The Best Forms of Free Marketing

When it comes to advertising and marketing, there are literally thousands of people and companies ready to scramble for your hard-earned dollars promising they will turn those dollars into bigger profits for you.  Some of this is absolutely true and viable; the best forms of advertising and marketing will pay off for weeks, months, and even years to come.

Marketing is how you build your entire brand strategy. Marketing is public relations and advertising, but it is mostly the creation of a lifestyle. Whether your product is something people need every day like a grocery product or something we want like a high-end luxury item, marketing asks you to create the entire world surrounding your product.

This list will provide you will various marketing strategies to start creating a culture and demand for whatever you sell:

  1. HARO – Help A Reporter Out. The best marketing is FREE marketing, and that is exactly what HARO does. You get on their email list and they will send you proposals from various blogs, magazines, vlogs, etc. asking for your expertise. It takes a little legwork, but I HIGHLY recommend Roberta Perry’s book, 

    The Power of Free Publicity: Using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to Build Relationships and Get Free Press, for incredible suggestions on how to make this work for your business.

  2. Using Canva.com, you can create beautiful and free images to demonstrate the lifestyle of your brand. Custom design these images for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to cross-promote your product – for free!
  3. Most local newspapers like to highlight small businesses in their area. Grab a copy of your local paper and check the business section. Contact that editor with an amazing email pitch, including photographs, and he/she will probably be extremely appreciative for not having to scour for the next story.
  4. Use free services such as Manta, Foursquare, YellowPages, Google Listings, and Yelp to get your business on the map. This is great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because when customers in your area are looking for products like yours, your business will pop up on these familiar websites.
  5. Team up with another vendor of a complementary business and work together to promote each other’s products. You could put together a gift basket, offer incentives for each other’s customers, or simply write an anecdotal about what you love about their products. People trust businesses when they are recommended by other people they know, so use that networking to your advantage.
  6. Work with a local cause, such as a charity or school, to promote your products for trade. These organizations often hold raffles and auctions and could use your products to help them raise money. Contact them to see how you could donate for promotion.

Overall, the best way to market your brand is through your current customers. Their word-of-mouth is invaluable.  Offer a variety of incentives for customers to write reviews and social media posts about how they use your products and watch your business soar!

Advertisements

Building a Branded Facebook Group

Once upon a time, businesses could create a free Facebook page, free Instagram account, and free Twitter account where followers would “like” or “follow” their company and receive all of the latest news via social media. Well, not long ago, the big, bad wolves of social media learned that this was an easy way to leech businesses of free-flowing cash – instead of showing all of your posts to your fans, a business would have to pay for a “boost” to actually get that post in front of the people who requested it.

There is a much smarter way to work around this dilemma, and that’s through a Branded Facebook Group. Facebook Groups allow you to create a direct pipeline to the customers who want to hear from you. If you start this group right, the greatest benefit of these groups is that the people who join them want to be engaged in your business and as long as they keep their notifications on, you will not have to pay any extra to get your message to them!

Here are a few tips to help you start branding your own Facebook group that is fun, engaging, and offering content people want to be involved in:

