samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myersSetting goals for the rest of 2015 and setting yourself/your business up for success

By: Samantha Scott, APR

It’s been said that ‘time flies when you’re having fun.’ Has the first 6 months of 2015 been fun? It’s certainly flown by. As we face the second half of the year, what’s on your marketing to do list? Do you have things that didn’t get addressed and need to before the end of the year? Are you on track to meet your goals? Let’s review a few key things you can do now to set yourself up for success in the latter half of 2015.

  1. Assess Your Progress

What have you accomplished? Before you can create your grand plan you need to know what’s been done. Take stock of your/your team’s efforts. This can also be a boost… it’s easy to forget the little victories, but they all add up. This could be getting your social media set up, kicking off a new newsletter or just working on internal communication systems.

Also review what’s changed… Market trends, competitors, new communication channels, etc. A lot can change in 6 months. Does your original plan still address every component? Or do you need to revise?

2. Measure

If we’ve met or if you’ve heard me give a presentation then you’ve likely heard me say, “test and measure everything!” If you haven’t been measuring your efforts (leads, web traffic, sales, audience size, etc.) do a quick assessment and make a plan to do it every month moving forward.

By tracking progress you can determine if your efforts are making the needle move or if you need to try a different approach. Compare against the same time last year and track month to month. Use Google Analytics to determine the health and performance of your website and use statistics from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other channels (provided for free!) to monitor those efforts.

3. Take a break.

This is the easy part. Take a vacation and enjoy yourself. Rest and relaxation is key to keeping your passion fueled and to ensure creative ideas continue to flow. In fact, according to The New York Times, studies have shown taking vacation increases productivity! When was the last time you took a break and didn’t check emails, answer work calls or think about your to-do list? Maybe it’s time for that Bahamas trip you’ve been thinking about…

4. Work ahead.

Most businesses in Southwest Florida are slower in the summer… You can certainly (and should) take a break with some of that time, but most of us can’t take the entire summer off. With a little more time on your hands you can get ahead of tasks that you might neglect later in the year when you get busier.

Write a few blogs and store them away. Research those vendors and new communication channels you’ve heard about. Start putting together your holiday promo plans. Don’t forget, Halloween promotion starts in September and that’s only two months away! Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, etc. will be here before you know it. Use your resources now to prevent stress and missed opportunities later.

5. Educate yourself and your team

Another opportunity to use your summer time wisely… Set aside time for learning, seminars and webinars. Educate yourself and help your employees develop their skills and knowledge. In the summer when it’s hot and time drips by like molasses it’s easy to let your team’s momentum slack. Give your team a “pick me up” and coordinate market training.

For example, Jeri Church, owner of Salon Adrian, uses this tactic to keep her team sharp and their skills (and shears) sharper. She uses the summertime to host in-salon training sessions and send stylists to conferences and seminars out of state.

6. Reward your loyal customers

We’ve reviewed things you can do internally, but we can’t forget your customers! Summer might be slower, but it can still be a valuable time of year. Don’t forget to take care of those customers that live here and patron your business year-round. Consider offering specials just for them. Not only will you get more traffic/sales, they’ll feel rewarded which is never a bad thing!

Enjoy your summer and use these 6 tips to make the rest of 2015 the best third and fourth quarter you’ve ever had. And if we can help, just let us know!

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Photo By Brian TietzBy: Kate Walter, MA, APR and Jessica McAfee

On July 4, 1776, America adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence and the American Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. Even during the onslaught of the Revolutionary War, the 13 Colonies took a stand and were ready to be out on their own.

In a way, businesses have the same opportunity to take a stand and announce their independence from the ordinary and commonplace. What makes you independent? What makes you different from your competitors? Since your website is your online storefront, we wanted to share a few simple tips for how you can stand apart from the crowd.

Happy 4th of July!

1. Pay Attention to Color

Colors affect the human brain in different ways. Select the appropriate color for your business by analyzing the product or service that you are providing. For example, orange represents cheerfulness and confidence, while blue represents trust and security. Think about your business and what you are representing and pick the color accordingly.

2. Make the Pages Fun

In the About Us section, you can liven up the information about the staff with unique insights about each of them. This could include their favorite quote, a Q&A of somewhat random questions, or multiple headshots of them being serious and goofy. Adding personality lets your clients see the people behind the company and begins to foster relationships. Another way to distinguish your business would be to include a timeline of milestones and achievements. Just be sure to update this regularly.

3. Videos and Photos

Engage your clients/customers by letting them post videos or photos using your services or product. Create a company branded hashtag that clients can use when they post videos on social media. Create a gallery on your website to display the photos. Be sure to put videos on your YouTube channel and embed them on your website to help with search engine optimization.

