Wednesday, October 31, 2012

End of Year Marketing Strategies

The holiday shopping season, which once began shortly after Thanksgiving, has steadily crept forward until Santa often arrives accompanied by the Great Pumpkin. The Hay Group reports that 42% of retailers will begin their promotion blitz in October, well before Black Friday. Sometimes it’s difficult to know just when you should kick off your year-end campaign and the best way to do it, but if you haven’t moved that direction yet, don’t panic – Plan! Here are some quick tips to get you started.

1.  Start Now.

Look backward to see what items or promotions have worked best for you in the past and then look at the weeks between now and the end of the year to plan a series of promotions that tap into those strengths. What products have the best saleability this season? Could you host in-store events that will attract foot traffic? How can you use your web site to maximize exposure? Make a list, grab a calendar, and start sketching out your holiday plan to include several distinct promotions that highlight an event or products.

2.  Be Strategic.

What things do you need to do to ensure success? Have you ordered enough merchandise? Do you have good pictures and descriptions of your holiday items? How long should each distinct promotion last? How far ahead should you send out your email post card or newsletter? When will you write the articles and plan newsletter elements? Don’t put off making these decisions or taking care of details. A few extra minutes spent in planning and preparation now will provide valuable breathing space during the press of holiday stress. Check with your vendors to make sure you’ll have what you need when you want it; Write articles and product spotlights now so that they are readily available for each email newsletter or postcard. 

3.  Give your Series a Theme.

Use the same holiday template and theme (Twelve Days of Christmas Cheer; A Season of Savings, etc.) on each communication to create consistency, provide recognition, and save you time, but feature a different promotion (Make-n-take night) or product (one day only). As soon as customers open your email, they’ll look for the current offering. Be sure to let them know early enough that they have time to plan to attend your event.

4.  Focus on Service.

You may not be able to match the big box prices, but you can overshadow them by providing the services people seek. Offer services that appeal to a range of customers. Gift cards or unique gift packs help make selection easier for those unfamiliar with your product but who are buying for people who love it. Free gift wrapping or inexpensive wrapping provided by a service organization removes one more thing from a busy mother’s to-do list. Make-n-Take classes or festive special events with holiday goodies and music attract those who enjoy being immersed in the holiday spirit. Other popular items are free shipping, overnight or express delivery, a customer-friendly return policy, and online pick and pull so their order is ready when they arrive.

5. Share the Joy.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Involve your employees in your plans and have them encourage walk-in customers to sign up for the newsletter to learn about each week’s special.

Yes, the holiday season is already upon us, but there is still ample time to magnify the possibilities with a good marketing plan….and Email Contact!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Email Marketing for This Economy

Today’s economy continues to emphasize a need of high returns for minimal investment. Most marketing avenues available come with a big price tag. We’re happy to provide an alternative that boasts big gains with minimal investment - Email marketing. 

In short, Email marketing is a tool to reach out to your current customer base as well as potentially reach new customers in the form of a newsletter. It’s fast, easy and inexpensive.

Don’t think you have the time? Think again. It’s never been easier. With the help of Email Contact the hardest part is already done for you! No need to worry about formatting, managing emails or making it look great. All you have to do is generate some content and fill in the blanks.

If you’ve had a hard time making time, you’re not alone. Scott of says:
“I've had an account with Email Contact for a couple years now but for a long time I didn't use it as often as I would have liked. As a small business, there are so many things that occupy my time, I probably would only send an email once every 3 or 4 months. I recently started utilizing it more often as I have read studies and talked to other small business owners that have said once a week is the best practice, even if it's just a quick little email with some news or updates about what you have to offer. The idea is that you want to stay fresh on the minds of your customers so if and when they are ready to order something, you stand out in their minds. So now it is my Tuesday night ritual to put together a little email with special offers that vary from week to week and other fun things like drawings, contests and new photo submissions to our wall of fame. Because I have been utilizing Email Contact weekly, I've become much more familiar with how to use it and it has become super easy and user friendly. I would highly recommend this service to any business owner looking to get an edge on their market.” - Scott J.,
Gail, of Woolylady agrees about the importance of keeping your business in front of your customers on a regular basis.
"Email Contact is simply one of the best (and most economical) marketing tools we've found! The newsletter templates are fantastic, the program is very easy to use, and the results are instant and very positive. One of the basic keys to success in the business world is to look professional and keep your name in front of potential customers. It takes us about 15 minutes to write, design and send an e-mail newsletter to thousands of people through Email Contact, and the cost for the service is minimal. What's not to love about that?" - Gail Gilson Pierce, Woolylady
Not only is email marketing a great way to reach customers, it’s also a great way to maintain that customer base you’ve already worked so hard for. You’ve invested a great deal into finding customers, let email marketing help you keep them! Regular contact from you will help customers feel connected and informed with your business. Don’t lose those customers you’ve already invested so much in.

Roseann Kermes shares the many reasons why she uses Email contact:
Rosebud's Cottage
“I've been using email contact for longer than I can remember! I find that my posts go out quickly compared to the service I had been using before. The program is affordable - I don't have to pay extra if I go over an allotted number of posts each month. I also like that I can put my customers in a variety of lists. It lets me communicate with just a class group or my entire list of customers. The templates are fun to use and I always find something that suits my mood. Email Contact has great customer service as well. They are easy to work with when I have something I don't understand and don't talk down to me over speak over my head. I can't imagine using any other service and recommend it to other businesses looking for a good program for communicating with their customers.” - Roseann Kermes, Rosebud's Cottage
Think about it, emails are sent immediately and they can generate results in minutes, making email marketing both effective and inexpensive. Few business tools can offer so much for so little. What are you waiting for?

