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 …

Holiday Business Ideas

For our final post in entrepreneur month, we are going to take a look at some of the newest and hottest holiday business ideas that have really taken off in recent years.  We’re just going to rattle off a list here and won’t focus too much on the particulars, in the interest of giving you as many ideas as possible: Personal Shopping – Personal shopper services have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and offer the opportunity to charge sliding scales relative to your customer base. Present Wrapping – Another fantastic idea around the holidays, gift and present wrapping services require little capital to get going and have the potential to earn decent revenue. Catering/Cooking – If you’re talented in the kitchen, consider sharing your skills with those less fortunate.  You’ll not only be improving their holidays, you’ll also earn some cash yourself at the same time. Event Planning – Everyone wants to have the perfect holiday party, but event planning is much harder than most people realize.  If you have a talent for organization, consider marketing yourself as an event planner and helping make others dreams come true. Decorating – Have an eye for interior design?  Almost …

Tips for Entrepreneurs Around the Holidays

It’s just about that time of year again; visions of delicious turkey dinners have begun to dance around in everyone’s heads, and Christmas is just around the corner.  The holidays will soon be with us, once again.  While for most people the holidays are a time of rest, relaxation, and celebration, for entrepreneurs it can often be one of the most stressful times of the year, as everyone’s relaxed work ethic gets in the way of meeting deadlines and obligations. We’ve got some tips that can help you keep your head on straight during the holiday season (or any other time that you’ll be out of the office extensively): If You Feel You Can’t Leave, Something is Wrong – Believe it or not, no matter how integral you are to the functioning of your business, it is indeed possible to create safeguards and processes that can enable to organization to respond just fine for a limited time without your input.  If you feel you just can’t leave work, you’ve likely not invested in creating the support staff your business will need in the long term. When You Unplug, Actually Unplug – Have you ever taken a vacation only to find …

The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

Today, we are going to take a look at a story that has been in the news recently, and reflect on a little discussed topic: the dark side of entrepreneurship. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, picture the child labor practices common during the Industrial Revolution, or think about the behavior of the robber barons during railroad times.  While capitalism and entrepreneurship are the major drivers of our economy, left unchecked they can ruin cultures and countries as well as enrich them. The event we are going to talk about is the ongoing case against the founder of the Silk Road online marketplace, one Ross William Ulbricht.  If you’re not familiar with the Silk Road, it achieved notoriety by its stance of absolute anonymity for users.  This led to organized crime and other undesirable elements populating the marketplace, and a person could easily buy drugs, prostitutes, or even contract killing services on the site.  Many users also accepted payment for these questionable services in Bitcoin, the basically untraceable cryptocurrency, making things even more difficult for authorities. How does this tie into online marketing? Well, for one, the Silk Road, despite the various goods of ill repute which ended …

Stay Away from Software and Service that Doesn’t Really Add Value

One trap entrepreneurs have been known to fall into is investing in software or equipment that they end up not needing.  Stories abound of new software platforms and packages purchased by enthusiastic management that end up negatively impacting the organizations they were intended to help.  One thing that should guide every purchasing decision an entrepreneur makes is whether or not the purchase will really add value to their services, and enable them to sell more of their own products or services. An example of a software product that just isn’t very good is ReportGarden.  It claims to help you produce ‘professional’ looking AdWords reports for clients in just a few minutes.  You would think this could be of value to small marketing agencies or people who need data visualization for their PPC campaigns, but you would be wrong. Take a closer look at these ‘reports’, and ask yourself if they are of any actual value.  Delving into the site features a bit deeper, you would have to be hard pressed to find any sort of real benefit to having this software.  When you take a look at the price points the service has chosen, things get even more ridiculous, when …