps my SEO and establishes my credibility in the market.

Hey, after 35 years in design, print and signs…I need all the help I can get.

And I’m not alone. 77% of business to consumer marketers leverage blogs as a marketing tactic (Content Marketing Institute). One major problem with blogs, however, is that there isn’t always a direct link between the products featured on the blog and the ability to purchase them.  To solve this problem, retailers are experimenting with new technology that enables them to create shoppable images that can be used in blogs and other social posts. These images help consumers discover all available items and link them directly to the product pages for purchase. A home furnishing retailer recently tested this solution and reported a 110% increase in click-thru rates when compared to traditional blog posts.

Getting people to travel from your blog or other content piece to the shopping cart is the goal of any content marketing campaign. Getting creative with how you direct people to the cart can push your piece over the top and increase sales.

Hey Millennial Mom! You feeling a bit overlooked?

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45% of Millennial Moms feel overlooked by retailers

If your target market is women (specifically moms) roughly between the ages of 24 – 34, you may be missing the mark in your advertising. In a recent study, 45% of this demographic said they felt like they were being overlooked by retailers.

Millennial Moms are socially and technologically savvy. They have grown up with blurred lines of private and public and they actively consume content on the web. On average, M&M’s spend more than 17 hours per week on social media. If you are marketing to these women, you’ll need to engage with them on their terms. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Vine, hobby/news blogs and Twitter are the go-to online advertising place for this demographic.

If your target audience is NOT moms between the ages of 24 to 34, this little post can still be a help to you. What exactly is your target audience? Make sure your advertising dollars are being spent in the right place. Know your target audience and the most effective way to communicate with them before you begin a new campaign.

Secrets of Re-marketing Pros and Cons

Untitled design (1)Re-marketing lets you show online ads to people who have visited your website or used your mobile app before.

For example, you go online to look for a product—a pair of shoes, a new dishwasher, a car. The site you’re on (whether it’s Google or another search engine) puts a little line of code called a cookie on your computer, smartphone or tablet. When you visit another site, there are blank ad spaces just waiting to pick up that little line of code and show you an ad for the very same product you were searching for.

I first noticed this when Rhonda and I were doing a bit of car shopping in December. Our online search was quickly followed up with…you guessed it…ads for the exact same car we had researched online.

Re-marketing can be one of the most cost-effective tools in the online sales arena, and for some products, it can also be remarkably effective at converting shoppers to buyers. Re-marketing may work because it can create multiple impressions. We’ve long known that the more impressions we have of a product, the more likely we are to recognize and buy that product.

If used too frequently or too long however, re-marketing may alienate some customers as it can be seen as an aggressive and pushy sales tactic.

If you’re looking for a short-term bump in sales for a seasonal product or a limited time offer, then re-marketing could be ideal. Try starting a campaign on a regional basis or for a single product to see if re-marketing is ideal for your product or service.

Need a few quick tips for better local SEO?

Trying to win the online search results battle with your website?

Try these 3 quick tips to make sure your local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is giving you the upper hand.

Quick Tip 1

Set up and optimize your account with Google My Business (www.google.com/mybusiness). When you select your category for your listing, make sure your website has a page that is relevant to the category you selected. Google will see the connection and send traffic for those keywords to your site.

Quick Tip 2

Make your site secure. It isn’t often that Google tells us what to do to positively impact rankings. The fact that they have mentioned that secure sites will be given a ranking boost should be enough of an incentive for you to invest in an SSL for your site.

Quick Tip 3

Encourage Reviews – Encourage your customers to leave ratings and reviews of your business if they are satisfied with your work. Whether you ask for the review with a simple email after the service, a flyer at checkout, or a callout on your website – the more positive, authentic reviews your business receives, the better your business will appear in search (both via the search engines and the local review sites themselves). We send every customer a very short email survey request…and ask for them to post their comments and reviews on FaceBook and Google.

Take a quick look at your analytics before you implement these changes. Then look again a month after you put these items in place. Did you notice an increase in traffic?

As always, if you need help with any of the items above, please let us know. We are happy to help!

Wouldn’t you Like More than a “Like”?

If you’re using Facebook,

You probably have noticed the new types of interactions that measure  “Reaction” on your posts. Reactions allow the user to express their feelings in new ways; the “Like” button is still available of course, but respondents have more options now. The new reactions are love, wow, haha, sad and angry.

According to Facebook, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post — they will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that the user wants to see more of that type of content. Over time however, Facebook will weigh each Reaction differently and serve content on your news feed based on what you have liked (or loved) in the past.

If your company has a FaceBook page, you should be acutely aware of this new feature. Why? Because fan interaction is becoming more and more important to the ROI of your Facebook account.

The more Reactions you get to any given post can help ensure that your fans are seeing your content on a regular basis.

Ask these questions before revamping your website

We’ve been in the website business for a few years now.

We’ve worked with all kinds of companies from startups just launching their brand to established businesses who want to take their sales and service to the next level using their website. Regardless of what the company does, the goal of the website seems to always center on increasing sales and customer service or support. Essentially, the website needs to function as the sales and support staff when its human counterpart is off duty.

It is a tall order, but if a site is designed correctly with the necessary content, it can be done. We’ve come up with a list of questions to help you identify what should be on your site in order to accomplish your goals. Before you embark on a website revamp, sit down and answer these questions as completely as you can. Too often we see websites put up with high hopes of conversions and sales, but they lack the necessary content and flow needed to live up to the expectations.

Answering these questions will give you a head start on knowing what your site needs in order to be successful.

1. Describe your customer in as much detail as you can.

2. Are you looking to widen your customer base? What would your new customer look like?

3. Why does your audience choose you over your competition (try to avoid platitudes here, be specific)? What value do you provide?

4. What is the goal or action for your audience (fill out contact form, complete online sale, sign up for e-news, etc.)?

5. What search terms would people use to find your company online?

6. What geographic location do your customers reside in?

7. What elements about your current creative work?

8. What customer service concerns come up on a regular basis with your products/services?

9. What “offer” can give to new customers to make them want to contact you (or like/follow/friend you)?

10. Website content needs to be updated regularly, what topics could you write about on a weekly or bi-monthly basis?

Just answering these 10 questions will make sure your new website is poised to hit the ground running rather than waiting for people to happen upon it.

Taking a proactive approach to creating your new website (or any marketing material) will help your customers find the information that they need and ultimately select you as their vendor.

How you doing? Whatcha doing?

“How you do anything is how you do everything.” – T. Harv Eker

Business owners and entrepreneurs will take this quote to heart and will either read it as an affirmation of their dedication or a condemnation of their failures.

If you’re not feeling good about this, now is a fine time to examine your habits and begin making positive change. Many of our customers have confessed that, as business owners, they are being forced to wear too many hats and don’t feel like they are doing anything to the best of their ability. They live a reactive life- constantly changing focus and putting out fires. Inevitably there are unproductive days and sleepless nights.

It’s time to lose that overwhelmed feeling. It just takes a pad of paper and a pen. The number one thing you can do to help reduce stress is to create a list. Write down (on paper) everything you need to do. This is critical, because a big part of being overwhelmed is the mental energy of constantly thinking of all the things you need to do. Once you’ve written it all down, it will release the need to remember, and the fear of forgetting, and a huge chunk of your stress will go away. For some people, a simple “to do” list is enough. Other people may need additional organization.

Tools we like and have used are:

1. Brendan Bouchard’s 1 Page Productivity Planner – Download Here: http://www.highperformanceacademy.com/vid3top

2. Tools 4 Wisdom Daily Planner – Buy on Amazon: http://goo.gl/aLmKEl

3. Custom created notepads/stationary with your name and motivational mantras printed right on them (ask us about these!)

4. Inspirational signs with motivational sayings. We can design and produce these for you. Take a look at our recent renovation in our front office.

PICTURES PICTURES PICTURES

We recommend taking 15 – 20 minutes to plan out your day the night before. Going to bed knowing that you have a plan of attack for the next day will help alleviate some stress as well. Revisit your list as the day goes on and relish the act of crossing out completed items. This will help you see exactly what you accomplished during the day. It will also keep you moving forward with what must be accomplished next.

If you end the day with items still on your to-do list, you can get started on your highest priority right away the next day. For years I would get to the end of my day and wonder what in the world I had accomplished. I knew I had been very busy, but when I sat down to talk with Rhonda at the end of the day, I had a hard time retelling what I had done. Next time you are feeling stressed or aren’t sure what to do, remember “priorities are what we do; everything else is just talk.”

What are you doing? What you’re doing indicates what your true priorities are.

Get personal with emotionally charged email

Successful email campaigns depend on whether they feel personally relevant to the recipient.

A 2013 Experian study indicates personalized emails have a 29 percent higher open rate and a 41 percent higher click-through rate than emails without any personalization. Personalization can be as simple as incorporating the names and locations of your customers. That can make an email feel like you’re addressing an individual and only delivering the information that matters most to them, such as events in the city where they live.

You can also customize your messages based on individual behavior and history. Just follow the simple rule to be helpful above all else, and be mindful of overstepping your boundaries. That could mean reminding someone about an abandoned shopping cart item, checking in to see whether someone’s happy about an order or experience, or providing useful information about how to get more out of a product or service.

Is your website scintillating and captivating?

Reaching new customers should be one of the top goals of your website, but getting them to stay and engage with the website is even more important.

Communicate trust by showcasing your company as an expert in a particular, specific field. Show off your awards, professional accolades and certifications. This is a great way to engage new customers.

Show and Tell (your awards) is a clear indicator to visitors that they are in the right place and in good hands. What do new customers see when they first visit your site? If your expertise isn’t clearly on display, it might be time to reevaluate your homepage.

Contact us for more information on revamping your website today!

You can kick your loyalty program up the field

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Participating in a loyalty program often comes with the expectation that members will receive
preferential treatment, but it doesn’t always have to be in the form of discounts.

Consider exploring the option of letting members be “in the know” and giving them advance notice of upcoming sales or
promotions. Giving members access to an upcoming sale early by shopping online with a special code, or showing their loyalty card at checkout could entice shoppers to make a purchase and allow you to engage them further with your brand.

Give your loyalty club members first access to new products that have not been released to the public yet. Get creative with your rewards program and watch customer retention numbers, and your bottom line, increase dramatically.

Want to improve your conversion percentages with Live Chat?

Live Chat can significantly improve the number of visits and conversions on your website.

Live Chat can be used to assist with purchases, resolving customer service and tech support issues, and answer
product and customer questions in a timely manner.

Customers like Live Chat because it saves time and is convenient.

  •  60% of customers hate waiting for longer than 1 minute for support (count me in on this one).
  • 63% of website visitors are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat (yep!).
  • 83% of customers require some type of live support when making online transactions.
  • 44% of consumers say having a live person answer questions while making a purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
  • 52% of consumers will abandon online purchases if they can’t find quick answers.

That 52% traffic number is very large; don’t miss out on these potential customers. Searchers want to
get their questions answered and find what their looking for – right now.
If you are not currently using Live Chat functions on your website and would like some assistance with
setting it up, give us a call.

Is your business credit score a mystery to you?


Is your business score a mystery to you?

Business credit scores right now are where personal credit scores were a decade ago; they are still very much a mystery to most small companies. But like your personal score, your business credit score must be cultivated and nurtured if you expect it to be a useful tool when you want to borrow money.

A fast and easy way to build your business credit score is to establish relationships with companies that report payment history. Companies that issue business credit cards and commercial credit agencies (like Experian or D&B) need to hear from you.

