Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Be More Successful When Advertising on a Budget

Advertising on a Budget
By Rodger Roeser

There’s an old saying in the advertising game: “I know half of my advertising is working, I just don’t know which half!” But, in reality almost all advertising works equally well or equally poorly because most super budget conscious teams fail to clearly define a target or fail to clearly communicate what they want those targets to do. So, before you spend a dime on purchasing any advertising, consider a few foundational items first.
Before you do anything, take a good look at exactly what you’re trying to sell or share. Specifically list the benefits of what you’re selling and why someone may want to buy it (a consumer good) or go there (a restaurant) or hire it (a professional service). Understanding the benefits to a potential buyer is the first step in creating some type of sales connection with the target. If there are competing interests, look at the competition and endeavor to differentiate your product or service – this is basic branding.
Now that you have created some benefit, you need to take a real hard look at exactly whom you believe would benefit from your product or service. It needs to be clearly, clearly defined. Gender, age, income, and a dozen other profile traits as best you can to really hone in on the exact target you want to go after. A simple rule of thumb, the more limited the budget, the more specific the target has to be. This type of data, combined with buyers habits, demographics, psychographics and all manner of other research is critical in not only finding your target, but also in the next critical step.
Messaging and positioning. Ask yourself what types of phrasings and branding and look and feel do you need to convey to clearly and effectively get your message across. Is your advertisement going to be funny, it is serious? Eye catching. Is it straightforward or more esoteric? All of these decisions should be based on what you want your target to do – we call this the CTA (Call To Action). Define your call to action, make it clear and work backwards from there in your messaging. Try to keep the words to a bare minimum, and only try to convey one thought or one offer.
Okay, now that you have defined your brand, your target and your message, now you can actually spend the money on “doing” advertising. Remember the simple formula: Think first. Buy second. Measure last. Understanding these things up front now allows you to start considering when, where and how much advertising you should be considering. For most businesses, there is a formula for determining exactly how much you should invest in your advertising and it varies wildly from less than one percent to more than 10 percent of annual gross revenue depending on a number of factors – size of business, type of business, years in business, on and on and on. So, unless you have an agency that give you the answer, you’re probably going to have to trust your gut.
Do NOT blindly trust the media representative, whose job it is to sell you their media – always remember that. They’re not bad people, but the media representative’s job is to sell you on their offerings. It’s always better to know what you want first and have a defined budget, then reach out to the appropriate media outlet with what you want and what goals you have so they can tailor a solution for you. Don’t screw these guys around or play them off against one another – they are professionals, and you should be as well. Also, keep in mind depending on your budget and who you’re targeting, there are a variety of advertising mediums that you can consider, such as online, television, radio, print, billboards and so on and so on – typically a good advertising campaign combines a number of mediums and other tactics. Direct mail can be incredibly effective, as can sponsorships or literally a virtually endless array of opportunities. Because if this fact, it can be incredibly daunting for a layperson to do good advertising. If you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re in over your head, for goodness sakes, hire a professional marketing consultant. They’ll save you more money than they’ll cost you. And, you can focus on your business, rather than marketing. A good agency is skilled at planning and advertising, design, copy and all the necessary pieces of a good campaign.
When you’re on a tight budget, you’re most likely smartest to keep your tactics more focused on a single medium, rather than water that down and spread it amongst many. Focus on a single service, single offering and give your advertising enough time to work. If you can’t afford to run a program for at least three months, don’t do it at all. If you’re planning on doing a one off – don’t. Also, don’t expect instant gratification or immediate results. Good advertising is a commitment and a journey, not a quick fix or single step. A point of caution, and back to the branding. Before you do any advertising, take a real hard look at your operation. For example, are folks not coming to your restaurant because you’re not advertising and they don’t about you, or is it because the food and service are lousy? You have to be honest with yourself – after all, this your hard earned money.
And remember, the point of marketing and advertising is to help make you money, so think of it as an investment that will help you grow, rather than an expense. The tighter the budget, the more focused you need to be on your brand, your benefit, your offering, your target, your design and your placement. Try one thing, but do it all the way. Then move on to the next thing – for example, if you can’t afford to “do it all” don’t try. Do one thing. Own that, and move on.
Or, my very best advice? Just hire a trusted professional to do it for you.

