What Will 2014 Reveal in the Marketing World?

As final retail figures have finally come in from all of the extended sales, one thing is certain; while Black Friday and other single-day centric paradigms may be coming to a close in the era of online shopping and shipping, online marketing is clearly the way of the future. We’ve discussed it in several articles over the course of this past year, and pointed out how even truly massive companies like Amazon and EBay are continuing to post astronomical growth figures based almost entirely off of online operations. While we haven’t often gotten very technical, we have also discussed some of the massive sea changes to the SEO landscape precipitated by Google and other search engines making changes to the way information is available. Together, this adds up to a boom time for online marketing in general; in many industries and niches it is still possible to lead the pack from an online perspective, as many older and established companies simply aren’t using their websites as anything other than glorified business cards currently.  Look for these opportunities to begin to slowly dry up and disappear now though, as even the most obstinate of companies is bound to recognize the trends …

Business Isn’t Just About Business

As we approach the holiday season, it is a time for reflection.  Too often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and we forget to take a moment to stop and look around.  It is important to remember in times like these that business isn’t just about business. Think about that for a moment; is your career a fundamental feature of who you are, or simply a means to an end?  Are there things which are more important to you than work?  Most people would answer that in the affirmative.  Many would cite their families as a good example of something which is more important, but you would find many others as well. Some people are really interested in serving their communities, others in pursuing an intellectual or philosophical ideal.  Some are even mainly interested in living a comfortable and happy life, believe it or not.  There are almost as many different values as there are people, and everyone is free to choose what they deem to be the most important. Are you one of the people who values something more than your career, whatever it may be?  If so, take care to keep things in …

What A Christmas Story Teaches About Marketing

Well, it’s about that time of year where all the best Christmas movies begin playing regularly.  It struck me that many of them actually have a thing or two to teach as well, and a few of them even have something to say on the subject of marketing and business.  A Christmas Story is an excellent example of one of these films; not only is it extremely funny and one of the best holiday movies ever, but it also contains some valuable marketing knowledge.  Here are a few of the points it makes: People Emotionally Invest in Things They Win – A great example of this is the way Ralphie’s dad acts towards his silly leg lamp.  While it is objectively not valuable in any sort of way, he is very invested in it nonetheless because he ‘won’ it through his knowledge and skill.  This demonstrates the power of contests and other promotions can have when skillfully designed. Branding Has Always Been King – Ralphie’s speech about the Red Ryder BB Gun, where he rattles off every characteristics of the toy just like the commercial, is a great example of how mind share can really help keep your product at …

Avoid These Holiday Marketing Mistakes

As we find ourselves right in the midst of another holiday season, businesses across the country are asking themselves how they can best position to take advantage of the season, and earn the most revenue possible.  However, in their zeal to grab those holiday dollars, companies often commit these common holiday marketing mistakes.  Make sure your business avoids them: Don’t Discount Too Deeply – Some retailers assume that bigger discounts are the way to go, but trying to compete on price with the WalMarts and CostCos is always a losing proposition for smaller businesses.  Find other ways to succeed instead. Forgetting to Advertise – Companies looking to improve the bottom line as the fiscal year ends often slash marketing and ad budgets to cut costs, but this can be counterproductive.  Advertising during the holidays has one of the best ROIs of any time of the year. No General Marketing – While it can be easy to appeal to individual portions of your demographic through specialized campaigns, don’t forget that you need an overall general marketing strategy to pick up those who aren’t already aware of your brand. Ignoring Feedback – While maintaining excellent service at all times should be a …

Lessons to Learn From Television’s Bar Rescue

Bar Rescue is a popular new television series on Spike TV.  It features bar and nightclub expert Jon Taffer and a crew of interchangeable expert consultants as he travels the country offering advice and consultancy to failing bars in an attempt to turn them around.  Now, while this series is reality television and everything you see should be taken with a grain of salt, there are some very valuable business and marketing lessons that you can take from the series nonetheless.  Here are a few of them: Failure Is Often Top-Down – A frequent and recurring theme on the program is that the failure of these businesses often stems from a problem with management/ownership.  If your business is under performing, you need to be brutally honest with yourself and perform a thorough systems check to determine where problems are occurring and what their causes are. Focus On Fundamentals – Another thing you often see is that the failing bars suffer from failure to focus on the fundamentals.  They will be dirty, there will be animosity between staff members causing serious issues, they will run out of product to sell; all simple mistakes.  Is your business suffering from a similar lack …

Getting Started With Online Marketing

If you own a small business, getting started with online marketing can seem overwhelming.  Learning how to do things on your own is a daunting technical challenge, and sometimes companies will not work with you unless you are willing to commit to a long-term contract or pay them relatively high costs.  This leads to many business owners making the huge mistake of ignoring their online marketing entirely.  While every business and niche is somewhat different, this solid three point plan can be applied to nearly any situation and is an excellent place to start in most cases: Build a Website – Building a website is almost always the right place to start.  These days you don’t have to worry about having a lot of fancy animations or expensive programming work done; people are consistently choosing simple, well-designed sites over those with gimmicks and gadgets.  Get something simple and tasteful created at a reasonable cost to give you a basic platform to start your online marketing efforts from. Find Your Customers – The next step is finding your customers online.  Depending on who you are and what you are selling, you can select from a variety of techniques.  Social media works …

Learning from Miley Cyrus

Believe it or not, business, sales, and marketing professionals can learn a lot from the seemingly innocuous, if much talked about performance of Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards this year.  She quite succinctly demonstrated what happens if branding is completely ignored and caution thrown to the winds.  Much as Miley’s public image has suffered during the blowback, your company or organization can also suffer if you ignore the image you have built up with the public and proceed in radical, different directions.  Here are three big drawbacks to dramatically changing your branding rapidly: Doubt and Mistrust Builds Up – If you completely change what your company is about, people are going to begin to doubt anything they know about you.  While this may help if your reputation was terrible, in most cases long-lasting businesses have significant goodwill built up that is of real value and should not be discarded lightly. Harder to Repair than Prevent – As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Taking care of your reputation and branding by proactively managing it ahead of the curve costs a fraction of both the financial resources and the time it takes …

Cyber Monday Results

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone again, and with it the largest retail shopping weekend of the year.  Black Friday, and the newer but increasingly important Cyber Monday are interesting days, because they really help to identify large trends in marketing and sales that need to be adapted to in order to ensure continued success.  So how did the numbers pan out, and were there any interesting pieces of information to be gleaned from the data?  Let’s take a look: Mobile is Booming – We’ve been talking for months here at the blog about how traffic from mobile devices is going to be increasingly important, and this year’s sales numbers definitely back up that statement.  About 32% of all online retail traffic arrived over a mobile device, representing a growth of almost 50% from just last year. Tablets Beat Smartphones – For actual sales, it looks like people do a lot more browsing on smartphones, but a lot more purchasing on tablets. Social Media Driving Revenue – Both Facebook and Pinterest drove significant amounts of revenue, with the average order placed through both platforms being close to $100. Major Players Doing Well – Major companies such as Amazon and EBay …