Tag: sales

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Terms and Conditions Apply

It’s taken me a minute to sit down and write this week’s blog and for a while I wasn’t sure what was going on in my head – it’s not that I’m short on ideas, my sudoku puzzles show that I’ve been thinking quite a bit but the act of sitting down and formulating these ideas into a workable concept seemed a bit out of reach for me. And that’s when it hit me – I’m avoiding the elephant in the room.

 

That Giant Elephant that Everyone KNOWS exists, but few address it head on

 

My friends, it is the official beginning of the holiday season and every single thing we do seems to remind of us this fact.

 

Need to grab some milk? Gotta walk by the holiday section first because it’s right out front for everyone to see.

 

Heading to work? Every billboard and radio ad is trying to sell you on their holiday cheer.

 

Scrolling through social media? Everyone and their damn brother is talking about what they are thankful for.

 

We “Should” Be Happy

 

It’s a near constant reminder that this time of year, is supposed to be the “happiest” time of the year, yet in reality many of us find ourselves in a scarcity mindset where we overbook and overextend our time and finances to show others how much we care.

 

By January, we’re exhausted and usually a bit more in debt than we had been previously and not exactly setting ourselves up for success in the New Year and then wonder why our resolutions are so difficult to stick to.

 

This, like mentioned in the previous blog, sets up a vicious cycle where we are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. And this is when digital can become dangerous.

 

Let’s talk about those Wish Ads

 

Remember how it only takes ONE second for the algorithm to register your attention? Because of how much or how little we share on Facebook, the ads we are shown can be HIGHLY individualized.

 

This becomes dangerous in the hands of advertisers because ads are created to address two functions: build the brand awareness and address/answer a “pain point”

 

A large yellow M and certain chime reminds young and old that there’s a place to go when we’re hungry

 

But ads aren’t just to remind us of a place we can go when we’re hungry. That may be how they function, but not how they work.

 

For ads to work, they need to utilize our emotions while fulfilling their function. This is why ads are longer – in 5, 10, 15, 30, 60 second integrals and sometimes longer on streaming channels – to give them time to engage our emotions.

 

Ads are meant to capture, maintain, and engage our minds

 

The more we hear, see, and recognize a brand, the more we establish and emotional connection to it by the pain point solution offered. This is where two digital giants of the modern age reign supreme: Google and Facebook.

 

As the top used search engine and the top used social media platform, these two know a good thing when they have it – a space where we both research future purchases and where we ask friends and family for their recommendations, all from the convenience of one portable device that 85% of Americans own.

This is why we feel like our phones are “listening” to us – because they kinda ARE

 

It just isn’t in the way we always think. And that’s when the creepy feeling starts setting in.

 

As a marketer, I enjoy “playing” with my Google algorithm, asking it to “find the REAL me” like it’s a digital version of the game show, To Tell The Truth. But Facebook, damn. There are times I feel like just posting that I bought the damn thing in an effort to stop seeing those ads.

 

Like an algorithm “reset” for ads

 

And what’s wonderful, given time, ANYONE can do this – without having to share on Facebook that we purchased the damn thing UNLESS WE WANT TO.

 

Take a moment and feel that power, that feeling of control. Envision it, think about what that could look like – because like any planted seed, it takes time to grow.

 

Now to begin, there are some things we need to know going in:

 

  1. Not all ads are created equal

Some ads are what I call the “Spaghetti at a Wall” type and can encompass anything from low-rate insurance to pay-day loans. These are typically found on websites and are listed as “sponsored content” and can be found either cleverly concealed within the text itself or at the bottom of the page. Spaghetti ads frequently use “bait and switch” tactics to get you to click on the “articles” which are nothing but more ads.

 

Next up are the “Low Hanging Fruit” – goods and services just about anyone needs. This includes insurance, banking, clothing, food, service utilities, housing, etc. These are ads you’ll see again and again and can be so familiar that the brands may poke fun at one another on Twitter (and elsewhere).

 

Finally, there are the “Sticky Ads” – those that when you stop to think about it, make you go hmmm. These are the ones to be on the look out for. There’s a digital link somewhere and is frequently tied to a “real life” interaction.

 

  1. Yes, your phone is listening to you, but often not in the way you think

Ads are a reflection of what we search for, who we communicate with, and any of our shared connections – be it financial distress, basic human needs, or something more tangible or emotional.

 

The Spaghetti ads, if treated as anything, should be for a good laugh at their attempt.

 

Low Hanging Fruit can also be humorous at times but all in all, they are fairly easy to block out unless it’s during the Superbowl.

 

Sticky ads are sticky because of the convenience of our phones and the software and hardware built into them to function. Every time we have our Wifi, Mobile Data, GPS, or Bluetooth on, our phones are sending and receiving signals. Now, consider how many of us have the voice command system on – Siri or Google (and BTW, Facebook has one too).

