How Does Social Media Make Money for You?

trust-agentsSmall- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly asking how they can create a presence on Facebook and other social media sites. But they should also be asking how that presence will make them money. If Facebook or any other type of media doesn’t help you make money, it simply isn’t working correctly for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean the media is wrong, but it likely means you’re not using the media correctly. This is as true of newspaper and TV advertising as it is of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

I recently attended a webinar by Chris Brogan, a well-known and respected modern media guru and author of the 2010 best-selling book Trust Agents – Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust. More recently, he’s published the book The Impact Equation subtitled “Are you making things happen, or just making noise?” With 112,464 Google+ followers and 7,062 Facebook likes, you’d think Brogan would be a raving social media fanatic. But, in a recent talk sponsored by Market Wire, an online PR distribution service, Brogan stated, “My bank gives me no loans based on Facebook likes.” And therein lies a huge story.

In an earlier post, Shannon Miranda wrote about Mike Blinder  author of Survival Selling Even in The Toughest Times. Blinder has been known to say most small business websites and Facebook pages are tantamount to having a billboard in a basement. Their digital presence doesn’t work for two key reasons: First because no one sees their page, and secondly because no one would want to. Many SMBs are crazed to get a Facebook page, fearful they may be missing out on some important and cheap social media marketing tool and may get left behind. But even if  you have 7,000 fans like Brogan does, how can it be monetized so a bank loan officer cares when you come a calling? More importantly, how does a small business use Facebook and all the other social media platforms to drive business and create revenue?

It’s worth studying Brogan. If you go on his website, Facebook site, or Google+, you’ll see he’s dedicated to educating people about his areas of expertise. Then, he makes sure his most loyal followers are aware of his offerings and get the best deals on things that he sells from speaking engagements to book sales to online courses. That revenue is what he  shows to his banker for mortgage financing and other financial ventures.

How does this apply to you? 

Let’s pretend you’re a local jeweler and have a Facebook site. Are you merely posting coupons for jewelry or creating posts that hype ongoing sales? Or, instead, are you teaching people about gold and diamonds and new jewelry designers? Can you occasionally post a coupon? Sure, but most SMBs only post sales notices and very few help educate the public, or position themselves as experts in their field.

What’s the better question? “How can I position my business as the go-to resource in my area of expertise for my  community of motivated clients?” Facebook and Google+ will likely be part of the answer, but only a part.

The Walk-away:  The key to business marketing is not more marketing, or even more social media marketing. It’s knowing the right question to ask and then getting it answered both for your own positioning and to drive the right customers to walk in your door.

Visibility and Traffic in Advertising

billboard_77386345What do business locations and advertising have in common? Both, if chosen and used carefully, bring the two elements of visibility and traffic to foster business growth. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) generally have an easier time understanding the importance of location and visibility in choosing real estate than they do with choosing advertising, but the principles are the same.

A business that can’t easily be found loses traffic – both planned and serendipitous. If a trip to a business is planned, and it’s too hard to find the location, a consumer can simply give up. And if the location is not easily seen from main roads, a business can lose impulse traffic from those just passing by.

The same holds true for business advertising regardless of medium. For instance, outdoor bulletins on unlit billboards can’t be seen at night and the extra fee for billboards with lighting is likely worth the expense in added visibility for evening hours particularly during winter months. On TV, ads positioned at 2AM or even 2PM have far less visibility than ads positioned during prime time or news hours. In newspapers, ads positioned on key editorial pages and designed large enough to dominate share of space gain much higher visibility than ads that are smaller and stacked with other ads. There are different ad positions for higher visibility and targeted to specific audience based on your advertising objectives.

The key to ad visibility is clarity and not making a consumer choose between viewing your ad or someone else’s. It’s the reason that half billboards (where two advertisers each take one half of a billboard) are never recommended. Motorists barely have time to read one ad while speeding by at 60 mph, much less two.

The Walk-away: One key to advertising success is to insure that ad placement gives you a great location for consumers to see you and that the ad is positioned  in such a way as to be clearly visible without fighting with other ads for consumer attention.

