The Blog

Is your startup ready to hire a marketing professional?

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As a passionate business owner myself, I’m constantly striking up conversations with local startups concerning their efforts to launch and market their new company or brand. Many new business owners aren’t sure what to expect when it comes to hiring outside marketing help, especially creating a marketing budget–some might even be reluctant to do so since startups can be tough on the wallet.

Aren’t sure if your startup business is ready to spend on marketing? Here’s some points to consider when you’re preparing to take the plunge:

    1. Believe that a marketing professional can add value to your business. Many entrepreneurs are business-savvy and probably have a healthy understanding of marketing. However, in order to build a healthy relationship with your newly-hired marketing professional, it’s essential that you release the reins by acknowledging that you may not know everything about marketing after all.

      Respect each other’s areas of expertise and work together to reach your business goals. Just as you’re an expert in your industry, a marketing professional is going to know the latest on marketing trends and tactics. I know what you’re thinking–how could any one know more about your business when you’re the one who eats, lives, and breathes all things about your company? I witness a lot of new business owners struggle in the area of trusting outside marketing help, likely because they are so invested in making their new business successful that they have a hard time believing anyone on the outside could bring the same level of passion to the table.

      Yet this trust and respect is detrimental to making the partnership work. The key is to constantly help each other bridge the learning gap–the marketer will likely need taught some principles specific to your business industry, so be patient and willing to teach them as needed. Likewise, a good marketer will already be working their butts off to understand your industry beforehand and will not only create a relevant and awesome marketing plan for you, but will take the time to teach you such marketing practices and help you understand how they apply to your business. I call that a win-win relationship.

 

    1. Know what you want out of your marketing hire. Are you looking for short-term help to launch a specific campaign, event, or product? Are you needing help with an annual marketing plan? Or do you need fast marketing strategies for saving a sinking ship? Before committing to a marketing professional, it’s best to communicate clear expectations you have and how you’ll measure your marketing goals. Most often reflected in numbers, this can be in measurement of sales, of leads, of online customer engagement, etc. And be fair with your marketing goals–if you’ve never tracked your leads or measured any existing sales goals, it’s not really fair to throw out a random number just to see if a marketing professional can magically meet it.

      Just be upfront with your marketing professional regardless where you’re at. You may need to start by tracking existing leads for a few months and then letting your marketing pro make some educated suggestions. Be willing to share your existing business numbers and let your marketing consultant help you figure out a realistic goal. Always keep in mind break-even points and costs-per-lead. Measure, measure, measure, and know what you want before hiring a marketing professional!

 

    1. Establish a dedicated marketing budget. This one’s a toughie for new business owners. Most likely you’ve just spent your whole life savings to start your new business, and it can be daunting to think of investing even more when there’s a risk of it never paying off. So it’s common to find yourself scared to talk to a marketing professional, and all you really want to know is how much it’s going to cost you. The answer? It depends. (I know, you’re rolling your eyes at me right now.) But it really does! It depends on what needs done (Have you branded yourself yet? Do you need a new logo? Do you need to rebrand in order to appeal more to customers? Do you have a website yet? A Facebook page? Will you be maintaining these or will I?). So many factors! And of course these also depend on your industry and target audiences.

      So my incredibly generic advice for small business owners here in Indiana is that I recommend setting aside at least $5,000 to get you started with a marketing professional. I start with the marketing basics, so if you’ve yet to fully develop your identity and brand personality, that’s where we’ll need to start. Next you’ll need to get your main marketing message nailed down, which needs to be highly relevant to each of your target audiences.

      Usually the first vehicle for marketing yourself is with a website–and any other marketing outlets would be a waste of money if your website currently sucks and can’t successfully convert those visitors to leads. I often have my clients start with either building or redesigning their website. This is a big budget eater.

      While new marketing tactics can take a lot of time and money upfront, once they’re up and running you can set it and forget it while the leads keep coming in. Though tactics like an email marketing program, Facebook posts, and other marketing campaigns will likely require monthly maintenance. Most of the time I quote and charge a client for my time to develop and build such programs and then charge a much smaller monthly fee to run these programs regularly.

 

  1. Be open to changes. So often a new business owner is so personally invested in their new company that it can be super hard to hear any type of feedback. It’s your baby–I get it. I really do. If you’re not ready to hear that your blue and black logo with lightning bolts that your nephew developed for you is totally too macho for your all-female target audience, then you’re not quite ready to talk to a marketing professional.

    A good marketing consultant will show respect when providing critique and feedback, but these conversations can be really difficult! When chatting with a potential client, I can often tell it would be a lose-lose relationship for both of us if there’s a lot of sensitivity towards any potential changes to already established branding (such as a logo or existing website). It truly requires an open mind–sometimes it’s hard to hear that you didn’t make the best choice initially, but wouldn’t you rather hear this and get it fixed so that you’re more relevant to your customers? You’re hiring a marketing professional for their expertise–you’re not paying them to agree with you but to truly offer their professional opinions concerning your business.

If any of these points make your stomach turn, then you’re not ready, plain and simple. Marketing in general is a risk (as is any business) but the excitement can be found in making it a controlled, educated risk. Being truly ready to hire a marketing professional and finding one you really mesh with is the formula for a fun and exciting relationship that will deliver results for your business!

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

Why everyone should set up web analytics

Customer Analytics, Customer Experiences, Customer Communications

When working with clients of smaller businesses, I’m often asked why they should use web analytics for their website or social media outlets. For someone new to the concept, it’s overwhelming to figure out how to use the data to your advantage, let alone deciphering it.

Analytical data that tracks your customer’s online behavior gives you major insight into the way they think and behave concerning your brand and helps you find opportunities you may not have seen before. This insight can greatly affect all of your business decisions, not just your marketing tactics! Just think–you might be pushing a specific product locally in your brick-and-mortar store, but upon tracking what products are being viewed or talked about online, you might find out another product is actually more popular with your customers. Think how you could reformat your brick-and-mortar store–let alone your online communications–and boost sales with a special promotion that you know based on data is more likely to be successful.

Data also helps you learn your customer’s decision-making process. Your business might offer a service, such as home propane gas. Based on what pages your customer visits (and the order they visit them), you might realize that your service offerings are confusing in the way they’re currently presented and that you’d have more leads convert if you organized your website differently or clarified some information. And we all want more converted leads, right?

Even if you’re not going to use your analytical data right off the bat, it’s wise to get it set up, especially since there are so many free tools for measuring it. Since all of this can be overwhelming to busy business owners, here’s my advice for getting the most out of your web analytics:

  • Get it set up–most basic data tracking tools are free, so no excuses!
  • Hire a marketing professional (such as yours truly) to help you decipher it
  • Follow up–make sure you schedule time monthly with your marketing professional to go through the data and identify key insights
  • Take action–sadly, I see a lot of my clients stop here. Take the data and make changes to what you’re doing in order to create more personalized and successful efforts in your marketing outreach

Read more about how analytical data effects your customer communications at the post that inspired my own here at www.chiefmartec.com. My most favorite point they made is concerning the connection of analytics to creating customer experiences, “delivering remarkable customer experiences at every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle.”

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

Get patriotic about your promotions

"Cool Down Fluff" dessert promotes an upcoming fundraising in a clever way.Regardless the nature of your marketing promotion, there’s always a way to make it more timely and relevant while adding an element of the unexpected. These festive patriotic bites were in promotion of an upcoming event for the local board of REALTORS®. Each year they hold a fundraiser for their political action party. This year’s auction, “Heating Things Up in a Cooled Down Market,” lent itself extra well to a red and blue, hot and cool theme when promoting the event.

These appetizers are the perfect business promotion right before the Fourth of July

A marketing promotion for an upcoming fundraiser auction feature patriotic bites of food.

In order to do something unexpected, I delivered these one-bite reminders to the major REALTOR® offices to promote the upcoming event. They featured one spicy appetizer to be followed with one mouth-cooling dessert, both containing picks that had flagettes with facts about the political action party.

This patriotic marketing promotion helps promote a political action party

These clever promotions were hard to miss right before the Fourth of July! Plus, who doesn’t like free food?

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

 

 

How I plan to use the new Facebook Timeline features

Facebook changes

Facebook rolls out changes to business pages on March 30, just next week. Eek! I manage so many Facebook pages, this means major work for me as I make updates and decide how to utilize the new Timeline feature. As I’m gathering articles on tips and best practice’s for Facebook’s new timeline, I thought I’d share them with you as well.

Cover Images

With a size of 851 x 315 pixels, this space puts on the pressure to utilize it in a big way! So far, here are some of my favorite cover images:

Great timeline design for Facebook

Clean Facebook timeline design

Pinned Posts

Now you can feature a specific post to be displayed at the top of your page each week. I can foresee clients having a hard time choosing the most important post of the week, but I think it will get easier to choose after watching our analytics and getting a better idea of what posts pull the most interest.

Apps

Apps will no longer appear in tabs to the left, but will now be across the top and feature thumbnail images. There’s only one way I can imagine displaying these apps–matching icon images for each. Here’s the example I’ll be following:

Facebook design featuring matching icons for the apps

Star Top Stories

Highlight important stories by selecting the star icon. I’m eager to see how this works and what affect it has compared to other features.

Milestones

Publish key moments over time using the milestones feature. As a business, it takes a bit more creativity for marking milestones than it does on a personal page. I like Ketchum’s suggestions of using milestones to commemorate reaching a certain number of likes, grand openings, company news, and winning awards.

Other great new features:

Friend activity–see which of your friends is interacting with this business page.
Private messages–finally a company and a person can private message each other if the person follows your page.
Scheduling posts–Facebook is finally providing this feature after competing with apps like Hootsuite and Buffer.

Articles on Facebook’s new features for business pages:

Guide to Facebook’s New Timeline

6 Big Facebook Changes that Every Marketer Needs to Understand

How to Use the New Facebook Admin Panel

4 Important Tips About Facebook Timeline for Brands

Amazing reference inforgraphic by Jon Loomer

Timeline dimensions

I can’t wait to create some new portfolio-worthy Facebook pages!

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

 

 

 

In loving memory of Dr. Decatur

Dr. David R. Decatur

Today was the first time I ever walked into a funeral to see an open bar. I was searching for the showing of Dr. David R. Decatur (more affectionately known as Doc) but accidentally entered the wrong room. But make no mistake–this was part of Doc’s funeral as well. A quick scan of the room showed old colleagues and familiar faces enjoying drinks along with appetizers from an extensive buffet. And within an instant I immediately felt the joy and celebration taking place despite being at a funeral.

It was the perfect reflection of Doc. He lived life to the absolute fullest. “Work hard, play harder,” is what Doc used to say. A colleague quickly filled me in that Doc left very specific requests for his funeral, and an open bar with a party-like atmosphere was one of them. This brought a chuckle from deep within, and I wasn’t the only one. It’s not often you look around the room while a showing takes place to see so much laughter. But Doc brought so much life and happiness everywhere he went, and the laughter shared in the room was mere evidence of the legacy he leaves behind.

Once I made my way to the room where Doc rested, the mood was closer to what you’d expect at a showing. Every where you looked where photos and certifications achieved by Doc throughout the years. I even found some pieces that I had designed for him during my very first marketing job at Decatur Vein Clinic. As my very first boss, Doc will always have a unique spot in my heart. I remember one conversation in particular as Doc asked how I was adopting to my new job. I turned the tables by asking Doc about his very own first job. With a sparkle in his eye, he shared with me his humble background and how he came to find the desire to do something more with his life. Based on the long list of accomplishments in his obituary, I’d say he surpassed his goal.

A clever funeral arrangement for Dr. Decatur featured a medical bag as a basket and Doc's line of products in the arrangement.

Even though I’d made my way into the more somber room, I couldn’t help but crack a smile as I saw the creative ways his loved ones left a mark at his funeral. I saw an arrangement made in an old-fashioned medical bag, featuring bottles of Doc’s line of supplements within the flowers. Near his casket, I found this larger-than-life Budweiser bottle made from carnations, courtesy of his great friend Steve Hilbert. Anyone who knew Doc well quickly discovered his love for cracking open a Bud–though he always shared. And another top love of his was the Indianapolis Colts, so it was natural to find a Colts icon made from flowers on the other side of his casket, sent by the Colts team.

As one of their largest fans, Dr. Decatur received a funeral arrangement from the Indianapolis Colts.A funeral arrangment of a Budweiser bottle was made from carnations in token of Dr. Decatur's favorite beer.All these things made me smile more than I ever have at a funeral. And that’s exactly how Doc would have wanted it. I have nothing but warm and delightful memories of him, and I’m glad my very last ones didn’t fail to deliver the same. I pray he rests knowing what joy he’s left behind.

Client recognized for social media achievements

Land O'Lakes growingtogether® MagazineOne of my former clients, Premier Companies, was recently recognized for being a leader in social media marketing within their industry. Land O’Lakes (yes, they do more than make butter) covered their story on page 17 in the winter issue of growingtogether® magazine.

 

 

Welcome page Facebook design for local agricultural cooperative Website design for agmarketing
Truck wrap design for oils and lubricants Paper newsletter cover design for customer communications

It took a lot of effort to get Premier Companies on the social media map. I enjoyed and disliked agriculture marketing for the very same reason–the industry is behind times on marketing trends. It’s challenging as a marketer because customers and companies alike are slow to adapt to new ways of communicating, especially when such value is put on face-to-face communication in the field (and I mean that literally–in a soil-turned, growth-promising field of crops). But at the same time, I found this part exciting as I got to pave a path in agmarketing for building customer relationships through an online presence.

Custom opt-in email for ag and energy customers

Congrats guys on getting the credit you deserve for your marketing efforts!

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

Celebrity sightings and Hoosier pride–pregame Super Bowl fun

Posing in the Super Bowl Village downtown Indianapolis

Nothing’s ever flared my Hoosier pride as much as seeing Indianapolis transform into all things Super Bowl as 2012’s host. Despite spending the evening with thousands of visitors throughout Super Bowl Village, I’m humbled by the relaxed and friendly demeanor exhibited by the crowds. Above all, it makes any native feel proud to overhear compliments of our Hoosier hospitality.

Rumors have run rampant concerning celebrity sightings in Indy this week. Yet many of the rumors have no proof or photos to back their validity. Nonetheless, we set out tonight in hopes of catching a glimpse and losing ourselves in the excitement of seeing someone famous. We spent a lot of time hanging outside of St. Elmo Steakhouse, though never saw anyone famous coming in or out. And it’s not for a lack of trying. My husband and his friend held nothing back when catching a glimpse.

We tried really hard to spot a celebrity in Indianapolis' St. Elmos during Super Bowl celebrations

Anytime I walked by someone who was posing for photos or giving autographs, I took a pic. Though I must admit, I have no clue who these people might be!! Let’s play a game–see if you can help me name people in the following photos…

 

And just about when I’d given up all hope of seeing a celebrity I knew, I heard my husband squealing–yes, squealing–with excitement and then bam–just chilling hear an alley was Kim Coates, actor from one of our favorite shows, Sons of Anarchy. What an awesome guy! He was so polite about taking a photo, asking if we were fans of the show and entertaining us with small talk.

Famous actor Kim Oakes, star of TV hit Sons of Anarchy, was spotted during Super Bowl festivities in downtown Indianapolis

Despite a lot of the online rumors being false, I super enjoyed searching Twitter hashtags like crazy to follow the excitement of the Super Bowl festivities. It’s exciting that just a plain and simple person like me and be apart of something huge by simply using a Twitter account. I’m glad to see so much promotion and excitement over using #SB46 and #Social46 to stay connected on the latest Super Bowl news.

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

Pinterest–a list of social media marketing resources

Jenny Erb on Pinterest

Those who know me well know that my top love after marketing is crafting. Watching Pinterest rise to the status of a top social media outlet is a dream come true, as I see my personal and professional interests collide. Pinterest is such a creative outlet (or inlet?) for creatives like me, providing stimulating ideas for crafting, handmade tutorials, decorating, event planning, cooking recipes, fashion trends, and so much more. Since the New Year, it’s gained a lot of publicity as it’s popularity has become evident. Businesses are scrambling to figure out how Pinterest can fit into their social media strategies. The best yet is this infographic created by Monetate, providing ideas on how you can use the social photo sharing website to promote products, build community, and drive website traffic and conversions.

An inforgraphic on Pinterest's status in social media marketing

Before you wonder off, see some of my own finished Pinterest projects on my personal blog and be sure to find me on Pinterest.

Here are more articles on how to incorporate Pinterest into your social media marketing:

Complete Pinterest Guide | SEO and Traffic Generation With Pinterest

Pinterest become tops traffic driver for retailers

Smart brands: get on Pinterest NOW

Is Pinterest right for your business?

Curate your brand’s content with Pinterest

Pinterest is growing like gangbusters

Pinteresting Trend in Social Media

A guy’s guide to Pinterest

How and why to use Pinterest

Optimizing your Pinterest photos for SEO purposes

10 Pinterest ideas with SEO benefits

Using Pinterest for business–5 must-reads

Pinterest–11 ways to leverage for business marketing complete with infographic below:

Using Pinterest to market your business

 

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

I’d rather use social media than watch the Super Bowl

Indianapolis Super Bowl has large impact on social media

By no means am I a football fan, but I do however love social media. Host city Indianapolis is striving to make football history by making the experience one of a kind through a large focus on social media. The Host Committee is creating a social media command center that will interact and coordinate mentions of the Super Bowl across multiple social media platforms, providing tips such as parking, things to do, etc.

Here’s the top reasons I’m excited for the Indianapolis Super Bowl:

  • Watching social media take a big giant leap forward
  • Learning from advertisers and marketers and seeing how they create interactions during television’s most publicized event
  • Seeing how marketers handle this volume of an engaged audience
  • Finding new local marketers to follow via the Social 46 planning committee
  • Anticipating how all these events will change the industry

Indianapolis Monument Circle prepares for Super Bowl

This means for me that I can watch the Super Bowl unfold before my Twittering eyes without having to turn on my television. I can participate, cheer, and interact with other fans on a whole new level. Which is the vision of the Super Bowl Host Committee. It will be fun both for visitors to Indianapolis and folks like me who will be participating from home. With an app such as the official NFL Mobile Super Bowl Guide, users can see interactive maps of Indy, find restaurants, and all sorts of tools.

Advertisers are catching on too–Chevrolet is launching an app to give away 20 new cars and 6,000 prizes during the Super Bowl. Expect to see many of the Super Bowl commercials featuring Twitter hashtags among other calls-to-action driving traffic to social media outlets.

Social 46 – follow the Indianapolis Super Bowl in Social Media

Labeled Social 46, all these efforts are powered by a committee of Indiana’s best marketers. How cool to see so many creative minds come together for one project. Something this big could largely influence future event organization forever. Super Bowl might just be one weekend of fun, but it’s impact will be much longer lasting. Be sure to join in the fun–here’s a list of popular Twitter hashtags to look for:

And be sure to join the Indianapolis Host Committee on Facebook as well!

 

Jenny Erb, Marketing Consultant

Cause marketing exemplified by social media

A Facebook page is a prime example of how to use social media to find a missing dog

2011 was a good year–not just for us, but we also spent a fair amount of time working on philanthropic projects, most of it built around Facebook pages. Just this week, I helped a desperate friend launch a Facebook page called Operation Bring Bo Home to help her family find their missing dog. The page hit almost 80 likes in two days (I know, not national news but it certainly impressed me). People all over the state are leaving messages on the wall volunteering to organize searches or to distribute fliers. I’m so eager to see how this page plays out.

Other efforts have already come to close, showing high results. I helped a client create a Facebook page for a local charity. The campaign involved collecting donations to use towards toilet paper, the charity’s largest need. We set up online donations via Paypal, linking from the Facebook page. In over just five months, we managed to raise $3,154–enough to purchase 8,861 rolls of toilet paper. The most fun came from witty copywriting for the toilet paper campaign, using slogans such as, “just roll with it,” and “join the movement.”

During the Holidays, I helped promote a fundraiser for a ministry in Kenya that rescues orphaned children. The event organizer brought back a market’s worth of goods from her visit to Kenya, so I photographed the items and created a logo and branding for the event, as well as fliers, postcards, etc. We used the Facebook page for sharing photos and coordinating RSVPs for the event. Sales from the items totaled over $4,200.

In a similar fundraiser, I helped coordinate a jewelry party to raise funds for Heshima, another Kenyan organization. The jewelry was handmade by mothers whose children receive free therapy services from Heshima for their special needs. Again, I took photos, created logo and branding, as well as fliers, postcards, and email invitations. This event raised over $2,800.

Lastly, I also manage a Facebook Page for my neighborhood. I haven’t done much with it, but hope it grows throughout the year. There’s really about one thing my neighborhood is known for–our annual kick-butt garage sales. I’ve been attending them since a was a child. For one weekend of the year, our country neighborhood is packed to the rim with people and excitement. I’ll be counting on the Facebook page as a major outlet for promoting the garage sales and expect to see a boost in followers during that time frame. Currently, I have an email list sign-up featured on our Facebook page. Next time, I plan on creating a downloadable map for the garage sales, as well as local tips, such as the location of the nearest ATM. My neighborhood also boasts a lot of small business owners (like yours truly) and I’d like to see it used as a way to promote the businesses–something to work on this year!

The very essence of social media is exemplified by cause marketing and fundraisers, and vice versa. And I love how you don’t have to fly out of country and feed the poor to make an impact. It’s simply offering my talents of marketing and social media to make a difference. Now back to Bo–if you’re in Indiana, please be sure to like this page. If not, maybe stop by and leave any creative ideas you have for using social media to bring Bo home.