How to spot a suspicious email

There are in excess of 100 billion spam email messages sent every day. Even with the best email filters, some of it is bound to end up in your inbox. Take a look at the example message below to see how you can identify a spam/phishing message in your inbox.

One notorious type of phishing email is The “Your Mailbox is Almost Full” email.  This email comes from “IT Support” and states your email account is over limit. In the following image, I’ve pointed out three places to look for to see if this email is legitimate or not.

suspicious-email-tips

First, I look to the “to field”. My name and email address are not in the to field. In fact, no email address is listed in the to field. This leads me to believe that I was BCC (blind carbon copied) on the email along with many others.

Second, I look to the from name and email address. The email address is not one that I recognize. The URL is not known to me and neither is the person’s name. I also happen to know that we don’t contract with a company called ICT, so there is really no reason they would be sending me a support email.

And third, when I hover over the link in the email (Clean-up system) I see the URL is questionable and built on a free site that was likely put up just for this scam. Now, I didn’t click on the link, so I don’t know what is on that site, however, I can guess at what I would find. It would likely ask for my username and password at which time they would have all the info they need to hack into my email account.

So what should you do when you get an email like this? Delete it. If you aren’t sure whether it is legitimate or not, forward it (or a screen shot of it) to your actual IT person to have them verify the contents of the email.

Scammers typically use fear based tactics (“oh no! I can’t send or receive email!” in this case) to get the consumer to respond without analyzing the actual email first. Arming yourself and your staff with the ability to spot spam will help keep your business running strong.

Though these three simple steps are not full-proof insurance that you’ll never be hacked via email, they are a good place to start.

Lead generation and brand building with a printed Newsletter

Hanson Doremus NewsletterTalk about consistency and discipline, Hanson & Doremus Investment Management in Burlington, Vermont has not missed publishing and mailing their monthly investment newsletter Thoughts to their clients and key prospects since 1995. I know this because Paw Print & Mail has had the privilege of being their printing company since that time.

When asked why founder Eric Hanson persists mailing his newsletter all these years, particularly in a digital age, he knows there’s no substitute for disseminating the valuable work that goes into producing such a document, while reinforcing his brand, than putting it right in someone’s hands. Says Hanson, “It’s far too easy for people to pass over or delete an email in a crowded inbox. We still believe in mail because it’s tactile, it has shelf life, and because mail has become more unique and impressionable than email. We make the digital version available on our website, but the printed version gets more readership.”

A newsletter is a cost-effective medium for building and maintaining regular contact with customers and prospects. In its 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends study, the Content Marketing Institute found that 78 percent of respondents used newsletters. Research firm Nielsen Norman Group asked respondents how they preferred to receive company updates, and 90 percent cited newsletters, compared to 10 percent for social media.

Developing a newsletter program with a solid audience will prove to be a very important marketing asset for the duration of your company. Think about how on any given website you only have a few seconds to capture the attention of a visitor before they are potentially gone forever.

Developing a strategy to attract new customers and retaining existing clients is crucial to successful marketing. Maintaining a company blog is a great way to get your personal message out to many viewers. But a blog is a passive effort, meaning a user must navigate to it in order to get the message. Transforming a passive blog into a pro-active newsletter program is a logical ancillary step.

Build Awareness:
Publishing a newsletter gives you the opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of your company and its products and services. Customers and prospects may have a limited perspective of what your company can offer if they only view your advertisements or receive promotional email. Newsletter content builds a broader picture. To encourage readers to find out more, add a call-to-action to encourage action and include links to more detailed information on your website.

Demonstrate your Expertise:
A newsletter can demonstrate your expertise and build confidence in your company as a potential supplier. Marketing consultancy PR20/20 notes that newsletter content that provides valuable information to customers and prospects helps to establish a company as an industry leader. To establish leadership, include articles that cover important issues in your market sector or share information on industry research. Provide details of any conferences where your company is making a presentation.

Promote your Business or Organization:
You can use newsletters to promote products and services or launch new products. Including information on special offers helps reinforce the effect of your advertising and promotional campaigns. Running special offers exclusive to readers enhances the value to the newsletter. You can integrate newsletter content with other elements of a new product launch by including announcements and articles related to the product.

Connect with Your Clients and Prospects:
Issuing newsletters at regular intervals – weekly, monthly or quarterly – helps you maintain contact with customers and prospects between purchases or sales calls. If you face a decision-making process that is long and complex, for example, you can use newsletters to communicate with all decision makers throughout the process. If customers buy your products or services infrequently, you can maintain contact between purchases so you build a strong relationship before the next sales opportunity.