Six Types of Ads for Effective Marketing

group legs 45363100How do you know if an ad works? If your only answer is “by sales,” then you’re missing the point of most advertising and are likely shorting yourself on the full marketing power ads can bring to your marketing mix. Here are 6 of the more common categories of ads and how they might work for you:

1. Image Ads – Used to make your brand top of mind for key audiences. By definition, these tend to be larger-sized ads, beautiful, well-designed with little writing but a big message, because they are geared to create an “image.” They are generally done by large brands, but should not be ignored by smaller retailers and brands. If possible, co-op dollars can be used to help promote image ads locally.

2. Traffic Drivers – Also frequently considered loss leader ads. These are used to get customers into a store enticed by a great bargain. The upselling and real potential sales come after the customer is at your site. Inserts and sales circulars are generally traffic driver ads.

3. Impulse Sales – Used to create demand for a product that may be unknown to a consumer. It’s a type of traffic driver, but unlike the loss leader can be for a high-end item such as the iPad mini or Google Nexus tablet during the holiday season. A key point of an impulse sale ad is “limited time” or “limited inventory.”  Mobile ads are generally impulse sale ads, but print and online display ads can create impulse as well.

4. Foundational Positioning Ads – These are used to differentiate you from the competition and introduce you to new customers. Grand Opening ads if done well can be positioning ads, creating a foundation for letting the consumer know who you are and why you are worth a try. These types of ads can and should be run in some periodic schedule so your value proposition is clear at all times. Portions of a foundational ad can be included in other ads, and frequently summarized are seen as tag lines, but a true foundational ad tends to be larger and provide proof of performance or positioning.

5. Good Neighbor Ads – In a sense, they are a type of foundational ad, but with a very specific purpose of proving your involvement and commitment to the community. They are distinctly separate from sales and can be sponsorship ads of charitable organizations, or “hats off” ads to local service providers. They only ring true if done outside of any disaster PR efforts. For instance, BP ads for the Gulf Coast are not Good Neighbor Ads. They are mia culpa ads used to regain some lost reputation. Good Neighbor ads are truly philanthropic and in line with a company’s mission or local commitment to a cause. They create affinity for like-minded consumers, but have no sales initiative.

6. Employee Motivational Ads – Many company’s say employees are their greatest asset, and way too few take out ads to let the world know how much they value their employees. These can include service award ads, welcome our new employee ads, honor our high service level employee ads. It’s hard to measure the goodwill they create, but they are usually framed and pinned to employee’s walls to show how much the external publicity is valued internally.

All ads, by definition, are Engagement Ads . They should make people want to be affiliated or involved with your brand, product or service to some degree or another. But, they are not all geared toward an instant or short-term sales.

The Walk-away: Ultimately every business needs sales to stay in business, but different ads serve different purposes. Each is a worthwhile investment if you are clear on your goals and are measuring results accordingly.

The Public Relations Value in Disaster Recovery

This past Sunday, the ACHLA sponsored a walk to highlight the vibrancy of the Atlantic City boardwalk post Sandy. News coverage around the nation left the impression that the boardwalk had been decimated. Nothing could be farther from the truth either in AC or OC – Ocean City. Both boardwalks are open for business. But, as Al Reis and Jack Trout noted in their now classic book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, once an idea takes hold it’s hard to unlodge.

That’s where the walk came in. It wasn’t to raise money. It was to raise awareness. If people stay away from Atlantic City and other boardwalk communities, the monetary damage from Sandy can be unnecessarily greater. Sandy was an Act of God. Bad PR is an Act of Mankind. Both require a concerted effort for real disaster recovery.

News coverage claims close to 600 people attended the Sunday walk. I was one of them. I can’t substantiate the number, but I can substantiate the energy on the boardwalk and the fact that almost everywhere you looked, the boardwalk was clean, undamaged, and open for business.

So when public perception is wrong, how do you go about changing it? The answer is an integrated, strong campaign. Advertising alone isn’t enough. But advertising combined with PR and a full marketing toolkit can be a powerful agent for change. PR takes spokespeople to talk to news organizations outside the area, press releases and targeted articles to travel publications and sites, and a full court press of social media and traditional media options.

And what about the Do AC ad campaign? It’s being run by some very smart people,who have already revamped to account for Sandy positioning. Their latest headline? “Nothing Can Hold Back The City Where Anything is Possible.” Why? Because, just promoting DoAC won’t work post-Sandy as no one wants to get away to someplace devastated in their minds. The key is to show, prove and entice people to see AC as it really is – and perhaps as a social responsibility for rebuilding NJ.

There’s a model out there already. It’s called Bourbon Street post Katrina. The Gulf Coast made sure to let people know it was open for business and that by visiting you were helping to rebuild New Orleans. It was almost a public duty to visit New Orleans in 2005. Emotion is a key factor in PR and advertising. Don’t be afraid to use it.

What can you do as a small business at the Jersey Shore? Use your email list to let customers know you’re open for business. Aggressively use your web site to foster sales. Post on all your social media sites with pictures to show ongoing vibrancy of your business. Entice people to help support the commercial growth of The Shore. Advertise to show you’re here to stay. Use emotion. Don’t be afraid to say Jersey Strong, or Rebuilding the Shore in your ads. It’s what people want to see happen. Show you’re a part of the fiber that makes the Jersey Shore a national treasure.

The Walk-away: Disaster happens. Don’t let it be the end of you. Stake your flag (or foot) in the sand and use advertising, PR, email, social media and every message channel open to you to encourage customers to come back sooner rather than later. Be Jersey Strong. As an aside, if your business is  a collection drop for any charity, please make sure the public knows by emailing an alert to PressitForward@PressofAc.com,  the new listing service also started on Sunday called PressItForward.

Credible Ads are Placed in Trusted Media Sources

When it comes to consumer trust, traditional media still rules the day. A digital report released this summer by Triton Digital, shows that newspapers, radio and TV each outweigh internet-only news sources in terms of trust. Reported in e-Marketer under the title “Traditional Media Still Most Trusted Sources of Info,” the article concludes … “with time and attention –and trust—still focused on traditional media, TV, radio and print are not to be neglected.”  Both Triton Digital and eMarketer are services dedicated to digital growth trends, giving the report significance as one of those “eating crow” times when digital gurus formally admit the power of print and broadcast.

In this increasingly digital world, people have frequently confused news with news delivery trends. Findings from a January Pew Research study note: “People are no longer taking one path to access news.” Consumer appetites for news today are extremely healthy, but instead of reading three newspapers as their grandfathers did, today’s consumers gather news from three or more platforms frequently including print, desktops, and mobile devices as sources for their daily news consumption.

The Pew survey also reported in e-Marketer found: “ that when seeking news, the highest percentage of consumers went directly to a news organization’s website or app, which suggests that pre-existing relationships are what drive readers to particular news outlets.” The reason boils down to trust.

A new business book,The Trust Edge,by David Horsager delves into the elements needed for businesses of any type to gain consumer trust.  Not surprisingly, he finds that  trust is not built overnight. Hence, it should be  no surprise in the higher level of consumer trust  in more established news sources who have honed their reporting skills over time.

How does this affect advertising? By affiliation, an advertiser associated with a credible media source has higher perceived “trust” value with consumers. Is it any surprise then that Google just reported it’s average cost per click has fallen by 15% compared with the same time last year?

The Walk-away: All that glitters is not gold. New devices are engaging for games and email, and also give consumers greater access to news. But when news and information is wanted over Angry Birds, consumers use those devices to find credible, trusted news sources. These landing pages are the places you should consider for ad placements, so you, too, can be found by consumers actively seeking credible resources.

Ad Lessons from Political Campaigns – Part 2

‘Tis still the season of political advertising and now that both major party conventions are over, the real advertising begins. If you ever think the age of big media advertising is over, just check on political campaigns. Yes, modern campaigns now effectively use social media, BUT (and it’s a big BUT) in addition to mainstream media, not in replacement of it. Why?