 

And all that is before we start searching for the “best” whatever, comparing two different products, or searching for somewhere to eat nearby. All before a conscious emotional connection can created.

 

  1. The idiom of “what has been seen, cannot be unseen” will take on greater meaning

This phrase is as old as the internet because in the early days, there was quite simply, a lot of shit that could be seen. And not always, ideal shit at the ideal time. So, once it was seen, it didn’t need to be seen again. Period. Done. Still in the memory bank and doesn’t need to be revisited.

 

As you begin to start to look at the different types of ads, you’ll start to notice some consistencies outside of the branding, consistencies that associate the ads to the 3 types: Spaghetti, Low Hanging Fruit, and Sticky.

 

Your brain will start to automatically process these without you needing to think about it and categorize them based on what is already known. Which allows the thinking brain time to find these digital connections that make the sticky ads so sticky.

 

  1. We are continually being sold to and sold

This last bit of knowledge is the double-edged sword of convenience in digital. People go to great lengths to have an ad-free experience when online and only then come up with less ads getting through. Most of us don’t have the time to devote to this experience, and for some of us, it’s a price we’ll happily pay for said convenience – in the “devil you know” kind of way.

 

But remember, the devil’s we “know” and how much they know about us. When you stop to think about it, it’s quite a lot and for some, that’s quite scary.

 

Now, I find the scary things are a whole lot less scary once we take the time to learn about them. Like how a haunted house is a whole lot less scary once you see the mechanics that go into making it. You might come out with more questions, but you’ll definitely come out seeing things differently than you did before.

 

Going Forward: Start Looking At Your Ads

 

So, this week, I want you to do something that is going to feel strange and counterintuitive – but I guarantee you isn’t – I want you to start looking at the ads you see when your on your phone. Start recognizing where they fall – Spaghetti, Low Hanging Fruit, or Sticky and begin to categorize your Sticky ads.

 

By categorizing your Sticky ads, your brain will be able to process them faster and you will begin to see more intentional ad placement for you.

 

Now, if this has made your skin crawl just a bit more than you thought, you can take this a step further by asking yourself if the Sticky ads are based on demographic information (age/race/sex/location) or if it is related to a search, an online chat, or an in-person conversation. If it is the latter, be sure to fully close out of running apps on your phone. Hitting the home button is not enough.

 

Know that the idiom of what has been seen cannot be unseen has ruled the internet for so long for a reason. The lessons to be learned are not always pleasant, but it’s best we go in eyes wide open.

Creating a Marketing Mindset

The statistics of owning a small business are not for the faint of heart. The Small Business Administration (SBA) states that 50% fail within the first five years, 66% in the first ten years, and only 25% make it fifteen years or more. While there are many reasons for this, marketing always seems to be in the top five. It’s a bit of an ambiguous term, that includes a wide range of activities from creating print materials such as brochures and business cards to how you present your business and yourself in public and online. Marketing can be closely tied to sales but is different from sales in the approach. While both are needed, you will want to be conscious of the two and how they differ so that you can set yourself apart from the crowd and raise your chances to come out on top.

A marketing mindset is one of growth and prosperity. While there are many things needed, such as a logo that represents your brand visually, you will also want to focus on your brand’s presence. Whether your business caters to the general public or businesses, to succeed, your business should present that it is successful and will be around in the next year or years. This can be incredible difficult to do when you are trying to make ends meet.

Are you creating a sense of prosperity or scarcity?

Often, many find themselves falling back on a sales mindset to offset this issue. Creating a fast turn around sale or discount can help bridge a gap in the budget or help those on the fence jump for your goods and services but you should only use this tactic sparingly. Additionally, pushing customers to engage with your product, such as continually asking for a meeting so you can sell them on what you do or sell can be off putting for the customer and present that there may be a reason why you are so pushy; a reason you are trying to counterbalance.

Relying heavily on sales and sales tactics or not having proper marketing techniques in place, will make people wary of purchasing your goods or services. It presents that your business may be in trouble or may not be in it for the long haul. But it does not need to be that way. What’s great about marketing is that it can be adjusted and changed at any time but there are a few things to keep in mind when changing your marketing strategy:

  1. Listen to Your Customers: Your customers will tell you what they want and need. Rather than complaining that you are not able to reach them, ask yourself what you can do to reach them. Sometimes what they are asking is not something you currently offer but could possibly in the future. Explore what your customers are asking for and see if you can work it in to your current strategy. Sometimes adding in a particular type of good or service can help build your business and brand in ways you did not foresee.
  2. It Takes Time: In any marketing endeavor, it will take time. Time for people to realize the change, time for people to learn about what you are doing, how you are doing it, and decide if it is right for them. We tell our clients that it takes a good 3 to 6 months before changes start to happen, and even then, they may be small changes and it can take 6 months to a year to see how those changes are reflected within your business.
  3. Small Steps Make For Big Changes: It’s the little things that matter so ensuring you are updating your digital presence including any social organizations you belong to make a big difference. If you are finding that your business is not forefront in your friends and family’s mind or they are not active on your digital footprint, ask yourself if you could be doing more. While it may seem like a little thing to do when you are looking at a bigger issue, remember that creating a sound structure to build on is key.
  4. Marketing Should Reflect Your Values: Everyone who chooses to go down this arduous path does so for a reason, and for many of us, it is following a dream. Sharing that dream with others builds on your brand and provides a plan for your structure. Ask yourself why you started your business and how can you show that in your marketing. This shows your intent, your reasons why you keep going, and builds trust in what you are doing.
  5. Be Where Your People Are: This may be different for every business, so listening to and understanding your customers is key. While most customers are online, you will also want to ensure you are present in person as well. This can include attending networking meetings, learning series, community and service groups. Any time you are in public, you are representing your brand so finding organizations that support what you are doing and actively engaging with those groups can be a great way to increase your awareness. Think outside of the box, perhaps there is an organization that you can support through volunteering.
  6. Marketing Does Not Need to be Expensive: This is a common misconception for many business owners. Hope is not a marketing strategy. You need a plan of action, but it does not mean that with it, you need to break the bank. The most valuable thing you have is your time. Using your time effectively, from ensuring your digital presence is updated to volunteering your time to sit on a board are all means of marketing your business without costing you a dime.
  7. Think Big and Allow Yourself to Dream: When you find yourself stuck or spinning your wheels, it’s hard to break free. Running a business is hard work. At times, it feels as if you have the proverbial quiet toddler and you are bracing yourself for the havoc that may ensue. If you are always on edge and waiting for the shoe to drop, it will. Remind yourself why you started this, reflect on your values, and be grateful for where you are right now, because you have come a long way no matter how young your business is. Ask yourself where to go from here, how you can improve what you already have built, and yes, allow yourself to dream about what could be.
  8. Plan Your Execution: This is imperative to a change in marketing because it all comes down to presentation. Yes, sometimes change comes at us hard and fast but it does not have to appear that way. Planning out the details needed to support your change helps build on what you already have and the improvements you want to implement. Having a plan not only gives you a time frame to work within but also provides smaller, achievable goals to help you feel more successful during the transition. This not only helps you feel more secure, but also makes others feel more secure when working with you.

    Set Yourself Apart From The Crowd

Maintaining a marketing mindset, one of abundance, growth and prosperity is not easy, especially when you are focused on the daily tasks needed to operate your business. But it is necessary to maintaining what you have built and project for the future. While a sales mindset can be tempting, sales are meant to be short-term and scarce. When you rely on sales too heavily, you present that your business may also be short-term, your funds may be scarce, and that your business may not beat the statistics. Additionally, too many changes in too short of a time frame, can also have the same effect. If you have found yourself struggling to find your footing in today’s fast paced world, ask yourself how you are presenting yourself and your business. You may have lost the marketing mindset in the details of day to day but you can change your mindset, your approach, and yes, your business’s success by shifting focus from what is to what could be.

Getting Down and Dirty With Sales

Sales. Oh, that dirty word, it’s a necessary evil to running a business. Or is it? Every business owner will tell you that it is needed but no one likes to talk about it. The term has two definitions in running a business, the first and foremost, it’s how business owners can ideally make ends meet and second, the act of sales which leaves many with a gross taste in their mouths. As sales should be related to your marketing, this week we’re going to talk all about that nasty, gross feeling thing and I hope you come out on the other end feeling a little better about that necessary business process.

Marketing should be closely tied to your sales funnel. A sales funnel is where your audience lies in their awareness of what you offer. To keep it simple, a sales funnel typically associates your audience along a pipeline of cold to hot. This means if someone is in your sales funnel and they are cold, they are just learning about what you do. They are not ready to buy. The more interested they are in what you offer, they move along the sales funnel to warm. These individuals may be interested in what you offer but need more information to be able to take the leap or are unable to afford your goods or services yet. As individuals progress along the funnel, they move to hot or ready to buy.

Now while that’s a bit oversimplified, it’s important to understand where your clients fall within this funnel and to know that while some will move through your sales funnel, some will not. There are times when an individual may not ever make a purchase from you but want to support you in your venture. By being aware of your audience and where they fall within your sales funnel, you are better able to refine your marketing to target those who are more likely to purchase your goods or services.

