Sometimes, I think marketing has a lot more in common with gambling than it does business.
Think about it. You invest money in hopes of getting more money, relying on outside factors you can’t control for your success.
Sure, you can create brilliant strategies and plan out every detail in advance. But in the end, all you can do is hope your customers are actually interested in your product or service. Which, more often than not, is blind luck.
Marketing is risky by nature. Nothing is ever guaranteed. Every chance you take is a gamble. So why do so many businesses fill their deck with crappy cards? I’ve known so many small business owners who make easy-to-avoid mistakes with their marketing. They fall for gimmicky techniques, refuse to let go of their old methods, or just don’t do any research ahead of time.
If you’re going to gamble with marketing, shouldn’t you at least try to improve your odds? An easy way to start off on the right foot would be through avoiding blunders other businesses make. This can help you stand out from the competition. And, it’ll increase the odds of your marketing being successful.
Before you roll that dice, check out the five most common marketing mistakes small businesses and entrepreneurs make when it comes to promoting their company.
The other day, I realized I have a problem.
Ok. I have a lot of problems, but this one is serious. I’m addicted to Pinterest.
It’s true. Like millions of other girls, I’ve gone deep into a pinning obsession. I check it at least once a day. I’ve pinned thousands of recipes, of which I’ve tried four. And that “ten minutes” I spend on it every day quickly turns into two hours.
Maybe you understand my pain. Maybe you and I need to find a Pinners Anonymous class together. Or, maybe you’re like my dad, and you think Pinterest is some sort of weird knitting needle.
Regardless, you’ve probably noticed that Pinterest use (like the time I spend on the site) has skyrocketed over the last few years. It’s now the third most popular social network, surpassed only by Instagram and Facebook. With its increased popularity, you might be wondering, “Should I use Pinterest for my business, too?” And that is a very good question.
As I’m sure you know, all social networks are unique. And not all of them are a worthwhile investment. To determine whether Pinterest is right for your business, we should take a look at some of its pros and cons. This will allow you to make an unbiased decision about what's best for you, even if it involves not using Pinterest.
Want to start a fight in a marketing agency?
Talk about social media.
It's one of the biggest controversies of our industry, one that everyone has an opinion on. Business owners. Marketing agents. Digital gurus. Random twenty-somethings who scroll through Facebook during work. Yep. Everyone.
Some people go all out with social network marketing. Others are hesitant to invest the resources. Regardless of their stance on the issue, I've noticed something. When it comes down to it, people aren't sure that social media actually pays off.
But, there are also plenty of reasons to give social media a try- the biggest of which is lead generation.
Because of its high popularity, social media has the potential to connect your business with potential customers. If you can grab their attention, then you can theoretically grab their business. There’s a lot more to getting leads out of Facebook than just posting, of course. You need a long-term strategy to get the most out of your social media.
Think of social media like fishing . Every time you post, you cast your line out on the water. It might get a nibble. It might even get a few bites. Or, it could just sit there for hours. Floating. Catching nothing but a few strands of seaweed. The success of your fishing depends on two things: 1) Your bait, and 2) What the fish are hungry for.
You can’t make your followers visit your business. You can’t make them purchase your goods or services. But you can utilize awesome lead generation practices to increase the chances that they will.
Several months ago, my dad and I took the exciting drive to Lubbock. If you're an Amarillo native, you'll know what I mean.
The drive is about as fun as doing your taxes. It’s one straight road in, one straight road out, all over miles and miles of flat cotton farms. Oh, the joys of living in the Panhandle.
So, to help the ride go by faster, my dad plugged his iPod into the radio and played an episode of the Nerdist Podcast .
For those of you who don't know, the Nerdist Podcast is hosted by Chris Hardwick, who also hosts the Talking Dead. He invites well-known and lesser-well-known celebrities from beloved “nerdy” shows and movies to talk for an hour or so about random stuff. Some of the celebrities I’ve heard him interview include Kaley Cuoco, Paul Rudd, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Stan Lee. They're usually entertaining to say the least.
Anyway, we listened to a few of those in a row. It helped the hours go by at a less painful pace. And as we were listening, I got to thinking.
