Email is the perfect tool for small town America

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Email marketing is a mainstay for Main Street businesses. It is the perfect tool for such a scrappy group as you who must be resourceful while creatively growing your company.

Let’s break down the reasons why. Here are six, to consider:

1. Email Is Cheap

By cheap, we don’t mean poorly constructed but, rather, the other type, the one that gives a bit of relief to your wallet.

For example, if you wanted to reach out to 10,000 contacts multiple times each month, you would have a hard time spending even $100 with any of the major email marketing vendors such as Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, or iContact.

Most vendors load up the features and provide generous contact limits very inexpensively, especially when compared to the price of direct mail or magazine ads, where costs can hit the multiple thousands mark easily.

Email vendors like Mail Chimp help keep costs low.

Email vendors like Mail Chimp help keep costs low.

2. Email Can Make You a Better Marketer

“Main Streeters” have never let not knowing something stand in the way of moving forward. Like marketing for instance. Few local business owners are expert marketers and often rely on trial and error for most of their outreach.

Modern email marketing toolsets excel at building in the knowledge you would factor into your marketing campaigns if you only had the background to do so.

Suggesting a time to send, comparing open rates against similar companies in your industry, and pointing out which messages received the strongest response are integrated into these systems. All you have to do is settle in with a cup of coffee and thirty minutes to review the data, neatly organized for you, presented in the dashboard.

3. Everyone Uses Email

You don’t have to ask if everyone in your market uses email. They do.

Social media is an amazing marketing and engagement environment, but no one can say with confidence that everyone you want to do business with is on social media. Not even Facebook, with its more than 1.5 billion users, can lay claim to that.

With email, nearly everyone, from millennials to retirees, business professionals to sports figures, has email and uses it frequently.

[E]mail gets delivered 90 percent of the time compared with a Facebook post that hits, on average, two percent of fans and followers.

According to Litmus, a web-based email creation, testing and analytics platform, 91 percent of email users check their email at least daily. That blows away any comparable activity level on social and so far exceeds what traditional marketing can claim to reach that it isn’t even funny.

Also, email gets delivered 90 percent of the time compared with a Facebook post that hits, on average, two percent of fans and followers. What’s more, email generates three times the conversion rate of social media and returns a whopping $44.25 for every dollar spent. Now that’s what we call a hard working dollar.

4. Email Expands Reach without Expanding Payroll

If only there were more time in the day, more money in your pocket, and more of you to go around, the better all of this would be. But since that’s not the case, email makes it seem like there’s another you, without actually having to add another employee to the mix.

Email is ideal for carrying your persona into the world with messages that are you, just pre-written and dropped into an automated calendar to send without you having to touch it a second time. More of you would definitely help, but since that’s not happening, there’s email.

5. Email Improves Your Image

As a Main Streeter, you don’t get a pass on looking professional just because your business may be small. First, second, third, and fiftieth impressions matter and, with email, you get to take advantage of professionally-designed templates that make you look as sharp as anyone.

Some email-marketing vendors even make it easy to take what you’ve designed and print it out as a flyer or poster.

Some email marketing platforms, such as Constant Contact, double as a design tool for flyers and posters.

Some email marketing platforms, such as Constant Contact, double as a design tool for flyers and posters.

6. Email Has Low Production Costs

A final benefit of email marketing for Main Street businesses is its ability to keep costs in check. Once subscription costs for the email marketing system are covered, the incremental cost to communicate is zero — no postage, no advertising costs, no printing — nothing.

This makes it an easy decision to use email to share your news, promote your products, and move your business forward, all without the pressure of breaking the bank.

If there is one marketing tool ideally suited to the needs of local businesses, it’s email. These six reasons are proof positive that email is a marketing tool that Main Streeters can rely on to deliver measurable results at a price that fits even small budgets.

The Marketing Essentials Toolkit

by: Charles Gaiennie on

If you build or repair anything, you know the value of having just the right tool. And while having a fancy specialty tool is cool, there is simply no replacement for the requisite hammer, saw and wrench. It's the same with marketing. We love the cool tools but there are some things that no company can do without.

Have a look ...

1. A logo. Whether it is basic text such as in Sears, Home Depot or Microsoft, or designed symbol such as in Nike, Starbucks or Volkswagen, you simply must have a logo. In creating the logo, please - for our sake and the sake of the world at large - make it high contrast, easy-to-read in two seconds or less and reasonably uncomplicated. Once you've created it, leave it alone for a very long time so the market can actually begin to associate the logo with you and what you do. Finally, use it consistently and persistently in everything you do.

