Cultivating a Brand Identity in the Digital Marketing Age

Employ Online and Mobile Marketing Techniques Thoughtfully

These days, everyone is jumping into the online and mobile marketing bandwagon but not everyone is doing so carefully or professionally, negatively impacting their brand identity. If your digital marketing efforts look amateurish then potential customers will assume that your business is as well and they will move on to competitors who have a sleeker marketing snaps. Continue reading

Is Mobile Payment Technology Relevant for Your Small Business?

If You Have Not Considered Accepting Mobile Payments Maybe You Should Be

The ability to pay for items with mobile payment technology is slowly being adopted by small businesses and big brands alike. Square, a company started by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, has already begun airing commercials about it’s mobile credit card scanner. However, Square isn’t the only game in town when it comes to mobile payments.

Although Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology may be 2 to 4 years from widespread adoption, it is gaining traction in the mobile industry. NFC technology already has big name investors such as Google, Nokia, RIM, so it is a good idea that, as an entrepreneur, you familiarize yourself with this emerging tech.

NFC is an innovative technology that enable smartphones and other devices to establish a connection with one or more devices when they touch or are merely within close proximity.  This technology can already be seen on the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphones and is widely advertised in product commercials.

Mobile Payment Technology Already in Use

While touch to share tech can be fun and social, the real innovation of NFC technology is in the potential it has for the global payment card industry. Giants such as Visa and MasterCard are already testing this mobile payment application. NFC technology can empower consumers to make payments directly from their smartphone at any retail store or payment kiosk.

NFC and Uses Other Than Mobile Payments

NFC technology is extremely flexible, allowing for more creative deployments and is viable for more than just mobile payments. NFC harnesses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that is built in to the latest generation of mobile phones.  Smartphones can scan RFID tags, which are small enough to be placed just about anywhere, trigger a variety of actions based on how the individual tag is programmed.

For example, through the addition of a NFC tag, a traditional marketing display can be transformed into a “Smart Poster”. The tag enhances this standard method of advertising by offering the smartphone-carrying customer additional bonus content. By tapping their NFC phone on the “Smart Poster”, the customer can receive a short video preview, directions to the business or even an electronic voucher redeemable at the business. All of this serves to increase customer engagement, thus increasing sales.

For organizations that have field operations, NFC technology can lead to better management, better communication and better customer service. Whenever a field operative scans an NFC tag with their mobile phone, the operational management team can receive an instant and verifiable confirmation of the location of their field staff. Field managers can use the real time data provided by NFC to generate customer reports and measure results faster than ever before.

Near Field Communication and mobile payment technology may still be a few years away from widespread adoption but staying informed about the options and advantages it can provide to your small business is key to staying ahead of the curve. Mobile technology has a huge impact on how we conduct business today, so if you aren’t currently leveraging mobile technology to grow your business and reach your customers, now is the time start. You don’t have to start with emerging tech, like NFC, start with something simple like mobile ads or apps.

Whatever you do, just make sure that you get your business in the mobile game.

Marketing Trends

Having successful, meaningful, profitable marketing strategies is something that a lot of companies struggle to do. There is a very delicate balance between too much and too little when it comes to touch points with a consumer.

It takes the right mix of talented, creative people who have a deeper knowledge of a product or service to be able to craft a message that will stick with customers.

Regardless of the size of your business, marketing does and can work. Here are some of the latest trends to follow:

  1. Mass markets are turning into niche markets. Consumers are ever-present in their buyer decision-making process. With access to all of the most advanced technologies, people know that options are endless and they won’t stop until they get what they want. In order to be profitable and maintain a competitive edge, businesses have to suit the needs of the individual consumer, or someone else will. Everything is customizable and it is the companies who have the most diverse, tailored products to offer that will appeal to an insatiable market.
  2. Mobile Marketing is taking us by storm. People are spending vastly increasing amounts of time on their smart phones and the percentage of phone carriers with a smart phone is surpassing 50 percent. Content and applications are getting richer and more interactive, pulling technology users into their phones and away from face-to-face interaction. In addition to QR codes and Facebook advertisements, companies are getting more involved in the mobile marketing process and embedding their message inside the most popular widely-used applications. Utilizing geolocation has also begun to offer the ability to hyper-target certain areas and hone in on particular markets to offer products that are literally steps away from the consumer. Marketers are making enticing deals harder and harder to pass up.
  3. Social media monitoring tools are getting serious usage. Gone are the days when marketing word of mouth meant a hand-written letter to a company from a disgruntled customer. Today, companies are able to watch, develop and change their brand in real time by using the latest and greatest monitoring tools. These tools are able to scour the Internet blogs and social media for brand mentions and conversations. They are able to respond to inquiries, dissatisfaction or praise on the spot and stay involved in every ad and all conversations regarding the image of their products.