Expand your Marketing Footprint:
Newsletters can help you increase the coverage of your target audience. By placing information about the newsletter on your website, you can capture contact details of new prospects by asking visitors to subscribe. Issuing newsletters by email to all of your customers and prospects is a low-cost method of communication, leaving more in your market budget for advertising or other promotional activities. Newsletters are therefore an extremely valuable marketing tool used by ourselves as well as by our customers. If you don’t have a newsletter, here are twelve reasons you should:

1. To increase awareness. Your newsletter should give enough information to create awareness about what you are offering your customers. People should get a good idea of how it would be to deal with you, or to buy your products, so that when they leave, they will feel compelled to find out more.

2. Position your brand. You should create the best first impression about your products or services on your newsletter. Customers tend to use your marketing and communication tools to form an impression of your business. Newsletters are an extremely strong marketing tool to differentiate businesses from one another.

3. To get more business from current clients. A newsletter is an effective way to let clients know about your other services and show them how they can benefit from those services, without being “pushy”.

4. To get repeat business from former clients. People who used your services or bought your products once will purchase again–when they’re ready. A newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with them until they are.

5. To educate prospects. A newsletter that provides prospective clients with valuable information helps them make better decisions, allows you to demonstrate your expertise, and provides a mechanism for staying in touch with them until they are ready to hire you.

6. To generate word-of-mouth referrals. Newsletters have pass-along value. A good newsletter will be shared with an average of three other people, even more online.

7. To build your contact list. You can offer visitors to your website a subscription to your newsletter in return for providing their email (and other contact information). When speaking or networking, you can offer to send your newsletter to people who provide you with their business card.

8. To establish expertise and credibility. Your writing helps prospects, publishers, reporters, meeting planners, and referral sources see you as the expert you are.

9. To provide content for, and traffic to, your web site. Your newsletter can drive traffic to your website or blog. Your newsletter content can be re-used as content on your web site or blog, generating additional traffic from search engines and social media.

10. To shorten the sales process. People who respond to your newsletter are better informed about what you do and pre-sold on your ability to do it, in contrast to people who come to you via advertising.

11. To serve as a networking tool. Your newsletter is a tool to reach out to other professionals. You can interview them for an article, conduct a survey, ask them to write an article, or ask permission to put them on your mailing list.

12. To add value to your services. A newsletter can provide an added benefit for clients. Give clients “subscriptions” or added value to current services or discounts on products. Put a price tag on the newsletter but send it free to current clients.
A newsletter requires an investment of time, and possibly some capital, but the return on that investment can be substantial. If you want to grow your business, a newsletter is one of the most highly leveraged marketing activities you can do.

Since 1990, Paw Print & Mail has been the reliable and expert source for printing and mailing newsletters, nonprofit appeal campaigns, and B2B printed communications of all kinds for hundreds of businesses and organizations. Read our reviews or contact us to plan or produce your next project.

Is your website stale? Perform a timely website audit.

Catamount-Marketing-Website-AuditMany website owners take the Ron Popeil approach with “set it and forget it” and while that may work for roasting chickens, it is a terrible web strategy. If it has been awhile since you reviewed your own website, summertime is an ideal time to do it. Here are 8 things to look for when you are doing a website audit.

  1. Check out your title tags. The title of your website is a critical factor when it comes to the major search engines understanding what your website is all about. A good title should be less than 55 characters and should contain a keyword (or two) that you want your website to be found for in a search.  The title tag appears in the tab of your browser and in the search engine results page. Check out the titles on your website pages.  If they are all the same and non-descriptive it is time to update them with more relevant and search friendly titles.
  2. Update content. Things can change rapidly in business. What was true about your company and its offerings when you launched your website may not be relevant today. Be on the lookout for:
    • Making sure all of your products and services are represented on your site.
    • Employee profiles are current.
    • News stories and press releases are up-to-date.
  3. Add video content. Processing over 3 billion searches per month, YouTube is now the 2nd largest search engine. Video content is becoming more and more important for your business. Share your process, products, promotions and people with short video clips that can be uploaded to YouTube and embedded on your site.
  4. Contact Information. Your contact information (address, phone and email) should be located and easy to find on every page of your site.
  5. Refresh graphics. Do a quick once over on your site. Do your graphics look crisp and clear? Do they load quickly and are sized properly for use on the web? If not, it is time to edit the graphics and re-upload them.
  6. Social media accounts. Can people easily find links to your Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts? Adding a clickable logo to your page makes this easy for all users to find and use.
  7. Cross links. Linking from one page of your website to another is an easy way for users to find and access information on your site. If in your opening paragraph on your homepage, you talk about one of your products, be sure to link the product name on the homepage to the product page. Creating these links can also be good for Search Engine Optimization. Add these links from one page to another where it makes sense and seems logical for the user.
  8. Optimized for mobile. This is no longer an option or a nice to have feature. Having a mobile optimized site is an absolute must for businesses. With over 50% of searches being done on mobile devices, if your site isn’t optimized for those uses you are very likely losing out on a lot of potential business. Check out what your website looks like on a mobile device. If it is not optimized for a smaller viewport, it is time to call your webmaster and get a mobile site pronto.