  1. The cover of your Branded Facebook Group should have your photo, your business name, your website, your logo, and your hashtag. If you don’t have any of these things, then create them (preferably before you have people join your group).
  2. Make the settings of your group CLOSED. You don’t want it to be public because then you don’t have the power to jury who is involved, and you also don’t want it to be secret because you want people to be able to find the group. Keeping it closed allows you to choose who is approved to the group while still having the ability to be found.
  3. DO NOT ADD PEOPLE TO YOUR GROUP. I repeat, DO NOT ADD PEOPLE TO YOUR GROUP. The worst way to engage customers is to force them into this group. Instead, let your fans and customers know about the group and offer them the option to choose to be involved.
  4. Have a clear set of rules and guidelines for your branded group. If you don’t want other people promoting their similar products, make that a rule; if you don’t want negativity, make that a rule. Have a balance of rules so that there are clear parameters without sounding like a Hogwarts prefect. (PRO TIP: Use the “pinned post” feature to keep your rules at the top of the group.)
  5. Give your group an incentive!  Why should people join your group?  I have a branded group for my bath, body, and candle business and I offer special sweepstakes, rewards, birthday bonuses, and mystery boxes for those who join my “VIP” group. You want your group to have something special that your customers cannot get from being email subscribers or regular fans (save different specials for those groups, as well).
  6. Spark conversation in your group.  It shouldn’t just be you talking AT people, but offering a way for people to respond or engage on their own. Share fun, related articles. Go on Facebook Live. Share special insights – anything to get people to spark conversation.  Sometimes that’s as simple as asking people what their plans are for an upcoming holiday!
  7. Be honest and transparent in your group.  This is the place where people are supposed to be able to “get real” with you and engage with you on a personal level. Give honest answers and offer white-glove service. Customers will often default to this group when they have customer service inquiries, as well. Those inquiries may not always be positive, but leave those comments up there because it’s all about how you respond – even if people aren’t commenting, they’re watching and that builds your brand.
  8. Use your group as a way to ask for input through surveys and questions. Customers love believing they are part of the process – whether that’s a creative product choice, a design, or what to bring to your next event – this is an awesome way for people to share their views and for you to gain valuable insight to what’s working.
  9. Engage in your own group every day. Even if you don’t have some groundbreaking news, you can offer a motivational quote or fun fact to ensure you’re keeping your own group alive.
  10. Stay on brand. This can be hard sometimes, as we’re not always in the mood to represent what our brand does, but stop and ask yourself if whatever you’re posting adds to the greater vision of your company. If you sell organization, don’t be late with your posts; if you sell factual information, don’t post articles that haven’t been fact-checked.

I absolutely love the video below by Sunny Lenarduzzi. I was introduced to her work by Life Coach, Donna DeRosa, and I find Sunny’s work on branding and social media to be brilliant; I highly recommend this video as you build and expand your group.

 

 

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

PR Faux Pas: Managing Marketing Mayhem

United Airlines’s recent PR disaster, where they were taped by a passenger dragging another passenger off of an overbooked flight, is just one example of how the combination of poor judgment and social media could lead to major marketing mayhem. While most small business owners would never have to deal with a PR crisis on that scale, how can they recover gracefully when they slip up on social media, have a customer threatening legal action, and so on?

The road to recovery all begins with humility riding on the white horse of sincerity.  The CEO, President, Owner (or whoever is at the top of the company) needs to first metaphorically bow with mea culpa. An honest and sincere apology acknowledging the misdeed coupled with plan-of-action is pivotal. The objective is to diffuse the situation and acknowledgment of wrongdoing always helps to begin quelling the fire.

The second aspect of the apology must include a plan-of-action. Apologies are only as meaningful as the next steps taken to rectify the situation. When you read the angry reviews of most customers, their anger stems from a lack of a business taking action. While taking action often costs money on the part of the business, whether it’s a refund or replacement, the positive feelings created by letting the consumer know you heard the complaint and are willing to fix it will often humanize the entire event.

The next step is following up with the customer on a personal level. Once the rectified actions have taken place, a phone call or email should be made to the customer to ensure the mistake was made right this time.  Offering up an incentive to come back and prove yourselves again is perfectly fine, as well.  As an example, I once purchased a Groupon to try a new hair salon. I made the appointment, paid for parking, and checked-in five minutes before my appointment time. After an hour, I was still sitting there, and no one spoke to me, so I walked out. A few hours later, I received a phone call from the owner who profusely apologized and offered a free haircut at an appointment of my choice. When I stormed out, I was infuriated, but the phone call completely diffused my feelings towards the salon.

As a small business owner, you have to understand the dichotomy of a customer. While they are often very understanding if you take the time to explain a situation, they are also micro-zoned into their own experience. You may have had 100 great service actions to this one error, but the customer is only seeing his/her own situation. Stopping to take the time and rectify the situation is always worthwhile.

