2017 is Coming. Are You Ready?

IT IS TIME. Specifically, it is Mid-October and our minds have to be on 2017 already.

Yes, it was just yesterday when you were in the city celebrating what would turn out to be the weirdest year in American history. But now we can hope to turn the page on something brighter and more important: future business plans.

“But why make the push when the busiest time of year is headed right our way?”

Before you know it, the new year will be here and the budget will have to be finalized for the entire year. Start now and realize where adjustments can be made throughout the remainder of 2016 in order to monetize every dollar and every investment necessary.

“From a marketing perspective, where do I start for my business?”

Many times one of the last aspects to be covered in the annual budget, it is still extremely important to place weight to the marketing plans for 2017. Especially with the extreme evolution of social media usage just over this past year, allowing for enough to cover all changes that take place in the medium is imperative to success.

Think about it for a moment: In just this year, Facebook started to place more focus on friends and family posts, Twitter discounted @names and images out of the 140 character count, Instagram adds stories to compete with Snapchat, and Snapchat lowered the importance of its Discover feature as of this past week. Some of these alterations came as a huge surprise while others will go by unnoticed. But either way, the way things are changing is quick and not even the biggest advertising companies in the world can always keep up.

So be prepared. Get on these platforms, keep up with their blogs, and talk with professionals about what can be done to see what may be coming and how to best utilize new features in the near and far future. Plan what you want to do now so that when these changes come, you can make a big swing and hit the home run before anyone else in your field.

In a year from now, this article will be just as relevant as it is now as the world is only moving faster and if you haven’t started to plan for 2017, you’re already behind.

If you do this you are NOT an Entreprenuer

Let me preface this conversation with a little anecdote. (My apologies for being so vague but I am redacting any names to protect those mentioned. So let’s refer to the person in question as Bartholomew.) This past weekend I was approached by a man who works for a “marketing agency” which also sells term life insurance. When I met Bartholomew he was very apprehensive to tell me exactly where he worked or what he specifically did, but Bartholomew repeated that they were in marketing, which we all know is extremely vague.

After digging up his Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn I come across the name of the actual company Bartholomew worked for and looked up this brand’s Facebook as well as their website. This company in question uses term life insurance policies as their product. The company’s recruitment video starts by explaining how much more money you could make by being an “entrepreneur” and how the president himself is an entrepreneur who has traveled the world and done all these amazing things thanks to the opportunities brought to him through the financial industry…

Further investigation led me to a half dozen stories or so of people who were approached to be a part of the company, or even signed up for it. They go on to explain how this company does their on-boarding process and start performing sales. Before starting, you must first purchase your own term life policy. The stories go on to explain how after they bought the policy they were left to their own accord and had no further training to perform their own sales. The main source of income for their sales people is actually at these recruitment meetings where people who were just brought on last week to sell the ones this week. Not only do I find that as a terrible business practice, but I get even angrier when someone tries to pass this business model as “being your own boss” or as being an “entrepreneur”. It’s a complete farce.

The amount of times I have been approached to “become an entrepreneur” or “own my own business” and sell someone’s BS product and then sign up others underneath me is way too high. If your business tells people to sign up with them and “be your own boss” you are not your own boss.

At the end of the day I have nothing but respect for anyone who puts in the hustle to reach their goals. If you are at the top of the pyramid you make amazing money, but I don’t see it as being a sustainable business model, nor do I find it terribly moral. There are a handful of companies that I have yet to find any complaints about when it comes to the authenticity of their business that I cannot complain about such as Primerica, but I have zero respect for the ones who thrive on individuals in financial rough spots to give the rest of their money in hopes to solve their problems.

“A real entrepreneur is one who takes chances, makes mistakes, puts their own skin in the game…”

A real entrepreneur should be trying to sell their product/service. A real entrepreneur shouldn’t be promoting how much money their employee’s make. A real entrepreneur is one who takes chances, makes mistakes, puts their own skin in the game to invest in a service or product to then bring to market. If you just signed a paper and paid some on-boarding fee of $600-$2500 to get started you are NOT an entrepreneur. You are in fact an employee to whomever you just signed your life away to. A common misconception from others is that being a business person is easy or simple which it really isn’t. I feel as though the general public doesn’t understand the stress and pressure brought on by investing your own hard earned money into an idea that may or may not work. They don’t see the hours and days put in networking with people to help make your ideas happen. They don’t realize the sheer amount of work going on behind the scenes beyond the obvious. Real entrepreneurs and business owners have to deal with staffing, payroll, inventory, HR, marketing, product and brand development, financial growth, social media, and of course sales.