Rodger Roeser is the CEO of Greater Cincinnati’s premier professional services branding and marketing firm The Eisen Agency. Roeser is an award winning television, radio and print journalist, and an award winning public relations and marketing executive. He can be reached at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Boost Your SEO with these FREE keyword research tools

Boost your SEO with these 10 free keyword research tools
By Matthew Royse | Posted: August 12, 2015

Whether you are writing headlines or copy for your website, blog posts or news releases, keyword research can help you reach your audience better.
You will know which words your audience cares about, how consumers search for things and how they group keywords together. Some benefits of optimizing keywords:

Increases website traffic
Improves visibility in search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo
Raises the likelihood your audience finds it valuable to share on their social networks
Generates ideas for future content creation and curation
Keyword research is the foundation of a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and a vital component of your content marketing strategy.

Here are 10 helpful keyword research tools worth exploring:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Top 6 Ways to Grow Your Opt In Email List

Top Six Ways to Grow Your Email Subscription List

by Linda West

Email, the Internet's first killer app, remains an essential tool in the modern marketer's arsenal. Whether it's to introduce a specific product or service, burnish and validate a brand's offerings, or follow up post-purchase, email remains one of the most popular and effective channels for connecting with customers.

It's a noisy world, though. Consumers are bombarded with information at every turn. And vendors looking to reach a global audience (in today's economy, that could be any of us) have to exercise caution: Many countries have enacted stringent email-related policies to better protect their citizens' privacy. Canada's recent anti-spam law, for example, has effectively ended the longstanding practice of batch-and-blast emails, sent to prospects en masse regardless of their consent or opt-ins.

Creating lasting connections with powerful, personalized emails has never been more challenging.

Here are six tips to help you cut through the clutter while adhering to ever-changing government regulations and convincing your subscribers to stay loyal.

1. Get creative in eliciting opt-ins

Click Here!
Sending one-off blast campaigns to people who have not opted in carries the potential to reach more prospects only theoretically. Because those recipients aren't expecting your message, you run the risk of getting those messages flagged as spam. And if you continue sending to unengaged, random recipients, you're asking for an abuse complaint. Plus, purchased lists often have high bounce rates. Even worse, purchased lists may contain spam traps, which could get you blacklisted.

Read more:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

When Should You Start a PR Campaign?

When should you start a PR campaign?
By Dave Manzer

There’s no definitive right or wrong answer about when to start a PR campaign, but there’s definitely a wrong time.

It’s after something newsworthy happens. If something important for your brand with a degree of popular appeal or relevance to a trending topic, and you are two weeks late in getting the news to the local or national media and don’t have any timely pictures or video to share, you're too late. When that happens, what you typically hear from most reporters and editors is, “I wish you had called us the day it happened or given us some prior notice.” Then all you hear are crickets, because you just blew it.

So when should you start a PR campaign? Is there a point in time in the build up to a big event or announcement when you should bring on outside PR help?

A lot depends upon the nature of the news itself (hard or soft), as well as what kind of media (print, TV, online) you want to pitch.

Soft news

Soft news concerns itself with less-urgent matters related to the community at large. Say, for example, you are small retailer in your hometown and you are opening up a third store. You are planning a grand opening and ribbon cutting and have invited the mayor and town council to attend. In this case, your news is tied to an event and because it involves some VIPs like the mayor and is about a local business doing well and expanding then there’s a good chance it will be of interest to a local reporter.

Hard news

If, however, there is an urgent news story about, say heavy rains flooding Main Street, and it turns out your business was impacted by the flooding, then reporters will be on the lookout for interviews with local business owners. Your chance for media coverage is immediate and requires prompt action.

[Sign up to get notified of upcoming conferences, workshops and webinars.]

Media lead-time:

When you should start a PR campaign also depends upon the kind of media you are targeting. If you own a specialty hearing aid store, then you would be smart to go after TV and print news rather than online media, as many retirees tend to spend more time watching day-time TV and reading the newspaper compared to millennials.

Each media outlet, however, has its own lead-time when it comes to accepting suggested story pitches.