Opening it up to the consumer can sometimes be a tactic of action, as well. Asking: “How can I make this situation better for you?” will allow the customer to feel like he/she has regained the lost power he/she had when the error happened. Empowering the customer to be a part of the solution ensures a satisfactory response. If there is fear that the request will be outlandish, offer up multiple solutions when you ask. For example, “I am deeply sorry your order came so much later than the expected time frame. I know we disappointed you and I would like to ensure you are completely happy. We will gladly refund your shipping expenses on this order, and for the future, would you prefer a store credit or free shipping on your next purchase?” With this action, you have acknowledged the error, apologized, corrected it, and incentivised a future purchase.

As a small business, your customers always need to be your number one priority, and truly, in the era of social media, even big businesses (as we can see from the United Airlines example) are expected to put the customer first. We have to remember that without our customers, and their word-of-mouth, we would not be in business.

Acknowledgment – Apology – Correction – Incentive

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Content Marketing: Strategy Through Language

Christine Given-Laureano of Ba6 Marketing asks a powerful question: “When people come to your website do they know right away what you can do for them?”

The business buzz term, content marketing, is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services (thank you, Google).

With the right content marketing strategies, Given-Laureano’s question should be answered through every medium in which you market.

It all starts with language. If you paid attention to your high school English teacher, you should know about tone, diction, and syntax. These three pivotal modes of language will develop your branding.

Tone – Tone is the feeling the author creates through his/her words. Think of “It was a dark and stormy night…” – the tone is ominous, quickly suggesting there is something precarious, and creating a tumultuous mood. Translate the right tone into your content writing to attract the customer you want.

Diction – Word choice. Diction is being mindful of the specific words you use.  Note the difference:  “Sally walked into the business meeting” versus “Sally strutted into the business meeting.” The diction you choose will ultimately affect the tone which circles who you attract to your branding. A Sally who “struts” creates the image of power, strength, and confidence; a Sally who simply walks does not.

Syntax – Finally, syntax, which is ultimately your grammatical structure. Of course, you want to use proper grammar in all content you offer in your marketing, but there is some flexibility depending on the tone you want to suggest.  “Mechanics who can fix it all” vs “Now you gone and got yourself in a tizzy?”

Let's eat, grandma!.jpg

When writing your content, start with the tone you want to present to your target market. Who are your products made for? Once you have determined the tone you want to use, then follow with the appropriate diction and syntax to embody this tone. Your language needs to match this market. For example, if your market is aimed towards kids, you want to use simple, excited, clean language: “Holy cow! You can spin, whirl, twirl, and jump all at once!” If your focus is luxury and you’re marketing to a higher-end clientele, you want to use language that is sophisticated and original: “Join us for an exclusive experience.”

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different possible markets. To get ideas, search out established brands who are aiming for the same/similar market you are and note their use of language. You can also step back and ask yourself: “What experience am I trying to offer with my branding?”  Go back to Given-Laureano’s idea of “what can you do for them?” and include “who are you talking to?”

Here’s a list of tone words to help you get started – and I highly recommend Ba6 Marketing for driving your content to the next level.

Happy content marketing!

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Small and Micro Businesses Who Want to Donate to Charity

Combining your small business with a charity venture is a kind, generous, and strategic implementation of your business. According to the United States Small Business Association, “85 percent of consumers have a more positive image of companies who are philanthropic.” When planning your donation, there are a few important factors to consider:

  • Is the charity actually a legal 501(c)3 charity under the government? If not, your donations may not actually be tax deductible, and worse, they may not actually be going to charity.
  • How much of your donation is actually going to benefit the cause?  Using a website like Charity Navigator can help give you a financial breakdown of where your money is going.
  • Are you planning a one-time donation or an ongoing donation? Understanding this can help focus your marketing strategy.
  • Is the charity aligned with your branding?  You want to pick a charity that your target customer will care about (not that all charities aren’t important), but an organization that will spark the pathos of your particular company. For example, if you’re a company with beach branding, a charity that helps clean water or ocean life would make more sense than saving snow leopards.

