Just common-sense solutions for your small business in the 21st century. You don't have to be a genius to take your business to the next level, but you might have to grasp the idea that it may not be the market, rather your marketing, that's got you stuck in a rut.
So, I am so excited to be speaking at The Party Goddess Uncensored event next week in LA! Uncensored! is THE conference for event planners who are serious about doubling their income, solving the challenges of finding (and keeping) the right clients, and becoming inspired with ideas and systems from some of the best of the best in the industry. You know how I feel about marketing and sales and what an integral part they play into growing your business so I’ll be dishing on all things full circle marketing on Monday, November 8th and Tuesday November 9th.
The good news for us east coast folks…..Advertisers of Occasions Magazine and attendees of last week’s BizReset Atlanta are eligible for discounted tickets to The Party Goddess Uncensored just for being you! Tickets are normally $497 per person, but are being offered to our Atlanta entrepreneurs for $247 instead. To purchase a ticket, get in contact with Corina Wentzel at corina (at) thepartygoddess (dot) com. For more information, click here
Print advertising is a strong medium for reaching the masses, but since the inception of the internet, it’s gotten a bad wrap because there’s simply no “google analytics” for print and you’ve got to put more effort into tracking it’s effect. These things don’t make the medium useless though. Beware of the bandwagon. Instead of assuming the effectiveness of a print ad campaign based on what you’ve heard others say, educate yourself and use these suggested methods to track your print promotional methods and make statements based on what you have researched.
Custom URL in your print ad
It is very simply to make a custom URL from your own domain. You or your web developer can create an extension of your domain like “www.yoursite.com/freeoffer” or “www.yoursite.com/new.” The purpose of this custom URL would be to track the traffic this domain receives in your analytics account. Direct traffic to this domain clearly comes from the medium in which you promoted it on.
Custom phone number in your print ad
There are several companies that offer phone tracking services to help advertisers gain a clear understanding of their ad campaigns. The numbers are often 1-800 numbers that even record phone conversations. As the business owner you can login and see how many calls were placed to this number and even listen to the recordings to track employee performance. Dial 800 is an example of such a company.
Understand your Google Analytics
I think this is one of the most intelligent ways you can track any type of ad campaign. The traffic from your website comes from three different sources: direct traffic, referrals from other sites, and search engines. So much attention is focused on referral traffic and even search engine traffic, but you should pay special attention to your direct traffic too. These are people who have seen your URL somewhere and have gone specifically to the address bar and typed it in. This can be directly related to your print media campaigns because how else would they know your domain? Additionally, in the search engine traffic section, pay attention to the amount of people who are finding you by searching your business name. It’s likely they saw your business name via a recent marketing campaign and are searching for your business online. Just because you don’t see the direct referral click from a media’s website, doesn’t NOT mean that they are not generating traffic to you.
These are not fail safe methods. Just additional ways you can keep an eye on your marketing.
Yes, print is expensive. So are diamonds, but you don’t hear people saying they aren’t worth it. Companies that want to attract high end clients, invest money in high end advertising. You can view Bulgari Jewerly online, but you better believe, when you walk into Bulgari at Lenox Mall they hand you a glossy, perfect bound full color catalog of their most exquisite pieces so you can take home and fester on a potential purchase. They do it for a reason.
Most of you are so quick to think that advertising doesn’t work for your business so, I have a question for you. What if there were no advertising available in this world? What would you do?
Let’s hypothesize a bit on this….
Your first thought is that you might tell all your friends about your business and ask them to tell all of their friends. This is a simple strategy but do you know enough people to sustain your business and do all of your friends need the service you provide? What if they have another friend that has the same business? How will they choose?
Or maybe you’ll create flyers about your business and hand them out to people you don’t know. Oh wait, that’s advertising and in this world that option doesn’t exist.
You could put a sign up in front of your business or on a road leading to your business, but wait… that’s advertising and they call those billboards so nope, can’t do that.
You can get together with a bunch of other business owners and host an event to talk about your business and showcase. Ah that’s called a tradeshow, and it’s also a form of advertising. Can’t do that.