There is so much more to being an entrepreneur and business owner rather than just paying an on-boarding fee and signing up others to do the same. I personally absolutely despise MLM, “network marketing”, or any other type of pyramid scheme. Keep your term life insurance and energy drinks…

[/rant]

 

Pokemon Go & Your Business

“Gotta catch ‘em all!”

No, that is not just a lyric from a smash television show that suddenly became relevant again, but it’s a phrase that every business should take to heart as the Pokemon surge continues to spike Nintendo’s market share up $20 billion as of the writing of this post.

As zombified light-faced consumers walk the streets of your local coffee shops and town squares, turn them up from their augmented reality filled screens and figuratively knock ‘em out with some great deals and opportunities that make them coming back to your business.

Here are a couple great ways to take advantage of the Poke-craze and sell ‘em and keep ‘em:Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 4.43.02 PM

Put up a few lures!

In the game, there is an item called the lure that can be utilized to bring more Pokemon to your Pokestop for 30 minutes. Now, if that confuses you, then you need to join the madness and open the app! When lures are placed, virtual purple confetti fall from the Pokestop leading trainers to your direction to capture the locals.

Give deals to trainers who come on by!

Many businesses have placed signs out front and offer discounts for local players. For instance, since getting more lures cost money, have trainers place the lures for you, have them show you that they actually did it, and give them a free drink or half-off their next purchase.

Make a game out of the different teams!raymundospokego

For those unaware, the game consists of three teams: Team Mystic (Blue), Team Valor (Red), and another one (Team Valor [Yellow]). To bounce right off of Idea #2, creating discounts, deals, or games out of the teams is an effective way to bring together the online and real world for the craze that continues to sweep the nation.

Have fun on social media!

Businesses have already made posts on Facebook, Instagram, and more to commemorate the success of the little application. For example, for our client Raymundo’s, we posted a photo on Instagram of the Pokemon Alakazam ready to eat some of their delicious gelatin. The kids and adults alike eat that up! (Every pun intended).

The moral of the story here is, as Hillary Clinton would say, “I’m trying to get them to have ‘Pokemon Go to the polls!”

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The Unofficial Rulebook of Social Media

Y2K came and left in more or less a drunken murmur. Sixteen years and multiple “end of the world” warnings later, we have found ourselves in the middle of the Social Media Age.

If you’re reading this at all, you probably clicked on it through a link on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Crazily enough, those are the EXACT platforms that I’m going to cover today! What are the chances?

To begin, yes, you probably know plenty about each platform to make it through your day-to-day life happy and carefree. BUT what if you want to promote an event, a show, a business, or a random cat video? Knowing how, when, and where to share content like this is necessary in order to have a successful presence online.  

Think of it this way, your social media presence is an online portfolio (at this point, the word “online” is redundant) for your friends, family, and potential employers to view who you are, what you stand for, and what poorly landed jokes you think are actually funny. If anything, they know more about you due to this online presence than they know about you in real life, unless you’re constantly physically seeing all 1,038 friends you have on Facebook.

So without further ado, let’s look at each platform in more detail.

Facebook

Ahhh, the epitome and crux of the ever-changing digital media age. Oftentimes ahead of the game, Facebook evolves faster than the consumer wishes, changing preferences and layout seemingly on a whim without care for the angry user.  

Facebook is the foundation for everything else that occurs, linking the other channels together in one cohesive place.  Taking advantage of this opportunity is paramount to its usage and effectiveness, but understanding how to utilize it appropriately is way more difficult.

Many could argue that there is no right or wrong way to use Facebook, but those people are the same people that think the tomato is a fruit.

Facebook is the modern day scrapbook. For those who don’t know what a scrapbook is, it’s what couples in the ’90s sometimes made each other in a relationship to remember all the memories they had with each other breaking up, leaving a book of broken memories gathering dust in a rarely opened cabinet.  