Another way to help build your business credit score is to establish ‘trade’ credit with vendors who report. For example, if you buy supplies on terms (where the invoice is due in 30, 60 or 90 days), and the vendor reports that account history to a credit agency, it can help you build business credit. We have great relationships with our paper vendors and we buy on terms.

Building and protecting your business credit score is an important step in securing your business’ future.

Here’s what to do when you’re totally slammed

Feeling a bit overwhelmed and overworked lately?

It’s time to lose that mind-numbing, energy-sapping feeling. It just takes a pad of paper and a pen. The number one thing you can do to help reduce stress is to…

Create a list. Write down (on paper) everything you need to do. This is critical, because a big part of being overwhelmed is the mental energy of constantly thinking/remembering all the things you need to do. Once you’ve written it all down, you will release the need to remember, and the fear of forgetting, and a huge chunk of the stress will go away.

By the end of the day, your to-do list has likely changed. Some tasks will be complete, others will be partially complete. Redo your list at the end of the day, taking into account all the changes that have been made. This will help you see exactly what you accomplished during the day. It will also keep you moving forward with what must be accomplished next. If you end the day with items still on your to-do list, you can get started on your highest priority right away the next day.

The simple acts of creating a list and then marking off your accomplishments during the day can open your eyes to all that you are really accomplishing.

Invest smart; work on your company…not in your company.

In a recent survey of business owners, respondents stated that up to 40% of their time was spent on tasks not related to growing their company.

Quite often, the business owner wears multiple hats; CEO, CFO, secretary and the janitor. It’s hard to build a brand when you have so many other things to do.

Try dedicating just 10 minutes per day to building your brand. Small time investments like tweeting, writing a thank you card, crafting a facebook post or calling a longtime client can go a long way. Just like investing money, your efforts will compound over time. Spend 10 minutes a day to help your brand equity become a true asset.

Make memorable moments with a loyalty program

Any sized business can use a creatively crafted loyalty program to entice customers to return frequently and share their experience with others.

Your rewards program doesn’t have to pay out in the form of free product; creating a memorable moment or special privilege for your most loyal customers might be all the motivation someone needs to make your brand their favorite.

Consider creating an ultimate rewards experience at a high price point. The reward could be a tour of your facility, a lunch with the owner, open late/early for a VIP shopping experience, etc. It’s that type of “special privilege” experience that they’ll post to Instagram or FaceBook and send to all of their friends on Snapchat. And that’s exactly what you want!

Emojis = fun in your biz communications ????

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Emoticons have evolved from text-based happy faces—:)—and frowny faces—:(—to pictograms known as emojis.

Emojis are everywhere in social media posts and SMS messaging. Nearly half of the text found on Instagram are emojis. Marketers are taking notice and using emojis in their marketing. Emojis are a good way to relate to customers in a more personal and fun manner. An image based post can now be captioned with a single emoji and most readers will understand that the image conveys sadness, happiness, humor, etc.

Emojis help communicate a message with feeling and emotion; something that straight text often can’t do.  Have you used emojis in your marketing yet? Tell us about it!

Do you know the 5 key traits your team desperately needs?

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Regardless of your title or job description, you will often find yourself working with a team to complete a task or solve a problem.

Findings from a recent Google article shows there are 5 key traits teams need to have in order to succeed.
1. Psychological safety – team members need to feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.

2. Dependability – team members need to get tasks done on time and with expected quality.

3. Structure and clarity – each team member should have a clear role, plan and goal.

4. Meaning – the work of the team is personally important to each member. I call this “worthwhile work.”

5. Impact – each team member needs to feel their work matters and creates positive change.

These traits are important to teams working on projects; they are important for every employee/team member in your company. Creating a culture based on these 5 foundational traits helps employees perform up to expectations; these 5 characteristics will help your team members feel more satisfied with their work.

Who says Content is King of the Internet?

For years, we have been talking about “content being king” when it comes to creating a website that is easy to find and engaging for visitors.

However, a recent study done by Moz and BuzzSumo of more than 1 million web articles across different industries indicates most content does not gain any traction. In a randomly selected sample of 100,000 posts, over 50% had 2 or less Facebook interactions (shares, likes or comments), and over 75% had zero external links. These statistics are depressing to anyone who has spent hours implementing a social media or search engine optimization campaign and experienced lackluster results.

Lack of traction could be caused by several different factors:

  • The content isn’t engaging your audience. If your posts are consistently “comment-less”; if your posts have few likes; if you have very few shares, it could be that you are posting about things your audience simply doesn’t find valuable. Take a look at what you have been posting or writing about through the eyes of your client. Does it pass the “what’s in it for me” test? Is the post something that will educate, entertain and/or offer them something that they need to take advantage of now? If the post is all about you and your company and products, it may not be relevant to your audience.
  • The content is low quality. Spelling and grammar mistakes aside, content that’s visually unappealing or boring misses the mark with readers. Use visuals that spark the imagination
  • There is no distribution strategy. If you want people to read your content, you have to promote it through social media, email marketing, and influencer outreach. Finding related industries that might benefit from your content and distributing it to them can be extremely helpful as well. Distribution can come in the form of posting links to the article, sending the article directly via email or sending it in printed format in the form of a newsletter or direct mail piece.
  • No repurposing efforts. You created content, shared it once, and now it collects dust. Ninety-three percent of content assets are created from scratch, meaning marketers aren’t digging into their archives to utilize valuable information they’ve already brought to the table.  When a piece is created, remember the Rule of 5. This means that for every piece of content developed, there should be 5 uses, applications or reinvention options for a content asset. Turn a webinar into a white paper. Then break the white paper into a series of articles and blog posts and connect them via hyperlinks. Take one topic and develop 5 different angles to approach it, creating 5 different formats of content. In a world where unique content rules the web, embracing the rule of 5 can mean the difference between success and failure for your blog or website.

Key takeaways from the study? Make sure you proof your posts for spelling and grammar errors; make sure you are using your content across multiple marketing platforms to increase your reach; repurpose your existing marketing assets to increase the return on your investment in your marketing assets; and, most importantly, ensure that what you post provides value and enough information to inform and drive home your points.

 

Results are in; Customer service wins big!

In a recent study, 89% of respondents will switch brands if they receive poor customer service.

That same study revealed that the best customer service channel varied by what generation the respondent belonged to. Millennials favor the online world while baby boomers prefer the offline.

Millennials are almost three times more likely to believe personal technology brands treat their customers best; baby boomers are nearly 80% more likely to believe brick and mortar retailers treat their customers best. Offering a combination of both allows you to cater to both ends of the generational spectrum. If you aren’t sure how to offer the best online support, start small. Use a simple contact form; respond to all communications quickly; your customers will know they are being heard.

Ask me about a recent customer service debacle/victory that we experienced at a local restaurant…a national franchise demonstrated excellent online savvy.

Have you mastered these 6 tips to close more deals?

 

We aren’t all natural born salespeople; some of us have to work a little harder than others to close a deal.

If you need a little help getting a new client to sign on the dotted line, try some of these closing tips.

1. IDENTIFY: Be sure you are dealing with the decision maker. I can NOT emphasize this enough.

2. NEGOTIATE: Expect the client to negotiate and respond positively. Don’t view negotiations as a step back; consider them as another chance to educate the client on why you are the right choice.

3. QUESTION: Ask questions and really listen to the answers. Selling, at its core, is problem solving. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is. Ask the questions and listen to the answers.

4. SHARE: Share success stories. Your new customer wants to hear about past success stories that might be similar to their own situation. The more recent the story, the better. The more closely the story might relate to your customer, the best.

5. COMMUNICATE: In order to communicate clearly about your product and services, you must know your products and services intimately. Get clear on why people should be working with you.

6. UNDERSTAND: Sometimes “no” = “not now”. If a client decides to go in a different direction, don’t walk away mad. You have made a new connection and that relationship could lead somewhere in the future. Make a note to follow up to see how the decision turned out. The point here is not to think or say, “I told you that you should have chosen me/my product.” The point is to show genuine interest.

Having a great product that solves the problem is ½ the battle in sales. Being personable and communicative will help you close more deals and retain more relationships.

Are you aware of The Rule of 5?

 

Marketers benefit tremendously when they embrace the Rule of 5.

For every piece of content developed, there should be 5 uses, applications or reinvention options. Turn a webinar into a white paper. Then break the white paper into a series of articles and blog posts and connect them via hyperlinks. Take one topic and develop 5 different angles to approach it, creating 5 different formats of content. In a world where unique content rules the web, embracing the rule of 5 can mean the difference between success and failure for your blog or website.

Are you aware of these new SEO trends?

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Have you noticed that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices change more often than coffee filters?

Here’s what you need to know about recent SEO tendencies:

  • When identifying keywords, start with the most commonly used terms. Next you want to come up with as many variations as possible and use these in context on your website pages and blog posts.
  • Link your articles or blog posts to main pages of your website and other relevant blog articles on your site.
  • Think mobile first. Mobile is the preferred device for younger generations, but it is not just the under 20 somethings. Google tells us more searches take place on mobile devices than desktop computers. Make sure your content is mobile optimized.
  • Think local. Make sure your business profile is current with Google My Business to optimize your local traffic. Make sure you include location based keywords in your content.
  • Much of a site’s success has to do with appearance and usability. Search engines use bounce rates to help determine the relevance of search terms. If visitors come to your site but quickly navigate away because they do not trust or cannot find the information they are seeking, your site will suffer the consequences.

If you need help deciphering what this means to your business and website, let us know. We can review your website for some of the most common SEO oversights and help you come up with a plan to fix them.

Want to avoid a devastating sales slowdown?

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If your sales are experiencing a slowdown this time of year, try some of these low-cost tips to re-energize your pipeline NOW!

1. Contact inactive customers to see if you can re-engage them.

2. Improve and/or update your website to help generate more traffic and get more conversions from your site.

3. Implement/re-evaluate your email marketing. Email done right can provide one of your best returns on investment (ROI).

4. Improve Lead Generation with new Calls to Action.

5. Survey your site visitors and existing customers to find out what they need and want.

Now, more than ever you have to focus, improve, and maybe even change what you do to attain, retain and maintain customer relationships. These 5 suggestions can help you turn this quarter around.

Communicate at a deeper level with visuals

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Humans are very visual; we are attracted to pretty, bright, colorful pictures more than simple text.

Here are some facts on why visuals actually do communicate better than words:

  • 93% of communication is non-verbal.
  • Images take less time to process than text. Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text.
  • 60% of people are visual learners. Facebook photos perform best for likes and shares compared to text, video and links.
  • We remember things that are presented visually more easily than simply being told or reading about them.
  • Publishers who use infographics grow their traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t.

Think of every single image you add to a blog or social media as a little piece of advertising lift within that post. Capture interest with your pictures; your messages will be read and shared. Ironic isn’t it? You just read an email without visuals. Text still works; take it to the next level with visuals.

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Sure Fire Essential Tips for your Business Growth

Communication and ongoing customer feedback are essential for business growth.

Having an open dialogue with your customers is vital. There’s a double benefit to your business:

  • You can anticipate problems and stay aware of how you’re performing, rather than discovering days or weeks afterwards.
  • Your customers are more confident about the service you provide as a result of the communication, or simply because the channel is open, even if they don’t use it. It’s basic human nature to want to be heard and to be kept informed. People like to feel that they matter, and that they are cared for.