Oh, I know…. another business owner in town has the answer for multiple businesses to promote their products and services to the community. He’s going to make a pamphlet where a bunch of businesses can put their name and pictures in it to promote to the readers of this publication. But wait…that’s a magazine and those aren’t allowed in this world.
Do you see where I am going? If there were no advertising channels for you to promote your business and services you’d end up having to create them yourself or go out of business. Everyone is so quick to judge and point the finger that their advertising dollar isn’t working for them but if you think about a world with no advertising, it’s frightening. Many of you would not be in business.
Advertising is NOT a four-letter word. It’s not a necessary evil. It’s a service, a means to an end, and a solution. It’s purpose is to help business owners grow and gain new customers outside of the realm of people they could ever reach just by themselves. It’s not be the sketchy take-your-money-and-run-monster you’ve contrived in your head.
Let’s just jump right into the heart of the matter here. Marketing is two faced (in a good way though, I promise). There’s internal marketing and external marketing and each have their role in building your business.
External Marketing utilizes media and campaigns that reach an audience you’ve not met. It’s a platform to introduce your company to potential clients and attract their attention to your business rather than someone else. An example of external marketing sources are industry websites, magazines, bridal shows, radio ads, television ads, networking groups. These mediums are the essential bridge between you and your new clients.
Internal Marketing on the other hand is the marketing you do to clients once they’ve found you through your external marketing initiatives. They’ve found you via, let’s say a bridal magazine, and now is your chance to really sell them. An example of internal marketing sources are email campaigns, brochures, your own website, an open house, and in some cases direct mail pieces.
Internal marketing is where custom publishing brochures can be found too. A custom published brochure, often promoted as your very own magazine in which your preferred vendors all contribute “advertising” to, is not a form of external marketing and should never take the place of one. Its home is in your office, therefore it’s internal. If you never participated in a lick of external marketing, you’d never have a new potential client to give it to. And, like I discussed last week, if you relied on word of mouth to bring in those new clients, you never know when or how long you may be waiting. I digress.
While a custom published brochure is a professional representation of your company they are widely mistaken as a replacement for print and other external marketing sources. And that is a surefire way of missing out on a lot of new leads. Let’s be honest here, unless your brochure is sold at major bookstore retailers, is handed out to brides at every single bridal show, attracts thousands of online visitors to it’s website each month, and is distributed at hundreds of other retailers and commercial outlets… it’s NOT an external marketing piece.
While I do not discredit the use of custom publishing brochures as integral marketing pieces, I do think their role and the exact place they fit into your marketing plan has been misunderstood for too long. So that you are not confused, I’ve created this crafty diagram of the sales pipeline that shows just where external and internal marketing has it’s place.
Now, image if you relied only on your brochures and did not integrate them with external marketing. You’d miss out on a lot of new leads. Sales pipelines are long and though you may never interact with a potential client until the interest/evaluation stage, that doesn’t mean your external marketing is not out there actively working to bring you new business. Removing your external marketing for a custom publishing brochure essentially cuts your pipelines in half thus drastically reducing your audience and leaves you with a short, stubby, whiny “I’m not getting enough leads & the referrals aren’t coming in” or (gasp) empty pipeline. An empty pipeline equals an empty bank account.
In life, anything well balanced is a good thing. Diets don’t go well without exercising and brochures are pretty much useless if you don’t have new leads to give them to.
This is going to be a touchy subject. Why? Because small business owners are notorious for relying wholeheartedly on word-of-mouth marketing and referrals from past clients and other vendors to build their business. Though it’s not my intention to rain on your referral parade, my purpose of this post is to open your eyes to the control you relinquish to everyone else when you rely on their impression of your business alone.
FACT: Word-of-Mouth marketing is the only uncontrollable form of marketing you have of your business. It’s the simple truth that you cannot control what people say and do. Yes, good work likely produces good referrals but it’s not necessarily someone’s opinion I’m referring to. Here are aspects of word-of-mouth you cannot control…
Timing. You cannot control when someone will refer you new business. It may be a week, a month or a year before your happy client runs into someone who needs your services. You never know. If you rely on an event planner for referrals and that event planner isn’t as go-get’em as you are at building business, it may be many moons before she has a client that needs your services. Meanwhile, you’re waiting listening to crickets.
Sphere of Influence. You cannot reach nearly the same about of eyes and ears with 1 or 10 people as you can with mass marketing. Twitter this, facebook that, the number still won’t add up. Or perhaps you’ve always worked in weddings and now would like to break into the mitzvah market but the planners who refer you only do weddings. Everyone’s sphere of influence is different and limited.
Opinions. You can produce excellent work all day but if your personality quirks are stronger than your excellent imagery and your referral sources are “over you” you can’t control that and they will soon refer someone else.
Spreading the love. Referrals are a two way street. It’s not wise for a business to only give referrals to one specific person and expect all their returning referrals from that one source will build the bottom line. In the referral world, like marketing, it’s about maximizing the sources. So, if you’ve enjoyed working with a particular venue over and over again and all of a sudden they start referring another planner, their decision may have nothing to do with an opinion of you but rather an opinion of their own referral practices. They want more referrals coming in from multiple sources which means they have to spread out their referrals to those other sources too. Spreading the love to other businesses like yours happens all the time and can leave you with less word-of-mouth traffic. I’ve had the conversation too many times with wedding professionals. Their stream of referrals from particular venues, caterers or planners used to runneth over and now it runneth dry. Competitors are savvy. If you have a great relationship with a caterer, bridal salon or venue, there are 10 other planners just like yourself vying for that referral source. They will attract the attention of your word-of-mouth well, it’s inevitable.
Business decisions. You cannot control the goals and aspirations of others. I spoke with one photographer once who used to receive a lot of referrals from two planners. Ironically, both planners decided to take a leave of absence from the industry and move to motherhood. The referrals took a leave of absence too.
Take heed, if you rely on word-of-mouth and referrals as your only source of new client inquiries, when those referrals dry up, business dries up too. It’s likely it’ll happen without you ever noticing and leave you hustling to find new clients. Marcia Yukin, author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and publisher of Marketing Minute recently wrote to Trent Ernst on his blog here saying “Desperation is not conducive to effective marketing.” Amen.
Don’t wait until it happens to you. Make a marketing recipe. Toss in a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Don’t advertise in just one magazine and don’t rely on just word-of-mouth. There is no secret recipe, no one ingredient. Full Circle marketing is a collective effort of many different lines of communication between you and your perfect client. You’ve got to invest in your business for your client to invest in you.
Here are two excellent blogs I found explaining more about the woes of word-of-mouth…. Read on.
***Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with my recent Twitter update regarding publishing related to advertising.***
There’s a small spot between a rock and hard place I’ve recently found myself between and I’d like for you to weigh in on it. I’ve added a lot of real event features recently to the website of Occasions Magazine and while I love them, they’ve been coming with some baggage. When a real event is submitted to me, I email the host/hostess an interview form where they answer my questions on decor, most memorable moment, unique touches, etc. Recently, I’ve had a handful of brides specifically request that certain vendors NOT be credited for their work in the feature because they were unhappy with the service they received. I’ve not yet followed through with their request because let’s face it, I don’t love to be told what to do (and, I list what is given to me legitimately, not what I choose to include and not), BUT I wonder is there some merit to giving credit where credit is due or perhaps not, if the job wasn’t done right?
Maybe, in the new world of “real event feature” publishing event vendors should consider that their work and reputation has a much longer life than they think. It’s not just about the future referral anymore, but whether or not your business receives the PR it needs. If you have an unhappy customer, or even perhaps fellow event vendor, not solving the problem or correcting the mistake (sometimes with even a sincere apology) may leave you…. out. Literally.
Here’s another one for you. I have amazing relationships with many of the vendors published. When the bride (or mother or whomever) asks for credit to be left out…. DO I TELL THE VENDOR???
I’ve been wanting to post this blog since my last issue release party in January. We had a big event at the venue featured on the cover and gave swag bags to all the attendees. Each of my Occasions Magazine advertisers had the opportunity to put marketing materials in the swag bags and I was most impressed by Atlantic Limousine & Transportation. They gave pens with their logo. Sounds boring huh? They weren’t. Instead, they took the traditional pen and made it memorable by placing it a box and including in the box a message that made it make sense.
The pen lite up so the message, along with the company’s business card said… “Are you like me? I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about tasks that I have to do. With this lighted pen, you make make your notes bedside, git if off your mind and get back to sleep. Simply click the top for a light and twist the end to access the pen.”
Genius. No longer are they the stranger company giving you stuff to fill your drunk drawer. Atlantic Limo made it personal, made it make sense and made it memorable.
If you are going to spend the money on swag bag items, make them memorable or don’t do it at all. Your postcard will end up in the trash, but if you engage the recipient your chances of turning that swag into an inquiry will increase. I promise.
I feel like this is the story of my life. The topic of every conversation and quite honestly, I wish more people would just “get it” and stop trying to work the system. But alas, I shall bring it to light once again because the ever-so-talented, Sasha Souza, hit the nail on the head yesterday with a poignant blog titled “Let Me Clarify – You Can Always Get it Cheaper” and I just have to reaffirm her statement.
You can, in fact, always find something cheaper in life. Regardless of what you are looking for, it will inevitably be cheaper somewhere else. But, you simply will not get the same product (in most cases).
When it comes to advertising you cannot compare marketing dollar to dollar. If you do you will always go with the cheaper route and in return your yield will be as low as the price you went with. Advertising avenues that delivers higher impressions than their low-cost competitors are going to cost you more. Period. It’s because of the hard and simple fact – they deliver more opportunities to reach your client. Buying cheap advertising does not mean that you are getting the same coverage for less price, it means you are getting less coverage for less price. If you are okay with that, than I am too.
Don’t think you are getting the same coverage and have hit the jackpot of all deals… you’re mistaken. It’s like bridal shows….. ever been to one that only costs you $250 but then only attracts 50 brides? That’s technically $5 a bride. But, if you spent the extra $500 for a legitimate show and that delivered 500 brides, you’d be decreasing your cost per bride to $1.50. The cost ratio decreases and your chances to book more brides increases. It makes sense. It’s the same for Print Media, Online, Radio and Television. You get what you pay for.
Yes, a sale is a sale and even I offer promotional rates from time to time, but outside of that, start making your decisions based on a different type of number. Factors to consider when comparing advertising have nothing to do with price, but stats. Things like: distribution, circulation, web traffic, quality of the product, testimonials from clients, reach, marketing and advertising that media outlet does, etc.
If you want cheap, be prepared for less results. But if you want results, you’ve got to be willing to pay for them. And that brings me to price bullying. It just ain’t cool. Like Sasha references in her post, you can’t negotiate a lower price for gas at the local Citco, or bully the poor produce guy for cheaper bananas at Publix, so what makes you think it’s okay to do so for other financial transactions. Like this video… this is exactly how you look..
I’m stopping the cycle today. I recently added this statement to my media kit because of price bullying. “We take our business and the commitment to our advertisers very seriously. The exposure, connections and relationships Occasions brings to our clients do come at a cost and commitment. Though competitive with event industry advertising rates, please know that our rates are as is, so please no haggle or hassling.”
I work a lot of hours and can guarantee you I put more effort than most other publishers (no offense to them) into making sure my publication is reaching the right audience for my client… and I finally realized that work should come at a reasonable price.
It’s time we all start realizing the value of our work and stick to it, while at the same time showing other people the same respect. Life is full circle and what goes around comes around.
I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching about editorial integrity lately. I came from a background in Broadcast Journalism, but I never quite “got it” until I became the person responsible for generating editorial for an entire magazine. Now, I get it.
Before my days of publishing, I handled all the marketing for a spa. Public Relations and any type of editorial coverage was numero uno on the list. It is free afterall. Strike that. I shouldn’t say free. Because free means the subject matter in question was originally associated with a price and that’s not the case when it comes to articles, tv spots, radio interviews, etc. You can’t pay for PR people and you really shouldn’t try. It’s in bad form.
Public Relations is by definition the practice of managing communication between an organization and its public. Ways you can manage that communication is internally through emails, newsletters, and advertisements or externally through third-parties like the media.
Media coverage gives your business a whole new level of credibility because it’s someone outside of your organization, who is NOT being paid, who says “ya know, they have a good thing going” or “we tried these products and love them too!” That’s how pr/editorial is meant to work.
Journalist who live by the daily belief in editorial integrity cannot be bought. I once sent a gift certificate to the spa to a writer who we often worked with as a thank you and happy holidays gesture. That writer called to say thank you for the gift card but that she couldn’t accept it, so if I didn’t mind she was going to donate it to a charity auction. I was floored, but even more SO impressed with her restraint and desire to keep it clean. That’s journalism…. writing for the reason not the reward.
PR becomes politics when there is an exchange of cash, goods or services.
I own a magazine and my advertisers make my world go ’round. So being fair and balanced editorially speaking and taking care of the people who make my magazine possible is always a struggle. I don’t mind writing about my advertisers, but it’s because I know each of them personally and when we do write about them, it’s because I truly BELIEVE that they have a good story to tell. But advertising with any media, does not promise you coverage and assuming it’s included will leave you disappointed and your reputation a bit tarnished in the eyes of that editor/producer/writer.
So how do you get editorial coverage without bullying an advertising account executive for an article in exchange for an article or harassing an Editor?
Her advice is simple. It’s not about bullying, sending bulk emails, buying ads or offering services in exchange. It’s about relationship. Getting to know the media YOU want to be published in. Familiarizing yourself with their style, previous topics covered, sending them article ideas, photography samples, knowing and submitting in the format they prefer, and generally building relationships with the gatekeepers. It does NOT happen over night, but if you put real genuine effort into the relationship, you will get results.
If you’re on Twitter follow the hash tag #GetPublished to keep up with Lara’s updates. It’s extremely valuable advice you can use to get the most out of your public relations efforts in your full circle marketing plan.
I promise you. I will get better at this blogging thing! We’re pretty regular in the AO offices with keeping the AtlantaOccasions.com blog up-to-date, but allotting the time to spend on my marketing rants and raves has been somewhat of a challenge! Heather 2.0 is coming along.. but it needs some upgrades for sure.
Anyways, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for advice from my advertisers and industry contacts recently regarding my take on new bridal shows or other advertising opportunities springing up out of no where for wedding vendors. So I’ll just answer everyone as a group here. I hope that whether you’re in Atlanta or in Arkansas, this advice will be helpful for anyone.
I’m in sales and I make A LOT of calls. I can guarantee you that I’m not the only magazines calling wedding vendors about advertising. I bet as a wedding vendor it can seem pretty overwhelming to weed out the good vs. the bad and finally settle on the best marketing avenue for you. After all there is no secret recipe or magic trick to finding more business, but if you’re marketing budget is limited, as is most everyone’s, that decision is going to be crucial.
My advice :: Go with who you know. People do business with people they know and when you do business with someone you don’t know… well you just don’t know. I’m not saying to not give people a chance, because I was once new and there are lot of people that gave me a chance. But … they just didn’t know. I worked my little tush off (and still do) to build the reputation of myself and my company and I’m quite dedicated to keeping it up.
When you are shopping options to advertise your business, go with who you know. Whether that’s the local magazine who offers monthly networking luncheons (hint, hint… I’m sorry shameless self-promotion there.. it slipped), local bridal show producers, or even other wedding vendors or bloggers. Reaching out and partnering with the medias who are invested in your local wedding community is the first step to building your wedding business and connecting with your client. The Bride.
Have outstanding reputations of bringing all the brides you could ever want to their shows
Spend thousands of dollars in local advertising dollars to bring you those brides
And, are local Atlanta residents themselves.
Go green people! Support your local companies. There’s no reason I can think of not to. I’ve participated in all of their shows (minus PWG, but I know they have an excellent reputation of bringing brides in) and they are swamped with brides. What else could you ask for?
Pay attention to who you know in your local wedding community and seek them out. They are the only people that hold the knowledge you need for your business. Local wedding-specific medias offer something FAR MORE VALUABLE than just an ad or booth that not many others can do. Things like a personal introduction to a venue where you’ve been trying to get on the preferred vendors list for months, or an opportunity for a speaking engagement in front of your peers, or insider knowledge about a new venue opening, or added opportunities to contribute promotional materials in swag bags at bride targeted events. I could go on!