These are just a few critical items that you can review your website for to make sure your site is an asset and not a liability. If you need help with any of the items above, let us know. We are happy to help.

Now is the time to grow or start your blog

Catamount-Marketing-Blogging-IdeasArticles and statistics touting the benefits of blogging are ubiquitous. You know you probably should be blogging, but how and what you should write about plague even the most seasoned marketers. If you aren’t sure blogging is right for you, let’s start with a few statistics.

  • Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes.
  • 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result.
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013

Like many things, getting started blogging can be the hardest part. Use the following 11 suggestions to keep your blog going on a regular basis.

What should I write about?

Blogging is an informal platform. It can and should be written in a very similar tone to how you would speak to someone in a casual conversation. Here are 10 topics that can help you jumpstart your blog.

  1. Showcase a customer experience, anecdote or problem you have solved. Is there a time that you have come to the rescue for a client? Something you did that went above and beyond the call of duty? Share it on your blog. Write out the situation, the solution and what successes came from it and share it with the readers on your blog.
  2. Answer, in great detail, some of the most frequently asked questions about your company, products and services. Do you feel like you are always answering the same questions over and over again? Create a post for each one of your most frequently asked questions. In the post, explain industry jargon, why you do what you do, how you differ from the competition in this regard, what caused the policy to be this way, etc. If you don’t know what your most FAQ are, you can try answering the question “What do people need to know in order to do business with you?”
  3. Publish news and press releases on your own blog. Did someone in your company get a promotion? Earn an award? Accomplish something great (even non-business related)? Blog about it. A blog post showing appreciation for a stellar employee can do a lot for company morale, internal production and external promotion.
  4. Write about your experience with other industries. Did you just eat lunch at an amazing restaurant with superb service? Talking about the importance of service, delivery, brand messaging, etc. no matter what industry can be a great blog post. On this flip side, if you just had a terrible experience, that can also be a great blog post. Talk about what you would have done differently, how the situation could have been rectified and what you do to make sure a similar situation doesn’t happen in your place of business.
  5. Create a list. The internet loves a good list. Again, this can be about things in your industry or things adjacent to it. Do you have a list of the top 10 books that helped you succeed in business? Write about it. Top things you have learned from networking, from running, from ______ (insert your hobby here) can be a great, easy to read blog post.
  6. Talk about travel experiences. Have you had a once in a lifetime experience in a far off (or not so far off) place? Write about that too. How did it change you, what did you learn, what would you do differently? How did you manage the time away from work? In this 24/7, instant gratification world it can be very refreshing to see a business owner actually taking a step back and enjoying the life they are working so hard to maintain.
  7. Host a contest/giveaway/poll. People like to get free stuff! We worked with a client recently who ran an interactive contest with the grand prize being a week aboard their fishing vessel in Alaska. The contest was all about “why I deserve a week vacation”. People had to write a blog post on the topic and then share it on various social media sites to be entered in the contest. What it did was create a community of people who all wrote about how fun it would be to get away for a week aboard a fishing vessel. The client was able to use these contest entries as “guest” blog posts and gathered a lot of insight into why people want to take a fishing vacation. The content he gathered from this contest has been invaluable to his marketing efforts.
  8. Respond to news around you or your industry. Think about major events that are coming up in your area and how you could tie in your business to that event. Check with the local chamber of commerce and tourism board to see what events are happening that you could write about on your blog. On a broader scale, look at the world news and see what might be happening that you have experience and an opinion on that you would like to share with your audience. Maybe you have a unique spin on the Women’s US team winning the recent World Cup. Or maybe you just want to share your excitement about the win! Either way, currents are a great place to look for blog topics.
  9. Industry myths that need to be debunked. I’m sure every plumber has heard a bad joke about one of the many plumber stereotypes. If your company breaks the mold and is far from the stereotype, share that with people? Debunk myths that have lived for far too long about your industry.
  10. Talk about your future plans; both personal and professional. People tend to do business with people they like and trust. Posting your personal and/or professional goals and plans can seem like a vulnerable and private exercise, however, it will do two things for you. First, it may show a common bond that you are your customer never knew you had. Perhaps you both intend to run a marathon or bike across the state. Having something in common will increase your likability. Second, it can help hold you accountable to your goals. Statistics show that people who write down their goals have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them than those who don’t. Putting your goals in a blog post will help create a roadway to success.
  11. Show off a talent. In your daily 9 – 5 you may be the consummate professional but after 5 you rock the stage in a jazz band! Let people know about your talents. Now, I don’t mean to say that you should start doing shameless promotion that distracts from your everyday business, however, a blog post that shares your passion for music (or whatever your passion is) can again build trust and show the human side to your corporate personality.

Hopefully some, or all, of the topics above have started the wheels spinning on what you could put on your own blog.  If you do decide to start blogging, consider some of these best practices as well.

  1. Post in great detail. Aim for 1500 – 2000 words per post. If your content is relevant to your audience, easy to read, and meets a need, people will take the time to read a long post. Too few words and thin content can work against you if the reader feels their time was wasted.
  2. Source from your staff. Your blog can have multiple voices and tones to it. If you have a staff member that has something to talk about, give them the platform to do so.
  3. Try to use the words “you” and “I” in your posts as you would in everyday conversation.
  4. Make it easy to read. Bold items of importance, use bulleted/numbered lists and line breaks where necessary.
  5. Remember, what goes online stays online. Of course you can always delete a post, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a copy of it lurking around somewhere.
  6. Be consistent.  Blogs that are posted to daily receive more traffic and conversions than blogs that are posted to monthly. Set a schedule and be consistent in your posts.
  7. Share, share, share! Now that you have a consistent blog, it’s time to get people to your site! Social media is a great way to start getting people to your site. Share your posts on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn just to name a few. Ask friends to share your new blog as well. Then participate and comment on other forums and blogs that are relevant to yours. Be sure to include your blog URL in your signature on any posts you make to other sites and forums.

We’d love to hear about your blogging success. What has worked well for you and what hasn’t? Contact us today to let us know!

What website analytics reports should I be looking at?

Web-analytics-catamountmarketing.comWe talk to a lot of clients and prospects about what is working for their business and what is not. When it comes to their online presence, we can fairly objectively evaluate their success level by looking at a few key reports on Google Analytics. If you aren’t currently using an analytics program to evaluate your own website, we would strongly suggest you add some as soon as possible. Google Analytics is free and provides a comprehensive overview of who is looking at your site, how they found your site, what they did once they were on your site and more. While Google isn’t the only game in town, it is one of the largest.

You can sign up for a Google Analytics account by going to www.google.com/analytics and following the on-screen prompts. You will need to install the tracking code on your website which may require the help of your developer depending on how your site is set up. Once you have the account set up and the tracking code in place, you’ll begin seeing all kinds of data on your account dashboard. Google provides plenty of powerful out of the box reports and below you’ll find the ones that we most frequently look at when evaluating a websites performance.

  1. Acquisition Overview – Once you are logged in to your Analytics account, click on Acquisition from the left hand side, and then click on “Overview” from the menu that appears below Acquisition.  This report will show you how many people visited your website and where they came from during a specific time frame.  You can continue drilling down from this report. If your number one source of traffic was “organic search” you can click on that heading to see what terms were searched for to find your site. The data found on this report can give you a really good idea where traffic is being generated from.  If your organic search traffic is low, for example, it might be a good idea to ramp up the SEO on your pages.
  2. Top Landing Pages – This report (found under Behavior > Site Content > Landing Page) tells you what page people entered your site on. From an optimization stand point, this give you a tremendous opportunity to make sure the top entry pages are also the ones that are optimized with your best offers, headlines and conversion techniques. From this report, be sure to check out the bounce rate. This tells you the percentage of single page visits; meaning that this person only looked at the landing page without going anywhere else. If the bounce rate is quite high (over 50%), it may be time to rework the landing page to make sure it is inviting and tells the user what you want him/her to do on the site.
  3. Social Reports – If you use social media to promote your business, you can track its effectiveness in terms of website traffic using analytics. To access the social reports, click on Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals.  This report will show you how much traffic your social work is generating. Clicking on the name of the social network (Facebook for example) will drill down to another report that shows you what pages the visitor actually landed on.
  4. Mobile Report – Wondering if your website is getting any traffic from a mobile search? Check the report under Audience > Mobile > Overview to see what percentage of traffic is coming from desktop, mobile or tablets.  If you don’t yet have a mobile optimized website, the data reported here may convince you that it is finally time to take the leap.

One of the most important reports is not listed here and that’s because most websites we encounter don’t have this set up correctly. Google Analytics has a very important feature called Goals and Conversions. In Analytics, you can set up a goal. The goal can be a purchase from your online store, a successful form submission, or simply a visit to your contact us page. This is the true measure of how well your website is actually performing for your business. If your conversions are low, then it is time to rethink your landing page, your offer, your website layout or your product offering.

Setting up a goal isn’t terribly difficult, however, it does require some serious thought that not many business owners have put in to their sites. In order to set up a goal, you must have already considered what traffic flow you want your visitor to take. You must set up calls to action and offers on your site. You must have an offer that entices the user to complete your goal.  This a conversation that should be had internally first, then with your web developer or marketing partner to make sure they understand what your goal is and can implement it correctly.

Ideas to build customer Loyalty – Your Business’ Most Valuable Asset

Catamount-Marketing-Customer-LoyaltyThe reasons that anyone decides to venture down the path of business ownership vary. But for most, there’s one inarguable reason: the chance to live out your dream. Though you may think you are your company’s most important asset, nothing you do could happen without your customers. Your customers are, and always will be, the most important asset your business will ever have. With our experience in printing for small businesses, we’ve fulfilled some pretty creative customer retention pieces for our customers.

Some of our favorites include:

1.   The Disloyalty Program – A marketing program originally created by 6 independent coffee shops in the DC area has caught on in other regions too. The “disloyalty card” encourages patrons to break their daily routine and branch out to try other locally owned coffee businesses.

The participating shops give the Disloyalty Cards to their customers upon purchase of a drink. When customers visit the other five locally-owned coffee shops for a drink and they collect a signature on the card (one from every shop), they receive a complimentary coffee from any of the participating shops.

This unconventional marketing idea has proven to be a great way to network with other business owners, tap into new customers and bring some fun into their businesses.

2.    Company Branded Thank You Cards – The hand written thank you card is one of the oldest and smartest forms of marketing out there. Thank you cards:

  • Break through the digital clutter.  A thank you card is a pleasant physical interruption to our increasingly  digital lives.
  • Show you care. The recipient appreciates that you spent the time to write it. They know you had other things to do, so this shows that they were at the top of your priority list.
  • Strengthens the relationship. Marketing is “getting people to know, like and trust you.” Thank you cards help make this happen in a big way.
  • Does not require a computer. Many people have lost the art of hand written communication. A hand written note forces you not to rely on auto-correct or spell check; it forces you to think and feel.

 

As the late American author and poet, Maya Angelou so eloquently put it: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” A hand written thank you card definitely puts a check in the warm and fuzzy column; so send Thank You cards and send them often. You never know what kind of an impact it could have on the recipient’s day.

3.    Status Programs – We’ve all seen reward programs that are based on points or number of dollars spent each year. Airline mileage programs are a great example. The more you fly, the more perks you get with that particular airline. Small businesses can engage in this kind of program as well. Creating a program that rewards your best customers and continues to encourage them to make it to the next level creates buzz and exclusivity.  When a customer does jump to a higher level because of a purchase, be sure to acknowledge it! A special printed card, letter, sticker or magnet can go a long way in making your customer feel like they are in the inner circle and are highly appreciated.

Having a customer-loyalty program could help you increase repeat customers, which, in turn could boost your business’s revenue. According to a 2014 Manta study (achieving big customer loyalty in a small business world), a repeat customer spends 67 percent more on a given purchase than a new customer does. And they should be rewarded for this action, as retaining customers is less costly than acquiring new ones. By providing loyalty programs for current customers, small-business owners are not only saying thank you but are also motivating them to continue to be their brand ambassadors. Loyal customers will spread the word about a business to their professional, personal and social networks, helping small-business owners increase their customer base even more.

Do you offer a customer loyalty program? We’d love to hear new ideas! Tell us about it below.

Website Structure Types Overview

Catamount-Marketing-choosing-a-website-structureThere are 5 basic types of website design structures: Fixed Width, Adaptive, Responsive, Parallax, and Mobile. In a world rapidly moving toward being able to access any information on any device, a discussion of each follows.

Fixed Width – traditional web design where the website is created as a fixed width and is designed to start at the edge of a user’s browser or float to the middle of the browser window, assuming the browser window is larger than the fixed width of the website. Most fixed width sites are designed to view properly on monitors that have a screen resolution of 1024 pixel width or larger. This would include most desktop, laptop, and tablet computers. For most mobile devices, these sites display as a smaller image of the site and can be difficult to read and interact with.