I never listen to podcasts (other than during these drives with my dad). I don’t know anyone else who does. So, are podcasts still a thing? Are people (other than my dad) listening to them? And, if they are, why don’t we hear more about it?So I did a little research to determine the status of the podcast in 2017, and here’s what I found out:
Turn on your TV, and I guarantee 70 percent of the ads you see will be targeting women.
Razor commercials, lotions, clothing, makeup, even food...They all feature young female models in a female-centric world, doing "girly" things like shopping, cleaning, cooking, or taking care of the kids.
Of course, if you leave your TV on ESPN or the Fishing Network, you might see a greater variety of ads. But, for the most part, many marketing agencies have decided to steer their efforts toward a feminine audience.
Which is great. If your audience is predominantly female.
But what if most of the people who walk through your doors aren’t ladies? What if your products appeal more to men? Or, better yet, what if you want to incorporate some masculine ads into your existing strategy to balance out your marketing segmentation?
Well, as you’ve probably figured out, men and women are pretty different. Everything from their buying patterns to their thought process varies drastically from women’s. Consequently, a marketing strategy geared toward men must also be very different from one geared toward ladies.
So, here are 3 things you should take into account when marketing to men:
So you’re searching Google for specific keywords to see how high up you rank. (Because of course you do this all the time, riiight?) You type in something relevant to your business, like “Best auto-repair shops in Amarillo.” Then you scroll. And scroll. And scroll. Three-and-a-half pages later, you find your business. Buried under all your competitors.
So what went wrong? Well, according to researchers and SEO enthusiasts, there are two monumental factors to high search rankings: relevance and authority .
A website with high relevance posts content tailored to a specific niche search query. (For example, I searched “How to increase Google trust” and the very first site on the list was for a blog post titled, “How to increase Google trust.” The following sites were somewhat relevant, but not as specific as this one.)
The second biggest factor for search engine ranking is domain authority. Or trust, in other words.
If Google or Bing or Yahoo labels your business as an authority domain, your pages will rank higher on searchers than other pages even if your content isn’t always amazing. Additionally, you’ll receive less punishment for penalties. So if you slip up and link to a spammy site, it won’t jeopardize your entire domain.
Think about Wikipedia. It’s almost always near the top of search lists. Type in “spider monkey,” "List of cities in China,” or “species of onions,” and you’re sure to find Wiki entries at the top.
We both know Wikipedia’s content can be edited by anyone, and is therefore not always a "reliable research resource." But because Wiki pages require sources, post detailed content on just about every topic in the universe, and are frequently scanned for mistakes, Google trusts the domain.
Trust is the key to a successful relationship. Even with Google.
Millennials get a bad rap.
I would know, seeing as I am one.
Egotistical. Dense. Self-absorbed. Lazy. Ignorant. Yep, I’ve heard it all. And then some.
People seem to think that because we’re born in the ‘80s and 90s, we got the short end of the gene pool.
And I get it: A lot of cringe-worthy things came out of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Soul patches, for instance. Rat tails. Snap-on bracelets. Those creepy Furbies. But for the most part, Millennials aren’t one of them.
Sure, we have our faults (like every generation does). On average, we have a high rating on the narcissism scale. We spend a little too much time glued to our phones. And, yeah, we might be a little too obsessed with Beyonce.
But we also have a lot of good qualities. Like our great senses of humor, for instance. We're the ones who created memes and reaction GIFs. (You’re welcome for that.) We're also the founders of hilarious blog sites like Buzzfeed and the Onion.
There’s a lot more to Millennials than cellphone addictions and college debt. If you want to target us (check out our Marketing Minute video to see why you should), you have to understand who we really are.
So who are we, really? According to researchers, we're actually not that different from other generations. But we do have a few characteristics that stand us apart from our parents and grandparents. Here are a few of the most overlooked and under-acknowledged Gen Y characteristics, according to the facts. And, of course, a little personal experience.
You’ve been here before.
You’re waiting your turn in the middle left turn lane, on your way back from Westgate Mall. You’ll need to turn up onto the access road. Fortunately, you’re in the right lane. Literally. The lane that will turn right onto the access road. So, as soon as the arrow turns green, you start your turn.