If your company fails to build openness into your communication standards, then customers feel isolated and uninvolved. They are then prone to leave and go where they feel more valued.

Involving customers (and staff) can be easy. It just takes a little thought and care. For example, devise a simple feedback form. The form can carry details of your mission statement, service offering, and your customer service charter. Make it available in print, on the web, in email communications and your social media strategy. Encourage the use of surveys to gather more detailed information. Just a little bit of forethought can go a long way in turning customers into raving fans.

Remember: Your business is completely and utterly dependent on your customers. Your business will not exist without them. 

We use an “automated” customer survey that every one of our customers gets at least one a quarter. We have found this survey to be one of the very best tools in our toolbox. Please email me at Kevin@Wax.news for more info.

Improve your B2B selling with these 4 top strategies

 

When selling business to business, keep these 4 strategies in mind:

1. Focus on the problems you solve. The time you save, the results you deliver, and the difference you make are three key components that are key to your customers.

2. Time is the most important commodity for owners, managers, and employees who have more things to do in a day than time to get them done. They have little tolerance for anyone who wastes their time.

3. Expect to use a variety of mediums like voice mail, email, direct mail, and even faxes when trying to set up appointments with new prospects. Each touch should talk about how you can solve a particular problem and/or add value to the relationship. Do not talk about your product or services.

4. Make your touches personal. Do not expect a one-size-fits-all approach to open many doors. People are too busy to talk to a salesperson. They will only talk to you if they know you have their best interests in mind. If you cannot make their lives better, then the status quo is your competition. You have to show that making a change is less painful (and more beneficial) than the status quo. Think about how many times an Aflac salesperson has tried to get an appointment with you. Then think about how your approach is similar to that Aflac rep. Remember, businesses are people who are looking for relationships with other people who can make their working lives better. They are NOT looking for someone who wants/needs to sell them something.

5 tips to make your email marketing more successful

The email subject line is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not your messages gets read.

Here are 5 tips for writing better subject lines:

1. Make it relevant – to the reader and what is happening in the reader’s world right now.

2. Right-size your subject line – short enough to be scanned, long enough to make an educated decision.

3. Make it clear – your subject line should not be “pitchy” or vague.

4. Make it trustworthy – people hate being tricked.

5. Make it actionable – provide information that makes someone want to open the message.

The key to writing effective subject lines is to include what matters most to your reader in the subject.

Struggling to get your email marketing out on a regular basis? Let us help! Contact us today for more information on how we can get your email marketing campaign started. We’ve had some great success stories that we would love to share with you.

Can a direct mail campaign boost your business?

 

Planning your marketing for next year? Consider adding a direct mail campaign to support your upcoming promotions or events. Direct mail has the ability to quickly communicate your message at a reasonable cost. Consider these statistics…

  • 85% of consumers sort through and read selected pieces of mail every day.
  • 75% indicate they examine direct mail more closely searching for coupons and discounts.
  • 40% of consumers say they have tried a new business after receiving a direct mail piece.
  • 70% have renewed their relationship with businesses they had stopped using.

Think about these statistics; direct mail is an EFFECTIVE marketing strategy in our digital age. When used together, direct mail and digital marketing can build business and spread your message quickly and effectively.

What do you do?

You may make some new acquaintances this New Year who could benefit from what you and your company have to offer.

Unless you can tell them what you do in a clear, concise and compelling manner, these opportunities could end up going nowhere. Here are 5 tips for how to answer the age old question “What do you do?”

1. Talk results – Focus on what the customer gets – the outcome – not on what you do.

2. Keep it short and simple – One to two sentences is all you need to show you are a specialist in your market.

3. ID your target – Spell out whom exactly you are best suited to work with.

4. Keep it conversational – Use words that you would use in everyday conversation. Don’t use acronyms or industry jargon.

5. Think repeatability – You should be able to say your elevator speech over and over again easily. If you can say it easily, people will be able to easily repeat it.

You may not come up with the perfect answer the first time, however, with practice and feedback from trusted advisors around you, you can create an answer that helps tell your story and increase your connections.

Want to know how to write the perfect marketing email?

After-holiday sales/promotions can bring in additional profits and introduce your company to new prospects.

Are you considering sending emails as part of your marketing campaign? Here are three fabulous facts you need to know.

1. Include a percent-off deal (25% off today only!).
2. Phrase your subject line in the form of a question.
3. Limit your email subject line to 6 – 10 words.

38% of customers are more likely to click an email with a percent-off deal; 47% are more likely to convert when compared to emails with dollar-off deals. Add a perfectly timed question and your open rate can increase by 44%. Question marks are more powerful than exclamation points!?! Asking questions help your email achieve maximum conversion potential! or perhaps I say; “Did you know that asking questions help your email achieve maximum conversion potential?

Need help starting your email marketing campaign? Let us help you create a winning campaign!

Nasty USPS Email Scam; Will this Virus ruin your day?

Though this scam has made the rounds in the past, it’s rearing its ugly head again and is wreaking havoc on unsuspecting USPS customers.

The scam works like this; you receive an email letting you know that a package was not able to be delivered to your address. In order to claim the package, you simply have to download the attached shipping label and bring it in to your local USPS.Unfortunately, the Word® document that is attached to the email isn’t a shipping label, it’s a virus. These viruses typically phish for personal and banking information on your computer and can create a real headache for you. So how are you supposed to know the difference between a legitimate notification and a phishing one? Use the tips below to be more aware of some common email scams.

  1. Check the send from address – in this case, the email was sent from tracking@usps.org which looks like a very legitimate email address. However, the postal service’s website is www.usps.com not .org. By checking the URL before opening the attachment, you’re going to see a red flag about this email.
  2. Hover over links – many phishing emails will encourage you to visit their website and may even show a legitimate URL in the body of the email. However, when you hover over the link or address in the email (don’t click on it, just hover your mouse over it), you’ll often see that the URL is actually directing you to a completely different site. This can be a sign that the email is in fact, a phishing attempt. As a side note, plenty of legitimate companies will have links in their emails that do not look legitimate too. If they are using an email marketing program to send their emails or to track clicks on any given message, the URL could look strange to the end user. So this isn’t a sure fire way to tell that an email is a phishing message.
  3. Seek out a trustworthy source – if the email is coming from someone like your bank or credit card company, the notification should appear in your email as well as in the secure section of their website. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, go directly to the company’s website using your browser. Then login and look for the notification in the messages from the company.
  4. Look in the “to” address – in the example below, you’ll see the words “undisclosed recipients” in the “to” field. This typically means it was sent to multiple people and the addresses have been placed in the BCC field.  Typically, a legitimate notification will show your name or email address in the “to” field.
  5. Use common sense – if you aren’t expecting a package, or have not done business with the company that is sending you the notification email, then there is a good chance that the email could be a phishing attempt. It is unlikely that you have a 5th cousin in a far off country that needs you to send your banking account information in order for them to wire you millions of dollars (but hey, it could happen!). Before you click on a link or respond to an email, stop and think about the email itself.

It is estimated that over 156 million phishing emails are sent every day and of those, 16 million make it through the spam filters. If you haven’t yet encountered a phishing email, you likely will. Being prepared and knowing what to look for will help you keep your personal information private and secure.

What Exactly Does ASAP Mean?

Around our print shop, the little acronym ASAP is strictly verboten.

So, why exactly is ASAP not spoken at Wax Family Printing?

Because the use of the term can lead to miscommunication. And when you’re a printing company, communication and deadlines are vital.

I often quiz my colleagues (especially the new members of our team) as to the definition of ASAP. They quite frequently reply…As Soon As Possible. And technically, they are correct. But as soon as they tell me what they think the definition of ASAP is, I respond by telling them what I think the definition of ASAP is…

Nothing.

ASAP means nothing. To the person hoping they can get their design/print/sign project done on time, ASAP means that we are working on their project and their project alone and that we are doing everything we can to make their deadline. But to the person actually producing your design/print/sign project, ASAP may mean as soon as they can work it into their production schedule.

Using ASAP is a classic hint/hope device. The problem is, ASAP is not specific to an exact time. And so, the two parties in the conversation may be using the exact same term with exactly different meanings; and that’s a recipe for trouble.

I have changed my mind. ASAP doesn’t mean “nothing.” It’s worse than that. ASAP means the exact opposite of what you think it means. To the client, ASAP means “I’m up next in the production rotation.” To the producer, ASAP should be re-lettered. It should be ASAICGTI (As Soon As I Can Get To It).

Are you finishing out your year strong?

The holiday season is right around the corner!

For many businesses, this is the beginning of their busy season. For others, however, the extended vacations, lack of business focus and delay in initiatives can mean a slump in production and a shift in priorities. Traditionally, our fourth quarter is always the best…and the first quarter is always the worst! If you are looking to wrap up a project or keep a client engaged during the upcoming holiday season, try some of these tips.

  1. Hold a “state of the union” meeting – If you are mid-project going in to the holidays, it is a good time to ask for 30 minutes of your client’s time to address the current status of the project. Show the client quickly what has been done and what is left to be done. The goal of this meeting will be to set the expectations for wrapping up the project.
  2. Assign tasks to the client – whether it is providing content or feedback, the client should always have a task assigned to them. It doesn’t have to be a complex task, just something that holds them accountable to the project getting completed. A task could be signing off on a proof or sending feedback. Make sure the task is meaningful and not a waste of the client’s time. BE CAREFUL HERE! We know of companies that have lost tens of thousands of dollars in business because they came across as bossy.
  3. Incentivize completion – many service professionals take a deposit when a project is started and the rest of the payment is due at the completion of the project. This can be a real point of contention if a project drags on for many months. If you are waiting on the client in order for you to complete the project, try incentivizing with a discount or additional service if they meet a mutually agreed upon deadline.

Of course, it is not always the client that can make an engagement run long. We all know the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Likewise, a project with a demanding client will often take priority over an easier, less vocal client. To keep a project on track even with an easy going client, make sure your team is focused on the project’s goals and mission. Frequent communication with clear task assignments will help each team member be accountable for a project getting completed on time.

Are you prepared for cyber-attack?

Cyber-attacks are no laughing matter.

44% of small businesses reported they were a victim of a cybercrime, with an average cost of $9,000 per cybersecurity attack. Small and midsize businesses (SMB) are at greater risk of cyberattacks than large corporations. 69% of SMBs are unaware of the risks and costs of a cyberattack. Is your business prepared? Take this short test from Microsoft to test your knowledge and start safeguarding your business today:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/business/cyberquiz/

What’s your marketing strategy?


Consider a “little” bit of branding.

Getting your brand out there with signage, business cards, letterhead, a website, brochures, etc., is foundational to your marketing strategy. Branding doesn’t always have to involve big items. Small daily interactions can help reinforce your brand and positioning. Here are 4 places you can do a “little” bit of branding:

Packaging and/or Packing Slips – Amazon.com and Zappos.com are two large companies who are doing it right, when it comes to packaging. Branded boxes and tape bring instant consumer awareness to what has been delivered. If you regularly ship a product, consider branding your boxes.

Email Signatures – With every email you send, you can bring your brand to life with a small twist to your signature. Not only can you add your logo, but also your title and links to your social media profiles as well. Make it easy for people to interact with you. Here’s my signature; I get positive comments on it quite a bit. 

Wi-Fi Name and Password – If you regularly have customers use your Wi-Fi, why not have a little fun with it? Name your network something fun and relevant to your business and have the password be the feeling you hope they get from your business. A restaurant password could be “yummy,” for example.