Once you’ve found a charity organization that is suitable, you should contact their ambassador director or donations director. Have a conversation with this person to explain your plans (ongoing or one-time donation) and to inquire about any permissions you will need in order to use their logo or their name in your marketing.

Ironically, as a business, you cannot just assume you can start donating without proper permissions. When items are sold to benefit a charity there are certain guidelines that must be followed in order to protect their 501(c)3 non-profit status. Using language that indicates a sale or action will affect a donation amount (such as “a portion of the purchase price” or dollar amount per sale) triggers the need for a commercial co-venture legal agreement, which may require both the business and the charity to register as co-venturers in certain states.
You’re much better off getting the permissions required and using simple language such as “[Business Name] is proud to support [xyz] charity.”
To keep things simple, I advise most businesses to avoid using wording that mentions dollar amounts, percentages, or proceeds and adhere to the language provided above. This way, a commercial co-venture agreement is not necessary.
kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Using Facebook Live as a Marketing Tool

Since its inception, Facebook Live has become a powerful marketing tool for small businesses to directly connect with its current followers and to make personal connections with new followers. In essence, it allows you to create an immediate presentation in real time to anyone, anywhere. Facebook Live married the dream of Skype video messaging with the strength and outreach that Facebook already had.

While hosting a Facebook Live is extremely beneficial to businesses, it also comes with many challenges, and is not quite as easy as having a Skype conversation with your best friend across the country. You’re speaking to dozens, potentially hundreds of clients, you must use your cell phone, and the most anxiety-inducing: you’re live. But like any quality presentation, the key to effectiveness is preparation.

Some best practices to keep in mind while using Facebook Live:

  1. Make an appointment to host your Facebook Live session so people can make arrangements to stream in. The point for the event is for people to watch with you while you’re presenting, but if they don’t have advance notice, they may have to watch it afterward and you both miss out on the interaction.
  2. Facebook Live is a streaming tool, so while this is excellent for a question-and-answer session, you need to come to your live session with a set topic and talking points. Silent periods on the internet are just as awkward as silent periods in regular presentations.
  3. Prepare your talking points by making an agenda in large print and having it next to you out of the camera’s sight. You want to be able to use the agenda as cue-cards to transition between ideas within your set topic.
  4. When you begin your live session, be mindful that there are a lag and delay, so give people at least thirty seconds to join your live. Introduce yourself and then explain that you are allowing some time for people to join the session.
  5. Make people who are watching feel welcome by greeting them as they join. Invite them to ask questions and make comments as they watch.
    1. *Individual greetings by name are ideal but may be cumbersome depending upon how many people are joining your live session. If you anticipate a large number of people joining your live, it is a good idea to ask a teammate to join in and field the comments so the viewers could still receive individualized attention – just be sure to introduce your teammate.
  6. If you’re presenting products or selling items, be sure to have props readily available. Don’t waste time by getting up and searching while your audience watches you fumble around.
  7. Look presentable. You may be streaming your live session from home, or somewhere informal, but people are still watching and judging. Be mindful of your appearance and your audience.
  8. Speak slowly and clearly. When speaking publically, people have a tendency to speak quickly because they want to “get it over with,” but it just sounds rushed and harried. Spend time enunciating your words, minimizing your accent.
  9. Follow up the Facebook Live with photos and text of things you spoke about in a separate post. This gives an easy reference point for people who did join you and don’t want to watch the video again, or for the people who did not catch the video live and don’t have the time to watch the whole video.
  10. Always conclude with thanking the people who spent the time to watch you live and offer to answer any follow-up questions or comments.

How else do you use Facebook Live to market your business?

Key Ways to Build Your Brand

You can advertise your business, share your business, talk about your business, and still not build your brand. The first thing to understand about branding: Branding is your identifier. Your brand is your distinct characterization; what makes YOU, you. You could sell the same exact product as someone else (such as in direct sales), but build your brand in a different way.