I like to think of running a business like a football game. Your goods or services, the financials, all the stuff that you do every day that relates to your business are the players in the game. The goal is to get points through a touchdown primarily (although a field goal or safety will work too). The main part of the game is trying to get those points, or in the world of running a business, make sales. Sometimes it’s easy, other times you get sacked, but keep getting back up and playing the game. Whether it’s fourth down and ten or you’re on the line of scrimmage ready to make the play, keep going. You won’t always make the point, but if you are learning while you go that is what’s important. And those that may not buy your goods or services but want to support you, those are your fans, so show them why they should cheer for you and keep coming back to watch you play.

What is Marketing?

Marketing, it’s an ambiguous term and while not sales, it’s closely tied with sales. I have heard many misconceptions about marketing: it’s only meant for larger businesses, people will feel they are being “sold,” and “I’m not good at it, so I don’t need it.” That last one gets me to my very core. Why? Because marketing is for all businesses! So, what is marketing?

Marketing at its core is your cheerleader. It lets people know about your business and what you have going on, and let’s be honest, you have some pretty cool stuff going on. Marketing includes all the different ways you get the word out about what you’re doing. This includes networking groups, advertising, social media, visual representations of your business and the core of this is your customer. What are you doing for your customer? How are you different from other individuals in the area who offer similar goods or services? Your mission and vision for your business should also be tied with your marketing.

Before discussing points your marketing should hit, I want to discuss sales. Yes, that dirty word, sales. Sales first and foremost does not need to be Glengarry Glen Ross style of dirty, whatever it takes, get it done, always be selling mentality. Just like how everyone poops, it’s necessary to running a business. Sales is tied to your rates and your budget as well as your client’s budget. Sales feeds your business; it’s how you make money. Sales comes from your marketing. Marketing may employ a sales tactic known as a call to action campaign. However, be careful to limit these. There’s only so many giveaways you can offer before it starts to diminish your value.

 

Here are some key points to help you with your marketing:

  • Your message should be clear and concise. From print materials to digital platforms, your overall message should be easily understood. Potential customers do not need to know or want to know every detail about your offering. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.
  • Know your audience. Who do you want to reach? Where are they located? Having an idea of who you want to reach with your marketing will help you in the long run. Otherwise, you may be throwing time and money at a wall to see what sticks.
  • Your message should have a sense of continuity across all advertising platforms. This includes your website, social media, print materials, and any advertising you do. Having a logo, slogan, or general message helps.
  • Be aware of color. The use of color color is an integral part of your marketing but can easily distract from your message. Would you use a florist whose primary colors are brown and black? Likewise, the overuse of color or patterns distracts the eye from text.
  • Follow the 80/20 Rule. In this, only 20% or less of your advertising should be an ask for sale. The majority of your time should be focused on getting the word out about what you do and how you help solve a problem.

 

As always, I hope this has helped you and I look forward to answering another question next week!

Pushing Outside of the Comfort Zone

I am not the best at talking about myself and I haven’t figured out why quite yet, but I know it’s an issue many small business owners struggle with. We have a tendency to diminish ourselves while promoting our businesses. This is one of the most counterintuitive things we can do because why we are in business for ourselves and why we are so passionate about what we do is closely tied with ourselves! You decided to start your own business for a reason. I know this because I started my business for a reason and it’s that reason that keeps me going. That passion deep inside me has and continues to keep me working even when times are tough and when I don’t know the answers. But yet, I still don’t like to talk about myself.

A dear friend of mine says that when we break out of our comfort zone, we are able to grow. I have grown as my business has grown, but I’m much happier talking about what my business is now doing and what we are working on. We have really exciting stuff happening at Symbiotic Marketing and I get ridiculously excited with each project, each goal achieved, each and every single business we assist. Seriously, incredibly, redonkulously excited.

That’s me, hiking in Colorado, one of my favorite places to visit!

Yet, I dismiss my own hand in this excitement. I tell myself that I’m just doing what I enjoy, because I really do enjoy every single minute of what I’m doing. I woke up this morning and decided I’m done waffling, I’m done thinking it over, I’m going to do this. I’ve known for months that I wanted to start a blog for Symbiotic Marketing, but oh gheez, where to start, what to write about, what if no one wants to read it, what if, what if, what if…fluttered around my head. Those months of thinking and wondering…hell, questioning myself, I’ve come to realize that I respond well to questions.

With this, I encourage you to ask your questions, about Symbiotic Marketing, about marketing in general, about sales, about the things that keep you up at night (because they probably keep me up at night too). I will be posting about two questions that I’ve responded to recently via social media: how our rate plans are put together and my diverse background. These two are in draft stages, so please look out for them and please ask your questions!

 

Stephanie

July 6, 2019

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