Bills and Receipts – No one likes to get bills, so why not include a little humor or inspiration next to the logo on your bill/invoice? Both paper and email receipts offer a tiny moment that may be remembered long after a product’s been paid for.
Think about the potential, everyday moments that could be tweaked to surprise and entertain your customers. Work hard at creating a stronger brand connection. You don’t always need to spend big. Instead, spend smart by finding small branding moments that matter. We can help you with a “little” branding. Contact me at Kevin@waxfamilyprinting.com.

How do you get to YES with emails?

A golden rule of writing is: Respect the reader’s intelligence.

This rule gets magnified by a factor of 10 when you’re composing unsolicited emails. Most people who receive any significant quantity of email in a day have developed extremely refined B.S. detectors. They can identify an impersonal templated email in 0.5 seconds, and they can spot a time-wasting “let’s explore the possibilities” request from a mile off. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you’re composing an unsolicited email message.

Make it easy to say yes. Whether you are requesting a lunch meeting or a phone call, make it obvious, so the recipient knows EXACTLY what you are asking and can respond with an answer. Make your message concise and to the point so your “ask” doesn’t get lost in a long email. Consider highlighting your ask; many readers scan to the bold headlines or highlighted areas. Don’t overdo this…too much highlighting will have the opposite, negative effect. Giving the recipient a deadline to say yes can also help them put the requested task on a timeline and prioritize it.

Write an interesting subject line. Avoid stock or cookie-cutter phrases that might get your email lumped in (and glossed over) with others. Try using the recipient’s name in the subject to draw extra attention to your letter. I run ALL of my headlines and/or subject lines through Headline Analyzer. I ran the headline in this email through the Analyzer and improved it’s score from 25% TO 50%. Contact me at Kevin@waxfamilyprinting.com if you need help with this resource.

Establish credibility. “What’s in it for me” or” Why should I care” are questions everyone will be asking when reading an email from someone they don’t know. When creating your email, share data points or experience that supports why you are corresponding in the first place.

Be interesting and interested. It’s nice to articulate why you’re interested in them. It’s also nice to articulate why they should be interested in you. Try to have a voice and say something funny, meaningful, or thoughtful—preferably all three!
Try using these four tips in your email marketing and get to YES much quicker.

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Humor can really tickle their funny bone

 

If you’re rethinking your marketing and communication strategy for next year, consider adding some humor (and I’m not joking about this ????).

Funny and witty messaging shows your personality, and increases the likelihood that someone will relate with your company. Even with a serious topic (like taxes), humor can lighten tone just enough to make the message one that people will interact with and share frequently.

Humor isn’t about making your readers laugh out loud. It’s about connecting with your audience and their wanting to connect back. I tried desperately to come up with a pun about using humor and jokes and yolks, but for me, my humor has to be eggscellent. Did that crack you up? Eggsactly.

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“Secret” SACRED social media marketing tips

 

Want to know how to improve your ROI (Return On Investment)?

Social media has the ability to drive a large, interested crowd of people to your business if done correctly. Use these SACRED tips to create a social media plan with real ROI.

Strategy – Your content and posts should have specific goals. Create your strategy for your content first, then begin writing with your goal in mind.

Authentic – Create content that uses your voice (or your company’s). Avoid the bait and switch; be authentically you in all your communications.

Content – Create content relevant to your clients. Start by answering some of the questions you get frequently from your clients.

Routine – Set a schedule. If you know you want to post to your blog once per day, make it a habit to do that first, then schedule the rest of your day. Eat the frog. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask me at kevin@waxfamilyprinting.com).

Etiquette – Different platforms require different content. You may post something to Twitter that you wouldn’t on LinkedIn. Consider the audience when posting.

Dialogue – Your content should engage your audience. When they do engage, make sure to respond back in a timely manner. Start the conversation, then listen to what your audience has to say.
Use these SACRED guidelines in all parts of your marketing. Engaging in an appropriate tone with relevant content will help you become and remain a trusted partner to your clients.

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Use emotion and reason in your marketing

ThinkstockPhotos-121242306

 

When creating marketing material for your company, take a look at how your product benefits the customer. Now consider the emotional reasons someone would want what you sell.

Whatever it is that you do better than your competition, add an emotion to it and use that in your marketing. People buy emotionally and then justify the purchase rationally. Hone in on the emotions that cause someone to act. Once you understand these emotions, you can help them justify the sale rationally with your features and benefits.

Pay special attention to any words that could evoke emotion and use those in your next marketing effort! If you get stumped, give us a call. We’re happy to talk through your emotions with you. 🙂

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Your website; beauty or beast?

ThinkstockPhotos-479112508

Typically, your website is the cornerstone of all marketing messages.

When looking at the best of the best websites, it is hard to imagine a small business being able to compete. However, the reality is that “the bests” probably looked similar to your current site at one time. They have evolved over time and continue doing so today.

The leading enterprises make improvements (in varying degrees) continually, as they carry on – measuring, testing, refining and optimizing at every turn. If you look at where you are and think you cannot afford to get where you need to be, rethink your strategy. Evaluate how well your site does against these major benchmarks then attack them one at a time while continually improving on the customer experience. Your website should:

  • Help you acquire and retain customers.
  • Provide relevant and valuable educational material.
  • Convert traffic to sales.
  • Increase your social visibility.
  • Provide existing customers with support.

Evaluate your current website with these 5 goals in mind; you will find places you can improve immediately and eventually get your site to where it needs to be. And if you need help with your website, we can help!

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Institutional Memory can increase sales

Have you been with your company for quite sometime?

Look around you, your co-workers may not have been there when you had those three record years in a row. They may not remember your first year of transitional business when your business increased by 43% and you hit a million in sales for the very first time. Help your co-workers see what can be done, by reminding them what you have already accomplished.

We were reviewing our monthly sales numbers at the end of August and I mentioned that it was a great month. I also mentioned that our sales were about half of what we had done in a particular month years ago. No one at the table had been a part of the company when that high water mark was reached.

Leaders help followers “see” what can be done by reminding them of what they “saw” in the past.

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The stats behind email marketing

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If a good website is the first-place finisher of all marketing tools, then effective Email marketing runs a close second. Way too many marketers ignore the numbers behind the subscribes/unsubscribes and clicks.

Here are key factors everyone can quickly check and track:

  • Unique Opens provides information on who opened your messages. It is a good way to ensure your subject lines are engaging.
  • The number and location of clicks tell you the number of people who take some kind of action, ideally to landing pages to complete your calls to action.
  • Bounces provide critical information as to the quality of your lists. A high number of bounces means a bad list or that it is way past time to clean up your list.

For more information on other email marketing statistics you may want to review, please contact us for an appointment to do an analysis of your current program. If you need some assistance reinvigorating your mailing program or implementing one, we can help.

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5 free ways to get new leads

 

Building your sales pipeline and increasing your network are key elements to a successful marketing strategy. If you are struggling to get new and qualified leads, here are 5 ways to find new leads without spending big bucks to get them.

  1. Speaking and presenting. When you talk to a group of people, you create a bond and are viewed as a successful, knowledgeable person. People want to associate and do business with those they perceive as experts.
  2. Give something away for free. Provide something your customers can use, consume and benefit from immediately. People are willing to provide an email address to get something of value, gain knowledge, and/or solve a problem.
  3. Networking and events. Regularly participating in networking events gets your name out as a knowledgeable person who cares about helping others. As you help others, they will refer people back to you.
  4. Ask for recommendations. People are more likely to buy from someone they know or from a referral from a trusted source. Your existing customers and network know people who can use your services, but may not think about it until asked. Ask! You will be surprised at the results. We survey every customer at least one a quarter. Part of our survey includes asking for a referral.
  5. Word of mouth. Word of mouth speeds up the more customers you have who are pleased with your work. Take care of your customers and they will take care of you. When Wax Family Printing, LLC was first established (as Graphic Services) way back in 1966, we were 100% reliant on word of mouth. It still works for us; it’s pretty awesome.

If you would like more ideas on how to get more leads and customers or get more from the ones you have currently, give us a call. We are here to help!

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Can HTTPS really improve your website?

 

Nearly every business person understands the need to have a website, and most have one, but not all websites are created equal.

And no, we are not talking about design (but that is important too!), or platform. Top performing websites win with HTTPS (the padlock that shows your site is secure). HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and it ensures the legitimacy of a site and builds trust with your visitors.

  • HTTPS ensures that visitors personal data is encrypted and secure
  • HTTPS can improve your site’s search engine ranking. (Google favors sites that are secure.)
  • HTTPS can improve page speed. Faster load time keeps people on your site longer and is critical for mobile visitors.

If you haven’t switched to HTTPS by obtaining a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate yet, give us a call. We provide the certificates and can assist with installation. If you have not upgraded to HTTPS, now is the time to make the switch.

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Keys to keeping your accounts safe

BYOD Bring Your Own Device Security Blue

According to Google, getting “hacked” is the main concern for website owners and rightly so, as Google has noticed a 180% increase in the number of sites getting hacked over the last year.

  • Strong Password for FTP or Content Management Access. The general rule is use letters, upper and lower case, numbers, and symbols in your passwords, but the best protection of all is to have a long password. And it should go without saying that you should not use the same password on multiple accounts. Use 1Password to protect yourself and keep from going crazy, and while you’re at it, check out A Few of My Favorite Apps.
  • Keep your software updated. Next to weak or compromised passwords, outdated software is the next most common reason a site gets hacked. Failing to apply patches and keeping your software on current versions is an invitation to hackers to seek out your site.
  • Hosting. Not all hosting companies provide the same level and quality of services. Some popular platforms require more frequent updates. Ensure that your provider has a security policy in place to provide timely operating system updates to protect your hosting space.
  • Use Webmaster tools provided by Bing and Google and hosting services site statistics when available. These tools can help you identify security concerns with your domain.

If you have ever experienced a site hack, you know how expensive and time consuming it can be to clean up the mess. If you have not, be forewarned that it may only be a matter of time before your site gets attacked. Make sure you have not left any doors open for the hackers to simply walk through.

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What to do with a bad review?

Poor Rating

If you have been in business for any length of time, it is likely that you have had some customer transactions that were less than perfect. A bad review across online channels today can potentially cause a lot of harm. The natural reaction is to fight back, but that will only make a bad situation worse.

So, when you get a bad review…Here are four “NOTS”.

  • Do not ignore the review.
  • Do not deny that the issue existed. It may have seemed like nothing to you, but because your customer posted it, it was a big deal to them.
  • Don’t argue with the customer, or try to prove you are right and they are wrong.
  • Don’t pay to have “a cleaner” remove the bad review or write phony reviews to counter the bad one

And here are three things you should DO…

  • Do respond. Consider how you would want someone to respond to you when things do not go as planned. Do it tactfully. Take the high road. Be a professional. Acknowledge the issue and encourage the poster to re-engage to resolve the issue. The Golden Rule always wins.
  • Do apologize. Sometimes an apology is all the poster wants. Acknowledge you understand how they feel. And do what you can to make it right. Provide direct lines of communication and personalized attention to show you care and to get the conversation off line and not in the public eye.
  •  If you are able to satisfy the customer, ask them if they would mind posting a follow-up review indicating how the issue was resolved and their level of satisfaction.

Unhappy customers are an inevitable reality for every business. And although unpleasant, these issues can become a game changer for your company. They may reveal blind spots in service or where improvements can be made—a true silver lining take away after a stormy experience.