Here are a few examples:

TV News: TV news is still a wonderful way to get your business or nonprofit noticed by thousands of viewers looking for what’s going on in the community. The lead-time it takes to pitch your story to a TV news reporter is typically not longer than a week, possibly even just a few days, as many TV stations don’t know what they will cover until each morning’s news meeting. [Radio is similar to TV.]

Newspaper: If it’s a daily newspaper, then plan on a lead-time of one to three weeks depending upon whether your news is tied to a timely event like a product launch or is an evergreen story that is tied to an annually reccurring event such as Spring Break, Labor Day or Halloween. If you want to be included in a list of tips like “Spring cleaning tips” or “Where to plant a tree on Arbor Day,” then it pays to contact a reporter one to two months in advance depending upon how big the holiday is on the calendar, Christmas being the 900-pound gorilla of holidays.

Blogs: Blogs can be very nimble and turn out content fast, especially newsy blogs such as Mashable and TechCrunch. Some smaller blogs are not as well staffed and may take longer. A typical lead-time on a submitted news pitch could be anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks. Best to err on the side of caution and at least give yourself a week.

Magazines: The bigger and glossier they are, the longer it takes to get published. I once heard of People Magazine taking over a year to publish a story. That’s an extreme case, to be sure, and there were some odd events surrounding it, but what is true is that magazines source content for upcoming editions as far out as 4-5 months. If you have a nifty educational toy for tots and want to be included in a list of suggested Christmas gifts, then you would have to start pitching in June or July. If it’s a local magazine, the lead-time may be less, but not by much. Alow yourself a three-month margin when pitching local glossies.

Final thoughts

When considering how soon to start a PR campaign, you should clearly identify your target audience, where it resides and what media outlets serve it. Also, decide whether you will pitch locally, nationally, or a mix of both.

I always encourage my clients to start one month in advance of a major announcement or event to allow enough time for media research, message design and outreach. After all, it can take several weeks to get an email answered by, or land a coveted phone call with, a busy reporter. Why, I just got off the phone with a business reporter in Dallas after three weeks of emails and voicemails. PR isn’t called “earned media” for nothing.

Moral of the story? Start early, don’t expect immediate results, and keep plugging away.

Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. A version of this article originally appeared on the PR Over Coffee blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Looking to Generate Sales Leads? Report says email is most effective

Marketing, sales, and business professionals say email is the most effective digital tactic they use to generate leads, according to a recent report from Ascend2.

The report was based on data from a July 2015 survey of 300 professionals from around the world (80% working at B2B-focused companies; 20%, B2C).

Some 48% of respondents say email is among the most effective tactics they use to generate sales leads; creating websites/landing pages ranked second (cited by 44% of respondents), followed by content marketing (43%) and search engine optimization (37%).

Read more:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

8 Reasons Your Media Relations Activity Isn't Working

8 reasons your PR isn't working
By Dorothy Crenshaw

Investing in a relationship with the right PR agency can pay enormous dividends when it comes to building reputation and even demand.

However, businesses that benefit from building or engaging PR teams can be hesitant due to uncertainty about outcomes.

PR hasn’t always done a great job defining or managing client expectations, particularly when it comes to earned media. When PR falls short, it often boils down to a handful of reasons, including these:
Expectations aren’t clear. If you’re bringing on a PR agency anticipating vague outcomes like “brand visibility” or “thought leadership,” think more deeply. One company’s visibility is another’s table stakes. It’s best to agree upon specific goals and carefully worded messaging for your program. You should also choose news outlets, social platforms, and content distribution strategies to target, among other elements. Here, the devil is truly in the details. The PR Council offers some very useful guidelines, including this PR relationship “owner’s manual.”

You don’t have news. Working journalists are looking for something new, timely, or relevant to their particular area. While a PR team’s expertise can help identify and develop a pitch, it needs the raw material (example: a new website isn’t news.). It’s important that you or your PR agency put yourself in the reporter’s shoes and approach him or her with needs in mind.

Your story is all about you. There’s definitely a place for service content, particularly in business-to-business sectors, but the key word here is service. Whether it’s earned or owned, the resulting article or post must focus on a customer problem or solution, trend, or offer useful information of interest to your end user. If it’s all about selling, it’s likely to be overlooked.

