Friday, December 17, 2010

I am reading this great article that puts marketing into perspective. This guy created excitement! marketinghttp://ping.fm/tJEkq

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Five Easy Ways to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn is one of the “must have” social media sites for professionals.  It’s where everyone posts their online resume’ and connects with others in the business world.  The question for newcomers is how do I take advantage of it?  There are many ways to use LinkedIn, but one of the best ways is to participate in the many groups that are available.

For those of you interested in joining a group on LinkedIn, it’s really very easy.  Go to the groups tab and then click on groups directory.  You can search through LinkedIn for almost any keyword you want.  If you are a human resources professional, insert the words “human resources” into the search box.  Over 50 pages of groups with the words “human resources” in either the title or description will pop up. 

There is something for everyone in the LinkedIn groups.  No matter what your interest, there is probably already a group of professionals that are talking about this topic through a group.  Keep your eyes open for groups that people you are connected to are members of.  You may see something that grabs your attention.

What are the ways that we can use LinkedIn groups to enhance and improve our business?  After all, isn’t that one of the reasons that we join LinkedIn in the first place?

1. The first way to take advantage of the LinkedIn groups is as an educational experience.  If you really pay attention to the discussions that occur within the groups, you can learn a lot.  I have taken classes online that I found through groups of which I am a member.  Webinars are offered everywhere about most every topic you can imagine, all touted through groups.  Read the discussion notifications to see what topics they are discussing that you might learn from.

2. You can grow your network with other people that have a common interest.  If you are a rabid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, then there are groups for that-three whole pages of them.  If you own a small business in the Pittsburgh area, then the Pittsburgh Small Business Owners group may be for you.  Search for whatever topic or type of people that you would like to be associated with.  Go into the groups’ tab and search in the groups’ directory.  Currently there are over 656,400 groups to choose from. 

3. The next way is to enhance your brand.  If you are an active member, which is always the best, other professionals will see you and your brand.  If you participate in discussions in a thoughtful, helpful way, others will see you as a thought leader.  Social media isn’t for selling, it is for getting to know others better.  LinkedIn groups are a perfect way to accomplish this and expand your brand.

4. Groups allow you to contact people as if they are a first-degree contact.  If you are involved in LinkedIn, you know that the only people you can contact directly by email are people that you are connected to, unless you are in a group with them.  Joining a group expands your reach to possible new hires, experts and prospects. 

5. One of the most important reasons for joining a group is to show that you are an expert in your field.  If you are active in the group, you can help other members by answering questions they need help with.  This is what social media is all about getting to know people better.

Join as many LinkedIn groups as you can.  There is a limit of 50 right now, but that certainly gives the average person a great deal of opportunity to be educated and connected with other like-minded individuals.

What other ways can we take advantage of the LinkedIn groups?  I want to hear your ideas.  Please comment below and I will answer. 
Cindy Neky

twitter: @mktgpathways

Friday, November 5, 2010

Social Media for Business... Let's Learn More

Why should you participate in social media?  You'll generate exposure, traffic, inbound partnerships, and bring in new, qualified leads. 

The best way to get results and the most benefits from social media is to show people who you are as a person.  Even if you are a business, they need to see you as a group of people.  Real people.  To do that you have to employ a five-step success cycle.

Step 1. Set a specific social media strategy.  The words that work in the offline world don't always work well in social media.  The attention span in social media is very short.  The message must be targeted, but it must be the same message developed in your other marketing vehicles.  Stay true to who your business is in a more personal way.

Step 2. Establish your presence.  Select the right social sites to be on and optimize your presence.  Having a clear message will create advantages for your business.

Step 3. Make a commitment to continually expand your reach.  Use advanced search capabilities within the specific social media sites to find your best customers.  Did you know that the most utilized search engine now is twitter?  Were you aware that a search for your favorite key words on LinkedIn can help you find your target market? 

Step 4. Nurture relationships within your target audience.  Social media is all about connecting with your audience.  This isn't your father's website.  It is a personal relationship builder.  Learn to talk about the topics that interest your market.  Let them see you as a person.

Step 5. Maintain your communication with your network.  Update your sites daily.  Facebook and twitter should be updated multiple times each day.  Otherwise your target market won't come back.  They will visit your site a few times and if the information is stale, they won't visit again. 