So does the car in the far left turn lane. Apparently, he missed the fact that both lanes turn left. He wants on the highway, so he cuts you off, forcing you to slam onto your brakes and honk, while he speeds around the access road.
Then, you say some words (probably not very nice ones) and complain about how awful the drivers are in Amarillo.
I feel you. I’ve been there (this morning, actually). Amarillo drivers are astonishingly awful. In fact, they’re so bad it’s almost impressive.
I sometimes wonder if there’s a secret black market drivers license dealer that sells directly to the Texas Panhandle.
But, as awful as the drivers are here, they can always be worse. Take these eight, for example. They’re the worst of the worst. So bad they make Amarillo drivers look good. And that’s quite an accomplishment.
Some people see social media as a science. They use complicated algorithms and in-depth research to determine the exact optimum time for posting. Then, they use apps like Hootsuite to schedule posts at these specific times. They take a mathematical approach to posting.
Me? Not so much.
When I first started running C&B’s social media pages, I tried a different strategy. It’s the strategy I’ve always used when posting on my personal accounts. I call it the ‘post whenever you want to’ strategy.
It’s great. You just post when you feel like it. (or when you remember) It's no stress, no worry, no planning.
And, apparently, no results.
Turns out, other people actually have lives . They aren’t hanging out on their phones 24/7. They’re working, eating lunch with friends, spending time with family, going to school. So when I post randomly at 6:48 a.m., I didn’t get nearly as many post impressions as I did when I posted after 5 p.m. or at lunch time.
Maybe there’s something to planning your posts out after all.
After my revelation, I asked myself, “What are you doing with your life?" And then I asked the real question. If you should schedule out your posts, what’s the best time to post? And how many times should you post a day?
When I did a little digging, I found out lots of other people are wondering the same thing.
So, several days of research and a few gallons of coffee later, I’ve finally got an answer: concrete time frames every business should shoot for when it comes to scheduling posts. And how many times you should post a day to get the most out of your social media platforms. Nifty.
Most of my research comes from CoSchedule (who spliced together 16 studies to determine optimal posting times), but I also considered Hootsuite , HubSpot , Buffer , and a dozen other random articles. I won’t provide direct links to all of them because, in the end, most of them said the same things.Apparently, there is a good and a bad time to post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And (according to research and our own personal experimentation) this is what I found:
We’re getting into the grit of 2017.
Which means, it’s time to start making cliche predictions about the upcoming year.
Like, “People will use more social media.” Or “The country will be even more polarized.” Or “People will eat more fast food.”
There’s already article after article out there about marketing trend predictions for 2017, and they all say the same things. More online everything. And I think these predictions might not be as far off from the mark as we might think. In cities other than Amarillo.
Because, let’s be honest: The Texas Panhandle isn’t exactly New York. We’re not jumping on the latest and greatest. We’re not trying out the hottest trends. We’re not testing out fads and other short-term gimmicks.
We’re in Texas. We want results . No fluff or shine required.So, here’s our prediction list for the Panhandle: 5 things we expect to see in our windy neck of the woods. Yes to digital, but only if it works.
We’re about halfway through January now, and I still haven't picked any resolutions.
I know. It’s terrible. Everyone and their dog has already picked a resolution. (I’m serious about the dog part. My mom’s lab has the resolution to “Stop eating twigs, rocks, and other inanimate objects.” So far, she’s failing at it).
Luckily, there’s no official due date for New Year's Resolutions. I'll be fine even if I start a few months late. As long as I pick one before December, that is.
Recently, I’ve seen a lot of businesses/business-professional-type-people choose career-related resolutions. Some pick it for personal growth, others to strengthen their entire company.
Here at C&B, we haven’t chosen a resolution for the whole company to follow. But I’ve done some research on my own for some possibilities. A lot of marketers have identified industry trends and made solid predictions for future goals.
Based on their research (and my own), I’ve come up with five solid New Year’s resolutions that everyone in the marketing agency could benefit from, even those of us here in the Texas Panhandle.
Feel free to steal these resolutions for your own. I won't be offended.
2016 was a very eventful year. From election drama to celebrity gossip, it seems like there was always something to talk about.