Adaptive – Fixed Width sites with mobile optimized pages, typically are called Adaptive design. These sites provide a separate mobile user experience than that of tablet, laptop, and desktop users. Many people believe that an Adaptive site provides the best of both worlds. Due to limitations on mobile bandwidth and various data plans, Adaptive sites serve different content to the mobile user in a greatly reduced design format reducing the load time of the pages and providing just the information that a typical mobile user is looking for. Since a mobile searcher is more likely to take immediate action mobile page design and function is critical to the success of the Adaptive mobile experience. A good Adaptive website application will create your mobile page content directly from your desktop content, but will allow the site administrator to modify the mobile content separately from the desktop pages if and when it makes sense to do so. Most Adaptive designs start with the desktop design and adapt the content to fit the smaller screens.

Responsive – A responsive site is designed to optimize the viewer experience across any device. It responds to the screen size of the device and arranges content based on the device screen size. In order to function properly the website is created in a grid format with rules on how to manage the division layout on various screen sizes. Typically these sites are designed optimally for a specific screen size (i.e. 960, 1200, 1280 pixel width and then divided into a 12 or 16 equally sized grid layout with padding of 10 pixels on the left and right of each grid section), at 100% and then the content is increased or decreased as a percentage based on device. The smallest device size may be displayed at 50% of the original size and arranged based on sizes of the content blocks to be displayed beneath or eliminated altogether. Larger display sizes can be increased as a percentage of the total to better fit the larger screen size. Responsive designs typically start with a design for the mobile device and scale up the design for the desktop displays. To truly optimize the site for a small screen images should be created in various sizes and be loaded based on the device. Responsive designs can be complex and time consuming to do properly and for this reason, many Responsive Designs simply scale the existing desktop site to a smaller screen, thereby increasing the bandwidth usage for mobile users and increasing page load times.

Parallax – parallax site design uses techniques in which the background of the website moves at a different speed than the rest of the page for an impressive visual effect. Many times parallax sites consist of a single page. An example of a simple parallax site can be viewed here. Parallax sites typically are fixed width. Making parallax responsive can be difficult to impossible depending on the design. Typically the sites have a slower load time, but are very fast moving down the page which can be done by scrolling down. The upside to a parallax designed site include a “Wow” effect with site depth and animation, keeping visitors on a page for longer periods of time, and directing visitors to calls to action. The downside is that SEO can take a hit due to single page meta data, H1 tag relevance, no internal linking and single URL. The slow load times can be frustrating for visitors who may leave before the page fully loads. Parallax sites are best used to tell a story and lead a visitor to take an action.

Mobile Site – these are typically mobile only platforms for creating a mobile version of your website. The actual mobile version is served from a separate location/application than your standard site. When a mobile user comes to your site, there is code on the site that redirects the user to the mobile version of your site. This solution requires maintaining 2 versions of your website: your mobile application and your desktop application.

Mobile sites are frequently confused with Mobile Apps or mobile applications. Apps are small programs that are downloaded to your mobile device and reside on your mobile device. A Mobile website is accessed via your mobile browser.

A mobile site can be a stand-alone site created specifically for mobile devices. These can also be viewed on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer but typically display in a small screen format on all devices.

Which site design type is right for your company depends on your audience, the message you are trying to communicate and what actions you wish to have visitors take. One thing is clear, however: if your site is more than 3 years old and does not take into consideration the large and growing population of mobile users you are missing a lot of potential business.

Trade Show Basics for Small Business

Catamount Marketing tradeshowThe very words “Trade Show” make some small business owners shudder. Attending a trade show or business expo can take a lot of time and money. Quite frequently, those are two things a small business owner just doesn’t have a lot of. With some careful planning, however, a trade show can not only be fun but profitable as well.

These 10 tips may be basic but the best tips usually are; and even for seasoned trade show pro’s, brushing up on the basics is never a bad thing. Tiger Woods, arguably the best putter in golf, got that way by stroking tens of thousands of back to basics practice putts each year.