Whatever you do, don't skip step one.  Strategy is very important in social media.  Without it you will flounder and the effort will be wasted.  Just as you need an overall marketing strategy for your business, you also need a strategy for social media. 

Start today!


Cindy Neky

Email Cindy 

Marketing Pathways Information 








Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Great Information About Marketing You Need to Read in Our October Newsletter. Strategic Thinking on the Go via #constantcontact

Strategic Thinking on the Go via #constantcontact

Whether to Trademark or Not-a Marketing Perspective

Not an Attorney or an Attorney Spokesperson

I want to start off by saying that I am not an attorney, do not have a legal degree, have not taken any law courses, and know absolutely nothing about the law, except what I have seen in Law & Order or The Good Wife. But I do know how the law relates to marketing and would like to share that here.

For more years than I care to count (and really, at this point I don't have enough fingers or toes to do it), I have been a marketing professional in one capacity or another. During that time I have been fortunate not to see or hear of too many legal problems with marketing and advertising. But it does happen from time to time.

What can happen

Mostly it is a business using another company's name, logo, tagline, or other proprietary material in an unflattering way or in a capacity that takes money out of the pocket of the original owner. Less often it is the theft of an idea or creative character. After hearing of a few of these over the years, I am convinced of one thing- if you have a business name and/or logo that needs protecting, you should do it.

Now that the internet is here and only growing stronger, people all over the world see your business name and mark. Someone in Boise may see a company name in Orlando that sounds great. Hey, why not take it and use it here in Boise? No one will know. Or will they...?

A True Story

Years ago I had a friend with a company that had a terrific name that really spelled out what her company was and who was involved. She had the foresight to protect the name (through an attorney) in every state in the country when she started the business. Once the internet came into being, she searched and found that there were businesses with the same name all over the country-Chicago, Texas, Connecticut-all places she thought she was protected in.

At that point there were too many of them to fight. She sent "cease and desist" letters to them, but it was too overwhelming and costly. A great name and terrific brand lost its luster.

She eventually sold the business and moved to Los Angeles for another opportunity. It is unclear whether this theft of her business name affected the price she got when selling her business. It is very possible that it did make a difference.

It isn't just the loss of your investment that can be affected. What about search engine optimization and getting a spot on the first search page of Google?

Obviously something went terribly wrong with her registration and protection of the name of her business. But what would have happened if she hadn't done anything? Probably the same thing-her business name everywhere. This doesn't mean you shouldn't trademark your business name and logo because nothing will help. It does mean that you need to make the attempt and do it the right way.

What Can You Do?

Now that there are inexpensive online sources for trademarking your business name and logo, I suggest that you consider this strongly if you can't afford a trademark attorney. Even if you are a local business, now that the internet is here you want to protect as much of your business as you can. You can perform a search of your own on the United States Patent and Trademark website (USPTO.)

For larger businesses needing help I suggest contacting an attorney that specializes in trademark law. If you are already doing business in multiple locations this is an important part of commerce. Smaller businesses may not have the funds to do this through an attorney. Rather than not doing anything at all, you may want to try one of the online sites such as LegalZoom or LegalAce.

More Info...

Trademarks are words, names, symbols, devices and images that are used to identify any goods - physical commodities used in interstate commerce. Service marks can be words, names, symbols, devices and images that are used to identify services.

You do not have to register a trademark to protect it, but this onlooker to the legal world believes it is worth discussing and looking into. Don't be surprised later when it is too late.

Where to Go

Applications for trademark registration and service mark registration can be electronically filed using TEAS - Trademark Electronic Application System. The USPTO is encouraging applicants to file electronic registration applications. Fees can be handled electronically as well.

For more information, you can visit the United States Patent and Trademark website, Wall Street Journal- How to Trademark a Company Name,or eHow.com.

As I said before, I'm not an attorney, nor do I represent any, and I am not saying that either of the online companies mentioned in this article will do a great job for you, so check this information out with your legal advisor. (Don't you just love this legal mumbo jumbo?)

Cindy Neky
Cindy's email
Marketing Pathways information
 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Do You Find the Right Graphic Designer?

Many businesses try to make their own marketing decisions. Small businesses are those we find most often feel they can't afford to hire outside experts. OK, you may be able to stumble through some ads, commercials and special events. You may find that the results aren't that great and you just can't figure out why.