And by talk, I mean complain.
Some of the top trending hashtags last week were #2016in4words (which, as you can imagine, was 75 percent swearing and banging heads against tables), #2016yearofpc (which mostly contained people complaining about people complaining), and #love2016 (the word “love” was put in place of the real word for this hashtag, which was a bit too profane for this blog post).
So many people ended last year bitter, cynical, and angry. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of them.
People say something good comes with the bad. And I see what they mean.
Sure, there was a lot of heartache, tragedy, anguish, and death in the last year. But there was also love, growth, beauty, and life.
It’s not all bad, I suppose. And even the bad itself brings good, because every tragedy, every hardship, every hurt is a chance to grow. To change. To learn.
As an agency, we learned a lot this year ourselves. We tried lots of new things, got some new faces, and participated in some...interesting experiments. So, in honor of a fresh new year, I thought I’d share the imprint 2016 left on us here at C&B.
2016 was the year of the corporate website...Ok. That might be a bit of an exaggeration. Website popularity and traffic has been increasing steadily over the past decade. Back in the old days (ten years ago, that is), people grabbed the phone book when someone wanted to know about a company. Now, they use that phone book for a computer stand or a door stop and turn to Google for answers.
Recent studies shows that 84.3 percent of people visit a business’s website before making a purchase.
...So, technically speaking, 2016 was more like one of the five-ish years of the rise of the corporate website. But that’s a bit of a mouthful.
Because of the rise in online research, lots of small businesses have created corporate websites to showcase their expertise. But, surprisingly, a full 46 percent haven't. Baffling, right?
The internet is the first place most of us look when we’re thinking about a purchase. Why would you handicap yourself by keeping your name off search engines?
To emphasize how important a quality website is, here are some fun facts you might enjoy. (Well, I think they’re fun. You might think they’re as exciting as reading snippets from the 52-page report on “Bulb Onion Production in Hawaii.” If you’re looking for a unique gift for that special someone in your life, here’s the link to that fascinating read.)
Now you’re starting to see the necessity of quality corporate websites. They’re your first impression with your customer, your thirty-second intro in online speed-dating for businesses. It takes customers .05 seconds to form an opinion about your brand once they open your site.
94 percent of people say "design" is the reason they don't trust a site. If you have an awesome design, you increase their trust in your business and services. Which, in turn, increases your profits.What makes a website awesome, you ask? (...I know you didn’t actually ask that, but I’m going to pretend you did so I don’t look like a crazy person talking to myself).
It’s almost here! The most wonderful time of the year. The happiest season of all. The day that goes and comes so fast you wonder why you spent so much on it. Christmas is just around the corner, and it’ll be bringing tons of joy to people all across the globe, if only for ten minutes. It’s the holiday of miracles, delicious honey-glazed ham, and overpriced plastic toys. It’s also the holiday of overzealous marketing.
You’ve probably seen them already: The gazillions of holiday-centric ads filling up every commercial break, radio spot, and billboard in town. Thousands of companies, both local and national, have jumped on the Christmas marketing bandwagon. And for good reason. That freezing cold stretch between Dec. 17 and Jan. 11 is the highest-concentrated spending period in the year. Many people save big chunks of their paycheck as far back as January just to spend it all on Christmas presents. And when they spend, they spend big. 300 percent bigger , to be exact.
Last year, the total holiday spending rounded to $616 billion . The NRF (National Retail Federation, not to be confused with the National Frontier Rodeo, although I’m sure their sales are high this time of year, too) expects this number to shoot up 3.6 percent this year, meaning holiday shoppers will bring retail outlets a massive $655.8 billion . Additionally, the average customer order is expected to rise 30 percent. Who needs a Christmas bonus when your sales go through the roof, right? (...ok. Yeah. A little extra bonus would still be nice…)
If you need more reasons to consider a holiday campaign, check this out : During the holidays, ad impressions see a 50 percent boost, CTRs skyrocket 100 percent, direct traffic grows 150 percent,and conversion rates increase 60 percent. Holiday advertisements are also more effective. Businesses see more consumer awareness, more attentive audiences, more potential customers, and more motivation to buy during late December and early January. Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year.So, if you do want to market your business for the holidays, what’s the best way to do it? Well, here are some of the best tried-and-true Christmas marketing strategies for you to check out:
Brace yourself. Winter is coming. You know that that means: Trees will soon be bare, grass will turn that ugly yellow-brown color, and those crazy black birds will become even more aggressive. Cold fronts are blowing in. Highs are dropping. Something that almost looks like snow is falling from the sky.
Yep, here in the Texas Panhandle, the weather is definitely changing. And so are your shopping habits.
I’ve always assumed that weather has some sort of impact on what we buy.
I mean, when it's 19 degrees out there, flip flop sales are probably going to plummet. And, in 100 degree heat, no one's standing in line for fur-lined coats.
But beyond that, does the forecast make much of a difference? Does climate secretly influence those random cravings we get on aisle four?Researchers across the globe have conducted numerous studies over the effects of climate on our purchasing decisions. They concluded that, as highs and lows roll up and down like roller coasters, our shopping habits fluctuate as well.
So weather does affect our spending. But by how much ? Here's what I found out:
Our country is polarized. You can see this everywhere: in our government, in the comments sections under articles, in our Facebook feeds where everyone insists on sharing their opinions.
Even our planet is polarized. (Though, to be fair, the poles have been around for a little bit longer than we have).
This extreme diffusion has even seeped into marketing. Everyone wants to market solely to Millennials or to Baby Boomers. The young and the old(er). The rookies and the experts. It’s about as polarized as you can get.
Marketing solely to these two extremes might be a mistake. (I know what you’re thinking: Marketers never make mistakes. But these might be one of those very rare exceptions.)
You see, while everyone’s busy incorporating Millennial lingo into their ads or showcasing older actors being outdoorsy, a different age group is being completely ignored. It’s the one smack dab in the center of the two: Generation X. And it wants to be heard.
So, who is this elusive middle generation? Why should your business target them? And why am I asking all of these questions? In the words of Alanis Morisette, “You oughta know.” But, in case you don’t, I’ll fill you in on the details.
Today, change is the new normal.
SnapChat added stories to its enormous list of features.
McDonald's is putting Ronald McDonald on the back burner until the crazy clown controversy dies down.
Hastings decided to stop making money.
While everyone else is changing, you might think that sticking to your roots will help your business stand firm. But sometimes, using the same-old logo and the same-old tagline in the same-old colors can be, well, boring.
Rebranding can have a huge impact on your sales, your brand image, and your customer interactions. Of course, it's also a big commitment. You'll have to change everything from your business card and sign to your website design and social media pages.
This can make the process seem pretty over the top, especially if you aren't convinced that you should change in the first place.
Fear of change is one of the most common phobias, followed closely by fear of spiders, fear of enclosed spaces, and fear of talking about politics with your in-laws.
But maybe this is one fear you should overcome.
Remember four-ish years ago when everyone had a Twitter? All of your friends (or your friends’ kids) were tweeting about their Starbucks cappuccino, the deli sandwich they ate for lunch, or their favorite T-Swift song lyrics.
It was a weird time.
How things have changed over the years. Today, Twitter seems more like the forgotten crayon melted in your backseat than a popular social networking site.
People don’t talk about Twitter anymore. (Regular people, that is, not the media.) I can’t tell you the last time someone who wasn’t in marketing mentioned a tweet to me.
It’s almost like, now that we have Instagram and SnapChat, the world’s forgotten about Twitter.
Which brings up the question you’ve been wondering all this time (by ‘all this time’ I mean thirty seconds ago when you saw this blog post title): Is Twitter dying? Or, better yet, is it already dead?
Well, let’s look at what the facts have to say.
Marketing decisions can be incredibly stressful. They involve a lot of money and even more what-ifs that can make or break your business.
When it comes time to create a marketing plan, your company has two options: You can hire an agency or you can create your own marketing team. Both options can meet your marketing needs, and both could burn a hole in your wallet.
So how do you know which works best for you?
We’ve put together a list of the biggest pros and cons for each option so you can make an objective decision and pick the best fit for your business.