Candidates Need to Be Credible.

Just because a candidate says he’s the greatest doesn’t cut it. People can too easily ignore that message

The key is gaining credibility in endorsements. It’s the reason candidates value them so highly. People like to know what others are thinking and endorsement lets them jump on a trusted bandwagon. Consider your business as a candidate for consumer trust and dollars. To gain their trust, or vote, you need to be credible.

How can you gain credibility? Do what the candidates do. Get interviewed, get written about, get quoted.

How to apply it: Read the business and other sections of your newspaper and look for opportunities to pitch yourself to the appropriate editor. If there’s a new business section, send the business editor a press release on your new opening. If there’s an ongoing feature on wellness, and your business is in fitness, let the editor know what your area of expertise is and how you can offer information that may be of use in a story.

Not sure how to get started? Contact a local PR pro. If you’re comfortable doing your own PR, just make sure you’re pitching the right people about your story or area of expertise. Here’s one way to electronically pitch a story to The Press. But the best way is to get a name and contact them directly.

THEN:  If you’re printed, promote your coverage. Put a quote in an ad; frame the article and hang it up in your business; tweet about it on Twitter, or post a link to the story in Facebook. You can now promote  your increased credibility just as the candidates do!

The Walk-away: People are more receptive to advertising messages from credible sources. Use third-party mentions  by a credible source as proof that you’ve got “great legs, and soon the rest of the community will be checking out your “legs” (ahem, ad claims) as well.

Packaging – The Frequently Overlooked Marketing Key

Every marketing student learns about the five “p’s” of marketing – Pricing, Place, Product, Promotion, and People. The missing “P” is packaging, which some will teach is part of Product, and others will claim is part of Promotion. Either way, it’s frequently the forgotten child of marketing that can spell business success or failure.

A key case in point is Coca-Cola. Without a doubt, Coke is always discussed in conversations about great brands. Recently, the story of Coke was featured on CBS Sunday Morning, itself a perennial news brand. As the story goes, Coca-Cola was so successful, that me-too products popped up around the globe. In a marketing meeting, Coke executives realized their brand franchise was in danger, and decided to invent brand packaging – the now iconic coke bottle – so that even in the dark, by feel alone, a consumer would know “the real thing” from a substitute. When aluminum cans became the norm, color became a larger concern for differentiating the brand, and Coke’s “red” became another text-book marketing example of the importance of color in serious brand management.

How does this apply to you if you’re a small to mid-sized business not of Coke caliber? Don’t underestimate packaging as a key differentiating factor. Packaging means everything from how you label your business to how you package your goods and services. Consider these examples:

  • Where The Art Is – This party decorations firm located in Paramus, NJ was literally started out of a garage. The decorations are unique and memorable, with many centerpieces kept for years to come in the homes of the guests and/or hosts. Under each piece is the company’s label with contact information. If you want a party decorator years later, you’ll be able to find Where The Art Is due to a simple packaging label.
  • Chico’s – Now a well known women’s wear franchise, the store endeared itself to women through a wrinkle-free travel line that was also figure forgiving. Priced high, consumers don’t feel cheated as each purchase is carefully wrapped generously in beautiful tissue paper and each bag is tied off with rainbow ribbons. Both touches are not necessary and add extra expense, but both are part of the Chico’s experience and brand.
  • Two Tin Crows – This unique gift store in Northfield, NJ (outside of Atlantic City), makes sure that gifts are beautifully wrapped using bags folded just so. It’s a simple technique, but one done exquisitely by the owner. It takes the added expense of gift wrapping off the consumer and makes the purchase that much easier. The point of these three examples is that it only takes a little extra effort to make your packaging work wonders for you as a differentiating value proposition.

The Walk-away: Take a look at your packaging, from your windows to your logo. Are you doing all you can to put your best look — if not foot — forward? Packaging is a Key “P” in Marketing.