There are many reasons why your marketing may not be working, but don't make one of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make, designing their own ads and brochures. Prospects can tell when someone in-house put an ad together. They aren't fooled when they see a one-sheet flyer that was printed on a color printer and designed by the administrative assistant that is an expert with spreadsheets, but not with design software.

So how do you find the best graphic designer? There are several places on the internet where you can find a graphic designer. You can try guru.com, elance.com, or 99designs.com. You will get very inexpensive graphic design help for logos, brochures, and other collateral.

Going online to find a designer is certainly better than having someone in-house put out work that is clearly not professional. There are problems with it though. You get a low price, but be careful. The old adage that you get what you pay for is not a bad rule of thumb. Many of the designers at these sites are overseas. While they are willing to work for less money, they are also not well versed in what sells in the United States. If you are hoping for someone that will be able to proof his or her work for you as well, it might not happen. Remember, you never meet this person face-to-face and you don't know who you are really working with.

Another way to find a good graphic designer is to look locally. You can find them through locally based Web sites, such as the Pittsburghcreative.com Web site for the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. Or a national site like topdesignfirms.com., which has listings of designers in cities all across the U.S.

Don't forget social media sites such as LinkedIn. If you use the search on the LinkedIn site for a graphic designer in your city, you will find many local professionals. The advantage of using LinkedIn is that you will be able to see what their background is and if anyone has recommended them. In addition, you can ask other professionals through groups on the site and that you are connected to. It is a wealth of information for this type of search.

Using someone locally is going to be more expensive than the designers online. However, you will have someone you can actually meet with if you want to. Plus, the quality should be better, there won't be any language barrier and they know your market. These reasons alone can be worth the extra money you will pay.

Don't forget to ask business people you know, who they use. If you like graphic design work you see, ask who they use. This is a great way to get someone that designs work you like.

There are several ways to find good graphic designers. Online design sites, online referral sites and direct referrals allow you to pick the best person to work with.  Don't use that secretary that has never designed anything before. It shows.

Are there any other sources I've missed?  What do you think of the online sites?  Please comment below.

Cindy Neky
Contact Cindy
More information about Cindy and Marketing Pathways
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Friday, September 3, 2010

See Your Clients In Person For That Personal Touch

Too often we get so caught up in thinking of ways to reach our customers-online, mail, Web site, twitter, blog, and Facebook- that sometimes we forget the old fashioned way, seeing them in person.

For those of you in a business-to-business (B2B) selling situation, that means going to your client's office or maybe even taking them to lunch. A business-to-consumer (B2C) seller should get out on the sales floor more often.

Sure, you have plenty to do in your office. Bookwork, address personnel issues, or finish your most recent project, but there isn't anything more important than the personal touch of seeing your clients face-to-face. While we are all busy (is there anyone out there that isn't?), your clients and customers still want to see you and know that you care.

OK, I realize it may sound a little corny, but the people factor still plays a huge part in selling any product or service. People still buy from people.

There has been a huge increase in online purchasing. Which means there is a lot of buying done without any personal interaction. And if you can sell your product in strictly that way, you are extremely fortunate.

Many sales still depend on some personal interaction and it is critical that you know when your marketing depends on it and when it doesn't. Don't ignore your customers and the necessary personal touch. Try not to forget them when you get busy with the operational part of your business.

A few ways to reach out and touch your clients:

Retail Businesses-

1. Personally greet your customers when they come through the front door. How many times has that happened to you? Differentiate your business.

2. Ask their opinion of new products you are carrying or thinking of carrying. Give them samples to try.

3. Have an open house or theme event. Announce that you will be holding a holiday open house with food, prizes and/or speakers. Choose an unusual holiday such as National Popcorn Day, National Pie Day, Friendship Day, or Son and Daughter Day. Be creative.

Commercial/Industrial Businesses-

1. Have an open house at your headquarters. Invite all your good clients and prospects.

2. If you are a national company, hold regional meetings closer to your customers' location. Invite several attendees and give them a chance to meet other clients.

3. Surprise your customer by personally delivering a small gift to them, for no special reason.

These aren't the only ways, but this gives you an idea of the type of personal attention you can give your customers.

Spend time with your customers, so that when your competitor comes knocking at their door they won't answer.

Cindy Neky
Contact Cindy
MarketingPathways

The 12 Most Powerful (Copy)Words in the English Language

As a copywriter, there are times when I am asked by clients why I use certain words when writing an advertisement. Whether it is for an ad in a publication, online, a direct mail piece or even a radio ad, they don't always understand what words or groups of words work best when marketing a product or service.

