5 Tips to Prepare your Marketing for the Christmas Season

christmas_shoppingBelieve it or not your customers started thinking about Christmas a month ago and although that may seem early to a lot of people – it isn’t. Small businesses have a lot of competition during the Christmas season; and it is often a boom or bust time of year for many, so maximizing your Christmas marketing campaign is your best chance to end the year on a high note.

First things first, review previous years’ Christmas marketing and review what you need to change. Ask yourself:

  • What didn’t work?
  • What can be improved?
  • Was something missed or forgotten?

Answering these questions will enable you to work through the following five tips, each of which will prepare your marketing for the Christmas season:

  • Determine your holiday audience – If you have a women’s apparel store, your target audience may change a bit during the Christmas season to include men shopping for their significant others or mothers. It is important to not only research who your target audience is during the Christmas season, but to determine the best methods to reach them.
  • Optimise your mobile experience – Make sure your email marketing and online advertisements translate well onto mobile devices. More and more traffic is coming from smaller screens. You also want to make sure your website is mobile-friendly so if someone is out shopping they can easily find information regarding your business, such as hours and location, quickly and easily.
  • Target key days – Target and maximize your marketing during the key days such as the American Black Friday and Cyber Monday by creating a marketing campaign that includes offering special promotions that are only valid on these days. Run Facebook ads or other advertising leading up to these days. Promote the benefits supporting local and remind people that by shopping locally they save on shipping and duty.
  • Don’t always sell or promote yourself – When posting on social media or writing blog posts don’t always sell what it is you are trying to sell, be a resource! The Christmas season is stressful and overwhelming, so provide your customers with something they can actually use. For example, if you sell household products, share information on how to host a Christmas party successfully (and subtly promote some items you sell in-store) or if you are a restaurant share how hosting a party in a restaurant saves time during an already busy time of year.
  • Remember what works – Not everything about marketing changes during the Christmas season. Hold to your best practices and be consistent in your email and social media marketing. Continue to engage with customers online and lastly – remember to thank them! Christmas is all about meaningful connections and good will. Take the time to thank your customers for their support with a personal Christmas card or small gift. You can even slip a special offer into every greeting you send or shopping bag after a purchase. Another great option is having an email promotion, to thank those on your email marketing list. Gestures like these take little effort but make a big impact.

The Christmas season can be a stressful and busy one for small businesses, so plan ahead and get started on your Christmas marketing as soon as possible. Remember – your customers are thinking about Christmas months before the actual date! Don’t lose your customers to box stores by waiting until December to get them into the holiday spirit – start now and beat the competition.

 

* Originally printed in the Smiths Falls Hometown news, November 2015 issue

 

 

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Tips for Search Engine Optimized Content for your Website

create awecome contentSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of your website on top search engines like Google and Bing, to drive more targeted traffic to your website. The more people visit your website, the more they will know about your product or service. This generates increased business and everyone’s favourite: revenue.
Your business’ website must be efficient, functional and full of quality, engaging content. Content is crucial and highly valuable. Well optimized content makes it easier for search engines to locate. In other words, content is king! Your content should be specifically written with this in mind. If you want to have a successful website, it is imperative to pay close attention to your content. Remember, the Internet is the “information highway,” and people come there to get detailed information–not just generalities or pictures. Invest in good content to differentiate your business and give people reasons to do business with you. Of course, it must be easy for people to browse and read, too.
Here are some tips to optimize the content on your website, and to get found with Google Panda 4.2, Google’s algorithm.

  • Make sure each page of your site has at least 300 words of unique content that can’t be found elsewhere on your site or anywhere else on the web.
  • Set up a blog on your domain, and publish something on it as often as you can. To start, aim for twice a month. Write articles that you would personally find interesting and would want to read.
  • Set up news posts and/or events on your website. Discuss what’s new for your business: new products, new services or other changes and updates. Create an event calendar for sales events, workshops, and promotions.
  • Refresh your content often. Search engines look for periodic changes as a sign that content is updated and relevant. Even small changes in headlines and body copy can satisfy this requirement. Fresh content is one of the best investments in keeping your site higher in the search rankings. And, given that few of your competitors probably do it, site updates may give you a competitive advantage.
  • Make it dynamic and visually interesting! For example, create videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, illustrations, PDF downloads.
  • Identify 2-3 primary audiences for your product or service, and create unique content for each one. What are the main points or features that relate best to their individual needs?
  • Avoid doing hard product pitches too often, and talk about other related topics that will interest your audience. Having users return to your site increases the likelihood that they will one day become clients.
  • Add Social Share buttons to your blog and news posts so it is easy for visitors to share with their followers.
  • Last must not least, make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your website to keep track of the type of posts or content that is driving the most traffic to your site. Take a look at the keywords and phrases that visitors used to find your site. This will help you plan your content for future posts.

Review your website! Is your website content and the frequency of your posts helping or hurting your SEO? Investing time in your website structure and content is crucial in today’s business world. Providing regular, quality content that visitors will find beneficial and useful will drive more people to your website. Those visitors will bring even more visitors once shared on social media. The end result will be more search results to your website while allowing your potential customers to find you online.

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Building your Key Marketing Messages

Too many small business owners spend time telling you how great they are without taking time to focus on the customer’s needs. Smart marketing delivers the right message to the right audience — a message that solves a customer’s problem. The customer always wants to know what is in it for them, how you can help them and solve their pains. Your marketing messages are the key messages that you want to convey across all your marketing platforms, from newspaper ads, to website, to social media accounts.

Start by defining your audience

You have to intimately understand your current and potential customers. Distinguish individual character profiles by age, gender, interests, profession, etc. Write down the details and find images that represent your target audience, this is your avatar or avatars. Based on your defined target audience, what are the key problems or concerns you can address or solve? Expand on and define those pain points for each character and write it under each profile. Below that, write down three key marketing messages you want to communicate to that audience.

What is messaging? How are key messages developed?

Basically, messaging is a term to describe how you talk about who you are and why you exist as a business or organization.  It communicates key points you consistently make when you reach out to your audience. And it always ties back to your brand. They should also be developed for different audiences. You may want to consider crafting a set of short, standard phrases or paragraphs to describe your business, programs, products and/or services. Then, as you need to reach out to specific audiences, implement new marketing campaigns, you’ll have standard language ready to tailor to your purpose.

A well-crafted message will highlight your unique benefits, target your audience, support your mission and often include a call to action. What you want people to know about your business or organization, your services or products? What do you want people to do? How do you want them to feel about your business?

Develop a few core messages that makes the connection between what you do and how it relates to your audience. Be consistent with delivery. Each message you deliver should reflect your brand, who you are. Highlight what is relevant to the issue and your audience, but be sure to include a consistent statement about your business or organization. This makes your messaging memorable and helps position you in the market and in the minds of your audience.

Make sure there is not a disconnect from traditional marketing to your social media marketing side. They must reinforce each other. If someone reads your website, then your brochure, then your Facebook page and then talks to a staff member, all those points of information will be consistent and delivered in a similar tone.

Take a look at your marketing messages.

Are you focused on your customer’s needs or are you touting your wares? Your marketing message should be used in all your external communications. It starts with knowing the wants, fears, problems, and needs of your target market and ends by crafting a message that speaks to those problems in a compelling and believable way. The result is an irresistible message that makes your prospect want to know more.

Remember, a good marketing strategy plan starts with defining your marketing key messages.  Long before you start choosing how you want to market your small business, you have to decide what it is you want to say. It’s critical to focus on something from the start and be consistent.

 

* Originally printed in the Smiths Falls Hometown news, July 2015 issue

 

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