Case Study
Let’s take a look at Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Snooki became popular from the MTV reality show Jersey Shore from 2009-2012. She built her brand around being a party girl with a few distinguishing characteristics such as: drinking pickle juice, only dating “guidos” (a colloquial term denoted for Italian-American men who are particularly interested in their physical appearance), getting absurdly inebriated, whining, styling her hair in a “pouf,” and playing to the ignorant female stereotype. This was her hook. This became her brand. She created an entire style trend around her demeanor.

Fast forward to 2017, Snooki no longer wants to be “Snooki,” she wants to be “Nicole,” and finds herself on Celebrity Apprentice with Arnold Shwarzenneger. She tries incredibly hard to define herself as a businesswoman, but is simply not taken seriously by any of her counterparts – why? Because she has already built such a strong brand around being the party girl.

Now, we may not all want our businesses to emulate Snooki’s, nonetheless, there is no denying the brilliance to the strategy denoted. She took this type and made it hers, and more so, she made other girls want to be like her during the time that it was trending. The problem with her branding – there was no foresight for how to make it everlasting.

The Key Points to Think About as You Brand
When building your brand strategy, you have to think about longevity. What is your eternal message? How do you want your business to be remembered for years to come? What are the main ideas from the strategies in your marketing?

After You Have Your Message, How Do You Begin Branding?

  1. Start with a tone. How do you want your brand voice to sound? Is it formal, or friendly? Maybe even sarcastic, or whimsical? It could be polished and professional, or low-key. Consider all the factors of your target audience before thinking about your tone to ensure they match. For example, if you make kids products, you wouldn’t want a formal and professional tone. All of your marketing should have a matching tone. Use this list of tone words to get you started.
  2. Hire a graphic artist to design the perfect logo. Your logo is your number one most important part of your branding and must match your tone. Your logo is the equivalent of your face – it’s the first thing that everyone sees and judges your company by. Your logo must be distinct, clear, and easy to manipulate. You absolutely need to hire a real graphic designer to create one for you to ensure you’re not infringing on any trademarks and that you’re receiving a discernable, fresh product. A great place to start is 99Designs.
  3. After you have established a tone and logo, establish a lifestyleA lifestyle will distinguish your premise, especially if your branding is circled around certain issues. Lifestyle branding is important because you’re creating an entire image around who and what your customers are, or who and what your customers aspire to be. This can be centered around so many ideas from serenity to empowerment, to charity, to even our earlier example – a party girl. Lifestyle IS your entire image.
  4. Create a matching color scheme. The right color combination is key to distinguishing your brand’s mood and atmosphere as each color holds symbolic significance. For example, purple is known to be regal, majestic, soothing, and feminine, as such, purple is used by many beauty brands.  Buffer Social has a great post on which colors to use for your marketing strategies. Use your color scheme throughout all of your marketing materials.
  5. Create matching graphics and fonts across all of your social media platforms. Your graphics and fonts should create the same effect and essence that your lifestyle is meaning to present. For example, would you expect to read Shakespeare in Comic Sans font? Probably not. A simple program to use is Canva. Canva will actually allow you to create a whole branding package by programming your chosen colors and fonts.

The way you present your branding is key to the life of your business. You want your customers both to imagine themselves as part of your brand and as though they cannot live without it. You have to create an entire world, a lifestyle, that surrounds the ideas you’re trying to present, but be sure that those ideas are transcendental. The ideologies and philosophies of your brand need to be everlasting, but also fluid enough to evolve with the times. Think over the course of the next 12 months, three years, five years, and beyond, if the ideologies are not thematic and timeless, then the branding will not stick with people. Be mindful of what timeless ideas you’re presenting, as well. Like the example I presented earlier, Snooki was young and maybe unaware of the brand she was creating, and while it was powerful and trendy, it became trashy and ruthless.