Let me explain. Copywriting isn't like other writing. You won't find good copy in a newspaper article. Hopefully, you will find great writing known as journalism. Writing copy is based on getting the reader's attention as quickly as possible and stating your case for purchase of your product or service as clearly as you can.

With ads of any type, you have less than 2 seconds to grab the attention of whoever is reading or watching your advertisement. Not much time to state all the positives of your product or service. That's why a good headline is important in a print ad. Or why the first second or two of a television commercial is critical. (Does anyone still watch them now that the commercials almost outlast the show? Plenty of time to get that snack, do the laundry or take that much needed bathroom break.) Or why a billboard advertisement needs to state its case in a short, but impactful way.

There are specific ways to write effective copy. Some words draw the reader's attention to your offer more than others do. At times, the writing that will create the most impact with the reader isn't proper or a correct use of the English language. Copywriting isn't the English your elementary teacher taught you. It isn't for those who are compelled to strictly stick with only correct grammar. In fact, quite often the words for a great ad aren't correct or proper at all.

There are also those words that are more powerful to use than others are. These are the most profit producing words you can use in any marketing campaign. Copywriters know about them, but few others know how commanding these words really are. When used effectively, they can increase the results of your marketing.

The twelve words below aren't going to surprise you because you see them in ads all the time. Now you know why. They are the most powerful words used in copywriting.

1. You
2. Save
3. Money
4. Easy
5. Guarantee
6. Health
7. Results
8. New
9. Love
10. Discovery
11. Proven
12. Safety

These words have been studied and have shown they elicit the strongest response by people seeing or reading an ad. If you combine them, such as " You Save Money", they become even more powerful. Don't be afraid to use them multiple times in your advertising.

You may wonder why the word "Free" isn't included in this list. When used correctly, it can be even more effective than the twelve words listed above. The word "Free" has been overused though, especially on the internet. Some of its benefit has been eroded because of this.

Keep these twelve words in mind when you (or someone on your behalf) write an advertisement. They could drastically improve the response to your direct mail piece, online blog, newspaper ad or whatever marketing vehicle you are using.

Let me know what you think or if you have questions about these words and writing effective copy.

Cindy Neky
Email Cindy
cneky@marketingpathways.com
Marketing Pathways

Strategic Thinking on the Go via #constantcontact

Strategic Thinking on the Go via #constantcontact

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Does My Business Need a Blog?

The simple answer to this question is yes. Every business today should have a blog of some sort.

We've all heard of blogs, but what is a blog? The word blog is short for Web log. Started a few years ago by someone that thought all of their friends should know their thoughts and feelings-like reading their diary.

 The blog has developed into a communication vehicle for not just individuals, but businesses as well. Whether you sell to consumers or to other businesses, a blog can be an effective way to casually provide information and opinion to your customers.

 Many smalller businesses may find it difficult to find the time to blog often. If that is the case, do it when you have a topic that is relevant for your clients. That may be daily or it may be monthly or less often. If your clients know that from time to time you will be providing information in a blog, they will look for it.

 The mistake that I often see is the infusion of personal issues into blogs. Any time you are writing creatively it is always good to infuse some sort of "personal" knowledge or experience. It makes the information more believable. However, you should leave business blog topics to business related information. That doesn't mean you can't use a topical theme to make a point (see my blog about American Idol.) But don't write about your son's baseball game or daughter's dance recital unless it somehow relates back to a business topic. 

 Recently I had a bank senior administrator ask me whether a blog would be good for their business. I told him it absolutely was a necessity in today's competitive financial environment. A blog personalizes a business that in most cases, seems exactly the opposite.

 Even if you manufacture steel for a widget company, a blog will make your business seem more in tune with customers. It will give you a way to positively address those nagging questions that they have or even answer product use questions.

 Be creative with your blogs and people will continue to come back time after time. You will be seen as the expert in your field, no matter what field that is.

What do you think about businesses blogging and how it can help or hurt them?  I want to hear your thoughts.


Cindy Neky
Contact Cindy
Marketing Pathways Web site
Cindy on LinkedIn

Monday, August 2, 2010

Strategic Thinking on the Go via @constantcontact

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Strategic-Thinking-on-the-Go.html?soid=1102839655633&aid=y1Z_nA9JwFE

Do Webinars Work?

Have you ever attended a Webinar? A Webinar is a seminar that you can attend from the privacy of your own office (or even your home, if you choose.) Just use your computer to sign in to a link provided by the company giving the Webinar.

Most of the time they will provide a PowerPoint presentation for you to follow along. Often there will be graphs or other information that can be downloaded or printed out for later use.

An advantage of giving a Webinar instead of an in person seminar is the cost. No longer is it necessary to rent a facility and send out invitations or advertise the event. You can easily and inexpensively invite your email subscribers to attend.

Attendees are able to email questions to the speaker so they may be answered either during or after the event. It is even possible to survey your participants and relay the information immediately back to them during the Webinar.

For instance, let's say you were discussing marketing for manufacturers and you wanted to know how many of your audience members were in a particular industry. The attendees would be able to respond and you could immediately tell your audience what percentage of them were in that industry. Just as good as having them raise their hands!

It is also easier to provide a Webinar to a market that is geographically in many different places. If you have locations all over the US or if your target market is spread out, you can easily train them on new products or services that you offer.

Webinars aren't perfect though. One drawback is the lack of face-to-face interaction. Sometimes it just means more when you look your audience in the eyes. The personal touch can get lost online.The other problem encountered during a Webinar is getting the full attention of the attendee. There have been more than a few times that I have gotten an important phone call during a Webinar, which I chose to take. Even though I was no longer participating in the Webinar, I was able to later download the portion missed.

Consider a Webinar for your marketing program.  If you haven't considered using Webinars or something similar in your sales and marketing plan, you should consider one. It''s the easiest way to speak to your target market or even employees without leaving the office.


Cindy Neky
Contact Cindy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hackers Leave Me Alone

A few months ago I was hacked. Never had it happen before that I am aware. It happened on Twitter. I received a direct message from someone that I follow on Twitter. It was a strange message and I went ahead and clicked on it to see what she was referring to. That was my first mistake. When I went to the Web site it was a nothing site. So I contacted my friend directly through Twitter to inquire about the email. She found that she had been hacked.

Evidently she contacted Twitter, because I received an email from them telling me to change my password. Unfortunately, I was so busy with projects I couldn't get to it right away. My second mistake. She contacted me a few days later saying that she had gotten a direct message from me through Twitter with some questionable content.

 And so it goes...after all the times that I didn't open an email or attachment for fear of getting a virus, I innocently did this once and got hacked. It never occured to me that I might get hacked in Twitter. Just proves we can get hacked anywhere.

 Another friend around that same time had her blackberry stolen. In it she had all of her passwords and important information. The person who stole it went into her Facebook account and hacked it good. All of her friends got a rude awakening. Her Facebook page had to be shut down immediately.

 My password has been changed on my Twitter account. My friend has a new Facebook page. But it makes me feel vulnerable and maybe more aware just how simple it is for someone to get into our lives. My Twitter account is for business tweeting. So, you won't get anything of a personal nature from me there. I've learned my lesson.  Drop everything to address a possible hack!
 
Cindy Neky
Contact Cindy
Marketing Pathways
twitter

What is Marketing?

There is a great deal of confusion as to what marketing really is. Even presidents of large corporations define it differently. Most of them do not understand the full scope of marketing and what all it entails.

According to the American Marketing Association the definition of marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Did you get all of that? The definition includes almost everything a business does and excludes very little. That may seem to be a little too all encompassing, but in fact, almost everything a business does is marketing.

Marketing can include, but is certainly not limited to:

* sales
* advertising
* public relations
* market research
* direct marketing
* social/media/viral
* packaging
* promotions
* customer service

You probably thought that marketing was part of sales. Actually, it is the other way around. Marketing is the large umbrella with all of the above bullet point actions underneath it.

Now we are all on the same page.  If it has to do with your product or service, it is probably some form of marketing.

Cindy Neky
Marketing Pathways
Contact Cindy

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New to Social Media? Need To Put On the Training Wheels?

Social Media... everyone is talking about it. Right now, you are participating in it.  

Facebook Fans are 60%, and Twitter followers are 79%, more likely to buy and recommend products and services they follow online than those they don't.  Good news for those businesses using social media. 

But how much do you know about using social media for your business? Did you even know that social media such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and blogging would be useful in getting the word out about your business? 