2. A website. Whether it's a single page or whether it allows the world to know everything there is to know about you, you simply must have a website. And while we understand that a website is a very techie-feeling thing, please do not seek out an IT person or company to build or maintain it. With apologies to our technical friends, a website should be open and easy for you to manage. After all, the user could care less about Java script or CSS. They really just want to hear from and about you. Content is what they care about, not technology.

3. Email. You simply have to have one. And please use your web address (called a domain) rather than yourname@msn.com or yourname@yahoo.com. Sure they work, but they just aren't as professional as using your own name. By not communicating using your own domain, you give up the opportunity to keep your name in front of people. Keep in mind, however, that a domain and a website, while related, are two separate processes.

4. Business cards.  Once you have your logo, your website and your email using your own domain, get some business cards. And avoid cheesy at all cost. As with any design, less is more. Don't cram the card with every possible bit of information. Make your logo dominant, add your name, possibly your title, definitely your office phone number and even your cell phone number, your email address and your website address. Unless it's critical information, you can often leave off the address and the fax number. Get at least 100 cards and give them away at every opportunity.

5. A basic brochure. Avoid writing a book. Give enough information for the reader to understand what you do but set it up so they call you or go to your website to get the details. Make it visually strong with great images and minimal text. Please stay away from tri-folds. They are so ordinary and boring and are easily hidden in the average stack of mail. We love oversize pieces, custom cuts or custom folds.  Even a double-sided, non-folding brochure can be effective. Give it a try.

When the box is as exciting as its contents

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Look, we know it's spring but for a moment, let's pretend it's Christmas time. Let's pretend that we are standing in front of a beautiful Christmas tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped presents. While all of the presents are wonderful, one really stands out. It's larger than the rest. The paper is embossed and catches the lights from the tree. There is a large, hand-tied bow on top and a big gift tag dangling from the ribbon. How exciting!

Can't you just see this gift in your mind's eye? It's impressive isn't it? You can't stop thinking about it, right? You can hardly wait to open it to see what's inside.

Now, back to reality. Wouldn't it be cool if your customers and prospects felt that way when they saw your advertisements, your store displays, your social media and your website? It can happen, but as with our Christmas present, generating that kind of excitement lies in the details.

Here's a real-live example of a case where generating excitement about opening the package was crucial ...

Our firm is interested in supporting the promotion of our wonderful Louisiana seafood, especially as it relates to changing misunderstandings about how last year's oil spill affected - or didn't affect - the quality, safety and availability of our seafood. There are organizations right now are seeking help from companies like ours to change perceptions and restore demand for Louisiana seafood. We just recently submitted a proposal to one such organization.

We knew going in that there would be others who were very qualified to help in this project, so we knew that what we did had to be special. We knew the organization reviewing the proposals would have dozens of responses and lots to consider. They would, in effect, be standing in front of our figurative Christmas tree looking at dozens of packages to be opened. Our goal was to make sure that our package stood out from the rest and that from across the room, they could see it and wonder what lay inside.

Here's what we did ...

The Box
- No ordinary box would do for this proposal! Since the organization was all about seafood, the box we used to pack and ship our proposal was an actual seafood packing box. It was white, wax coated and stamped with the message "Fresh Seafood" right on the box. Anyone in the seafood industry would recognize it immediately as being the real deal.

The Label
- As if the box were not enough, we created our own label to look like something that would come with fresh seafood. But rather than the expected "Perishable, fresh seafood inside," ours read: "Perishable, fresh ideas inside." We also added our own Certified Cajun label to let them know that we were the real deal in matters of all things Louisiana.

Inside the Box
- Our proposals were the main content of the box. But these were no ordinary proposals. No, these were vacuum sealed in plastic just as you would find fresh packed shrimp or crawfish. Not only was this a visual tie-in to seafood, it also protected our proposals from the real ice packs we used to pack the box - a not-so-subtle differentiation from hopefully anything else that the organization received.

Other Stuff
- Just to make the point, the box also was filled with a good supply of plastic seafood just in case our messaging was somehow overlooked.

The Proposal
- All of the clever packaging in the world is pointless if there is no substance to the product. Our proposal was deeply designed, an easy read but chock full of the information the organization asked  for.

Did we succeed? We think we did, at least in getting our package noticed. We know this because when it was delivered, the recipient did what we hoped he would: he opened it immediately and touched the ice packs, and he commented - albeit generically - on the presentation. 

Not a bad start, and it all began with the package.




Consistency

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Consistency


How do you like our use of different colors in the title of this week's Marketing Minute? Annoying, isn't it? Possibly even bordering on obnoxious. But in true Marketing Minute style we are using eleven different colors to draw your attention to the absolutely essential requirement of consistency in your branding, marketing and advertising.

Here's why...

In marketing, you are constantly competing for space in the minds and hearts of your market. This is true whether you are Coca-Cola or Slop-E-Joe's Barbecue Shack. (we just made that name up so apologies is there really is a Slop-E-Joe's out there somewhere) Success in gaining ground in that mind and heart space starts by making it ridiculously simple for someone to recognize you immediately whenever and wherever they encounter your brand.

Here are three rules to guide you.

Rule 1 - create a brand that is clear, simple and recognizable.
Rule 2 - don't allow your latest flight of creative fancy to mess up a perfectly good brand.
Rule 3 - use the un-messed-up brand with perfect consistency as to colors, font styles, images and tag phrases every time, all the time.

By following these three important rules, you are avoiding creating confusion about your brand in a marketplace where confusion is already the norm.

So whatever you do, when it comes to your marketing, advertising and branding,

Stay Consistent! :)


Why A Website is NOT an IT Project

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Let me start with apologies to our wonderful friends and colleagues who are experts in the underlying technologies of websites.  We love these folks and couldn't do what we do without them however...

Look.  Here's the deal.  Although it is clearly technology that enables us to reach the world through our websites, emails, cell phones and Facebook pages, who really do you think the customer wants to hear from?  You, or your IT guy?  Again, no disrespect intended to the IT folks, however if someone is talking to you, it’s because they are interested in the flowers you sell, or your creative lunch menu or your one day guaranteed car repairs or whatever you do and could generally care less about whether you are using XML or HTML.  You are infinitely more interesting.  You are the holder of the information they desperately seek and you are the reason they are at your website to begin with.  What this means is that (there's a pattern here) YOU are the one that should be in direct control of your website with little or no barrier or filtering by anyone with IT in their job description.

The great news is that this is very do-able these days.  When we select technologies for our web projects, one of our top criteria is that the technology be powerful, impactful and have low to no technical barriers.   What we are describing is what is known as content management system that is accessed by simply logging onto your own website.  Properly done, a content management website allows you to; change text with no more effort than using a word processor like Microsoft Word, add new images to a page by simply clicking a browse button similar to the way you attach something to an email or adding or deleting pages and having the results automatically reflected in the menu structure – and all without one call or email to the IT guy.  Not only can it be done, it is being done and is the only way we develop and manage websites.

Interested in knowing more?  Why not give us a call at 985-446-6088 or go onto our content-management-driven website at www.wlgaiennie.com to learn more.  DISCLAIMER.  Our site is under revision as we speak so bear with us as we tweak some things out. 

Until next time…

 

 

 

Make sure your competition never finds out about this

by: Charles Gaiennie on

All effective marketing is based on research. Anything else is just a guess. Sorry, but that's just the way it works.

So you say that you don't know how to do research on things like the size of the market, what people are spending money on, the average education level, what most people do for a living and other key facts that help you determine what to market, when and to whom.



Well, fear not! Research help is on the way.

We'd love to take credit for bringing you some secret source of market research, but kudos really have to go to the South Louisiana Economic Council and their partner in economic development, Entergy Louisiana. Together these folks make it a snap to get some really great information about the market your company serves.

It's all part of the Bayou Region Site Selection website, a site designed primarily to attract new business into the region but absolutely packed with great information under the Parish and Community Profiles section. 

Here's a list of the cool things that await your mouseclick.

A great map view of the region that is clickable to go to any of the four parishes of Assumption, Lafourche, St. Mary or Terrebonne.
  • Profiles of each of the parishes or individual communities with each parish
  • Population details
  • Workplace data, and
  • Spending patterns.
If that's not enough, the site even gives you the option to create a custom report and view it as a graph or export it in Excel.

Very cool stuff and absolutely free. Check it out now!

The Power of Friendship

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Does this sound familiar?

Hey. Have you tried that new restaurant in town?

Yeah. A friend from work ate there Saturday and they said it’s really good. The place was packed but the service was good and they had some really interesting things on the menu.

Cool. I think we’re going to try it tonight. Thanks.

Based on this conversation, would you be willing to give this new restaurant a try? We guess that you would, and, frankly, so would we.

But did you notice that something was conspicuously absent? Did you notice that marketing, in the traditional sense of the word is nowhere to be seen in this exchange? No $3 million-a-minute Super Bowl ad, no Hollywood spokesperson, nothing really but a casual – yet powerful – affirmation that is almost certain to result in a new customer for the restaurant.

Could there be something here? You bet there is. It’s the power of a legitimate referral, not made by you, but done on behalf of you from a trusted source. It’s called referral marketing and it is powerful stuff when done right.

So how does it work?

To begin with, you really do have to have something of value. No marketing can make up for a poor experience and, in fact, if you really don’t have something that can legitimately be referred, stay away from encouraging referrals until you do since failing to live up to an expectation is worse than having never created the expectation in the first place.

But when you do have something great, make it easy for others to share it. While there are many ways to do this, some methods clearly stand out. Email marketing, for example, is a great way to allow persons to refer to a friend. Sure, they can just hit the forward button on their email, but it’s far better to embed within the email an opportunity to forward to a friend. With Constant Contact, for example, forwarding to a friend is not only easy, but doing so allows you to collect new contacts to allow your distribution list to grow over time.

Another method is to get social. Social media by definition is a perfect medium to get others to share information about you. What you are looking for here is a Facebook fan page that is about your company. Be careful not to try to use a personal Facebook page to promote your business since Facebook frowns on the practice and may cut you off for doing so.

What the two methods have in common is the ease of making the referral and the potentially unlimited number of times a referral can be made with absolutely zero time and expense on your part. You also gain the ability to track referrals depending on the method you choose. In any case, referrals done electronically are huge and provide an effective and affordable way for you to get your message out.

So what more can we say other than, if you enjoy reading our Marketing Minute, we would be most grateful if you would, Tell a Friend.

When you’re ready to have a one-on-one conversation with a few thousand people, give us a call at 985.446.6088 or complete our request form.

Until next week. 

 

A Mass Market of One

by: Charles Gaiennie on


It is sometimes said that the sweetest sound is that of our own voice. What this means is that if you want someone to really pay attention, talk to them, about them. But in marketing, where the mediums of communication often include billboards, television commercials, newspaper advertisements and radio ads, there is a fundamental conflict in doing this – by design, these mediums are designed to reach the broadest possible audience with the broadest possible appeal. But in successful marketing, saying the wrong thing to the wrong audience is worse than saying nothing at all. So what’s a company to do?


Here are some suggestions.

Start by recognizing that your total market is actually made up of a bunch of smaller markets, each with its own set of characteristics and preferences. It’s called segmentation and it’s key to identifying who your market is and what they are interested in. It’s the foundation of approximating the experience of talking just to them about what interests them the most.

Take me as an example. I am an avid guitar player. Not a great guitar player, but an avid guitar player just the same and I love to get advertisements about guitars. So you would think then that guitar stores should be loading me up with whatever guitar-related message they can, right? Well, not quite right. To begin with, I am not just a guitar player, I am an acoustic guitar player and I have very specific preferences as to the brand and type of guitar I like. So any guitar store that sends me catalogs about their latest ax-shaped shredder guitar is just going to annoy me and cement in my mind a commitment to stay as far away from their products as possible. However, send me something about the anniversary line of solid wood, spruce-top Martins, Guilds and Gibson flattops and you have my undivided attention for hours! Get the point?

If all of this sounds hard, don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you might think, but it does require that you have the right tools at your disposal to identify and get in front of the right audience with your message. Advertisers are getting really good at this with cable, website and newspaper advertising, bringing on some very sophisticated techniques to help you get the right message to the right person at the right time.

Take our friends over at Charter Cable, for example. Got a new Cajun Seasoning Blend? They can drop your message right in the middle of the Paula Deen Show on the Food Network right alongside the Kraft Mac and Cheese spot. And it won’t be people in Minnesota seeing it, either, it will be the people in our community who can then get right up and walk into Rouses to get a can of the stuff.

Our buds at the Courier/Comet can do something similar as well based on key words you use to look up a story. Type in “sports scores” for example and, in addition to the latest scores, you’ll see information about the latest and greatest in sports and exercise equipment available locally. Many other great examples exist.

So when you’re ready to have a one-on-one conversation with a few thousand people, give us a call at 985.446.6088 or complete our request form now.

Until next week.