  1. Set clear goals of what you want to achieve at the show. Do you expect to sell products, launch a new product or promotion, or possibly meet suppliers? You can set more than one goal but be clear and focused on what your participation will involve. Most B2B trade show participants don’t expect to take orders on the spot; but rather look for is hot leads. At each trade show attempt to identify 3 – 5 hot leads. Do this by gathering business cards from participants. If you’re able to engage them in a conversation, even better; but know that like in a retail store, many show attendees are skittish about being approached and will consider themselves just looking. The best way to engage a stranger is to ask them a question about themselves. When you approach people showing interest in them, the walls start to come down. Make this a goal as well and you’ll be in the game before you know it.
  2. Find out everything you can about your space in advance. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up to a show only to find that your booth is too big or too small to fit the space. Finding out the location of your booth in advance prevents you from lugging around boxes and products in search of the right spot. Finding out everything that is included (table, table cloth, electricity, etc.) in advance is a big time and headache saver.
  3. Have everything you need, like extension cords, tape, push pins, etc. with you when you arrive to set up your booth. It prevents last minute searching for items needed to set up your booth which, if you’re in a strange town can quickly turn into a nightmare. If doing trade shows becomes a fairly regular occurrence, keep a box that contains a hammer, thumb tacks, pens, rubber bands, notepads, band aids, extension cords, replacement light bulbs, tape, breath mints, and anything else that you’ll potentially need, ,and keep this box intact and ready to go for each trade show outing. Another option is to create a checklist of these items to review before leaving for the show. Attending a show can be stressful enough without having to scramble for a push pin at the very last minute!
  4. Make sure your display is appropriate for the group you are targeting. Who is your target market with your trade show display? What kind of questions will they have about your products and services? With a trade show, it is entirely possible that you will be mid-conversation with an attendee when another attendee comes to peruse your booth. Make sure your booth offers promotional signage (if you are giving something away), answers your most frequently asked questions and provides an attendee with something to do or look at while you are otherwise engaged.
  5. Advertise in advance of the show. Let the public know that you are participating in a particular trade show. Invite your clients, customers, suppliers and be sure and give them your booth number. Advertise your attendance to the trade show on your website as well. A couple of email blasts leading up to the show to your invitees or target audience can be very effective. Personalizing your message with a “Hi Mary” by inserting a [FIRST NAME] merge field as part of the salutation is exponentially beneficial for attracting attention and a higher ROI.
  6. Stand out! Don’t just be another booth and vendor at the show – find something different and unique and use that to draw visitors to your booth. Arrange your booth strategically so that everything can be seen quickly by visitors. Put larger items in the rear and shorter items up front. A table runner on top of the table cloth is an effective way of making your table stand out. Be creative with your booth, include pictures if possible and be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious.
  7. Should you give something away? Most people who attend trade shows are expecting some giveaways and food is always popular. Make sure you package your food in a way that allows you to have your company information on it. Gift Certificates for some of your services are another great Trade Show giveaway – there’s nothing better than getting a deal on your services. And when they redeem their certificate, they will learn how great your services are and come back for more. Offer a drawing for a prize that complements your business and appeals to everyone. Have visitors and guests sign a guestbook, fill out a form or drop their business card in a bowl. You can then use this information later to make a follow up contact.
  8. Arrive early enough to the trade show and make sure everything is set up correctly and that everything works. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes – you’re going to be on your feet for most of the day!
  9. During the show, never turn your back to the crowd and don’t sit down unless you’re having a conversation with a guest and you both are sitting. Stand in front of your booth, if possible, saying “Hi” to those that turn and look toward your or your booth. Have your elevator speech ready. More importantly, be ready to listen to what your guests have to say, you may learn a lot about them and be able to fill a need that they have.
  10. A portfolio or display of your work should be on hand for visitors to see. A digital photo frame is an excellent way of showing your work or placing a Power Point® presentation on a laptop – your visitors will find this visually appealing and it will draw their attention. Offering a brochure with your best work for them to take with them will serve as a reminder once the show is over.

These 10 basic steps to Trade Show exhibiting will make your booth stand out, draw visitors in, and save you time, money and stress.

Conversation question… with more and more information and communications being digital, do you think the age of the trade show is dying or still alive and well? Why do you think?

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Marketing based on “who you want to be”

who-you-want-to-be-CatamountMarketingZoom zoom… the Holidays are back and it’s the end of another year. This finds me reflecting on the goals I set, new goals ahead, and how many people, discoveries, and things I have to be grateful for. There’s no shortage of each, but I’m devoting this final article of the year to one introspection theme, if you’ll allow me, before diving into the Holiday eggnog (with maybe a little rum).

Looking back on 2014, my personal mission was to try to discern reality from illusion in both my personal and business life activities. Heady stuff, if not a bit “out there”, but when I boil virtually every thought, word, or action down to I can/should do this or I can/should do that, the answer usually lies with reminding myself of who I am and then deciding who I want to be in relation to that.