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Want to know how to write a great email?

email compose

Your audience is busy. Stand out from the other five hundred emails they’ve received this morning by deleting most of what you’ve written. A shorter message stands out.

When you write a long email, your chances of being read, understood, and remembered are much lower. People are receiving far more junk email than ever before. Some folks have even declared “email bankruptcy” and deleted all of their old emails at once without reading them! So it’s important that you be as concise as possible.

Fewer words on a bold white background grab the attention of the reader and your message resonates. Longer messages hit the trash can without ever making an impact. Here’s my secret formula to writing a good email:

1. Write your email

2. Delete most of it

3. Send

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Increase sales with these printed pieces

Dollar growth chart

Merchants continue to recognize the value of the printed catalog in today’s digital world for a myriad of reasons. It’s a channel that many are using to drive consumers to their website, help build brand awareness, introduce new product lines and increase direct sales. It’s also an opportunity to tell your story and provide helpful tips to your customers.

A recent study by MultiChannel Merchant shows catalogs are just one of the print format merchants will be using in the next 12 months to increase sales. Respondents said postcards (48.2%), direct mail (42.2%) and flyers (37.8%) will be used in their marketing efforts.

Two tracking…nearly 60% of catalog marketers produce digital versions of their catalogs as well as printed. Many merchants are using postcards to help drive traffic to their websites and offered the catalog as a digital download from the site.

If you would like to know more about using catalogs or other printed materials as part of your marketing mix, give us a call at 615-893-4290.

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50 + 2 Improperly Used Words in Writing

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Using the wrong words in business communications can be more than just embarrassing, it can damage your credibility and could even be a cause for rejection of your proposal. I taught middle school grammar for two years and LOVED it. I came out of that experience with an even deeper love for the English language.

The way we speak is different than the way we communicate the written word. Check out these 52 frequently misused/abused words in business writing. Some of these may surprise you.

accept, except
accept – (verb) To agree with, take in, receive. Example: We accept your proposal.
except – (preposition) Apart from. Example: All committee members are present except for Ms. Brown.

acute, chronic
acute – (adjective) Sharp, intense, critical. Example: The company has an acute shortage of skilled workers right now.
chronic – (adjective) Constant, habitual, long lasting. Example: She is unable to work because of a chronic illness.

adverse, averse
adverse – (adjective) Unfavorable, opposing one’s interest. Example: They found themselves in adverse circumstances.
averse – (adjective) Antipathy, repugnance, having the feeling of being opposed. Example: She is not averse to increasing her workload.

affect, effect
affect – (verb) To influence something. Example: How will that affect the bottom line?
effect – (noun) The result of. (verb) to cause something to be. Example: Her speech had the effect of motivating the listeners.

allusion, illusion
allusion – (noun) A casual reference of mention of something. Example: Was that an allusion to Hemingway?
illusion – (noun) Something that gives a false picture of reality. Example: He believes democracy is an illusion.

all right, alright
all right – Fine, OK. Example: It’s all right to leave early.
alright – Incorrect spelling, but often shows up in informal writing.

apprise, appraise
apprise – (verb) Give notice to. Example: Please apprise me of the situation.
appraise – (verb) Determine the worth of something. Example: The ring was appraised before we purchased it.

assure, ensure, insure
assure – (verb) To state with confidence, pledge or promise. Example: I assure you the check is in the mail.
ensure – (verb) To make certain. Example: Following the instructions ensures you won’t get hurt.
insure – (verb) To purchase insurance. Example: Insure the package before you mail it.

beside, besides
beside – (preposition) At the side of, next to, near. Example: Take a seat beside me.
besides – (adverb) Furthermore, in addition to. Example: Besides, several of us will be out of town next week.

compliment, complement
compliment – (verb) To give praise. Example: I complimented Steve on his speech.
complement – (verb) To complete something or match it well. Example: Her skills complement the needs of our department.

continual, continuous
continual – (adjective) Often repeated, very frequent – but occasionally interrupted. Example: They’ve received continual complaints.
continuous – (adjective) Uninterrupted. Example: We couldn’t hear over his continuous talking.

disburse, disperse
disburse – (verb) To pay, distribute, scatter. Example: They disbursed name tags to everyone attending the meeting.
disperse – (verb) To drive off, spread widely, cause to vanish. Example: The throng of fans dispersed into the stands.

farther, further
farther – (adverb) At or to a greater distance. Example: We are located farther down the highway.
further – (adverb) More or additional — but not related to distance. Example: We need to have further discussion on that.

fewer, less
fewer – (adjective) Of a small number, only used with countable items. Example: He made fewer mistakes than last time.
less – (adjective or adverb) To a smaller extent, amount or degree — used with quantities that cannot be individually counted. Example: If they made less noise, we could concentrate.

imply, infer
imply – (verb) To suggest. Example: What are you implying by that accusation?
infer – (verb) To deduce from evidence. Example: From the look on your face, I can infer you’re not happy with the decision.

its, it’s
its – (pronoun) Possessive form of “it.” Example: The machine has lost its ability to scan documents.
it’s – Contraction of “it is.” Example: It’s not a question of right or wrong.

lose, loose
lose – (verb) Fail to win, misplace. Example: Did you lose your file?
loose – (adjective) Free from anything that restrains. Example: Since losing weight, his clothes seem loose.

of, have
of – (preposition) Frequently confused with “have” since “could’ve” is pronounced “could of.” But “of” cannot be used as a verb.
have – (verb) Proper verb form for “could have,” “should have” and “would have.”

principal, principle
principal – (noun) Person who has controlling authority. (adjective) Something essential or important. Example: Let’s talk about the principal reason we’re meeting today.
principle – (noun) Basic truth, policy or action. Example: It’s important to stick to our principles.

regardless, irregardless
regardless – (adjective or adverb) In spite of. Example: We are leaving, regardless of whether you’re ready.
irregardless – This is not a word. (Yes, you may find it in your dictionary, but you’re only embarrassing yourself if you use it.)

than, then
than – (preposition) In contrast to. Example: I’d rather speak face-to-face than communicate by e-mail.
then – (adverb) Next. Example: We met for dinner, then went to a movie.

their, there, they’re
their – (pronoun) Belonging to them. Example: Where is their car?
there – (adverb) In a place. Example: Let’s visit there.
they’re – Contraction of “they are.” Example: They’re not leaving without saying good-bye, are they?

Who, whom
Who – (pronoun) Use ‘who’ when referring to the subject of a sentence. Example: “Who loves you?”
Whom – (pronoun) Use ‘whom’ when referring to the object of a sentence. Example: “Whom do I love?”

whose, who’s
whose – (pronoun) Possessive case of “who” or “which.” Example: Whose keys are these?
who’s – Contraction of “who is.” Example: Who’s going to the game after work?

your, you’re
your – (pronoun) Belonging to you. Example: Your briefcase is over there.
you’re – Contraction of “you are.” Example: You’re not going to believe this.

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Credit Card Processing Changes October 1st.

Credit card device

In a move to improve security, credit cards with magnetic strips are being phased out and replaced with cards containing an embedded microchip. A two-step checkout process requires a special reader, along with entry of a passcode.

If you accept credit cards, October 1st is the date that if you are not in compliance with EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) specifications, you could be held liable for any fraudulent transactions. If you have not already done so, contact your card processor and confirm whether or not upgrades need to be made to your systems.

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Invest a dollar; Make forty dollars!

Origami duck and ducklings made out of US dollar banknotes, close-up

According to Adobe Systems, the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing can be nearly $40 for every $1 spent. The big news from a just-released report is that the importance of email marketing continues to grow despite the growth and popularity of social media and mobile applications.

The 2015 State of Marketing report from Salesforce Marketing Cloud indicates that 60% of marketers said email is a critical enabler of products and services and 20% said it was the primary revenue source for their company.

What marketers tend to forget is that the customer journey begins with great contact data.

  • 33% of customers surveyed said that email is the best method for building brand loyalty
  • 30% of email contacts change accounts each year
  • Poor sender reputation can affect the deliverability of your messages
  • Gartner predicts that by 2016 industries will have to compete primarily on customer experience.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your email marketing efforts.

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Free Wi-Fi could cost you a lot!

Using Wi-Fi on your smart phone saves you from eating up your data plan, but think about what you do when connected and consider the risk before you connect to any old public network: bank records, credit cards, email accounts, social media login, etc.

Reduce your exposure with these simple steps:

  • Turn off automatic Wi-Fi connection and connect only to a trusted network
  • Hackers often set up fake networks, check with the Wi-Fi establishment employees to ensure you are connecting to their network.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) when handling business communications.

For more information on VPN, take a look at this article from PCWorld.

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Singletask your way to efficiency

multipurpose businessman

Devora Zack, author of Singletasking, says that multi-tasking is really just task switching. Multi-tasking seems more efficient, but moving from task to task can zap creativity and reduce your efficiency.

Zack provides the following tips to increase productivity and improve the quality of your work:

  • Commit to one task at a time – Eliminate or ignore distractions.
  • Practice “clustertasking” – Planning chunks of time dedicated to grouped activities (such as email and returning phone calls) will alleviate the need to take care of everything immediately.
  • Divert competing thoughts – Write down unrelated concerns as they crop up, so you can focus on them later.

Stopping multitasking may seem stressful at first, but the benefits of “singletasking” will make you a believer.

Why not give it a try?

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5 types of visual content

Photo collage from cubes with pictures

Visual content is becoming more and more popular because of its ability to quickly communicate a concept; images are more shareable than text. Here are five types of visual content that resonate best with customers and prospects.<br />
<strong>Comics</strong> – can be a fun way to talk about a complex problem. Comics can be a great ice breaker to talk about bigger issues. A comic that identifies a problem can be an engaging way to introduce a whitepaper or a new solution.<br />
<strong>Memes</strong> – are phrases or sayings that are tied to an image. This can be used in a humorous manner, or can be more serious with a customer testimonial and image. Memes can be used as invitations, to share facts, to poke fun or to help customers digest small bits of information.<br />
<strong>Infographics</strong> – are a great way to summarize an issue or findings. Whether its survey results or showing two sides of an argument, a well-crafted infographic can help the reader understand the issues at hand and the possible solutions. We’re working right now on an infographic that is a key part of a non-profit’s fundraising campaign.<br />
<strong>Photos</strong> – are an often overlooked marketing tool. Cameras are ubiquitous. Almost everyone has one in their purse or back pocket. Don’t just throw event photos up on Flickr or Facebook. Take one of your event/meeting photos and use that to convey or promote your message.<br />
<strong>Videos</strong> – can be a challenge for a lot of companies. Often the cost to produce can be prohibitive for a small business, however, video is one of the most widely consumed forms of content on the internet. People will often rather watch a 30 second video than read a page of content. A video does not have to be a professionally produced piece of art. Segments of a webinar or a short video taken with a HD phone camera will often convey the message you need in a short amount of time.<br />
Marketers who are leveraging visual content are seeing significant increases in their blog traffic, social media engagement, visitor-to-lead conversion rates and inbound customer acquisition results.

Breathing life into dead leads

Cardiogram

At one point or another, every salesperson comes across a prospect that shows a high level of interest and then, seemingly out of nowhere, drops off the face of the earth. If you are looking to resurrect a dead lead, try some of these tips:

  • Create an engagement oriented offer. Maybe your lead needs a little more information before they make their decision. Try an offer of a helpful whitepaper, a new point of view, an infographic or experiment with a conversational call to action or a survey.
  • “Dear John.” It may sound counter-intuitive, but if your lead won’t return your calls or respond to your emails, try sending one last email to let them know that while you’ll always be there for them, you’re taking them off the top of your list. It may just provoke them to respond.
  • Keep them on life support. Try creating a “no person left behind policy.” Something inspired them to reach out to you in the first place. You just need to rekindle that interest again. Marketing automation makes it possible to put your dead leads into a recycled lead-nurturing track that can go on from here to the hereafter. Don’t give up—keep at it.

Persistence and the right message can really pay off for marketers. Try mixing up your delivery too. Email is great; email plus a phone call is even better. Add a compelling direct mail piece or hand written note into the mix and get ready to watch your dead leads live again!

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Email marketing by the #’s

 

 

Email marketing

Email marketing is an effective and popular way to reach customers, if they get read. These tips can help keep your subscribers engaged:

  • The best time to send emails is in the morning between 9am – noon.
  • Targeted emails’ open and click rates see a 14% improvement relative to general emails.
  • 52% of people use their cell phones for sending and receiving email. Make sure your emails are mobile friendly.
  • When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more.
  • 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone and subject lines with fewer than 10 characters had an open rate of 58%.
  • 7 in 10 people say they used a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week.

Quality communication with your prospects and customers can get you closer to that sweet spot of people actually looking forward to and reading your messages. Try testing subject lines and different offers in your email to see what is most effective with your clients.

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Hackers: How to protect your data

Who has your data?

Hackers. This word strikes fear in the mightiest and tiniest of companies. Everyone is at risk. Security protocols are paramount. Your employees need to know the do’s and don’ts to make sure your sensitive data is protected.

Recently, an attempt was made on our bank account. Fortunately, our bank was on top of the situation, and we worked together to quickly shut down access to any and all potentially vulnerable data. According to an IBM study, 95 percent of business cyber-attacks are caused by human error. Reducing these errors can mean the difference between being exposed and being protected:

  • Click cautiously: Hackers are creating more believable emails and landing pages, enticing you to click and give up credentials. Always hover over the button to see if the URL matches the site it’s claiming to be before you click.
  • Take precautions: Web browsers have features (check the preferences) that flag fraudulent sites—use them.
    Protect passwords: Seems obvious, but we often get password-lazy. Don’t re-use them. Don’t share them. And make them challenging. Passwords are your first line of defense. I highly recommend 1Password. I wrote about 1Password in my blogpost These are a few of my favorite apps.

Remember, even with security software and processes in place, protecting data has to start with your people. Make sure you’re covered. And then double check again.

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Are your images horribly scrunched and skewed?

Bad news on laptop screen

We have all visited websites where the images load very slowly one line at a time or we’ve seen horribly scrunched and skewed images being forced into some weird size. Using properly sized images on your website makes your website look more professional, and it loads faster! This is crucial when visitors are looking at your site on their phones. Here’s what we look for when we are resizing images for use on the web; file size, file type, desired dimensions and cropping.

File Size

Most photographs taken with a phone or digital camera are well over 1 MB (megabyte) in size. While 1MB isn’t extraordinary in size and likely wouldn’t take too long to download on a high speed connection, having an image that large on your site is not necessary. An image that is a MB (or 1024 kilobytes) can typically be resized using an image editing program to be much smaller (usually less than 100kb). Resizing your images before you load them on to your website will keep the site loading quickly and keep the quality of your images in tact as the browser won’t have to resize or reshape the image to fit the location.

File Type

Images come in many formats; jpeg, gif and png are a few of the more common file types. So how do you know what to use and when?

  • Jpg or jpeg – typically when we are using a photograph on a website, we will reduce the file size and save it as a jpeg. Jpegs were designed to make detailed images as small as possible by removing information that the human eye won’t notice. Jpeg is a good file type for a photograph or an image with a gradient. However, jpeg is not good for logos and line drawings as it tends to make them fuzzy.
  • Gif and Png – Gif and png files use lossless compression, meaning that you can save the image over and over and never lose any data (unlike a jpeg). This makes gifs and pngs good for logos, line drawings and other simple images that need to be small and crisp. These file types can also be transparent which makes them useful on websites when designing layered files. Depending on how your image was created and how you will be using the image, a png and gif file can be larger in size than a jpg.

Desired Dimensions

Creating an image to fit an exact area can be tricky. Typically when we are talking about dimensions for a website image, we are speaking “pixels.” A really wide website image might be 1900 pixels wide while your standard “about us” profile picture would be closer to 250 pixels wide.

A custom home builder recently sent us a group of photos to use on their homepage slider. The slider has fixed dimensions of 1000 pixels wide by 350 pixels tall. The images they sent us were taken by a professional photographer and they were huge (roughly 7MB each and approximately 6000 pixels wide by 4000 pixels tall). If we had loaded the images in their native file format, with no reduction, the image quality would have suffered when it rendered on the website. Here’s what we did: first, we reduced the image file size by running it though an image resizing program. The program we use is called PixResizer by BlueFive Software. It is freeware and can be downloaded from BlueFive Software. When we resized the images provided to us by our client, we chose to reduce the width of all the images to 1000 pixels which would fit our slider perfectly. However, the height of the image was still too tall for our slider. In this case, we also had to crop the image to make it fit our exact dimension.

Cropping

In our example above, we had an image that was the correct width, however, the height was too tall. The image was 1000 pixels wide by 667 pixels tall. We needed an image that was 1000px x 350px. For this group of images, we needed to crop them in order to make them the right size for the slider we were using. Cropping can be tricky as you are actually cutting out part(s) of the image in order to make it a specific size. To do the cropping to specific dimensions you can use an online source like PicResize or a software program like Photoshop.

Properly sized images can make your website look and function better. If you aren’t sure if the images on your site are sized correctly for the location you can check it by going to your website and then right clicking on the image in question. Select the option to “View Image Info.” Under dimensions, you’ll see a pixel skewedpicsdimension (for example: 1,000px x 471px). If it shows that the dimensions have been scaled to a certain pixel size  you may want to resize the image outside of the website and then re-upload it with the proper dimensions. In this example a very large, 10MB 4,000 px wide picture has been forced into a tiny 152px wide space. Resizing this image and then re-uploading it to the site will increase the load time of this website.

 

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The lifeblood of your business

Marketing and design

Your website … the lifeblood of your business.

Customers are the lifeblood of your business, so you have to ask yourself, “are you giving them what they need?” 97% of all shoppers research products and services online before buying. Yet, many small business websites miss key elements consumers are looking for in their search.
Review your site today to ensure it includes:

  • Hours of operation: Customers don’t like showing up to a closed store.
  • Correct address: Help them with maps and local landmarks nearby.
  • Phone number: If they have a question and can’t find your number, they may contact a competitor.
  • Easy navigation: If they cannot find the information they want easily, they will move on.
  • Lipstick and rouge: Sites need updating to keep things fresh. Trends change. Judgments about the quality of your products and services are made while viewing your site. Make sure yours sends the right message.

Making a good first impression could mean the difference between them staying and buying, or moving on to your competitor. Since research can be done from a desktop, laptop, tablet, phone (even your wrist if you’ve added a little tech-style to your wardrobe), don’t overlook the tiny—but very important—details on every device.

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The one perk key employees really want

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Open Communication

Based on a recent survey of more than 1,000 workers nationwide, 81 percent of employees said they would rather join a company that practices “open communication” than one that offers perks such as free food, gym memberships and the like. What’s more, the same survey found that only 15 percent of employees are satisfied with the quality of communication within their companies.

Since happy employees tend to provide better customer service –and customer service is absolutely vital for all small businesses – it makes sense for us to survey our own employees to see what perks they would like to see implemented. By getting to know your employees, paying attention to their hobbies, and recognizing the things they care about, any business can offer a variety of perks that fall within its own budget—and keep employees happy, motivated, and successful.

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Which analytics reports do I need to know?

touch- tablet in hands

Since we’ve been in business for nearly 50 years (spoiler alert…2016 is gonna be one big party!), we talk to a lot of clients and prospects about what is working for their business and what is not.

When it comes to their online presence, we can objectively evaluate their success level by looking at a few key reports on Google Analytics. If you aren’t currently using an analytics program to evaluate your own website, we would strongly suggest you add some as soon as possible.

Google Analytics is free and provides a comprehensive overview of who is looking at your site, how they found your site, what they did once they were on your site and more. While Google isn’t the only game in town, it is certainly one of the best.

You can sign up for a Google Analytics account by going to www.google.com/analytics and following the on-screen prompts. You will have to install the tracking code on your website which may require the help of your developer depending on how your site is set up. Once you have the account set up and the tracking code in place, you’ll begin seeing all kinds of data on your account dashboard. Google provides plenty of powerful out of the box reports; here are the ones that we look at when evaluating a website’s performance.

1. Acquisition Overview – Once you are logged in to your Analytics account, click on Acquisition from the left hand side, and then click on “Overview” from the menu that appears below Acquisition. This report will show you how many people visited your website and where they came from during a specific time frame. You can continue drilling down from this report. If your number one source of traffic was “organic search” you can click on that heading to see what terms were searched for to find your site. The data found on this report can give you a really good idea where traffic is being generated from. If your organic search traffic is low, for example, it might be a good idea to ramp up the SEO on your pages.

2. Top Landing Pages – This report (found under Behavior > Site Content > Landing Page) tells you what page people entered your site on. From an optimization stand point, this give you a tremendous opportunity to make sure the top entry pages are also the ones that are optimized with your best offers, headlines and conversion techniques. From this report, be sure to check out the bounce rate. This tells you the percentage of single page visits; meaning that this person only looked at the landing page without going anywhere else. If the bounce rate is quite high (over 50%), it may be time to rework the landing page to make sure it is inviting and tells the user what you want him/her to do on the site.

3. Social Reports – If you use social media to promote your business, you can track its effectiveness in terms of website traffic using analytics. To access the social reports, click on Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals. This report will show you how much traffic your social work is generating. Clicking on the name of the social network (Facebook for example) will drill down to another report that shows you what pages the visitor actually landed on.

4. Mobile Report – Wondering if your website is getting any traffic from a mobile search? Check the report under Audience > Mobile > Overview to see what percentage of traffic is coming from desktop, mobile or tablets. If you don’t yet have a mobile optimized website, the data reported here may convince you that it is finally time to take the leap.

One of the most important reports is not listed here and that’s because most websites we encounter don’t have this set up correctly. Google Analytics has a very important feature called Goals and Conversions. In Analytics, you can set up a goal. The goal can be a purchase from your online store, a successful form submission, or simply a visit to your contact us page. This is the true measure of how well your website is actually performing for your business. If your conversions are low, then it is time to rethink your landing page, your offer, your website layout or your product offering.

Setting up a goal isn’t terribly difficult, however, it does require some serious thought that not many business owners have put in to their sites. In order to set up a goal, you must have already considered what traffic flow you want your visitor to take. You must set up calls to action and offers on your site. You must have an offer that entices the user to complete your goal. This a conversation that should be had internally first, then with your web developer or marketing partner to make sure they understand what your goal is and can implement it correctly.

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Do you use the Pareto Principle in your social media?

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Social Media

Almost every business person knows the Pareto Principle. But when it comes to social media, the 80/20 rule is really a 20/80 school.

Talk about your business 20 percent of the time—with meaningful communication that specifically promotes your business, products or services. But beware, too much self-promotion will flunk you out of your social media school. Engage followers by talking about things other than your business 80 percent of the time.

Here are six guidelines that will teach you the 20/80 rule.