4. Webcam

Having a live webcam feed at your business is a fun way to get clients or customers to regularly visit your website. You could set it up to watch the change in weather, a day-in-the-life of your busy office, the bustle of your restaurant, etc. Make sure the live feed is always working and continually track how many people view it.

5. Blog or Vlog

Having a blog or vlog for your business provides another way to educate and share information with your clients. Allow readers access to comment on the blog post so that you can foster an online conversation. A video blog, or vlog, is just another way to leverage video and share information, but in a creative and popular format.

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Photos by Brian Tietz

 

 

 

By Diana Leadley

Digital Marketing Coordinator

 

Who’s celebrating Social Media Day? Pushing the Envelope is! And we’ve actually been celebrating all month long. Have you noticed the hints we’ve been dropping on our social channels and blog?

With everything and everyone going digital, social media marketing is a virtual must-have for all businesses nowadays. From Facebook to Instagram to Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and more, it can be hard to keep up. But, with a few tools and tips, we’ll help make life a little easier for you. So without further ado – and in celebration of Social Media Day – PTE presents the top 3 best practices for social media marketing!

Choose Your Channels

Each industry has its own unique audience, and it’s our job as marketing and communication experts to figure out where that audience is when it comes to the virtual world.

If you’re selling clothes or any type of visual product, then you definitely want to consider channels such as Instagram and Pinterest – both visual and shop-friendly sites where people will be looking to buy products that stand out on a visual platforms.

For an event venue or convention center, consider having a Twitter account to give short and quick updates on upcoming events.

Of course Facebook is the mother of all social media and most industries can utilize this all-encompassing platform, which includes pictures, videos, links, ads, custom tabs and much more.

Schedule Your Content

At PTE, we’re all about efficiency and saving time and money. That’s why we use special programs and platform features to schedule posts in advance. As Rev. Run says, “If you aren’t consistent, you’re non-existent” and posting regularly on Facebook is important to stay top-of-mind with your audiences. There are many scheduling programs that support the most common social channels, but the two that we tend to favor are HootSuite and Buffer. Facebook also has its own feature to schedule posts. Use these programs and set aside a time to schedule all of your posts for the next week, month or few months in advance. It’s a pretty refreshing feeling knowing that the posts are scheduled and your time is freed up to working on other projects and enhance your client’s businesses!

But don’t think scheduling posts is all you need to do. Social media is all about being social and interacting with your followers, which brings us to our next tip…

Engage with Your Audience

At the end of the day, what is your goal? To increase your client base and sale leads, of course! But filling your social accounts with sales pitches and ads is not necessarily going to give you the results you’re looking for. Social media is a place people go to connect with others emotionally. When is the last time you logged into Facebook to buy something? It’s probably not your first instinct. Chances are, you’re there to see what’s new with your friends and family – not to be bombarded with promotions and new products. Because of this, we recommend following the 4:1 promotion ratio rule. For every four posts, make one of those posts a promotional, self-serving post that advertises a service or product you offer. The other three posts should be content shared from other pages, industry-related news and fun, feel-good memes, images or articles that pertain to your business.

As part of your internet and digital marketing efforts, it’s important to check your social account daily and answer questions, share/retweet posts and respond to messages. You don’t want to miss opportunities to build relationships with your audiences. Everyone wants to feel important and be heard. Check out brands like Taco Bell (https://twitter.com/tacobell) and Totinos (https://twitter.com/totinos) for some inspiration – and a few good laughs. Whoever runs those accounts is hilarious!

To Learn More…

You’re probably wondering, “That’s it?” Of course not! There’s so much more that goes into social media strategy and implementation and PTE is here to help you maximize your efforts and increase your ROI. Give us a call at (239) 221-2858. We’re happy to answer your questions and develop a social media marketing strategy that will achieve your business goals!

 

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myersBy: Samantha Scott, APR

Social media day is coming soon (June 30!) and to celebrate I’d like to offer eight key elements of an effective social media strategy. Using social media to market your business can be tricky, especially if you’re working in-house and wearing lots of marketing hats. That’s why we’ve created this outline as a reference guide to make sure your social media strategy is on point.

1 . Setting Goals from the Start

The first step of any strategy is actually having one. Have a plan! The adage, “failure to plan is planning to fail” holds true with social media marketing. That includes having goals for your efforts. Without knowing what success means (increased web traffic, leads, audience growth) how will you ever know if you’ve made it?

2. Listening

Relationship therapists have long touted listening as a key element in successful relationships. As a business with customers, you have many relationships to maintain. Listening is a key component. It involves monitoring conversations about your brand, business, locations, etc. and protecting it.

