It’s Election Day. You Won’t Read this Post.

I VotedExcept you might read my post now that I’ve included a shameless mention of Election Day.

When your customers are universally interested in an event or holiday, don’t change the subject. Work with it. Although cycles of celebration may not correspond with your business cycle, customers will disregard marketing communications that don’t fit with their interests or current needs.

Small business marketing requires strategic use of resources that earn a high level of engagement from customers. We can’t waste time and money on efforts that will be ignored.

Here are some ways I help my clients address the ebbs and flows of the calendar:

  • One B2B client accepts that her clients’ attention is distracted during certain times of the year, including Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We focus our marketing efforts on other times of year and don’t waste resources trying to “cut through the clutter.”
  • Another B2B client tackles the New Year with challenges for his clients to plan for success in the coming months.
  • To tie-in with Thanksgiving, I’m helping one veterinary client promote pet safety during the holiday, for instance with this Fido Friendly Thanksgiving Infographic.
  • With another veterinary client, we typically run seasonally-themed Facebook photo contests for clients to brag about their pets. Last year, we sponsored a Winter Wonderland contest.
  • A landscape services company knows that pre-Thanksgiving is a popular time for customers to install landscape lighting, so we run promotions during that period.
  • This summer, another landscape services client earned customer attention when we suggested ways to create an herb container garden to enhance their outdoor kitchens and barbecues.

So, after you go vote and before the results start coming in, spend some time today considering how to make your marketing communications more seasonally relevant to your customers. It will certainly be more productive than nervously biting your nails as you wait to learn who our next President will be.

 

Data Disaster: 24% Never Back Up!

Someone arbitrarily decided that June is Backup Awareness month. Let’s celebrate with this pie chart from Backblaze:

Backup Frequency Chart

It’s hard to believe that almost half of computer owners never back up or only back up once a year. These users are headed for a data disaster because storage media always fail. On average, here’s the lifespan of common storage media:

  • 5-10 years: flash drives
  • 3-5 years: hard drives
  • 2-5 years: CDs and DVDs

I’m in the 8% that backup my files daily, and just last year I added secondary remote backups to my routine. I simply can’t afford to lose my clients’ valuable files and data.

As a small business, it’s critical you develop a backup routine. Losing even a month’s worth of files can significantly harm your productivity and success. Consider losing the last month’s billing cycle, the new spreadsheets you spent hours on, the countless emails exchanged and all the minute changes made to your documents.

Backup utilities automate the process of backing up. Once you configure the system, you’ll hardly have to think about it again– until you need the backup!

A Really Limited-Time Offer

The department that writes marketing campaign headlines at Walmart clearly isn’t the same department that designs the automated app marketing:

A Really Limited-Time Offer

Make Mom Happy! Until Saturday, that is. After Saturday, Mom will have to fend for herself.

Consider this weekly ad from Walmart a friendly reminder to always test your automated marketing, mail merge settings and other customer communications before they reach your audiences.

Is an Editorial Calendar Part of Your Small Business Marketing Plan?

Is an Editorial Calendar Part of Your Small Business Marketing Plan?An editorial calendar helps answer the question, “What am I supposed to do next?” It’s a tactical element of your small business marketing plan that lays out the month, quarter or year. With only a few hours of work, you’ll boost marketing productivity and effectiveness.

Start with Effective Small Business Marketing Strategies

As a small business, it’s incredibly important you spend your marketing budget efficiently and effectively. You can’t afford to keep doing the same marketing tactics year after year unless you know they really work. Before implementing any marketing campaigns, make sure your strategy is solid and will help you meet your business goals.

Ensure Marketing Implementation with an Editorial Calendar

One of the toughest challenges for any small business is consistently deploying marketing campaigns on time. When you often spend your day “putting out fires,” it can be hard to remember to grow your audience on Facebook, communicate with customers via your email newsletter or schedule in-person meetings with prospects.

That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. This tool helps build discipline into the timing of your marketing and ensures no channel is neglected.

For each of my small business clients, I typically outline an entire year’s calendar, with goals set for each month. This document becomes our to-do list. It’s fairly simple– take a look at the sample below for 2016 Q1.

Sample Marketing Editorial Calendar

January 2016

  • Film two videos surrounding “Winter” campaign, post second and fourth Tuesdays
  • Write two blog posts surrounding “Winter” campaign, publish first and third Tuesdays
  • Post “Winter” video or link to Facebook every Wednesday
  • Send “Winter” campaign January Email Newsletter
  • Manage “Winter” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Refresh website design template for 2016

February 2016

  • Stop “Winter” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Film two videos surrounding “Love” campaign, post second and fourth Tuesdays
  • Write two blog posts surrounding “Love” campaign, publish first and third Tuesdays
  • Post “Love” video or link to Facebook every Wednesday
  • Send “Love” campaign February Email Newsletter
  • Start and manage “Love” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Design and print “Spring” Every Door Direct Mail USPS mailer

March 2016

  • Stop “Love” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Film two videos surrounding “Spring” campaign, post second and fourth Tuesdays
  • Write two blog posts surrounding “Spring” campaign, publish first and third Tuesdays
  • Post “Spring” video or link to Facebook every Wednesday
  • Send “Spring” campaign March Email Newsletter
  • Start and manage “Spring” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Send “Spring” Every Door Direct Mail USPS to target ZIP code

How’s Your 2016 Marketing Plan Coming Along?

Sometimes, small business marketing can feel rushed and put you under pressure. When business owners first talk to me about their marketing efforts, they usually express a sense of anxiety, asking question like:

  • How do I know I’m doing enough marketing?
  • How much should I be spending?
  • How do I know if my marketing is working?

Take time now to plan for 2016, and eliminate these worries. Here are some elements you should include in your small business marketing plan.

Components of a Small Business Marketing Plan

  • Measurable goals. These might include revenue growth, increases in profit margins, number of new customers or increases in purchase frequency.
  • Brand strategy. A comprehensive brand strategy will make it easier to craft marketing messages that resonate with customers. Great news– a great small business brand strategy will likely last many years and only require small tweaks as your business landscape changes.
  • Marketing budget. Everyone should know approximately how much will be spent over the year.
  • Media and channels. Identify the best places to reach your customers, and develop campaigns for each channel. You should know which channels are proven successes, which to eliminate and which you’re experimenting with.
  • Campaign calendar. Know when you should be doing what and give specific deadlines. A calendar also helps ensure all campaigns complement each other throughout the year.

Once you have your plan in place, share it with your team. Let everyone know what to expect in the upcoming year.

And here’s the most important part: Implement the plan! You don’t have to wait until 2016. Start today!

It’s All About the Backups, Baby

We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled small business marketing article to discuss a necessary condition for all marketing success– backups of your data.

Yesterday, my faithful MacBook Pro went kaput (that’s the technical term). While I wait for word from the Apple repair center, I’m not worried. Everything is backed up, and I have access to all the files needed to keep my clients’ marketing ships afloat.

However, many people live in nervous fear over what would happen if their computer fails. Here’s a secret: computers are machines, and machines will fail. If your business depends heavily on data, you need to have a backup strategy.

To keep your marketing data safe and working for your business, here’s a checklist of what should be backed up.

Marketing Data Backup Checklist

  • Graphic design files – Your small business used significant resources creating graphics for your various marketing campaigns, and hopefully the designs are robust enough to use for future iterations.
  • Video files – Video creation might be one of the most labor-intensive parts of your marketing strategy. Backup the source files, along with the completed videos.
  • Stock purchases – Stock content like photos and video often represent a significant investment.
  • Campaign analysis documents – Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. You’ll want to keep your tracking and analysis data safe.
  • Website components – Most websites contain both a design framework and a database for content. Make sure both of these separate elements are regularly backed up.
  • Web services account names and passwords – No one remembers their email marketing provider, analytics service and social media account information. If you lose you browser history, you’ll need a backup of this information.
  • Contacts – For both customers and partners, including email, phone and address information.

Since you probably hire professionals for some of this work, you’ll also want to check with your partners to make sure they have a backup plan for all of your important data.

All of this backing up may seem like an expensive hassle, but the cost of a few external hard drives or monthly off-site storage fee might just save your business someday.

Why Make Big Problems Out of Little Problems?

Here’s some great marketing advice from author P.D. Eastman, in the toddler board book, Big Dog… Little Dog:

Why make big problems out of little problems?

Every small business faces marketing problems. Keep in mind that your problems are probably not big problems. Big problems are literally life and death decisions. If you aren’t facing something that serious, consider yourself blessed and calmly address the little problems that arise.

Like the book’s wise bird, take time to think about and investigate the true source of each problem. Often, the reason will be as simple as, “Big dogs need big beds. Little dogs need little beds.” If your profit margin is too low, perhaps you’ll discover your customer acquisition cost is too high. Or lack of customer loyalty might be traced to poor customer service practices.

Once you identify the facts surrounding your problem, make sure to fix it! Problems never fix themselves, and they only grow bigger. For the problem of high customer acquisition costs, a business might implement a referral program or further optimize its online advertising. A customer service problem likely requires some procedure changes and employee training.

The next time a marketing problem pops up, keep things in perspective. Why make big problems out of little problems?

Well, that was easy to do!

The Great Shrinking Business Model

As a business model, Redbox is on its way to completely replacing Blockbuster. And the company has accomplished this goal in a remarkably short time period. Examining the two business models reinforces the importance of creativity, flexibility and appealing to changing market demands in our own businesses.

Redbox wins this competitive fightLaunched in 2002, Redbox is the company placing movie and game rental kiosks in prominent places around the country (i.e., those ubiquitous red boxes). Blockbuster, of course, is the retail chain with a similar function founded in the 1980s and enjoying success through the early 2000s.

From Redbox’s about page, one learns there are 34,600 Redbox locations in the US, and 68% of the population lives within a 5-minute drive of one. Blockbuster, meanwhile, boasts of just 2,500 stores across the entire globe– down from 6,500 stores in 2010. Clearly, Redbox is on the ascendency.

I call this competition the great shrinking business model. For local movie and game rental, Redbox learned that a kiosk could take the place of an entire retail store. It was quite a revolutionary business decision to implement a strategy that relied entirely upon glorified vending machines.

But the model certainly makes business sense. In a convenience-driven market where almost all consumers own and use credit cards, renting a movie for about $1/day on the way home from the grocery store is easy to understand and simple to do. Selling through a kiosk also allows consumers to rent media 24-hours-a-day.

By taking advantage of evolving consumer behavior, Redbox benefits from a streamlined overhead– with fewer employees, drastically reduced leases and lower insurance rates than required to run a full-size retail store. These optimizations allow Redbox to offer the exact same product as Blockbuster more conveniently and for a cheaper price.

Blockbuster is the market loserSome might argue that the experience of interacting with a movie buff employee at a retail movie rental store makes the visit worthwhile. Perhaps, but it seems that the corporate nature of Blockbuster killed that experience along with the neighborhood video rental store  years ago. My last experience at a Blockbuster included an uninterested employee mumbling “hi” to me without even lifting his head out of box of movies he was sorting. Frankly, I feel the kiosk is more friendly.

By analyzing the business models, it comes as no surprise that Redbox is quickly eliminating the market need for Blockbuster. This rapidly shrinking business model should make you think about your industry– are you the clever innovator or the stodgy competitor about to be taken by surprise?

A Primer on the New Facebook Page Design

How businesses can quickly integrate the new page design into their marketing efforts

Savvy businesses already know that Facebook is launching a mandatory page design update for all businesses on March 30, 2012. This quick primer will help your business get ready for the switch and outline a few of the marketing benefits of the new design.

First, to see the new page design in action, visit Zoo in a Jungle Marketing’s Facebook Page. Here’s a screenshot for you to preview:

 

How to update your business’s Facebook Page

When you visit the admin section of your Facebook Page, you’ll be encouraged to take a tour of the new layout. Throughout the tour, you’ll have an opportunity to upload key graphics and learn how to update the content.

  1. The first step is to create and upload a “cover photo,” an image 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. I chose a photo I took at the Cincinnati Zoo with my tagline, “Uncage Your Potential!” Get creative with your cover photo, but be cautious about making it too promotional. Facebook won’t accept an image with too much text, pricing information or calls-to-action.
  2. The next step is to ensure the image containing your logo is square, with a minimum size of 180 pixels by 180 pixels. A rectangular image will not display properly.
  3. Finally, you’ll be given a chance to organize your content, highlight important updates and learn how to interact with Facebook users.
That’s it! Updating your business’s Facebook Page is pretty easy. Remember to keep updating your page at least weekly with interesting content for your customers.

Benefits of the new Facebook Page design

  • Businesses can develop a richer experience for the customers on the new page. Details like “milestones” allow businesses to share more with customers than they could before.
  • The “cover photo” makes the Facebook Page look more polished, like the important marketing communications tool it is.
  • Businesses can customize the new page to fit their brand and business goals.
  • In my opinion, the information on the page is better organized, allowing for faster communication.
You don’t have to wait until the end of March to switch to the new page design! Get started on your Facebook page today. And if you have any questions, just call or email: 513.833.4203 or amanda@zooinajungle.com.

Marketing Podcast: 2012 Marketing Planning

For the first “Getting Down to Business” of 2012, Dave Weatherholt and I teamed up to talk small business planning. Dave covered some important financial steps every small business should take, while I focused on marketing tips to get your marketing plan in shape for the coming year. I’ve linked to the entire show, so enjoy an hour of Getting Down to Business!

Listen or download below:

Marketing Podcast: 2012 Marketing Planning

This segment first aired during “Getting Down to Business” on Alaska’s Fox News Talk 1020.