  1. Make posts that educate and inform.
  2. Appeal to emotions, but stay relevant.
  3. Share interesting articles that fit your brand and appeal to your audience.
  4. Share interviews with customers or employees.
  5. Share images, facts, and info about your local area.
  6. Ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation.

Track your most engaged followers and take good care of them. Offer things like sneak peeks, special offers and exclusive flash sales, and in turn, they’ll create a flurry of activity around your business. In the social media world, the 80/20 rule is really the 20/80 school.

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Need new strategies to help you create more content?

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Content

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report, 86 percent of B2B marketers are now using content marketing as a tactic, and 70 percent of those surveyed are creating more content than they did a year ago. How can a time strapped business owner or manager like you create more unique and engaging content? Try some of our suggestions below:

  1. Repurpose existing content – If you have content in one format, there is a good chance you can tweak it and use it for another. Turn longer videos into shorter bite-sized chunks, let people download the audio as a podcast, transcribe the text and turn it into a blog post or two, pull out key quotes and turn into social media posts.
  2. Source from others – Tap into your team, freelancers or guest bloggers. Make sure each contributor understands the value of high-quality relevant content. This diversification of writers can expand your network and bring new readers to your site.
  3. Try a new perspective – If you experience writer’s block, try writing an authoritative article from an alternate perspective. Sometimes the material you are writing has already been covered in great detail. Try looking at it from a new angle or format and then publish.

Don’t forget to promote your piece once you have it created. Share it on social accounts, on your blog and send it out via email to your contact list. The more eyes on the piece the better.

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Why not give your marketing a boost?

WInning the Battle for Growth

One of the biggest myths in business is “if you build it, they will come.”

In the print world, there’s a corollary; if you buy that brand new piece of print equipment, your sales will go up. Here’s the deal, building and buying isn’t near enough; you need to be the one that is continually reaching out and educating your potential clients. If your marketing isn’t bringing in as many new leads as it should be, try these tips to give it a boost!

  1. Love your product and try to be the best in your industry. No matter what you sell, you have to have confidence in your product or service in order to effectively sell it. Make the improvements you know are necessary to make you love your product.
  2. Look for partnerships. Are there additional referral sources you haven’t explored yet? When contemplating a partnership, make sure it would be a win-win. Both partners need to benefit from the relationship in order for it to work well.
  3. Kindness counts. The late Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Is your total marketing missing the human component? Try storytelling instead of copywriting, you’ll be amazed at the difference in how your marketing feels.

Marketing a small business takes creativity and a keen eye for opportunity. Keep looking for new ways to get your name and products out to new customers and you’ll reap the rewards.

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Growing a Service-Based Business

Businessman drawing a flowchart

It can be hard to scale a service business if time is your major commodity.

That’s where the concept of “productizing” a service business comes in. Productizing a service business means adapting your business model to present what you offer as a product instead of a customized service. Try the following tips to successfully productize your service business: 

  1. Automate your delivery – If you find yourself doing a lot of one on one repetitive education or training for your customers, consider recording the sessions and then selling the recordings online. This can be done as a onetime fee or as a subscription fee to generate recurring revenue.
  2. Think “what else” – Many service based companies can bundle products with their services to make additional revenue. If you own a cleaning service, for example, consider adding organizational tools or “between clean” packages that make maintaining a clean home easier for the home owner.
  3. Publish a price list – Readily available pricing information can be crucial if you want to scale from a single sale into thousands of sales. Doing custom quotes can be time consuming and may keep the number of sales down. Create a list of your most popular services and put a price next to them.

Productizing a service business may not be for you, but it can solve a number of the issues that plague small businesses. Productizing can help solve the problem of inability to scale, stress of constantly acquiring new customers and projects, and limited profits.

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That’s So Generic!

 

Far too often, I see transactional or marketing and sales emails coming from an address that looks like “do-not-reply@whatever.com.”

A do-not-reply email address gives the impression you’re not open to hearing from your customers. While you insist that they remain open to hearing from you (you are emailing them after all), you’re not keeping the channel of communication open so they can write back.

Sure, they could check your website for contact information or customer support, or reply through one of the social links you’ve included, but responding through social channels or contacting customer support doesn’t have the immediacy email communication does. It also requires extra steps on the customer’s part. Without explicitly saying so, you’re making it harder for your customers to contact you than it is for you to contact them. 

Your goal should be to create a two-way dialog between you and your customers. So open up your email channel to replies. Yes, it means that email address will also have to handle processing all the bounces and “out of office” auto replies, but taking 15 minutes to clean out an email inbox is worth it for the confidence it inspires in your customers. 

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Is Re-Marketing as Bad as Re-Gifting?

Big present

Uh…no. Re-marketing is pretty cool. Re-marketing lets you show online ads to people who have visited your website or used your mobile app before. For example, you go online to look for a product—a pair of shoes, a new dishwasher, a car. The site you’re on (whether it’s Google or another search engine) puts a little line of code called a cookie on your computer, smartphone or tablet. When you visit another site, there are blank ad spaces just waiting to pick up that little line of code and show you an ad for the very same product you were searching for.

Re-marketing is one of the most cost-effective tools in the online sales arena, and for some products, it’s effective at converting shoppers to buyers. Re-marketing works because it creates multiple impressions. We’ve long known that the more impressions we have of a product, the more likely we are to recognize and buy that product.

If used too frequently or too long however, re-marketing may alienate some customers as it can be seen as an aggressive and pushy sales tactic.

If you’re looking for a short-term bump in sales for a seasonal product or a limited time offer, then re-marketing could be ideal. Try starting a campaign on a regional basis or for a single product to see if re-marketing is ideal for your product or service.

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Do You Need a Marketing Plan?

ThinkstockPhotos-185627561Yes. Your marketing plan is your road map to growth; and surprisingly, not all companies have one.

A marketing plan can be time consuming to create and requires dedicated focus and analysis. Following a researched marketing plan can create more consistent and predictable results from your marketing efforts.

When developing a marketing plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is our customer?
  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How will we get there?
  • What opportunities exist in the environment?
  • Who will do what?
  • How will we know we’ve arrived?

Asking these questions will likely prompt other questions and will most likely require collaboration with other team members in your business. The goal is to produce a united plan that will help grow your business with measurable results.

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Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

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What’s up with Google these days?

Google has been prepping for a large algorithm release that is scheduled on or around April 21st. As we have learned from past Google algorithm changes (Penguin and Panda), these updates can greatly impact where your site ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google’s next update is focused on providing a better search experience for mobile users. To accomplish this, Google will be “expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” So what does that mean to business owners? If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your mobile search engine rankings could take a hit. In an email sent to Webmasters, Google has indicated that they are looking at the following factors when determining if your website is mobile friendly or not.

Content not sized to viewport – This means that the content of your website is not resizing to match the width of the viewer’s screen. This will result in text that is challenging for user to read and may cause a horizontal scroll bar making site navigation a challenge for the user.

Touch elements too close – links and buttons that are clickable on a mobile device need to be approximately 12 and 20 pixels apart to make for easy touching on a smaller screen. Having your buttons, links or other touch elements are too close together will cause a usability issue and will make your site not mobile friendly in Google’s algorithm.

Flash usage – Most mobile browsers do not render Flash-based content. Therefore, mobile visitors will not be able to use a page that relies on Flash in order to display content, animations, or navigation.

The first thing you should do if you are concerned about this update, is run your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If you get the following message, you are good to go.

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However, if you get a message that looks something like the one below, then you’ll want to take immediate action.

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The nice thing about this update, is that Google is giving webmasters exact tasks they can do to make sure their websites are not negatively affected. If your website turns up a not mobile-friendly message, here are the actions you can take to course correct and avoid a decrease in mobile ranking after April 21st.

 

  1. Check with your webmaster – it’s possible that your website just needs a few tweaks to make it mobile friendly. Make sure to get a couple examples from your webmaster and run them through the Google Test above. If they pass, there is a good chance your provider can help make your website mobile friendly as well.
  2. Find a new provider – if your current provider cannot create a mobile or responsive site for you, it’s time to start seeking out a new vendor. If you are looking for a new provider, make sure you find one who is well versed in Search Engine Optimization. You don’t want to create a new site with a mobile solution only to jeopardize existing desktop rankings with non-optimized titles and a changing URL structure.
  3. Test and test again – once you have a mobile solution in place it’s important to check every page of your site to make sure all links work and that pages are loading properly.

Though it may seem reactive and hurried, website owners are going to have to adapt to the new mobile-centric digital marketing universe. Since Google is the industry leader, when they give a command, it makes sense for business owners to follow.

What is your plan for the Google Mobile-Friendly Update? Let us know in the comments below.

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Here’s another one of those crazy three-letter acronyms; UGC

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UGC is User Generated Content; content (text, images, videos, reviews, podcasts, etc.) created and posted by your fans or customers. UGC creates a steady stream of fresh and unique content for your website or social stream.

User Generated Content (UGC) statistics from Crowdtap show that Millennials consider UGC 20% more influential and 35% more memorable than branded messages. Millennials are also 50% more likely to find UGC trustworthy as opposed to branded advertising.

So, how can you harness the power of UGC? One easy way to obtain user generated content is to just ask for it. Try organizing a contest that requires a piece of user generated content as a submission for entry. Submissions could be made via direct entry on your website or Facebook or by using a brand specific hashtag on Twitter or Instagram. Aggregate the entries into a blog post or newsletter and share on all your social media channels.

Here at Wax Family Printing, WE LOVE UGC. Check out our website. We have set up a feed that we use to populate recent survey results on our home page.

Here are some great examples of UGC in the past year. Check out some of our favorite ones below.

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Target – Acceptance Letter Campaign

Target’s UGC Acceptance Letter Campaign played right into people’s emotions by asking for videos of high school seniors opening and reading letters from colleges they had applied to. Target took those videos and created one of the most heartwarming pieces of marketing we’ve seen in a long time. Watch the video here.

Burberry – The Art of the Trench

Burberry, a high end clothing and lifestyle brand, helped pave the way for leveraging UGC as a powerful marketing tool with their “Art of the TrenchCoatTrench” campaign. Burberry fans were asked to upload photos of themselves wearing the brand’s signature vintage (yet trendy) piece — the trench coat. Once uploaded, website visitors could comment on and share the photos. Users were also able to browse trenches according to weather, color, style, gender or popularity. Within the first six months, the Art of the Trench site generated 7 million views and is still active today. Check it out here.

CokeCoke – This is Ahh Commercial

Coca Cola asked their fans to tell them “what does it feel like when you take a sip of Coke?” And thus, the “ahh effect” ad was born. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XokGFN86ljc Using only user generated content, Coke created a TV commercial that is fast, fun and pretty real. Since this initial video, Coke has released a number of UGC videos.

Big brands are using UGC on a regular basis and small companies can too. Though you may not have the budget to put the content on a TV commercial, you can use the content on your website, blog and all social media channels. If you decide to run a UGC campaign, make sure you follow some basic rules.

  • Offer something in exchange. When it comes to procuring UGC, sometimes all it takes is a little incentive. Whether it is a discount on their next order, or even just a chance to appear on your homepage or Facebook page, a little gratitude for their UGC can go a long way.
  • Make it easy. If you’re having a hard time getting your customers to create content, it might just be because they simply don’t know where to share it. Make sure it is obvious what you want the user to do.
  • State the rules clearly. The first thing you need to do is be extremely clear about whether it’s a sweepstakes (random drawing) or a contest (some criteria involved). Then, you ought to have very clear official rules — say where and how the winning material will be used, for example — and then make sure you stick to the rules you posted.
  • Make it FUN! We tend to do business with people we like and trust. If you have UGC that shows your brand in a fun and positive light, you’ll immediately have a leg up on the competition.