No matter what you choose, make sure you’ve considered all the facts. This will be a big investment, and turning back won’t be easy.But, in the end, it could be well worth it. After all, a successful marketing campaign can be the difference between thriving and growing stagnant.
Thinking of a career change? Hoping to start your own business?
A lot of factors are involved in business successful, including marketing demand, location, and competition. Unfortunately, you can't control most of these factors, no matter how hard you try.
So, before you start planning, it's essential to thoroughly examine how your prospective future industry is fairing on a national scale. Is it slowly dying, like the world of photofinishing? Or, is it on the rise, with the potential to become a massive money maker for decades to come?Whether you're a budding entrepreneur or you're already working at your dream job, it's important to know which job industries are expected to blow up in the next four years. So, we put together a list of five of the fastest-growing small businesses of 2016, based on this chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We could all use a little extra wisdom.
Considering how unstable the economy is (and how unpredictable consumers are), nothing is guaranteed in the world of business. You have to constantly fight, adapt, and grow to keep your company out of the gutters. And sometimes, when you’re doing it on your own, this can feel a little...stressful.
The sleepless night, hair-tearing out, hysterical crying kind of stressful.
Fortunately, you’re not the only person in the universe. Brilliant, innovative entrepreneurs are but a click away.
These men and women have taken a ground-level business and molded it into multi-million conglomerates. They’ve built their dreams. They’ve climbed their way up the corporate ladder. They survived the digital revolution, the Great Recession, and even the 2016 elections.
Following a successful business giant can provide you with invaluable insight into the modern business world, the best tricks of the trade, and current industry trends. But who should you follow?Here are six of our favorite modern entrepreneurs: a diverse collection of business men and women in varying career fields who provide thousands of people across the globe with inspiration every day.
When we think of social media, we usually think of teens glued to their phones, posting selfies and status updates. Or new moms posting photos of their babies day after day. Or singles posting photos of their dogs.
But Facebook, Instagram, and your other favorite social media platforms are so much more than just a place to post pictures of your favorite pooch.
According to researchers, about 12 million people scroll through social media more than two times daily, and 69.7 percent of social media users are above the age of 24. That means a huge chunk of your potential customers are liking photos and sharing videos at any point in time.
Yet many small businesses still don't have a strong social media presence, especially here in the panhandle. And there’s several reasons for that. For one thing, some business owners don’t have time to dedicate to posting. Or they fail to see the need for it at all.
This could be a huge mistake.
In a study by Business 2 Community, one-third of Millennials said social media is a preferred channel for communicating with businesses like yours. About 53 percent of people will recommend brands and products on Twitter, and 50 percent of shoppers have bought something based on a recommendation made through social media.
Social media may be the best place to follow the lives of people you haven’t spoken to in decades, but it’s also the best place to collect potential leads and increase brand awareness.
Well, it's not Monday, but it's time for our Company Spotlight! Let's start off the first full week of September talking about Amarillo Senior Citizen Association , a community center that offers a variety of services to Amarillo’s senior population.
ASCA began in 1973 thanks to the efforts of Mary E. Bivins and other influential community leaders. They set up headquarters in the offices of the old AHS band room at 1311 S. Tyler. Originally, the association provided seniors with a fun atmosphere for dining, dominoes, and dancing. But, by 1976, they had become a full multi-purpose center. Now they offer a variety of services to enhance the lives of Amarillo's seniors, including everything from poker and table tennis to quilting and Western dance.
The Amarillo Senior Citizen Association provides many independent older adults with a place to gather with friends for activities and meals. They also offer several health screenings throughout the year. They provide programming to keep members informed about Medicare, insurance, grief counseling, reverse mortgages, and other important issues. And, their many clubs are perfect for meeting new friends or learning something new.
ASCA’s mission is to help Amarillo’s seniors “maintain independence, wellness, and quality of life through programs and services that meet their present and future needs.” They do this with the core values of respect and caring, high quality of life, trust, fiscal soundness, opportunity, and professionalism. The senior association has also been a United Way provider since 1985.ASCA is located at 1220 S. Polk Street in Amarillo. You can find out more about the Amarillo Senior Citizen Association from their website at amarilloseniorcitizens.com .