3. Consistent, Fresh Content

Don’t let your channels get stale… Is the last video on your YouTube channel from 6 months ago? When was the last time you tweeted? To keep your audience interested and ideally engage them (likes, comments, shares) it’s important to post consistently and provide new, interesting, value-adding content.

BONUS TIP: Keep in mind the etiquette of each channel as a guide for your posting frequency. On Twitter posting up to 10 times a day isn’t uncommon, but on LinkedIn that would be overload.

4. Research your Audience

It’s hard to communicate with someone you don’t know. Other than basic demographic information, what do you know about your customers or prospects? Research them to determine the social media channels they use, their online and buying habits, their preferences and peak activity times, then connect with them there. If you already have an audience and contact information consider distributing a survey (Survey Monkey is free to use for up to 10 questions!) to ask for their feedback and interests.

5. Genuine Approach

Don’t be that cheesy car salesman with your content. Be real! People connect with people, trust people and buy from people. Make sure your content, responses and general presence on social media is genuine. If your content sounds canned or scripted your audience won’t respond to it and will be turned off.

BONUS TIP: When replying to reviews try to include the reviewer’s name and specifically mention at least one element of their comment. It proves you read it and care about their opinion.

6. Empower Your People

Every business or organization has ambassadors. Unfortunately most don’t realize it, let alone fully leverage them. Each staff person, board member, customer, etc. has the ability to be your ambassador. Are you empowering them to tell your story? Get your staff involved by sharing the links to your social media channels with them and asking them to follow/like them. Use your board members’ sphere of influence and encourage them to engage with your channels and share them with colleagues and friends.

BONUS TIP: Don’t just ask your ambassadors to post. Give them suggested content and/or memes to share. Give them the tools to complete the task. They’re more likely to do it!

7. Engage the Eye

The average attention span is 2.5 seconds! That’s it…. At a time when everyone and every thing is vying for your attention, it’s important to communicate quickly. Graphics offer an easy way to communicate your message. Plus, engaging and/or funny graphics are more likely to be shared than plain text posts. Get creative, take photos, share the experience of your brand/product/service.

8. Budget to Promote

Social media for business isn’t entirely “pay to play,” but if you want to ensure your posts reach your target audience members you need to budget accordingly. Even channels with thousands of audience members are struggling to have their content seen. Advertising expands reach and helps you control the audience (so the right people are seeing your brand). We recommend starting with just a couple dollars a day, measuring as you go and then refining as needed.

These eight key elements are sure to help increase the effectiveness of your social media efforts. Try employing them and see where it goes. If you can’t do it all at once, start small and add on. As with anything else, just be sure to set your goals and stick with it!

 

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In anticipation of Social Media Day on June 30, PTE is excited to share new features, changes and successful case studies regarding social media all through the month of June. Stay tuned!

By Lisa Davanzo:

Photo by Brian TietzGoogle+ changes for business

It has been my experience through the years that most businesses understand that they need to be active on Google+ but, not many people are familiar with how to maximize the platform to their benefit. With Social Media Day right around the corner, lets take a look at some of the recent changes on Google+.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

Google+ Circle sharing is gone. You may be thinking that you never knew it existed, much less how to share to it. The feature did exist and like other social media platforms, Google initially saw this as a way for you to organize your friends or “Plus-buddies” into groups and share conversations within those groups. However, Google+ Circle was never very successful due to the lack of legitimate users who took advantage of of this feature.

A few weeks ago the web started to buzz with speculation that Google’s big announcement was going to mean the end of Google+, however, the company announced the launch of Google+ Collections instead. This new feature allows users to organize and feature their photos in collections, much like its competitor Pinterest. However, Google has stated that the creation of this new feature began based on analyzing user behavior on the platform. In a sense, the feature is like Circle Sharing, except users are sharing content publicly rather than just to a set group of “Plus-buddies”. In fact, these Collections can be shared publicly, privately or with a set of friends – and you can follow Collections and see what they’re posting on your home stream. Google even has a featured Collections page that you can view by visiting g.co/collections.

Google-collections

Why is GOOGLE+ important?

Google is the #1 search engine in the WORLD. If you are a business, you probably want your website to rank well on this search engine right? So Google+ is important because it’s another way of showing the search engine giant what your business is all about. Google has stated publicly that they will begin factoring in Google+ profiles to their SEO rankings. The fact of the matter is Google is EVERYWHERE! Whether you use a Chrome web browser, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Play, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Earth, GCal, GChat, or even an Android phone, you’re connecting with Google. Now it’s more important than ever for marketers and businesses to keep a close eye on changes to Google products.

*As of October 2013 Google+ had 540 million monthly active Google+ users, and 300 million monthly “in-stream” users who see or visit the Google+ stream of content, according to Marketing Land. Unfortunately, Google has not provided Google+ usage metrics since then.

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