Choose your branding wisely.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Creating a Blog to Build Your Business

Creating a Blog to Build Your Business

You have been blogging much longer than you realize. You probably wrote in a journal or a diary, you certainly wrote papers for school, you have crafted long emails. The key to remember about blogging is that all blogging is just writing. It’s that simple. You don’t need to be intimidated by blogging because you write every day. In our technology-driven world, we are constantly using our words to express ideas. Despite the movement of media, the one transcending factor since the dawn of literacy are words. The beauty of blogging, you determine exactly how you want to communicate – without interruption, without the fear of public speaking; you have the opportunity to edit your thoughts and express ideas.

What Blogging Has Done for My Business

Donna DeRosa of Donna DeRosa Coaching runs a Facebook group called “Blog Your Brand.” In this group, we share our weekly blogs to encourage writing, ascertain new ideas, and support one another. Donna DeRosa runs a 30 Day Blog-Your-Brand Challenge at least once a year, and the objective is to blog for 30 consecutive days. I participated in the Fall 2015 challenge and saw some results, but my business was still a baby. Fast forward to the Summer 2016 challenge and the current Winter 2017 challenge, and the results were incredible. I saw:

  • 200-300% Traffic increase on my website
  • 30% More sales during the challenge
  • Added one wholesale account
  • Asked to give lecture for creative makers in a local business
  • Asked to offer blogging advice to new bloggers
  • Asked to teach a series of workshops on blogging at the school where I teach (I am also a HS English teacher)
  • Three particular blog posts received so much attention, they’ve been collectively shared 1000 times!

What do all of these facts mean? It means I am gaining authority in my brand, and when you have authority, you gain recognition, and recognition equals sales.

Getting Started with Blogging

  1. Use a site, such as WordPress.com that will host a free blog. Use WordPress’ functions to blast your blog automatically to every social media account you have available.
  2. If you have a website, such as through Shopify or WooCommerce, have that blog automatically imported into your website so you can draw visitors directly to where they should shop.
  3. Choose a manageable, but consistent blog schedule.  It is much better for your customers, and website SEO, to write one blog per week than to blog every day for two weeks, and then nothing for two weeks.
  4. Think about your target customer and what he/she wants to learn about that relate directly to your products, these are great ways to start.
  5. Try not to make your blogs too sales-pitchy (save that for your newsletter). Instead, treat your blog as a way to inspire and inform your customers.
  6. Find one way to link back to your store in every blog.
  7. Treat your blog with respect by using proper grammar and spelling. People won’t notice a properly formatted blog (which is ideal), but they will notice one with lots of errors.
  8. Build authority in your brand by properly linking back to your source material. You don’t have to follow MLA Citations, per se, but you DO need to cite your sources. Never take credit for another person’s work (this includes non-stock photos).
  9. Make your blog engaging with at least one graphic.
  10. Break down your blog into small paragraphs, lists, or sub-titles. It makes for quick scanning and easy reading.
  11. Use a friendly, conversational tone in your blogs. My advice is the same for newsletters. Assume you are speaking to your smartest friend.

If you’re ready to get started blogging, or even if you’re an expert blogger, I suggest you join the “Blog Your Brand” Facebook group run by Donna DeRosa. Blogging, like everything else, takes time and practice, and the best thing you can do is to just get started. You will get better and start building a strong following.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

The Top 5 Necessities to Reach the Millennial Market

The Millennial Generation are people born between 1982-2002. The majority of this age group is now established in their careers, buying homes, having children, and working with discretionary funds.

What makes this generation unique?  They are tech-savvy, but were raised playing outside. They don’t carry cash. They have already invested in their retirement funds. They were raised in a generation where college and beyond was necessary. They are online shoppers, using reviews as a driving force for decision-making and authority.

So how do you appeal to this particular market with your brand?

