Saturday, July 26, 2008
Ideally, you begin by visiting the competition. One of the best and easiest ways to learn about your competition is on the web. Virtually every major company today markets their products and services online. In many cases they include specifications, pricing, client lists, etc. You can also visit their stores, pick up brochures, media kits, etc. All of this information is a goldmine in the hands of a prepared business person.
Before I forget, let’s get one thing perfectly clear: NEVER, and I mean NEVER EVER, knock your competition. If you do you will decrease your chances of success significantly. Even if what you are saying is true, your potential customers are going to be turned off by your negative approach. Further, they are going to wonder why you have to stoop to knocking your competition instead of extolling the virtues of your own company’s products and/or services. Let me tell you how I handle the competition...
There is absolutely nothing wrong with comparing your company’s offering with the competition as long as you are being completely truthful. However, you don’t want to potentially bring up your own objections, so you must know when to talk about the competition and when to keep your mouth shut! It really is that cut and dry!
For example, let’s say you are selling TVs in an electronics store. You are showing several options to your prospect and all is going well. They’re asking questions that you are answering with confidence and ease. All signs are indicating that you will be able to ask for and close the sale. Would you bring up the competition? NO! You’d have to be an putz to do that. However, let’s say the prospect mentions to you that they were considering a different brand that they have been hearing about on the radio. What they are actually saying to you is, “tell me why your TV is better than that of the competition.” Now it’s time to show them you are an informed professional. Your presentation might go something like this: “I’m glad you mentioned the the XYZ model TV. I’ve done a lot of research on that product myself and learned there are significant differences between that product and ours. To begin with you’re going to have to pay about twice as much for theirs vs. ours. What’s more that TV does not come with HD and picture in picture like ours does. So if you are wanting the latest technology and plan to keep your TV for a long time, you’re going to want to consider these points. Finally the warranty on their TV is only 5 years. Our TVs feature a 10-year warranty backed by a company that’s been in business for over 50 years.Did I disparage the competition? No. I simply stated facts and allowed the prospect to assess the information.
In some cases, your knowledge of the competition will be enough for the customer Want more information on how to better market your business, product or service, call the Goddess of Marketing today.
Mary Ann McQueen Butcher
Red Carpet Marketing, LLC
Networking is carried out for different reasons whether it is to find a partner, meet like-minded people, find answers to questions, career networking to get a new job or build business contacts.
It is not a new phenomenon but is just a term given to the natural process of getting to know people, which is not new by any means.What has changed though are the opportunities to expand our network of contacts. With the web you can now build relationships with people on the opposite side of the earth and consequently make your business global. It does happen.There are many networking groups now available online and off line and your success is making these work for you is partially in understanding what each has to offer and what benefits each can bring to you.
Locally, we have groups like the Rotary Club, Hot Pink Mamas, the Lipstick Society, the eight different chambers of commerce and the social register, just to name a few.
No two networking groups are the same – some have less than 10 people, some have 100, some have many more. Each group has a different way of doing business. They may have a structured, rigid agenda while others are just an informal gathering. Different groups will have their own aims and culture. Even two groups running to the same agenda will be different depending on who is attending, determining the dynamics within the group.It’s worth mentioning that most of these organizations are NOT non-profits. They are indeed moneymakers for the individuals who run a particular geography or territory.
So do your research; see what the offerings are; determine if the dues are worth it (particularly if you have to pay for each of the monthly events including your food). Are you reaching decision makers? Will this organization help you grow your business? Is the leadership strong? Do they have the credentials to lead and attract the best of the best? It’s been my finding that a few do not have any real value and are run by large egos. So choose wisely. It’s not just the money you spend; it’s also the time you put in, the cost of the collateral you give out at the meetings, etc.
You have lots of choices. You can find the right groups for you and your business.If you want to build your business, you need an integrated approach: Advertising, public relations, an online presence, etc. But you must also network. Because if you meet the right people with the right companies, it’s likely they will refer your business to others. It’s when you build an all referral business that you are truly on your way to being highly successful.
Mary Ann McQueen Butcher
Red Carpet Marketing, LLC
Latinos make up approximately 25% of Clark County residents. The majority of those still moving here are primarily Hispanic or Latino. To put it into perspective Clark County ranks 228 out of 3,124 counties in the United States for the most highly populated Latino counties.