Read More:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Want to Attract Millennials? Get Video:

Brand Video Imperative: 80% of Millennials Consider Video Content When Researching a Purchase Decision
7 of 10 Millennials Will Watch a Company Video When Shopping Online

Generation Y is a demographic coveted by retailers and marketers for their purchasing power. Millennials, the generation born between 1980-2000, will spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017, and $10 trillion in their lifetimes. This week, online video creation application Animoto announced new data from the 2015 Animoto Online and Social Video Marketing Study, which reveals that video is no longer optional for brands and businesses looking to market to Millennials—seven in 10 Millennials are likely to watch a video when shopping online, and 80 percent of Millennials find video helpful when researching a purchase decision online.

Read More:

Monday, June 22, 2015

You Have Influencers on Your Business: Are You Influencing the Influencers?

The State of Influencer Engagement: Online Influencers Are Key to Increasing Brand Visibility—and PR Should Take the Lead
84% of Marcoms Professionals Use Influencer Engagement Strategies

The evolution of company PR outreach to online influencers such as bloggers, social media users, online journalists and other experts is showing many signs of maturity—in fact, this growing influencer engagement trend has been reaffirmed for the current year: According to new research from software provider Augure, 84% of marketing and communications professionals surveyed say they use influencer engagement in their campaigns—an increase of 24% compared to 2014.

Furthermore, 81% of those surveyed considered influencer engagement to be effective or very effective for meeting their objectives, while 74% of those surveyed want to increase (33%) or maintain (41%) the budget allocated to influencer engagement activities.

Read More:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Three Videos Every Business Should Have

The 3 Videos Every Business Should Have

As a former television news reporter and broadcast journalist, putting together a video was a daily task. Later in my career, I had no trouble developing full scale business videos for a variety of different purposes, all with varying concepts or budgets or goals. But video isn't something you should do without someone experienced it their creation. Here's a great article by Megan O'Neill that shares three types every business should have. (and if you need one, call The Eisen Agency).

Jun 9, 2015 / By Megan O'Neill

Getting ready to take the plunge into video marketing but not sure which videos to start with? Earlier this year, we surveyed over 1000 consumers to find out how they feel about, and interact with, video marketing from businesses. One of the things we asked about was what types of videos consumers find most helpful. We put together the results in a list of the top three videos every business should have.

#1: Product Videos

Product videos clocked in as the most important, with 4 in 5 consumers saying they find videos showing how a product or service works, helpful. Product videos are your opportunity to bring your products and services to life in a way that photos and text just can’t. You can show products in action, from different angles, or focus on unique product features, and tell a story that leads viewers to imagine themselves using or owning the product.

#2: Customer Testimonial Videos

A majority of consumers also reported finding customer testimonial videos helpful. This lines up with 2014 data from BrightLocal that revealed that 85% of consumers turn to online reviews to determine whether or not a local business is reputable.

Including video testimonials on your site in a good way to ensure that the first reviews of your product that your customers see are positive. Additionally, when consumers see their peers talking about your product or service, it builds a sense of trust and allows viewers to put themselves in the shoes of the person giving the testimonial. They think, “If this customer was happy, I will be, too!”

#3: Business Overview Videos

The third most important video for businesses to have, according to the consumers we surveyed, is a video about your company. Business overview, about us, or explainer videos shed light on who you are, what you do, why you do it, and why people should care. These types of videos are especially helpful for small businesses that want customers to feel more at ease doing business with them.

Have you created any of these types of videos for your business? If so, we’d love to see what you’ve made. Feel free to share links in the comments below. To find out more about our recent study, check out our 2015 Video Marketing Cheat Sheet infographic.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Social Media Important, But Almost Impossible to Measure Holistically Says Survey

Social Disruption: Social Media Data Is Not Actionable, and Can’t Be Measured Outside of its Own Silo, Top Marketing Execs Say
Marketing Leaders Also Agree With Consumers: Social Media Is Intrusive

Two nationwide surveys commissioned by the Marketing Executives Networking Group reveal consumers' and senior marketing executives' views on the digital marketing industry. The results indicate that companies' use of social media is perceived by both groups as potentially disruptive—55% of senior marketing executives and 52% of consumers perceive social media as intrusive.

In addition, the survey among senior marketing executives reveals that many believe the data generated by social media analytics is not yet actionable. More than 39% agree the information gleaned is not useful to their businesses.

Read More: