Archive for the Marketing Category

PR for small companies too?

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , on September 4, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Size really doesn’t matter when it comes to PR. Any size company can benefit from publicity, but the practice is commonly misunderstood in the business arena. Most entrepreneurs think of it as something that only large corporations have a budget for and don’t realise the power of publicity and what it can do for a business to blow it through the roof.

Marsha Friedman of Event Management Services, says that when a story is written in a newspaper or magazine, it lends credibility to you and your company’s products and services beyond anything you could attain with advertising. And, it provides immediate positioning of you as a recognised expert in your field.

Give away information that people normally would pay you for and submit it to daily and weekly newspapers as well as other newsletters in your area.

You may think that giving away valuable advice will hurt you by tipping off your competition, but it is quite the contrary. It will establish you as someone who is a specialist on the subject and you will find that people will start to seek you out for business. People will be more likely to hire you if the media is writing about you or quoting you as an authority.

“Anything written is perceived to be true,” she advises, “therefore articles you’ve written that get published or articles with quotes from you, give you immediate positioning as the “go-to guy” in your field.”

A few different ways to approach the print medium are:

1) Write a “tips” or “how to” article – this is one of the best ways to get free publicity in newspapers and magazines. Offer lots of valuable advice and make sure it’s written well enough for a publication to run it without having to make any edits. Be sure to include your credentials and other boastful information to support your position as an expert – but be careful not to make the article a promotional piece. Editors are looking for content that will be informative to their readers, not a brag piece about you or your company.

2) Write an “opinion letter” – take a stand on a controversial issue or comment on an issue in the news and sent it to the Editor of your local paper – or to the Opinion Editor at other newspapers around the country. Don’t forget to put your credentials at the bottom of the letter so you get the recognition of being a published expert.

3) Create photo opportunities – local newspapers are always looking for interesting photos and images. Create a local event – a fundraiser, an art show, a local or national contest, etc. Then make sure to invite the local press to attend. But even if they don’t show up, get them a photo and press release right away while it’s still news!

4) Recycle your print coverage – turn one media hit into multiple hits by sending a reprint of a weekly newspaper story about you or your company to an editor at a daily newspaper, along with a pitch letter offering an angle different from the angle the weekly pursued. Send articles in trade publications to editors anywhere. Post articles on your website.

Marsha Friedman is the CEO of Event Management Services, Inc., (www.event-management.com) a leading US publicity firm.

Karla Jo Helms is the Vice President Public Relations for PostcardMania, (http://www.PostcardMania.com) named one of the fastest growing privately-owned companies by Inc Magazine
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Corporate Travel

Posted in Event Management, Marketing, Virtual Assistance with tags , , on September 1, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Corporate travel is a time consuming and logistically testing proceedure. Jigsaw Conferences highlight the nuances involved in this piece.

Corporate Travel is one of the leading sectors of the travel industry today. Business people are constantly flying around the country and indeed around the world to attend conferences, meetings, PR events, training courses, team building events, annual general meetings, parties, seminars, exhibitions, corporate hospitality events, product launches, award ceremonies and so on.  

Where vacationers have the flexibility of waiting for off-peak days of the week to arrange for their flights and get the lowest rates for that season, business people have fixed schedules. Travel agents recognise this important sector and make special arrangements to improve their market share and competitiveness in the industry.
 
An organisation staging an award ceremony or an annual general meeting, for example, at a central location, would need to provide transport and accommodation to their VIP guests. Corporate travel agents help ensure that details like these can be taken care of smoothly and efficiently.
 
Corporate travel planning can be a task on its own. Rather than have one of the company’s head secretaries spend all of her time on the arrangements, many companies prefer to hire corporate travel planners to take care of event management, and meeting planning in addition to making all necessary travel arrangements.
 
Many corporate travel agencies offer specialised services for their clients. They offer to track and report the company’s travel expenses, negotiate special rates, track air miles and reward points and offer 24 hour support from corporate travel agents. Each individual agency would have other benefits to attract clients to their program.
 
As a result of their daily negotiations and partnerships with travel suppliers, like airlines, car rental agencies and hotel chains, a corporate travel planner has the ability to use their discounts to offer the lowest possible rates that are usually not open to the general public. Contracting the company’s corporate travel department to an independent planner can produce large savings for a company whose representatives need to travel as part of their job. More time could be afforded for sales presentations, PR events, product launches, exhibitions, seminars, conventions and parties anywhere in the country or around the world.
 
Corporations have the added advantage of receiving heavy discounts and rewards for making bookings for large groups or making several bookings within a period of time. PR events, product launches, exhibitions and conferences would require large groups of staff and guests to be invited to a central location. Travel, transport and accommodation arrangements would all be necessary for these kinds of events and tend to solicit lower rates due to the large number of attendees.
 
Corporate travel agents who offer event planning services will often locate the right venue for the organisation’s event through a comparison of all appropriate venues that fit your budgetary and space requirements. They would arrange for the catering, accommodation, set up of equipment and business centre. Many times they also offer on-site support. Other services could include meeting and greeting guests, distributing event-related portfolios and other relevant material, registration and so on.
 
Some agencies are further specialised and work with specific types of industries. For instance, the pharmaceutical industry may have special requirements for some of their seminars and events, requiring a certain layout or special equipment. By providing detailed attention to these, corporate travel agents are at the forefront of the competition in the travel industry.
 
Corporate hospitality events, annual general meetings and product launches each have different aspects that need special attention and must be taken into consideration in order to ensure a successful event. Hiring an independent agent, who is an invaluable source of information and advice, saves both time and money, whereby the management is able to spend more time concentrating on more pressing matters. Thus, corporations are poised to receive the best value-added services from a full range of options in travel solutions and event management which caters to the event’s specific requirements for the most competitive prices.
 
Corporate travel has also spawned a new industry in the way of corporate travel safety. Seminars are available to advise individuals of the best way to protect themselves and their belongings to ensure a hassle-free journey. 
For a businessman, protecting the information he’s carrying can be of vital importance. Numbered locks, security waist packs and portable travel safes are all available to the cautious traveller.
 
With the high level of importance given to the corporate travel sector, it’s little wonder that corporations receive premium services and excellent rates. Travel agencies are all vying for their business and outdo each other with the nature of the services and rewards they provide. With competition fierce and demand strong, the quality of service provided is easily world-class.
 
Copyright © 2007 Jigsaw Conferences

Differentiate or Die in a Downturn

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , , on August 13, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Differentiate your businessWhen money gets tighter, people get pickier. Which means, if want to continue to not only survive, but thrive, you’re going to need to dig a bit more deeply into the differentiation well and publicly showcase why you are the woman, man or business that people should be handing their money over to.

Perfect example. Walking down the block looking for a place to grab lunch with my wife on a weekday, we passed 7 or 8 restaurants and every single one was close to being empty. Then we poked our heads into the local pub. We’d never been there before. And, it was packed.

Not because people were drinking their troubles away. They were all sitting and eating. And, 75% were moms in their 30s and 40s. Whaaa?

It wasn’t long until we figured out what was going on. This little pub had figured out a way to shine, while all the restaurants around them stumbled. Along with their standard menu, we were each given a long, 6 inch wide piece of paper and a red pen.

On the paper were about 50 different options for chopped salad mix-ins. We each sat choosing our salad items and, a few minutes later, two giant finely-chopped salads arrived at our table. We dove in, couldn’t finish either and reveled about how we never about this hidden salad gem before. But, clearly others had.

Since then, this little grill has become our go-to place for taking out, ordering in and the occasional dinner with friends, family style.

Because … they get it.

People are looking for value more than at any other time in decades. And, if you can’t strongly differentiate yourself, you and your business become fungible … replaceable … interchangeable.

And, that’s an awful place to be in a down economy.

So, how will you differentiate and showcase your unique value in 2009?

* * * * *

Jonathan Fields, hedge-fund lawyer turned lifestyle entrepreneurAbout the Author: Jonathan Fields is a former hedge-fund lawyer turned serial lifestyle entrepreneur, copywriter, Internet and direct marketer, speaker and writer. You can find him blogging on entrepreneurship and lifestyles at Awake At The Wheel, crafting high-impact copy for clients at Vibe Creative or training people to become entrepreneurs and career renegades at Career Renegade. His next book, also called Career Renegade, is due out from Random House/Broadway Books In January 2009.

Effective Market Research tips: 10 Steps Towards Designing a Questionnaire

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , on August 10, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Market research is all about reducing your business risks through the smart use of information. It is often cited that ‘knowledge is power’, and through market research you will have the power to discover new business opportunities, closely monitor your competitors, effectively develop products and services, and target your customers in the most cost-efficient way.

However in order to get useful results you need to make sure you are asking the right questions to the right people and in the right way. The following tips are designed to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls when designing a market research questionnaire.

1. What are you trying to find out?
– A good questionnaire is designed so that your results will tell you what you want to find out.
– Start by writing down what you are trying to do in a few clear sentences, and design your questionnaire around this.

2. How are you going to use the information?
– There is no point conducting research if the results aren’t going to be used – make sure you know why you are asking the questions in the first place.
– Make sure you cover everything you will need when it come to analysing the answers. e.g. maybe you want to compare answers given by men and women. You can only do this if you’ve remembered to record the gender of each respondent on each questionnaire.

3. Telephone, Postal, Web, Face-to-Face?
– There are many methods used to ask questions, and each has its good and bad points. For example, postal surveys can be cheap but responses can be low and can take a long time to receive, face-to-face can be expensive but will generate the fullest responses, web surveys can be cost-effective but hit and miss on response rates, and telephone can be costly, but will often generate high response rates, give fast turnaround and will allow for probing.

4. Qualitative or Quantitative?
– Do you want to focus on the number e.g. 87% of respondents thought this, or are you more interested in interpreting feedback from respondents to bring out common themes?
– The method used will generally be determined by the subject matter you are researching and the types of respondents you will be contacting.

5. Keep it short. In fact, quite often the shorter the better.
– We are all busy, and as a general rule people are less likely to answer a long questionnaire than a short one.
– If you are going to be asking your customers to answer your questionnaire in-store, make sure the interview is no longer than 10 minutes maximum (this will be about 10 to 15 questions).
– If your questionnaire is too long, try to remove some questions. Read each question and ask, “How am I going to use this information?” If you don’t know, don’t include it!

6. Use simple and direct language.
– The questions must be clearly understood by the respondent. The wording of a question should be simple and to the point. Do not use uncommon words or long sentences.

7. Start with something general.
– Respondents will be put-off and may even refuse to complete your questionnaire if you ask questions that are too personal at the start (e.g. questions about financial matters, age, even whether or not they are married).

8. Place the most important questions in the first half of the questionnaire.
– Respondents sometimes only complete part of a questionnaire. By putting the most important items near the beginning, the partially completed questionnaires will still contain important information.

9. Leave enough space to record the answers.
– If you are going to include questions which may require a long answer e.g. ask someone why they do a particular thing, then make sure you leave enough room to write in the possible answers. It sounds obvious, but it’s so often overlooked!

10. Test your questionnaire on your colleagues.
– No matter how much time and effort you put into designing your questionnaire, there is no substitute for testing it. Complete some interviews with your colleagues BEFORE you ask the real respondents. This will allow you to time your questionnaire, make any final changes, and get feedback from your colleagues.

Juliet Mumford

http://www.intelligentinsight.co.uk

(00 44) 1536 373182

Google Adwords – get more traffic

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , on August 5, 2010 by virtualcitypa

If you’re new to Google Adwords, these are keyword-based, sponsored ads which appear as the top two listings, or down the right-hand side of a Google Results page. Google charges the advertiser a fee (ranging from 5 cents, to tens of $) each time someone clicks on the ad.