As a scrapbook, it is a place for pictures, text, news, and trends to work together in a synthesized way. So don’t post just text. Don’t post just pictures. In fact, Facebook is much smarter than your scrapbook. It knows the difference between each of these posts and will give some more power than others (yes, not all posts are created equal). Videos have the most pull, as they keep users on the app longer than pictures and words do. Pictures have less of a say while simple text posts have the least power.

“So do I always just post videos on Facebook?” Absolutely not, self-rhetorical question. A variety of posts and interactions allow for a more synergized experience for yourself and your friends as they navigate the never-ending newsfeed and sneakily creep on your personal timeline.

As for businesses or those intrigued by selling their personal artwork on Facebook, think of it in the same way! As a community scrapbook, readers do not want to be seeing those ugly looking hot dog ads that cover half of your favorite magazine up. Annoying ads like that don’t belong in scrapbooks, even of the digital variety. Yes, ads are ever-important in building brands and selling services, but avoid clickbait in these scenarios that involve “Buy now, Click now!” promises. Those promises make people sad and we do not want to make people sad.

What this all means:

  1. Steer away from “Buy now, Click now!” posts.
  2. Use pictures and video as much as you can while keeping simple text posts to a minimum.
  3. Vary the types of posts and interactions.

Twitter

Say something meaningful in 140 characters or less…AND GO. Just the previous sentence was 60 of your maximum 140 characters! So how do you create the perfect tweet that will reach the far ends of the site through constant retweets and the freshly termed “likes”?

Be honest. Honesty is key. Your followers are followers because they already know you to some degree. At the same time, DON’T tell them when you’re making lunch or taking a walk. Instead…

Be funny. Take those monotonous moments and make them silly or add something you thought about that experience. It goes right along with honesty. The simple moments in life are often the funniest.

Be real. This goes right along with the first two, but must be reiterated more directly. Twitter’s voice is rawer than Facebook’s. Take advantage of that openness and interact with people who matter to you. And every once in awhile, take part in a “Twitter-rant”, which allows you to blow past the “140 character rule” and instead, post a string of related tweets about a single subject that holds mighty importance to you. #Realness

And finally…

Be trendy. Hashtags and trends are way more effective here than on Facebook as it currently stands. Follow the current trends and make a statement. You have a voice that can reach farther than it could just 15 years ago so do something about it. Let people know what you think.

What this all means:

  1. Use hashtags.
  2. Speak succinctly and with your own voice.
  3. Be trendy

Twitter


Instagram

Aww, it’s Facebook’s baby brother! Although the photo editing and posting application has been around for quite awhile now, it recently has been placed under the Facebook brand, thus leading to changes to the medium like the classic algorithm that shows the user what the site believes would rather see over pictures most recently posted.

While Twitter and Facebook are made for multiple posts a day, Instagram must be checked to one, MAYBE two, posts a day. Albums are for Facebook and memes are for Twitter. Keep pictures engaging, interesting, and most importantly, YOU, with a relatable or catchy caption that could only be found in the country’s best magazines.

If you’re a business, show behind the scenes moments here. Pretty those pictures up with filters and additions, but at the same time, don’t oversaturate it. Not only does that specifically deal with the “Saturate” feature on the app, but it deals with all aspects of the pictures. Setting “Shadows” to 0%, “Warmth” to 100%, and “Sharpen” to 100% on a Lo-Fi filter does not automatically make your picture better, but surprisingly gives your face a creepy “Donald Trump Orange” vibe to it (sending color idea for  “Donald Trump Orange” to Crayola currently — patent pending).  

Connect your photos to Facebook sometimes! Your friends on Facebook will learn you have an Instagram and you will suddenly gain followers!

Use hashtags and your location! There’s a nifty little button on your personal page that shows where you have been and how many photos you have posted from each location. It is the best.

What this all means:

  1. Show some behind-the-scenes moments for your followers.
  2. Use hashtags.
  3. Use filters carefully and sparingly.

Instagram


Snapchat

This is going to be big! I mean, it’s already beginning to take over the social media landscape in an aggressive way, but here’s a way to truly tell a story in the most literal sense.

In the same way that Instagram can give you the behind-the-scenes glance, so can Snapchat. With followers on this live video and picture application, you can make something so simple, fun and engaging. And now with geofilters taking over more and more, you can show off an event or a location or a business that you’re currently at! Snapchat is constantly involving from its humble and risque beginnings into a beautiful app of location sharing and puppy filters.