What does this mean for your business?

It is true that varying levels of marketing are effective for organizations of different sizes. But these recent trends are here to stay and they reflect the age-old saying “customer is king.” The way to keep up with competition is by tailoring your product or service offerings, customizable to individual customers because they know that if you don’t, they can find it somewhere else. No matter how present you are in the social-sphere, it is always helpful to at least gain insight about your brand perception and keep customers satisfied and involved. Keeping a finger on this very important pulse could be easily achieved through social media monitoring. Stay on top of the relevant trends for your industry and do what you can to engage, surprise and deliver the very best.

Using Social Media to Your Advantage

http://www.inc.com/maisha-walker/

I found this article by Maisha Walker to be quite insightful. Walker begins: “I have to be careful that the goals I set are not colossal wastes of time,” a relevant statement for all of us who find satisfaction in “completing” a goal, no matter how tiny the task is. Walker started off by setting her goal to be “quintupling” the number of connections she currently had. Now, having nearly 12,000 connections, she can confidently conclude that this goal was not a colossal waste of time. Walker achieved this goal by utilizing several social media forums – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. – to publicize her words all over the Internet. By doing so, she receives numerous connections each week, adding up to her 12,000 over the past two years.

Walker’s methods are an excellent example of using the World Wide Web to one’s advantage. The more someone puts themselves – and their business – out there, the more people will know about it, and the sooner one builds a reputation. Walker so eloquently states that by “working your email signature,” one can “make sure people know what you’re doing without having to interrupt their day to tell them.” Another valuable tip – blogging. Blogs appeal to a variety of audiences – and you can include links to your other social networking sites at the end of each piece.

With the current technology we have today, consumers expect to be able to research a company, easily, in order to reach an informed decision. The more you put yourself (and/or your business) out there, the more people will know. And it’s always better to know.

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Ana Mungo is a Client Services Associate at C-leveled.
amungo@c-leveled.com

 

The Social Media Side of Business

http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/where-does-social-media-fit-your-business-plan

This article raises a few very important questions regarding the connection between business planning and social media. The author explains that just by simply having accounts on various social media sites, (i.e. Facebook and Twitter), a business is not necessarily marketing itself efficiently. These accounts need constant handling before the company sees results. Additionally, the business needs to figure out who is going to be handling these forums: how the time will be managed, if this job belongs to current employees, or if these tasks require hiring new people to focus solely on social media marketing. All the while, says the author, a business must not lose sight of the end goal, and remain organized in terms of giving each employee a specific purpose.

_____________________________________
Ana Mungo is a Client Services Associate at C-leveled.
amungo@c-leveled.com

Tips for Building a Quality Blog Following

Blogs have become a critical resource for connecting with prospects and existing customers. If implemented correctly a blog can help position your company as a content expert and highlight your offerings while also serving as a new channel marketing, sales and customer service.

Once you’ve launched a blog you’ll want to begin increasing your number of connects and subscribers. This article by Mashable does a good job of highlighting Tips for Building a Blog Following, focusing on quality followers instead of quantity.

Upgrade for Company Facebook Pages

A design upgrade is coming for company Facebook Pages on March 30, 2012. The new features will provide additional customization of your page. Companies should appreciate how this expands your branding options on Facebook. If you would like to learn more about the changes you can read this article by our partner, Right Brain + Left Brain.

Writing Better Press Releases

Just because marketing continues to move toward online delivery doesn’t mean that traditional forms of marketing have become less relevant. I recently read an article on OpenForum that included 5 Tips for Writing a Good Press Release. It is definitely worth reviewing. Once you’re done using these suggestions to write new press releases remember to get them posted online to your website, social media and blog

Great Examples of Branding Projects

Ready to brand your new company or re-brand an existing one? I recently found an article on one of Fast Company’s websites, Co.DESIGN, featuring interesting projects ranging from the Canadian Olympic Team to TBS to The National – Bar & Dining Rooms. Check out all of the great examples in the article Our 11 Favorite Branding Projects of 2011.

What’s Next for Email Marketing?

We’ve seen an increased focus on using social media for marketing over the past few years. While these platforms are definitely helpful new channels to reach your audience they aren’t a replacement for your proven means of marketing. One of existing (and tested) resources, email marketing, still appears to be going strong. Industry leaders share their thoughts in this article by AWeber Communications on Email Marketing – What to Watch for in 2012.