Recently I got a call from a business professional wondering what type of marketing plan he needed for the internet. It was good he was thinking about that, but it made me wonder later why it had taken him so long to get to this point. Fear? Not a user himself?

 Marketing on the internet is a must for all businesses, whether you sell to consumers or other businesses. The decision isn't whether to do it or not, the question should be how much to do. Larger companies have more manpower to keep the social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter up to date and current. And that really is the important part of social media. Not only is there an immediacy about the information you can deliver to your prospects and customers, but also an easier way to get to them.

The internet isn't just about a Web site any more. It is about getting information quickly to those who follow you or your business. If you haven't joined the social media craze because you haven't done it yourself you can try it out now. Put the training wheels on, so to speak. See what it does for you, so you can at least imagine what it might do for your clients.

If you want to follow me on Twitter, see my LinkedIn profile, and sign up for this blog I have added the links to the bottom of this article. Don't worry, I don't tweet (the word for sending out a message on Twitter) 100 times per day like some people do. What you will get is information on marketing that I feel will help you understand it or see the trends. No, I don't tweet about my personal life. So you won't hear about my children's latest important event.

This blog is another place where I put out information from my many years experience in marketing. Nothing too heavy, but things to consider for your business. Hopefully you will learn something from it.

If you are in business and you aren't on LInkedIn, you need to join today. This is a growing place for business people to get out information about themselves and what they are doing. It is much more business related than the other social media sites.  It is a great way to search for new leads and keep in contact with business acquaintances.

My business isn't on Facebook yet because of the type of clients I have. Many businesses do participate in Facebook.  It is better for consumer related products and services than for business to business selling. 

So there you have it. The opportunity for you to easily experience social media. Sign up today and soon you will be able to take off the training wheels.

For those of you already into social media, you can also sign up for those informative sites of mine below. The more the merrier!

Cindy Neky
cneky@ marketingpathways.com
Blog- Marketing Pathways Tidbits
http://www.twitter.com/mktgpathways
LinkedIn- Cindy Neky

Even Simple PR Makes a Difference

Most people that I meet think that PR is a waste of time. That you can throw a lot of information to the press and see little for it. Some of this is true. Real public relations takes time, commitment and thought. It isn't just sending out a press release and hoping someone notices.

However, there is another part of PR that is simpler, but still effective. Ever read those notices in the paper that XYZ company just hired a new sales person? Or that the printer down the street added on to their building? We all have. At the time, most of us probably thought, "Gee, they must be doing pretty well." That is exactly what they want you to think. Ah, PR.

Even the simplest of announcements shows that your business is viable and doing well. The fact is, businesses hire when they have enough sales to support it. Of course, it could also mean that someone quit and you had to replace them. Either way, you need more help.

Don't underestimate the power of the simple announcements in PR. They can be very helpful to your business. With establishing a brand, you really need to get the name out there. The more people see even the simplest of mentions in the paper, on the radio, on the internet or TV, the more they will think of your business when it is time to buy your type of product or service.

Send out press releases for that new hire, special event, or other slightly newsworthy announcement. You never know who might see it.
 
Cindy Neky
Contact Cindy
Marketing Pathways

5 Inexpensive Marketing Ideas

Sometimes in our effort to come up with just the right marketing campaign, we forget some of the little things we can be doing that really don't cost all that much. Listed here are five simple and inexpensive marketing ideas.

1. Don't forget your current customers.  Studies show they are your best source of business. Give the top 10% (by sales or numbers) of your customers a phone call and not only thank them for their business, but ask them what else you can do to help them achieve their goals.

2. Ask for referrals.  Everyone talks about this, but how many of us actually do it? If your customers are happy, they will think of someone that want or need your help.

3. Don't forget to ask people to buy from you.  Sounds simple, but if you are advertising in any medium, you should be sure you ask the reader/prospect to buy your product or service, preferably today. 

4. Everyone should have a business card.  Make sure it is also a sales tool. It should be presentable and have the right information included. If you have a tag line, include it. If you have special hours that your competitors don't have, mention them.  Special items of interest that you want people to know about your business or about you can be on the card.  Think of it as a mini-brochure. 

5. Send your prospects a letter.  Yes, people still read letters.  Direct mail is still a valid form of marketing even in this age of electronic media.  Business professionals and consumers still like getting mail, and if the information you include is relevant and powerful, it will still be effective.