So, my question to you is: Do you know HOW to market to this hugely important and growing segment of our population?
With the changing appearance of our country come new dilemmas for marketers trying to reach those whose tastes, customs and language may differ from what is commonly know as "general market". Culturally relevant marketing plans will become increasingly critical as the population becomes more diverse and the buying power of U.S. Hispanics becomes more significant. I leaned a lot about “multicultural marketing” during my tenure at Pepsi but with each day I realize it becomes more urgent to understand the Latino market.
The biggest mistake that a company can make is to view the U.S. Hispanic market as homogeneous. Acculturation levels, language preferences and country of origin make for unique sub-groups within the segment.The Hispanic market's current size, formation of larger households, heavy concentration in the top, youngest, trend-setting markets in the U.S., accompanied by their speedy wealth creation and high consumerism are at odds with the neglect of investment across most advertising and marketing categories.
It is imperative for U.S. marketers to reanalyze and immediately adopt new strategies in the way in which they have historically allocated corporate marketing resources."Latino" or "Hispanic", as a description, refers to an origin or ethnicity, not a race. There is no one monolithic "Hispanic market." What, if anything, unifies Hispanics? In large part, the Spanish language stands as a symbol of difference for U.S. Hispanics; wherever they're from and regardless of their history, Spanish is a key to their individual and collective pasts. The single most important segmentation factor among U.S. Hispanics may be their country of origin.
The U.S. Hispanic market is comprised of subcultures from over 20 countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Spain, with the majority (63%) of Mexican heritage. The culture, beliefs, opinions and consumer behavior patterns of U.S. Hispanics are not identical, as a result of the influence of differences in their native countries' geography, indigenous ancestry and colonial origins.U.S. Latinos tend to "adopt and adapt" to customs and habits in the U.S. without shedding traditions and value systems.
Along that line, marketers, and those trying to tap into the Hispanic segment, cannot simply transfer directly to the U.S. Latino market the conceptualizations or marketing strategies that work with more traditional, general market consumers. Latinos are assimilating to prevalent U.S. culture, but they are not, and probably never will be, fully assimilated. Instead, theirs is a path of acculturation. It is a process of integration of native and traditional immigrant cultural values with dominant cultural ones.¿Habla usted español?Language is one of the most obvious examples of this phenomenon.
Spanish is likely to remain the language of preference among U.S. Latinos. Did you know that Univision is now the #5 network in the United States, behind ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox???Research shows that while Hispanics consume every type of media, they do seem to have a special attraction to television and radio. Nevertheless, the air-time used to identify a product or service at an in-depth level is typically too brief and too incomplete to be effective, thus the "sale" will not be closed. However, the combination of direct mail, broadcast and print makes it possible for the Hispanic consumer to obtain additional information and "close the sale" -- with each medium contributing to the total communication story.
Television -- The visual confirmations provided in television advertising are extremely important, especially so for Spanish-dominant Hispanics.
49% of U.S. Hispanics who watch television during prime-time hours, watch Spanish language programming.
40% of Spanish-dominant Hispanics regularly watch English-language programming.
30% of English-dominant Hispanics regularly watch Spanish programming.
Radio -- Radio is a proven, effective medium in targeting Hispanics.
The most unique aspect of Spanish-language radio stations is the time spent listening.
The Hispanic population often listens to the radio all day.
The entire family may listen to one station and tune in, on average, 26 - 30 hours per week. This ranks more than 13% above the general population.
Minority newspapers are an inseparable part of the local minority community. They deliver what no mass medium can -- news that is specifically geared to the needs and concerns of individual minority communities.
Newspaper readership skews to Adult 34-54 age group with an average HHI of $40k+
Events create excitement, reinforce image, and allow you to hand-deliver your marketing message face-to-face with your target audience. However, many company's efforts at selling themselves to Hispanics are limited to sponsoring the occasional Cinco de Mayo celebration -- these half-hearted efforts will not effectively capture the attention of Hispanic consumers.
Direct Response Marketing
The process of acculturation influences the Hispanic consumer's perception of direct marketing. While most consumers in the general market dismiss direct marketing materials as junk mail, Latinos -- particularly recent immigrants -- welcome it as a means of becoming a more informed consumer.
Overall, Hispanic households are 3.5 times more likely to respond to a direct mail solicitation than a non-Hispanic household;
72% say they always read their mail, including direct marketing;
60% of the direct mail sent to homes is in English;
52% of the respondents speak only Spanish in their homes.
Make no mistake, the integration of generations and diverse countries of origin within the U.S. Hispanic market has created a complex culture that requires experience and research to understand. What is needed for a successful Hispanic promotional campaign is a sensitivity to what is important to Hispanics - and senior corporate executives willing to initiate a reversal of underinvestment in the Hispanic market by creating new allocation levels in their business and marketing plans for reaching Hispanic consumers. The opportunity is growing. !El tiempo es ahora!
Para más información y la ayuda con su negocio, llama por favor: 702 994-7282. ¡No Sea el Mantenido Mejor Secreto!
Mary Ann McQueen Butcher
Red Carpet Marketing, LLC
Can do to Survive the Economic Downturn
Whether government officials want to believe it or not, we ARE in a recession. Gas prices up; real estate down, food prices up; retail numbers down. While large organizations have the resources, cash and people to ride out an economy that could get even worse over the next 12 months, it is the small business person who is taking a beating and may or may not make it.
Years of work, long hours and customer service could vanish. It's already happened to tens of thousands of companies around the United States.
But you don't have to be a victim. You can keep your business, ride out the financial storm and not only come out alive but even stronger than before. Here are a few suggestions you should take seriously
When things are good, they're not necessarily as good as you think. When things are bad, they're not necessarily as bad as you think.
*Just because it's been slow for a few months, or you think it might slow down soon, don't start making wild decisions or cuts. Keep a steady head about what's really going on. Look past the wild swings in revenue (and enthusiasm and attitudes of team members) that might be caused by short-term factors.
*Redouble Your Marketing Efforts
As a marketing consultant, this might seem self-serving. I don't mean it that way. I'm simply suggesting that during any economy, small companies can grow faster and win more clients if they step up their marketing energy.
Something about an economic slowdown seems to cause leaders at firms to focus inwardly. They self-analyze, having meeting after meeting about strategic direction, salaries and cost structure.
*When it comes to business development they say, "It's tough out there. I'm getting less action in the market than ever." So both marketing staffs and professionals who should be bringing in clients at firms slow down and do less.
*This time and energy is better spent focusing outwardly, working to improve brand, fill the pipeline, and bring in more clients. If – for just a moment -- you can stop doubting yourself and your value, stop whining about how tough it is out there, and focus the firm on basic marketing and business development, you may find that's all you need to weather the storm.
*Take Advantage of Opportunity for Change
Professional Services companies "embrace change" about as enthusiastically as the sports community of Mexico embraces hockey! However, service firms often shed their reluctance to change and propensity for slow decision making when faced with a business slowdown.
The halls at most service firms are abuzz with "what needs to happen to make this place better" during all economic conditions. When things are good, unproductive staff are often left to keep working. Sluggish marketing is allowed to plod along like the Old Gray Mare. Subpar business units and initiatives keep on keeping on. And bold, innovative initiatives die in committee because they're "too risky."
*Inertia can be a great barrier to change. "All is well, why shake things up?"
If you're the leader when all is not well, inertia is often replaced with a mandate for change. BE BRAVE: Take the opportunity to clean house, tighten the ship, and start new initiatives that will move the firm forward!
As you approach making changes big and small, keep the following one question in mind, "If I make these changes and the economy and business stabilizes, will we be in better shape or worse when things turn around?"
If the answer is "better," make the changes and make them decisively. A slow time at the company is often the best time to reshape the firm and make it stronger for the present and future.
For a free 30-minute consultation, please contact me, Mary Ann McQueen Butcher at MaryAnnButcher@LVRedCarpet.com. Don't Be the Best Kept Secret!
Easy And Could Put Money In Your Pocket!
According to the Small Business Administration 600,000 new businesses open every year. Almost as many fail. As you would imagine, most are small companies that are expert in their core businesses but know little about how to market their companies not to mention their management team and the expertise and unique elements they bring to customers
Marketing IS a science and every strategy should have an actionable tactic with a measurable result. I have listed below the basics of what every new and existing small business can do to increase their chances of success by using these low cost tips:
1. Always make customers feel special. People respond to recognition. A great marketer also makes it easy for customers to reach a competent person when they need help with a product or ask questions. Adequate customer support is often your first opportunity to garner loyalty among paying clients. What I am saying here is you can’t think “9-5”.
2. Distribute business cards worth keeping. Real estate agents sometimes affix their photos and information to magnetic calendars. Consider distributing notepads with your tagline and contact info on every page.
3. Stop marketing to unprofitable — or break-even — customers. You don’t have the money, the time or the luxury to chase after clients that simply do not plan to spend their money.
4. Cultivate a robust email database. In the mutable days of "new media," it is easy to forget how effective a direct mailer or e-newsletter can be. Invite customers and clients to open your mail with special offers, useful data or other pertinent information.
5. Improve visibility at trade shows and conferences. It helps to be a (friendly) regular with sticky, fun giveaways that people keep. Be selective: trade shows can be costly.
6. Mix business with pleasure … and charity. Don't underestimate the viral power of hosting a charity softball game in the community. You can do the right thing for others and your company. Yes, that is a “win-win”.
7. If at all possible, create a destination online and offline. Customers gravitate to a pleasant experience. Create a sense of real community with a consistent experience and you will build a loyal clientele.
8. Become an expert in your field. Why not give advice away? As familiarity with your name grows, so too will familiarity with your associated brand, product or service. Blogging, and getting involved with a relevant blogging community, makes this so easy. And definitely encourage syndication of useful content.
9. Build relationships with local media. In smaller markets, this is so easy. In larger markets, you will likely need the help of a solid public relations firm or at minimum, a publicist.
10. Maintain relationships with repeat customers. You’ve heard it all before: It costs less to retain a client than to acquire a new one. Send personal messages and offer opportunities to improve a customer’s experience with you and your company.
There you have it. Hopefully, you can put these tips to use immediately. For more help, contact me at MaryAnnButcher@LVRedCarpet.com. Our new Red Carpet Marketing sm site premieres June 23. Be sure to visit us: www.LVRedCarpet.com. Don’t Be the Best Kept Secret! sm
Mary Ann McQueen Butcher
Goddess of Marketing sm
According to experts, it is a seminar offered by a company via the web that is interactive and typically contains audio and video. It also typically has a moderator helping the presenter by organizing questions from the audience. One can present PowerPoint slides, webcams, and software demonstrations.
The next question is: Is it right for your business? If you answer "yes" to the following question, keep reading along:
Do you have a small business that wants to branch out beyond your city?
Do you have a very small budget?
Do you sell a product or service that is best marketed visually?
Not all webinars are created equal. But with a little preparation and planning ahead of time, your webinars will be a tremendous success.
1. First and foremost, find a webinar provider that's right for your company's needs. A couple of very reputable companies are WebEx (now owned by Cisco Systems) and GoToMeeting.com. There are others and they have a variety of services including a variety of features, competitive pricing, and lots of extras. You should plan on at least eight weeks to choose and take a free trial of a potential provider. This will give you plenty of lead time.
A good webinar system should:
Be easy to use
Have the features you require and the ability to share presentations and documents
Charge a flat monthly rate (so you won't get dinged for running a trial test before your actual webinar or follow-up webinars)
2. PLEASE be sure you have really interesting, engaging content so you don't put your viewers to sleep. This is probably the most important element to your webinar success. If your material is boring, you'll lose your guests - and their potential sales.
Consider inviting an industry expert, marquis customer or big name partner. This will stimulate more interest, drive participation and create synergy. A well-known expert or guru can double or even triple your attendance.
Use pictures, diagrams, and live demonstrations from pre-loaded websites to keep the material fresh and entertaining.
Ask potential questions to encourage participation from your guests.
3. Be thoughtful when choosing a date and time.
Plan on hosting your webinar at least twice to accommodate multiple time zones.
Avoid Mondays or Fridays as these are peak conferencing days and attendance is also often lower.
Start at 15 minutes past the hour. Most meetings end on the hour and this gives your participants time to decompress before joining your meeting.
The best times are 10 am and 2 pm to make sure your guests are their desks and available before or after lunch.
Send a reminder of the contents and time of the webinar one week ahead of time. Send a "see you there" reminder the day before.
4. Cap Your Participants at about 25 so it's easier to take question and will keep the seminar quite interactive.
5. Have an Agenda & Stick to It. If you are the moderator, be ready to start your webinar 15 minutes ahead of time.
Start on time, and respect your participant's schedules by ending on time as well. It's also a good idea to give more than one person a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, including a hard copy, in case of technical difficulties.
6. Run a Practice Webinar before the actual presentation. Practice makes perfect. Webinars aren't difficult, but they are different from running a meeting or a conference call. EVERYONE should take a test run of a webinar, especially if you've never run one before.
This gives you the opportunity to fine tune your material and catch any potential problems with the system.
Don't forget to ask two people from sites that will be participating to help you by signing on and asking questions.
7. Have the webinar archived so that those who missed it can log in and watch it later.
8. Be sure to have any accompanying documents ready for download on the webinar home page.
If you incorporate all of these traits, your webinars will be a huge success. And your business will reap the rewards. We live in a time where you can buy webinar technology "in a box"; market your goods or services and be successful. This is a chance to compete with the big dogs -- and WIN!
Target the RIGHT audience. How? RESEARCH. Please do not underestimate the power of having your target audience in a laser focus. Messages and the right method of delivery will not fit every taste, but advocacy marketing that divides or alienates even a core audience demonstrates poor understanding and awareness, too narrow a focus on message, or too heavy an emphasis on marketing at the expense of relationships.
Following your research, build a simple action plan. That plan will strengthen audience involvement in solution discussions, NOT descriptions. What makes an innovative, fresh and unique approach effective is how it gives the message buzzzzzzzz. "Why" and "how" an approach works adds substance. Acknowledging a legacy of success and failure within that field, instead of ignoring past and present experience, enhances overall credibility.
Clear goals and objectives are necessary to lead audiences to a path away from problems – real or perceived. Accessible efforts must state their ultimate purpose, not lumps of challenges, large piles of unrelated issues, or massive obstacles no group could ever overcome. A group unable to articulate success presents a cloudy vision of its future, with unanticipated hazards along the way.
Measured outcomes are also needed to gain audience respect. By themselves, neither impact nor benefit well-defined or consistently applied measures of nonprofit activity. Evaluation through pure numbers fails to capture the full scale of a nonprofit's relevance. Results combining both data AND stakeholder insights can better demonstrate effectiveness, reflect value, and position audiences to discuss areas of greater concern and opportunity.
MySpace.com, FaceBook.com and other appropriate social networking sites cannot be ignored. These sites have well over 100 million registered users each! While it has been estimated that only around 25% of those users actually return, it’s still well worth it. So, use the above tips to build a robust site with a tight, simple message and get a global return for your non profit.
For more information, contact me at MaryAnnButcher@LVRedCarpet.com
Mary Ann Butcher
Goddess of Marketing
www.LVRedCarpet.com – now in previews!
Red Carpet Marketing, LLC is a full service media, marketing, advertising, public relations and promotional services company. It targets small to medium sized companies in need of marketing expertise; specifically the companies that cannot afford a marketing department, a publicist or an agency.
You may have heard all the hype about “SEO” which stands for search engine optimization, but what does it really mean? SEO gets you noticed so you can build traffic to your site. So today I want to explain what SEO is in layman’s terms. I also will explain how you can use some simple tactics to help improve the SEO of your website and hopefully get yourself some more readers.
And as we know, more readers can equal more dollars for you and your company.First and foremost, your website better be good. If you’re really smart, you’ve hired a professional to lay out your site with a custom look and feel that communicates what you are about: Selling product or services, Community Info (like VCO) or a social networking site. Once your site is baked, it will be ready for prime time! While you can pay people to help you with SEO via online forums and word of mouth (not terribly effective and highly time consuming), there are simpler methods for those of you using. Let’s start with the basics.
According to Google, “SEO agencies and SEO consultants provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted”. However, a few unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.Ultimately, as an honorable businessperson, you want to improve the volume and quality of traffic to your company’s web site from search engines via “natural” (”organic”) search results.
So in short, SEO is the a way of improving your page rank and number of pages indexed by search engines so more traffic comes to your site from search engine user searches. It really is that simple.If you are considering whether you really are ready for SEO, be smart and do some research on the industry. Google is a great place to start. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO: Internet Advancement told to refund clients.
While Google doesn’t comment on specific companies, they are aware – and you should be too—of firms calling themselves SEO specialists who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. So, be careful. Use a professional like the experts at Red Carpet Marketing. We’ve been involved with Search Engine Optimization for more than seven years. We get it. You can too so you will get your site better visibility particularly if you have an ecommerce company, you NEED SEO.For more information or a free 30-minute consultation, drop me a note at MaryAnnButcher@LVRedCarpet.com
There was a time when companies had very few media choices: Broadcast Television, Broadcast Radio, Newspapers and Magazines. I know because I was there and sold LOTS of TV time and sponsorships. However, with the onslaught of technology, there are PLENTY of new choices and all of them allow you to use your marketing dollars more wisely so you can better reach your target customers. As always, when your customers are aware of your company, your act, your practice, your products or your services, the odds go up dramatically that you will acquire new business (TRANSLATE: SALES!)
That said, consumers are getting harder to influence as media clutter invades their lives. Just quickly review this list of marketing possibilities that don't include TV, Radio or newspapers. They include:
Business to Business promotions
Business to Consumer promotions
Online Social Networking sites like Youtube, MySpace, FaceBook and many more
Public Relations including press releases, events, etc.
Demonstrations, samplings and tastings
Search Engine Optimization
But Red Carpet Marketing knows that there are no blanket answers…no cookie cutter approaches. Each advertising issue needs a custom solution. The basics have to be done RIGHT. Understanding the customer and understanding each medium (which varies from industry to industry) when balanced with your budget can give you the right formula for the right media mix! This calls for highly integrated marketing. Remember: NO ONE MEDIUM holds the key.
Let’s take Las Vegas local television: Can you explain what separates all the attorneys that advertise endlessly on television? Unlikely. The use of TV is not for every organization. Further, if used, a differentiator MUST be clearly communicated so the consumer knows HOW and WHY you are different. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
So simply put, if you want your company – that includes the practices of doctors, dentists, lawyers, performers and any small business – wants to brand its identity, remember that a brand is a promise. And that promise means you will provide consistent, quality service all the time at any of your locations – from Brooklyn to Brazil! It’s your reputation. So take a look at these tips below and really THINK about you, your company, what you are trying to accomplish and who you are trying to target. Here are the elements you should consider before calling Red Carpet Marketing. If you need help with any of the steps below, just call us. We’ll create or further develop what you do have:
Step 1: Creative design solutions (the design, color, and content of your ads, marketing collateral and website enhance your brand equity, attract customers, and generate sales)
Step 2: Web development (every product/service worth its name has a web presence these days, some have truly interactive, animated sites encouraging customer involvement)
Step 3: • Viral marketing (vitally important in today’s age of social networking, tagging, podcasting, blogs, forums, wikis and what have you)
Step 4: • Television & commercial production, print media advertising (traditional media should not be overlooked IF your budget permit)
Step 5: • Corporate videos/Profiles (have become necessary elements of road shows, exhibitions and other promotional campaigns). They can be multipurposed so you get the best BANG for your buck!
Step 6: There are some interactive advertising agencies that have recognized the need of the hour - developing creative design solutions that employ user-centric investigation and involve critical and systematic thinking. User-centric means understanding of needs and priorities of end user; the clients' customers, their channel partners, users, and brand communities. So if you want to register your brand as one that is synonymous with customer loyalty, you must develop a complete package, keeping the customer as the prime objective and organizing product stories around the way they prefer to learn about, compare, select and confirm purchases, connecting brands and their experiences.
In closing, branding a person or a business is no longer simply about visual appeal. A graphic design firm cannot singularly position you as a brand just because it creates great looking visual solutions. As you know, there is much more to branding than just looking goods. A powerful web presence has become one part of the vital ingredients of a branding strategy. When you develop the right media mix, you hold the key to building powerful brand equity.