May we have your permission, please?

by: Charles Gaiennie on

In this week’s Marketing Minute, we address the issue of permission-based marketing and why it is so important to gain permission from your customers and prospects before you communicate with them. It is an important process since permission is often the difference between growing a relationship or abruptly and permanently closing that relationship off.

Let’s start with a definition of permission. For marketing purposes it means that someone has either explicitly asked you to communicate with them or it can be reasonably presumed that they are open to communicating with you.

Explicit permission comes in many forms but here are a few of the more common ones. A customer completes a satisfaction survey, signs up for your newsletter on your website or calls or emails you directly for a brochure, a quote or for information about your products or services. The common thread here is that they have initiated the contact from their side with the expectation that you will follow up. The second form of permission is where it can be reasonably implied that contact is OK. This also comes in many forms, such as someone hands you their business card at a meeting or trade show, the person has done business with you in the past or is actively using your products or services now, there is some established relationship between you and the person such as you serve on committee together or know each other in a way where they clearly know you and what you do. Basically, this is a group of permission givers that while they have not explicitly asked for you to send them information, they at least know who you are and can easily identify who you are when you reach out to them.

With this understanding of permission in hand, let’s move on to why this permission thing is so important.

Many people assume that marketing seems to be all about them, what they sell and do. In reality, however, marketing done well is all about someone else – your customers and prospects and what they want and what they need. When you’ve grasped this concept, you begin to understand where this permission thing fits in. In gaining permission before you communicate, you immediately make the statement that your message, and by extension your products and services, are all about fulfilling someone else’s need, not just your own. And, WOW, what a powerful message that can be. In fact, marketing that does not follow these rules is generally tagged by the market with phrases such as “junk mail” or “spam,” not descriptions you want applied to your message, we’d guess.

The Marketing Minute is actually an example of permission-based marketing. Everyone who receives this fits into at least one of the two categories we mentioned. But even with the permission in place, we still respect the right of all our contacts to not receive this message by immediately presenting the option to unsubscribe.

If you are interested in learning more about permission-based marketing, give us a call at 985.446.6088 or complete our contact form now. There is also a great summary of permission-based marketing you can download now free from our email technology partner, Constant Contact. Oh, and by the way, when you call or complete the form, we’d like to thank you for giving us permission to contact you.

There's a strong Brees blowing

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Are the Saints the new America's Team?  Some say they are. And it’s more than just a title; it’s potentially the greatest windfall of attention and focus ever to blow into our state. With their fame comes an almost irresistible urge for businesses to find some way to associate themselves with the Saints' success. 

In this issue of the Marketing Minute, we take a look at the question of should you, can you, and if so, how do you “be in that number”?


In the weeks between the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl, there was quite the controversy as the NFL sought to flex its licensing muscle to claim the rights to, and hence the money from, the use of the phrase, “Who Dat.” Under extreme pressure from everyone from Congress to Tom Benson, the NFL attorney-types finally backed off and let the licensing rights issue fade quietly away, but for you, chances are pretty good that they won’t be quite as generous.

So what’s an enterprising, Saints-minded business to do? One option is to employ the roll-the-dice method. Black and gold, that’s pretty straight forward. Fleur de lis stencils – easy cheesy. All you need now is a coat hanger and a street corner. But wait…is it worth it?

Basically, here’s the deal: The NFL and the Saints actually WANT you to sell things using their name. They encourage it. They want their name on pretty much everything. The thing is, they just want you to PAY for it first. It’s something called a trademark and guess what, the Saints identity, in all of its forms, is trademarked by the Saints and by extension, the NFL. So if you want a Saints association with your company, you can either buy all of the already officially NFL-licensed items you can handle, or you can approach the NFL for permission to have your products licensed. It’s not easy but if you really want to give it a shot, here’s where to start: https://www.nfl.info/NFLConsProd/Welcome/index.html. Sorry, sometimes it really is all about the money.

Since I have this vision of a disappointed groan after reading this, let me end with a little hope brought on by a couple of ideas of marketing finesse. Try this: While you probably can’t lay claim to a Drew Brees endorsement of your company, you can perhaps remind the market how the leadership, hard work and perseverance needed to win a National Champion has been a part of your business since <<Insert Date>>. You can also lay claim to being from the state that produced the Super Bowl Champions, which by association, makes you a part of a winning team. You get the idea.

So with full acceptance of the risks of violating NFL trademarks, we join with you all as we shout out loud, “Who Dat?! Who Dat?! Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Beat Dem Saints?! Who Dat?!”

© Copyright The W.L. Gaiennie Company 2016