So what does this have to do with marketing? Back on July 23rd, in my weekly email message to my client and prospect list, I invited readers to go to Fascination Innovation to partake in an online personality assessment to receive back a report describing how the world sees “you”. About 45 readers did so and in return, each received a fairly comprehensive, if not fascinating, report with definable insights into themselves.

So what’s the significance of taking seemingly another personality profile examination? All of creation begins from a place of knowing – having a fundamental knowledge of a pursuit, even if that’s only knowing what we don’t know – before we can begin to create. From having a clearer understanding and acceptance of who we are, we’re then able to form ideas about who we want to be.

So what’s the marketing connection? Because our job, as marketers, is to create the finest and most trusted brand we can, given that the root basis of marketing is getting someone with a need to know, like, and trust you. Our success is assured when we apply the best parts of who we are to create who we want us and our business to be. It’s from this perspective where we can begin to discern illusion from reality, and think, speak, and act accordingly. At times, this is easier said than done; but with practice and repetition, over time the mind begins to frame ideas, opportunities, and decisions within this context and clarity and confidence begin to replace confusion and hesitation. As reality begins to sink in, the brand solidifies.

Neale Donald Walsh, author of Conversations with God, states so eloquently…

“The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation. You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew. Seek therefore, not to find out Who You Are, but seek to determine Who You Want to Be.”

Thank you for reading my messages this year and I hope some part of them have been helpful to you and your business.

I wish you yours a very Happy Holiday and a prosperous and creative year ahead.

Tom

Using print to further your marketing efforts

print and online marketing convergenceThere is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way small business owners market their business. Digital marketing, like e-newsletters, search engine optimization, social media, and search engine marketing, can be powerful forms of advertising.  Even more powerful, however, is digital marketing with a collaborative print marketing effort.

Here are a few ways print and digital working together can generate leads.

Tip #1: Postcards rule. One of the most powerful marketing strategies today is to promote your website via direct-mail postcards. Postcards serve many purposes. Whether you want to invite people to an upcoming webinar/class or showcase a few of your bestselling products, using a postcard to direct traffic to your website is a great idea. Motivate response with an exclusive offer or personalized URL which will allow you to track your response rate, conversion rate, and ultimate return on investment.

Tip #2: Use in store signage to increase newsletter subscriptions. Whether you run a restaurant, a school, a retail shop or a B2B service-based company, chances are good that you’ll have a client visiting you at your office at some point.  Use in store promotional posters, counter signs, table tents, hang tags, window clings or other signage to encourage customers to visit  your website and sign up for your email newsletter. Include a QR code that links to a mobile optimized page on your site with a short subscription form for a great customer experience. Entice customers to subscribe with an instant money saving coupon that can be emailed directly to them and shown to staff as proof of subscription for redemption.

Tip #3: Use print to connect you socially.  The digital world is cluttered. Every 60 seconds 700,000 Google searches are performed, 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and 168 million emails are sent. Making sure that your fan base sees your posts can be a challenge unless you find other ways to promote your social media accounts. Help people find your social media accounts by including your most used and valuable account on your business cards. If you print a newsletter or brochure, include some of your positive Google, Yelp or Facebook reviews and encourage readers to view your full profile online.

Tip #4: A personalized letter. For a more personal touch and for situations which warrant a more professional approach, there’s still nothing like sending a personal letter; especially when both parties are acquainted with each other on some level. People do business with people and success in sales is about developing relationships. A well-crafted and sincere letter can accomplish this. To be sure, the content and tone should be tailored to your audience and written so as to provide value and not waste the readers’ time. Doing so can open doors, increase acceptance of phone calls, and make your next touch a little warmer.

As with all print, the fundamental keys to success are:

  1. The list: mail to the right audience
  2. The content: with or without a valuable offer, the content must be appropriate for your right audience. Everyone’s time is valuable so give them a reason to read past the salutation.
  3. The creative: whatever you mail, make it eye-appealing and captivating in relation to the right content for your right audience.
  4. Test, and then test some more: we may “think” we know what our audience wants, but often times we don’t know what we don’t know. Testing, like using an A/B split as part of your direct mail campaign, is an excellent way to put your print and mail budget to work for you; providing valuable data that help shape your ongoing marketing direction and budget.

Finding the right marketing mix is less about your business and more about your customers. Thinking about who they are, how they purchase and what influences them will help you determine how to reach customers with a mix of print and digital advertising.

Have you come across a cool marketing campaign played out online and in print? Share all! Let us know about it in the comments section below.