Marketing opportunities are everywhere; sometimes you just have to look for them.  That doesn't mean they have to cost a lot, so take some time and market your business today.

Cindy Neky
Contact Cindy
Marketing Pathways

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What I Have Learned You Shouldn't Do in Marketing

One of the things I've learned that you shouldn't do in marketing is nothing.  When you do nothing, you get nothing.  As a marketing professional for more years than I care to discuss here, I have seen clients do the wrong things, do the right things the wrong way and sometimes just do nothing.  Those that did no marketing fared the worst.

What does this tell me?  That everyone needs to be marketing.  No matter where you or your business are in life, you need to market it.  Better to do it the wrong way, than not to do it at all.

But the second thing I've learned is that doing it the wrong way costs you time and money.  A lot of small businesses, especially, think that they can do their own marketing.  Why? Because it saves them money.  Then they don't have to pay someone to write and submit that press release, write and design that Web site, direct mail piece or any number of other tactics.  The problem is that most people don't realize there are right ways and wrong ways to market.

It isn't enough to know the right places to advertise.  There are certain ways to write copy and correct usage of words for different types of media.  Design is specialized.  There is a science to the right colors to use.  Publicity needs someone that knows how to get the word out the right way and to the right person.  Research takes knowledge of proper questions and understanding the results.  It goes on and on.  Marketing is a profession and unless you are in that profession, you are going to make mistakes.

While it is POSSIBLE for you to do your own marketing, I don't advise it.  Let the professionals do it the right way.  Doing it yourself is better than nothing, but that doesn't mean it is the best way or what will get you the biggest return on your investment.  Dollar for dollar, it will be less expensive to use a professional because the results will be better.  Consequently, you will make more money. 

Cindy Neky

Email Cindy
Marketing Pathways Web site

Friday, May 28, 2010

Has This Season of American Idol Hurt Their Brand?

Do you watch Reality television shows? Normally I'm not much of a fan. Somehow I can't get excited about watching someone sitting in a house with a bunch of other people doing nothing. It's also difficult for me to have any interest in those willing to eat some foreign object or insect that isn't supposed to be eaten, at least by normal people.

But I do have an interest in American Idol. OK, I know, what's the point? The process of picking a singer from over 100,000 to receive a million dollar music contract intrigues me. It's the American Dream to achieve success. Plus, it is one of the few shows that, most of the time, is suitable for an entire family to watch. (Even that is becoming questionable after seeing Lady Gaga's last visit.)

More than anything, I marvel at the American Idol Marketing Machine. Their brand is everywhere and singers from all walks of life want to be on their stage to promote themselves or their next single. Ford, ATT and Coke evidently have had success sponsoring the show because they come back every year.

This year, a paint salesman from Mt. Prospect, IL won the show. Whether you like him or not, or even know who he is, your chances of seeing him on one of the news channels (or daytime talk shows, if you are into that) is high.

This year's crop of singers is arguably the weakest bunch they have had in the 9 years the show has been on the air. The question is, how much will this hurt the American Idol brand? Will it diminish the value to its advertisers or will the brand itself be OK?

Your brand and your achievements are tied together. If your company provides lackluster service or a faulty product, no amount of advertising or publicity is going to overcome that problem. While there is some truth to the adage that "Any press is good press," that doesn't apply well to businesses that are selling a product or service. Bad press is bad for business.
Even with dwindling viewership, American Idol is a formidable foe for other TV shows. They still command attention and usually win their time slot and more.

What can we learn from American Idol? They not only see themselves as a business that supplies an interesting (at least to some of us) hour or so of entertainment, but also a marketing company. Each and every week their publicity and marketing staff is getting out the word about who is doing what on the show.

American Idol doesn't see itself as an entertainment show. It sees its purpose as marketing to create more interest and viewers, which in turn creates revenue. They do whatever it takes.
How will they handle this less-than-captivating season remains to be seen. If they don't address their problems, being a marketing company isn't going to make a difference. The brand will be harmed.

We can learn a lesson from American Idol, though. Remember that while our product or service may be widgets or repairs, in the end, we are all marketing companies. To forget that puts us in peril of an early demise. Or maybe even getting "voted off" the list of successful businesses.

Happy Marketing!


Cindy

Marketing Pathways
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Let's Talk Advertising

Advertising...it has almost become a dirty word.  Businesses think it costs too much.  Consumers think there is too much of it.  What is a marketer to do?