What this all means:

  1. Post interesting content with a variety of video and photos.
  2. Take advantage of filters and especially geofilters.
  3. Jump on this bandwagon NOW! It is only growing in its prominence so learn how to utilize it today.

Conclusion

Social media now, for better or for worse, defines us. You cannot escape it if you try. By ignoring social media’s presence in our lives, you’re ignoring a gigantic portion of what makes us human and how we communicate and interact with others.

No matter which medium you prefer, remember these simple tips and most importantly, don’t add your boss on snapchat. Don’t. Please, for the love of God, do not do it.

You won’t believe what this article says about Clickbait!

Clickbait, for many, is the bane of the internet where traditional journalism goes to die.  It feeds on our inherent need for surprise, excitement, and uncertainty, as we click the link to learn what we already knew about the top five reasons to brush our teeth, but it seemed like a good refresher from such a credible source like Buzzfeed or Upworthy.

For those unaware of what clickbait is, it is defined as: “(on the Internet) content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.”

Yellow journalism

By nature, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, journalism has been enacting forms of clickbait in its own way since the nineteenth century, but instead went by another name: “yellow journalism”.  That term comes from the wildly successful “Yellow Kid” cartoons that appeared in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, which was the main reason consumers bought the newspaper in the first place.  “Yellow journalism” is an antiquated clickbait that sensationalized articles to sell newspapers.  Interesting that one of the greatest journalistic honors, The Pulitzer Prize, is named after a man who pioneered clickbait.  So before judging it so quickly, look at the system’s history.

Why Clickbait is BAD

But if clickbait finds itself in the annals of journalistic history, then why is it so condemned? There are two reasons for this affront.

  1. We know it’s an advertiser’s devilish scheme for clicks.

Many ads get results (and money) simply by how many times people click on the link.  Those people do not even need to spend more than five seconds on the page without earning a click for the advertiser or blog page.

  1. We know it preys on our mind’s simplest instincts.

Our mind is made to categorize and simplify information into nicely separated compartments to process swiftly and effectively.  With an article like “Here’s why eating chocolate is actually the best thing to happen to you”, our mind knows what to expect, yet it leaves room for surprise even though you already know that the article is just going to tell you that a study done by a start-up research company finds that eating chocolate cures cancer.  Even though we realize that an article is clickbait, we want to know more and our mind and body accept that.

Two years ago, Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote an article to explain why Buzzfeed doesn’t do clickbait. He argues the origins of clickbait begin on a later date: “Clickbait actually has its origins in old media, not the web, and specifically in the don’t-touch-that-dial antics of television and radio.” This matches his more specific definition of clickbait which explains that it’s a headline that under delivers on its article’s intent.

How silly, Buzzfeed, how silly. Instead of lying about Buzzfeed’s ENTIRE internet purpose, he could have instead spun clickbait in a positive light.

Why Clickbait is GOOD

  1. It reaches an audience and does not live on a headline alone.

Ben Smith briefly points this out within his piece from 2014, but should have focused on it more directly.  As he points out, “You can trick someone to click, but you can’t trick someone to share.” The article’s headline may earn views and clicks, but Buzzfeed’s success is much more predicated on its ability to earn shares and likes across social media platforms.  Accept the clickbait nature of Buzzfeed and continue to utilize it effectively.

  1. Journalistic history stands on entertainment and eye-catching titles and now we stand with a different term to explain the natural evolution of the industry.

Just like fancy movie trailers or pretty book covers, the average reader does judge an article by its headline.  If content is non-existent, that headline and article will die a slow death in the slums of the internet.  Readers might miss a piece that could actually have relevance to their needs or wants.

In both cases, clickbait finds itself negatively connoting headlines that have nothing to offer.  For advertisers, writers, bloggers, and the starving artists, finding balance with what clickbait actually is and how to use it or not to use it is the game that must be played.

Interestingly enough, the ironic clickbait nature of this article’s title will probably spawn less clicks than one that is not about clickbait, but if you don’t believe me, check out the research done on the issue here.

10 February Marketing Ideas

It’s the start of a new month and we’ve got some fresh marketing ideas for you to promote your business. There’s more to February than just hearts and candy! Here’s a list of 10 marketing and blog ideas for February.

 

1. Valentine’s Day Promotions

There are countless Valentine’s Day promotions that you can do this month:

  • Fitness centers: Host a special Valentine’s Day class for couples or a post-Valentine’s Day workout to burn off calories from candy and chocolate!
  • Massage Therapists and Spas: Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to run a special offer on massage services. Couples massages, a day at the spa, and a chocolate facial can all be used for Valentine’s Day promotions.
  • Restaurants: Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this month and is the perfect time for a couples cooking class! Come up with a special menu of aphrodisiacs foods to ignite some romance in your budding chefs!
  • Flower shops: This is your time to shine! Think outside of the bouquet and offer customers something other than overpriced, out of season roses.
  • Gift and retail stores: Come up with a Valentine’s Day gift guide – it’s the perfect time to promote some new merchandise. Post gift guides on your blog or in an email blast to give customers ideas for what to buy their sweetheart.

2. Valentine’s Day Graphics

February 14 is Valentine’s Day – show your social media and email marketing some love with Valentine’s Day themed graphics. Hearts, candy, and love are good things to use to catch attention from customers! Use holiday graphics to spruce up your Facebook marketing and Twitter profiles but they’re even more useful when combined with Valentine’s Day promotions.

heartgraphic

Need some help with graphics? Contact us for help!

3. Heart Disease Awareness Month

It makes sense that the month of Valentine’s Day is also Heart Disease Awareness Month. If your business is focused on health and wellness, this is a great marketing opportunity for you. Fitness centers and gyms can partner with a local health center for heart disease awareness or screenings.

Host special classes focusing on cardiovascular activity or write informative blog posts about heart health and risk factors. Use this time to market your business by educating your customers to help them lead healthy lives. Any business can sponsor a Valentine’s Day race – there are usually fun runs or 5Ks going on around the holiday and sponsoring one will get your business name out in the community.

4. Black History Month

February is Black History Month and the perfect opportunity to highlight prominent leaders in your industry. Black lawyers, politicians, scientists, artists, educators, and athletes have shaped American society. Take some time to reflect on those who have shaped the your business industry.

5. Children’s Dental Health Month

Children’s Dental Health may sound like a boring topic but it can be a great month for marketing your small business. Dentists can certainly have a field day with this one, but other businesses can use this opportunity to teach parents and students about the importance of dental health. Daycares, fitness centers, and churches can host special classes with families about the importance of going to the dentist. Perhaps one of the parents is a dentist and would like to come to answer questions for kids.

This not only helps your business interact with the community, but it helps local dentists market themselves all while educating parents and children about dentistry. This is a word of mouth referral marketing technique that will give you something to smile about!

6. Ice Cream for Breakfast Day – February 7, 2016

In the middle of Children’s Dental Health Month is Ice Cream for Breakfast day! Everyone loves ice cream! Use this quirky holiday to market your business. Held on the first Saturday of February, this Ice Cream for Breakfast Day can be a fun marketing promotion for your bakery, ice cream shop, or restaurant! Although it is supposed to be on a Saturday, you can do this any day of the week. Invite customers to come in to eat ice cream for breakfast – it’s a fun way to interact with families and do something new to promote your business.

7. Grammy Awards – February 15, 2016

The 57th annual Grammy Awards will be held in February. This is a great opportunity for engaging with your customers on social media. You’ve seen the video of a police officer singing Taylor Swift – get your employees together for your favorite Grammy nominated song and share it on social media!

8. It’s a Leap Year! – February 29, 2016

Every four years is a leap year, and 2016 is one of those. February has an extra day in it, which makes it a great time to remind your followers to do something new and exciting since they have another day they didn’t plan on having…

9. President’s Day – February 15, 2016

President’s Day is famous for sales so use it to your advantage. Most schools are off for President’s Day which makes it a great day to hold a family friendly activity at your fitness center.

10. Mardi Gras – February 9, 2016

Mardi Gras marks the beginning of Lent but down in New Orleans it’s party time! Host a Fat Tuesday party or sale at your business. Get customers in on the fun by giving a discount to anyone who comes in wearing a mask or beads!

Do you have any other good marketing ideas for February? Share them in the comments below!