  1. You absolutely need a website. 
    • There’s no getting around this one, friends. In an age where you can set up your own shopping website with BigCommerce or Shopify for pennies on the dollar, there is literally no excuse for not having your own shopping website. If you run your own business, BigCommerce and Shopify are incredibly reliable and efficient resources. Websites, for the Millennial Market, prove that you are not only a legitimate business with authority on your subject, but that you are professional and serious. Websites are game-changers for Millennials; they don’t just expect any run-of-the-mill website; it needs to be mobile responsive, fast-loading, efficient, filled with professional photography, and high-end graphics. Read more about eCommerce websites.
  2. You need honest reviews.
    • The Millennial Market is driven by honest reviews. I use the term “honest” here because while we may be tempted to delete negative reviews believing they will impact us poorly, they actually make the products appear more truthful. If you’re selling a quality product, and I’m sure you are, you will have only a few poor reviews negating the many positives. You want to try and elicit as many published reviews as possible to prove not only that others are buying your product, but to relate to potential customers.
  3. You need a story.
    • Millennials are well-educated and have the world at their fingertips because they are so tech-savvy, in order to stand-out in a crowd, you need a story which demonstrates your brand and explains what sets you apart. You have to show why someone should buy your product instead of ordering something similar for half the price from abroad.
  4. You need a cause.
    • Much like the concept of having a story, having a cause, purpose, or charity, is a driving force to define your brand, you, and most of all – to define the buyer’s philanthropy. Millennials always seem strapped for time, and they have full intentions to do good, but may not have the ability, so if buying your product is also offering a donation or service to a cause, you’re making the buyer feel good inside and out.
  5. You need customization features.
    • The Millennial market is unique in that its lost in a lot of the white noise of the internet. While Generation X came from a staunchly defined focus of civil liberties, and the Baby Boomers were fighting oppression, the Millennials are still young and seeking their own imprint on the world. Offering customized features allows people (not just Millennials) to add a piece of themselves, which also clearly defines your brand. You don’t have to change everything you offer, but make minor adjustments where customers can make their own choices about some factor. For example, perhaps you offer a set number of products, you can make a choose-your-own gift set which allows customers to define what products will be a part of it.

All in all, if you’re seeking to market to Millennials, it’s imperative to understand their culture and needs. Some big-box favorites of Millennials include Lush, Apple, Teespring – take a look at these companies to get a better idea of how they’re imparting each of the aforementioned points.

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo
President
Vine Vendor Network

Keeping Business Momentum Flowing After the Holidays

Keeping Business Momentum Flowing After the Holidays

The holidays are an amazing time for even moderately successful retail businesses. People are feeling joyful and giving, and this leads to spending money. According to the National Retail Federation, 30% of yearly sales are made during the holiday season alone! So how do you keep the momentum of sales up during the other 10 months of the year?

  1. Make sure you send out email newsletters to your customers on a regular basis. This can be once a week, twice a month, but don’t send less frequently than once per month. Use this marketing technique to establish a brand and keep your customers interested.
  2. Use social media as a different type of marketing tool – one where your customers can engage directly with you and your business. Set up a Facebook page, an Instagram account, Twitter, and Pinterest. Also use Google Plus to establish your website ranking.
  3. Create a mega-sale to get rid of any holiday inventory. While this may not be your brand’s style, people are still shopping looking for extra savings and any inventory left on your shelves is money lost.
  4. Offer a free gift with purchase to keep people interested.  You can do a buy X, get Y, or buy a certain amount, get something, or you can make it a mystery gift.
  5. Repurpose inventory into gift sets to make future shopping easy for customers. Start planning for Valentine’s Day and start hyping it up by mid-January.
  6. Offer a new product or a limited-edition product to create a sense of urgency in sales.
  7. Send out a survey to your customers to see what they liked and gain general feedback. This serves as both analytics and a way to engage with your customers.
  8. Write out and mail thank-you cards to everyone who made a holiday season purchase. You are creating a personal touch as well as reminding customers about your business.
  9. Host a contest asking your customers to share photos using your products. Offer a prize to the most creative, or have people vote, whatever it may be, it’s another way for people to become excited about your business all over again.
  10. Use the Vine Vendor Network to create press and media for your business. Having a blog post written about your business can establish your authority, be used in marketing, as well as excellent website SEO benefits. You can spread the knowledge about your business with your blog link to new customers and catch the eye of businesses looking to host your product.

 

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo
President
Vine Vendor Network