First thing we all need to do is take a deep breath and then exhale.  Just relax.  Without advertising the world would be a much different place.  Really, it would.  Not so good either.  Hear me out on this.

Advertising isn't only about selling products any more.  It's also about delivering information.  While we may feel bombarded with more information than we need, information (as the old saying goes) is power.  What you know can help you.

There are more places to advertise then ever before.  It has only been the last 5+ years that social media became another new forum for advertising.  And it's changing every day.  Few businesses rely soley on print, billboards or media for advertising any more.  It doesn't mean that those aren't still viable places to advertise, it just means if you only advertise there you will miss out on terrific opportunities.

Consumers, both in B2C and B2B, are looking for information.  If you can supply that information your prospects, and most importantly your target market, will likely look to you for help when they need it. 

While we never want to forget that advertising should bring in business.  We should also look at what we can do differently with it that may set us apart.  Supplying information can be a part of that.

If your customers and prospects want to know more about the internet, tell them about it.  When they are ready to do more with the internet, they will see you as the expert.  Your knowledge will help sell you.

So don't be shy about "advertising" that you can give them the information they want.  It really is power. 

Cindy Neky
Email Cindy
Marketing Pathways

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Advertising to Women Not So Hard

Much of the time, when advertisers put together an ad or some other type of advertising or marketing piece, they forget who the real decision maker is.  Studies show that women are, in fact, the primary decision maker when it comes to most purchases.  And in those cases where they do not make the decision solely on their own, they are the primary influencer.  Important stuff.

So why do so many ads talk down to women?  Or belittle their role in the workplace or home?  Trust me, no woman thinks her dust mop is going to send her flowers just because she chooses a swiffer instead.  Ad agencies and corporate America have lost perspective when it comes to women.  While they try to be cute, they lose the message of how powerful women are today.  And how important their belief in a product really is.

Next time you prepare an ad, commercial or other information where women may be involved (women even choose the vehicles that are purchased), ask yourself if it is demeaning to women.  Would a woman find the message clear, concise and relevant?  Or would they think to themselves how stupid that ad is?

Today, women are looking for ideas and products that are a good value, are a solution to their problem and are convenient.  Many women are not only managers in their work, they are also managers of their home.  So no matter whether they are a domestic manager or a corporate manager, they are looking for many of the same attributes when purchasing.  Get to the point and tell me how this will help me. 

No matter what your product or service, if you approach women in a positive way, you are more likely to be a hit and gain their purchase.  Remember, women affect over 75% of the purchases in the US (I think it is probably closer to 90%.)  You can't afford to antagonize them with the wrong message, or worse, a demeaning one.

Cindy Neky
Email Cindy
http://www.marketingpathways.com/

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Super Bowl Advertising- Better or Worse?

Every year I look forward to the Super Bowl.  Not always because of the game.  I'm in Pittsburgh, so we have had more than our fair share of Super Bowl appearances.  When it comes down to the actual game there isn't always one team I prefer.  This year would have been in that category.

 What does that leave for the rest of us besides the snacks and drinks?  The commercials.  Don't get me wrong.  Half time is OK.  But how many more oldies groups can they bring back?  I didn't realize the Who were still together.  My son and I were trying to figure out how old these guys are now.  Ancient was our final decision.  As I'm sitting there listening to them I realized that CBS had to be in seventh heaven.  All of the CSI shows have a Who song as the theme.  Yes, the Who played all of them.  Couldn't have been a better advertisement if CBS had paid for it.

Back to the commercials.  I sat through all of those.  Definitely had my favorites.  For me, the Denny's ads were great.  I know that the AD AGE studies showed them down on the list of favorites by most watchers.  But I thought they were funny and I remembered the message too.  Sometimes the commercials lose their message.  You remember...the chickens that screamed because Denny's was having a special on eggs.  Loved those chickens.

AD AGE says that the Betty White/Abe Vigoda ad was the most liked ad .  Heck, I can't remember the product.  Guess I'm not a very attentive person.  I do remember the Doritos ad with the guy in the coffin.  Didn't like it very much, but I remember it.  AD AGE also says that everyone else remembered it too.

All in all, the game was exciting.  Half time was just OK.  The commercials were so/so.  But I will still watch the Super Bowl.  You never know when a great commercial is going to happen.

Cindy Neky
marketingpathways.com






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