In Adwords, you are permitted one line for the headline, not to exceed twenty-five characters, and two lines for copy, not to exceed thirty-five characters. That is all! This takes into account spaces that count as a character. To many, short means simple, correct? Not true! A writer will tell you that it’s much harder to write short content compared to wordier, long content. In short content, every word must make a strong impact. This compact writing will create better search and traffic results.

Google Adwords space has little room for garbage. A well-written Google Adwords is approved faster by Google. Plus, Google ads that are written with purpose have better click-through rates and better responsive visitors. Astonishing how 3 lines of about 70 characters has such power!

A tight Google AdWords ad asks the reader to perform some task. Concentrating on optimizing your keywords and phrases is important. Also, understanding why you selected those words is equally important.

Engineering an effective Google Adwords isn’t going to happen overnight, so below are some useful tips:

1. Start with what you most want your visitors to grasp. Put that into in copy that holds meaning for your target audience in a language that is understood by them. Use the following tips to trim your copy.

2. Copy moves the reader to click-through. Use power words, benefits or attention-grabbers. Start with two columns. In the first column, list a feature. Then, in the next column, list a benefit of the feature.

3. State only true claims. These claims can be showstoppers but leave out “free” if a condition is involved. Google guidelines must be followed (https://adwords.google.com/select/guidelines.html).

4. Don’t skirt around what your customers want. The power of the Internet allows your customers to look for you and they want something specific. Announce loud and clear that you’re there by using a headline that’s precise.

5. Keywords should be split-tested for their power on Results in Google Search. Plus, test several versions of your Adword on Google and change an ad that’s not performing well. Even by changing one word, your click-through ratio can sky rocket. Google will drop ads that perform very poorly.

6. Square brackets around keywords and customizing headlines are some programming tricks for an Adwords. Any keyword matches from a search will be highlighted in the Google ad if you bracket the keyword. A dynamic headline is customized to change according to searches. For instance, by using “Keyword:” in brackets in the headline followed by difference search terms, those terms will be displayed as the headline. An example is [Keyword: Writing Effective Google Adwords].

7. Cut out unnecessary words like a, an, in, on, it, of, etc.

8. Boast what makes you stand out or unique. Can you offer something for a percentage less or better than competitors?

9. Get rid of freebie seekers by putting the deals or discount at the end of the ad.

10. Emotion, energy and response come from power words and call-to-action. Use only words and statements that match your product or service. Sample power words include discover, these, and enhance.

Tight writing comes from identifying exactly what you want your customer to do with the information you provide. Not only will your click-through rate improve but also your self-monitored conversion ratio should improve when you make AdWords work in your favor.

Riki Trafford is the manager of Direct MO Marketing Inc which offers low cost keyword-targetted web traffic. For comments and questions visit his web site: http://www.1dmom.com/

Top tips to customer satisfaction

Posted in Marketing with tags , , , on August 3, 2010 by virtualcitypa

1. Keeping your existing customers is more profitable than finding new ones.
Back in the late 1980’s the American Consumer Association announced that it was 5 times more   expensive to win a new customer than to keep an existing one. Many case studies since have confirmed this theory, including MBNA and Domino’s pizza.

2. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
If you don’t find out what is wrong through a customer satisfaction survey you will never be able to make improvements. Equally, if you implement changes to your business you will have no way of measuring its effectiveness other than looking at changes in revenue.

3. Satisfied customers are more likely to be loyal customers.
There is growing evidence to support the theory that the more satisfied a customer is the more loyal they will be, however customers have to be exceptionally satisfied before they enter the loyalty zone.

4. Loyal customers become more profitable over time.
The longer a customer stays with you, the more valuable they are likely to become as there is a higher chance that they will increase the level of business they do with your company and they are more likely to expand the range of products and services they buy.

5. Satisfied customers are an extension of your sales force. 
If your customers are happy, or even better, delighted with the service you provide they will be more inclined to recommend you to others.

6. Customers rarely complain; they just take their business elsewhere.
Companies that believe their customers are satisfied because they very rarely complain are missing an important part of the picture. In fact, it is quite often those customers who are loyal to your business that will complain as they want the situation resolved. Those who are dissatisfied are far more likely to simply take their business somewhere else.

7. Service often differentiates more than products or prices.
Much as we are led to believe that price is king and customers will always go for the cheapest price, quite the opposite is often true. By fully understanding your customer’s needs you will find that price generally only becomes an issue when they are not receiving the level of service that they were expecting.

8. Delight your customers by showing them you care!
Everyone likes to feel that their opinion is important, so what better way to confirm to your customers that they are indeed the most important part of your business than by asking them for their opinions? By carrying out a customer satisfaction survey you are clearly stating that you are a business that cares about its customers. Be warned though – never ask for someone’s opinion unless you are going to use the information to make a difference!

9. Great results give convincing PR.
It is far more convincing when your customers say how good you are rather than you having to say it yourself. Customer satisfaction measurement provides you with an opportunity to highlight your strong points by sending the results to your customers, and by promoting them in any marketing materials, PR etc. It also gives an opportunity to show that you have taken feedback onboard and made changes as a result.

10. Customer satisfaction is a requirement of ISO 9001:2000
According to ISO 9001:2000, customer satisfaction should be measured to monitor the effectiveness of the quality management system and to highlight areas where improvements should be made.

Juliet Mumford

http://www.intelligentinsight.co.uk

(00 44) 1536 373182

The easiest way to get new business

Posted in Marketing with tags , , , on July 5, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Network Marketing Lead Generation

Nowadays it is called networking, but it used to be known as hunting; and this is REAL hunting:

    Spot your quarry, thrill to the chase and develop a killer instinct!

You already have a network

In a small or medium-sized business or a professional partnership there should never be a need for cold calling. Stop for a moment and consider how many people you know. It will run into hundreds:

    * existing clients
    * other professional contacts
    * friends
    * family
    * people at the sports or social club
    * committee members you may work with.

These groups are the fuel that people in network marketing use to generate leads and propel their businesses into the big time.

And this is just for starters. Pool your resources with all the other key people in your office and you’ve got a big and valuable database.

See every invitation that lands on your desk as an opportunity for lead generation. Say to yourself: ‘Aha, a chance to meet new contacts, to make new sales or increase my fees!’

Work the Room

Now don’t get me wrong, working the room requires the courage of a lion and nerves of steel. If you feel a bit shy and nervous, don’t worry. Most people feel exactly the same and only the most accomplished and regular networker will feel at ease.

What’s the problem? For most it is fear of rejection. But the well-known international motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says: ‘Fear? False Evidence Appearing Real!’

How often have you been rejected at a business or social gathering? When was the last time someone turned their back on you, ignored you or rejected your extended hand? No matter how many times I ask this question, the answer is always NEVER.

So take a deep breath, approach someone new, introduce yourself and ask for their name. They will mentally hug you for approaching them as they are probably more nervous than you.

Networking is like learning to drive or learning to touch type – it’s always a bit uncomfortable at first. But how long does this feeling last? You’ll soon feel just as comfortable about networking as you do behind the wheel of your car or at your word processor.

You don’t necessarily want business from them but you can ask them the question: ‘Who do you know who may be interested in.?’. People, generally, want to help you with lead generation. Why? Because it makes them feel good!

Work the room enthusiastically, your confidence will build, you’ll begin to enjoy these events and new business will flow. This is real network marketing or word-of-mouth marketing

From Cave Dweller to Hunter

There’s a common theme to driving, typing and networking. Practice and a positive attitude make perfect. Ask yourself four questions:

    * Am I good at what I do?
    * Do I provide a great service?
    * Have I got the capacity to take on more?
    * Do I want more fees or sales?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, then leave your cave, and start hunting!

For more information:
Will Kintish

Will Kintish is the Founder and Managing Director of Kintish Ltd, a UK-based training organisation who show people how to grow their business through networking.