User generated content can be a great tool in your marketing arsenal; it is in ours. Please tell us in the comments below how you plan on using UGC for your brand, or give us a call and we will help you figure it out.

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Creating Customer Loyalty

Customer Loyalty-486999505

Why would anyone want to own their own business? Whatever the reasons, for most business owners, there’s one inarguable reason: the chance to live out your dream. Though you may believe you are your company’s most important asset, nothing happens without your customers. Your customers are, and always will be, the most important asset your business will ever have. With our experience in design and print for small businesses, we’ve fulfilled some pretty creative customer retention pieces for our customers. Some of our favorites are below:

The Disloyalty Program – A marketing program originally created by 6 independent coffee shops in the DC area has caught on in other regions too. The “disloyalty card” encourages patrons to break their daily routine and branch out to try other locally owned coffee businesses. The participating shops give the Disloyalty Cards to their customers upon purchase of a drink. When customers visit the other five locally-owned coffee shops for a drink and collect a signature on the card (one from every shop), they receive a complimentary coffee from any of the participating shops. This unconventional marketing idea has proven to be a great way to network with other business owners, tap into new customers and have some fun!

Company Branded Thank You Cards – The hand written thank you card is one of the oldest and smartest forms of marketing out there. 

  • Thank You Cards break through the digital clutter. A thank you card is a pleasant physical interruption to our increasingly digital lives.
  • Thank You Cards show you care. The recipient appreciates that you spent the time to write it. They know you had other things to do, so this shows they were at the top of your priority list.
  • Thank You Cards strengthen the relationship. Marketing is “getting people to know, like and trust you.” Thank you cards help make this happen in a big way.
  • Thank You Cards do not require a computer. Many people have lost the art of hand written communication. A hand written note forces you to think and feel. Can’t use that auto-correct and spell check when you are writing out that personal thank you card.

As the late American author and poet, Maya Angelou so eloquently put it: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” A hand written thank you card definitely puts a check in the warm and fuzzy column; so send Thank You cards and send them often. You never know what kind of an impact it could have on the recipient’s day.

  • Status Programs – We’ve all seen reward programs that are based on points or number of dollars spent each year. Airline mileage programs are a great example. The more you fly, the more perks you get with a particular airline. Small businesses can engage in this kind of program as well. Creating a program that rewards your best customers and continues to encourage them to make it to the next level creates buzz and exclusivity. When a customer does jump to a higher level because of a purchase, be sure to acknowledge it! A special printed card, letter, sticker or magnet can go a long way in making your customer feel like they are in the inner circle and are highly appreciated.

Having a customer-loyalty program could help you increase repeat customers, which, in turn could boost your business’s revenue. According to a 2014 Manta study (achieving big customer loyalty in a small business world), a repeat customer spends 67 percent more on a given purchase than a new customer does. And they should be rewarded for this action, as retaining customers is less costly than acquiring new ones. By providing loyalty programs for current customers, small-business owners are not only saying thank you but are also motivating them to continue to be their brand ambassadors. Loyal customers will spread the word about a business to their professional, personal and social networks, helping small-business owners increase their customer base even more.

Do you offer a customer loyalty program? Tell us about it below.

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How do you promote your business?

 

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Do you struggle with ideas to promote your business? Rest easy; you’re not alone. Going back to the basics of press releases could be your best strategy.

Press releases have a long history of providing positive exposure for your business both on and offline.  Sometimes the hardest part of writing a press release is coming up with something to write about. Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Brag about an award or certification. Have you won an award lately?  Have any of your suppliers won an award? How about members of your team earning a new certification or professional designation? Being the best in an industry or category is always newsworthy.
  • Share an inspirational or success story. Has hiring you or using your product resulted in a success or inspirational story? Readers love a feel good story about people going the extra mile or overcoming adversity.
  • Upcoming event and past event. Hosting an event or a class of some kind is good for two press releases (that’s what I call a “two-fer.” Let people know about your upcoming event with an informational release about the benefits of attending and then follow up after the event with another release about how successful your event was.
  • Share industry information. Stats and survey results can make for interesting press release material. Whether the survey was specific to your customers and users or speaks to a larger audience, outline why the survey was conducted, what insights were learned and how they can apply to changes in the industry.

When writing your press release, be sure to include all your contact information at the end. Online press releases may live on in the archives forever, and you never know when someone might stumble across what you have posted. Make it easy for them to contact you regardless of when they read the post. 

So, what’s your next step?

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What’s Hiding in Your Blind Spot?

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon… at least it was until the accident.

Rhonda and I were on our way back from a most excellent marriage retreat in the Smokies near Asheville. We and two other couples had piled into our white Lumina van and were headed back home. Interstate 40 through the Smokies has wide sweeping turns and there are endless miles of sweeping vistas. It had been a helpful time for all of us, and I will confess that as the driver, I was a bit distracted as we shared our experiences. My distraction would prove to be the key to what happened next.

At some point in the mountains, I changed lanes. I thought my lane was clear and that I could make the change with no problems. I was wrong about that. One of the guys in the back of the van spoke up, “Kevin, I think you just ran a guy off the road.” I quickly glanced in the rear view mirror and there was a big cloud of churning dust on the road’s shoulder. Thankfully, I saw a nice little BMW recover out of the dust cloud and right itself back into our lane of traffic. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned my full attention back to the road ahead of me.

A few seconds later, my friend said, “Kevin, that guy is coming up on us really fast!” The BMW swerved in front of us and flashed his lights repeatedly; he clearly wanted us to pull over to “discuss” the matter. I’ll save what happened next for another post; I will tell you no charges were pressed and no blood was shed.

The whole incident shook me up. From that day forward, I vowed to NEVER change lanes without 1. checking my mirrors; 2. signaling my intention; 3. and checking my proverbial blind spot. Since then, I’ve changed lanes thousands of times; to the best of my knowledge I have ALWAYS followed this safety routine. I encourage my family to do the same. I’ve been known to raise my voice to get my point across.

What’s hiding in your blind spot? Your blind spots can kill you.

Your blind spots can be fatal on the road, but they can kill you in your personal life and your business life, too. As Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”Window

Ever heard of the “Johari Window?” Developed in the late 1950’s by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, the window helps us see what we can’t see. Here’s an illustration of the Johari Window our design team at Wax Family developed for you.

Take a close look at the upper right hand window pane.

You have blind spots; everybody does. So, how do we protect ourselves from a potential “blind spot” disaster? Well, if you’re driving a car, you can use your mirror, signal your intent and then look over your shoulder to actually see what’s in your blind spot. It’s not quite that easy in your personal/business life. As I think back on that fateful day in the Smokies, I realize I failed to use another key safety principle. I could have and should have asked my friends to tell me if there was anything in my blind spot.

Who are you asking “what’s hiding in my blind spot?”

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These are a Few of My Favorite Apps (Part 2)

This is the second of a two-part post on a few of my favorite apps. If you missed part one, you can access it here. That’s an extremely boring intro to a few of my favorite apps! Sorry about that.


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Sleep Cycle
Do you despise the jangling sound of the alarm clock? Me too! Sleep Cycle wakes you up gently at the right time with a variety of soothing sounds and music. This is a really neat and practical app.

unnamed-2Here are four steps to better sleep.

1. Download the Sleep Cycle App.
2. Place your phone facedown on your bed.
3. Sleep Cycle analyzes your sleep.
4. Sleep Cycle wakes you up while you’re in the lightest phase of your sleep.

ESV Bible

unnamedBack in 2008, Wayne Belt challenged me to read the Bible through in a year. By the grace of God, I was able to do that and since then, I’ve just kept repeating that wonderful habit. I’m now on Day 2445 and counting. The ESV Bible app has several read-thru-the-Bible plans you can access and utilize to customize your Bible reading and study. I use it every day…it keeps me on track.

Trip Advisor
It’s hard to know which part of Trip Advisor I love the best. I do love reading other people’s reviews, but I must confess I thoroughly enjoy the part of the

unnamed-1app that lets me review hotels, restaurants and attractions. I was counting the number of cities that Rhonda and I have visited (another helpful part of the Trip Advisor site) and was amazed to see that we have passed 150! I think the country count was 20 or so. Ready to plan your next trip? Check out this helpful site. Oh, and don’t forget to give Rhonda a call…we’re doing some pretty neat travel planning these days. It’s fun to be a travel agent in 2015!

Buffer
My friend and associate, Kelly Norris, introduced me to Buffer. I have a lot of social media accounts. There’s Twitter and Facebook (personal), and Facebook for Wax Family Printing and Facebook for Blackman Baptist Church and Wax Eloquent and…well, you get the idea.

BufferQuite frankly, that’s a lot of social media accounts to keep up with! Buffer makes it oh so easy to post to each of these accounts in a timely manner. I love Buffer. Honestly, I probably would have given up on using all these accounts a long time ago if it were not for Buffer. I think Buffer is kinda like the Siri of Social Media. You add updates to your Buffer queue whenever you like (it’s great to stock up) and then Buffer will post for you at the best times of the day.

I would love to hear from you…what’s your favorite app…and why? Kevin's Sig

These are a Few of My Favorite Apps (Part 1)

Rhonda and I were having lunch at Olive Garden with some dear friends in that special week between Christmas and New Year’s. While the girls talked shopping and grandkids and upcoming trips, we guys got to talking about our favorite “apps.” While there was some overlap on our app lists, we were happy to pick up some new and helpful ones that are already proving to be very useful.


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1Password 
Far and away, this is my favorite app of all time. One of Wax Family Printing’s incredible designers, Fernando Greenetumblr_inline_njd188Tfr71r49u1b, recommended this app to me. Wow…that’s about all I can say. I use the 1Password app every single day. What’s it do? Well, it’s the one safe place I keep all my logins and usernames and passwords and all other information I need to keep safe and sound. As it’s name would suggest, it’s all kept safe behind just one password. My life got a lot easier and much more secure when Fernando turned me onto this little gem! 1Password gives you the security you need in today’s online world without slowing you down. The app increases your security with strong, unique passwords for all your accounts and keeps all of your important information encrypted and secure

Nozbe NozbeCoupon
Michael Hyatt recommended Nozbe; that’s how I first found about this very helpful productivity tool. I was a bit skeptical at first, but the free trial lured me in. After exploring this cool app for about a month, I was completely sold. This app is all about helping you become more productive. Start with the FREE 10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity course.

And when you’re ready to go the Nozbe route, check out the 10% off coupon code. Just use this referral link. Save money and be more productive! What could be better? Nozbe utilizes David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method, and it works. Like to make lists? Nozbe will take your list-making to the next level; Nozbe helps you become a professional “list-doer!”

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Evernote

Since I use 1Password for all my valuable logins, usernames and passwords, what do I use to keep all my valuable documents? Evernote. I have organized my life into notebooks (the primary categorization of Evernote). Now, with Evernote, I can find everything I needScannable-ios-app-icon fast. Evernote is also good for sharing documents with individuals and/or teams. Recently I found another app that automatically connects with Evernote so that I can file my scans in the right notebooks on the spot (amazing!). The name of this app for the Evernote app is Scannable. Evernote’s powerful search feature makes everything I’ve collected easy to find.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Kevin's Sig

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