Share your comments below...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Learning to Succeed

Everyone wants to find success in their work. We all strive to have our efforts rewarded. In the industry of marketing, weʼve recently covered several tips and suggestions for achieving success in your email newsletters.

In lesson one, we discussed the need for structure. To hit a target, it must first be seen. Taking time to draw up that target is not unlike creating blueprints for a building. It is a critical first step to see beyond the immediate task to the great picture of how it all works together.

In lesson two, we shared the importance of being useful. This step requires a lot of research and questioning on what you are providing. How that product is unique, useful and of value to those you wish to reach with your newsletter.
Lesson three provided direction on being clear. Clutter is easily accomplished, especially with writing. It is important to take time to clarify and hone in on the message you wish to convey.

In lesson four, we discussed the value of convenience and how important it is to find and maintain a balance between providing meaningful information and keeping things simple.

In lesson five the importance of creating a work worthy of reading was introduced. The word is estimable and the focus was putting the needs and considerations of your readers first to produce a work that is honorable.

Lesson six talked on the need for efficiency. Taking time to work through the material and organize it into manageable sections is critical to providing a work that reflects doing everything the best possible way.

Finally, we reached the wrap up element of being definitive. When all the other steps are included, creating a work that is complete comes into focus. The key is to create something beyond the ordinary through work and effort.

And now we see the results:

S - Structured
U - Useful
C - Clear 
E - Estimable
E - Efficient

Seven steps to help you succeed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Succeed being Definitive

Itʼs time to wrap up this series by adding definitive to the list of ideas for great email marketing.

Letʼs start with what you want your marketing campaign to be: complete, absolute, ultimate, supreme. Each of these words are synonyms for definitive. Clearly, this is one direction you want your newsletter to go.

A few simple questions can help you in your quest to create a definitive work.

  • Is my writing complete?
  • Is my writing reliable?
  • Is my writing authoritative?

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine
perspiration." - Thomas Edison
Every good work starts with an idea. Like the light bulb, the idea comes together with other elements within a framework that provides a final result of definitive proportions. And like Edison, the writer must expend a great deal of perspiration to arrive at excellence. In short, this is the difference weʼre describing. Anyone can write, but the point is to produce something truly excellent. Edison tested thousands of options for filaments before finding the best. Did you know he moved beyond just success at finding a filament that burned (for less than 40 hours) until he produced a bulb that could glow for over 1500 hours? Thatʼs the difference weʼre talking about. He summed it up best when he said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

The elements of your light bulb include the other tips covered in this series. If youʼve taken time to focus on structure followed by providing information that is useful, clear, convenient, estimable and efficient you have everything you need to make your work definitive.

The next time you sit down to write your newsletter, think about that light bulb. Take your work beyond the bounds of what works into the realms of definitive enlightenment.

Other articles in this series:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Succeed being Efficient

Weʼre adding efficient to our growing list of ideas for creating success in email marketing. This is a great addition to structure, usefulness, clarity, convenience and estimable.

The word efficient is an adjective, a description word. It can, and should be put in front of every word weʼve already discussed. It means to do everything the best way possible. When efficiency is a factor, waste of time and effort are minimized. And who doesnʼt want that?

While learning to be proficient is an individual process, there are a few basic steps that can really help you develop the skill.
  • First, organize and review.
  • Next, plan an organizational blueprint.
  • Finally, stay focused.

Compare these steps to working on a puzzle. When you open the box and dump out the contents, the first thing you have to do is flip over the pieces to see what you have to work with. Itʼs also a smart idea to keep the cover handy so you can see what youʼre working for. The wise puzzle lover makes their next move one of organization and planning. They separate edge pieces from the rest, enabling them to put together the frame of the puzzle with greater ease. With the frame built, filling in the details becomes more manageable. They continue the process of organizing pieces and work at their placement until everything fits. The key difference between the amateur and expert is their focus and practice.

This is the pattern to follow. You evaluate all your data and resources, organize it and create a framework, then work on filling it. One of the real tricks is realizing you have to take time to make time. That means, you have to take time to do the menial and organizational steps in order to speed your progress later. In short, you become more efficient. Most people try to cut corners to save time and wind up losing more than they gained, hence the saying “Haste makes waste.” So take time to lay out that puzzle youʼre working on. Keep your eye on the prize and your hands on task. Now, youʼre on the path to becoming efficient.

Other articles in this series:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Succeed being Estimable

So far in the series weʼve talked about the importance of structure, usefulness, clarity and convenience. If youʼve spent any time focusing on these points while compiling your email marketing campaign and newsletters, youʼre ready to see some results of how youʼve made your material estimable.

The worthy goal of having your work be estimable is, simply put, to create something reputable or honorable.

Try this exercise. Think of some published works (anything in print) and identify whether they are worthy of respect. By way of natural deduction, youʼve probably already identified several that are not as well. Look over your list of those deemed honorable and those not. What separates the two? What identifiers stood out that caused judgement one way or the other? Your answers are your guide.

Let me add to your list of considerations the word charming. At first this may seem odd, perhaps even a bit quaint - a charming newsletter you may ask. But if you truly understand charm you canʼt help but make the association. You see, the simplest definition of charm is bringing out the best in others. And that is what your newsletterʼs end game should be.

Thinking of others and how to bring out the best in them
unlocks potential. It is the catalyst for action; the very
path to making something estimable.
Letʼs put this into a visual example. Picture in your mind a beautiful jewelry box, very ornate and detailed. It taunts you with the possibility of treasures within. You donʼt just want the box, you want whatʼs inside it too. Now think of your newsletter. It is the jewelry box. Youʼve spent a great deal of time creating it, detailing it and filling it with items of value for your recipient. But did you remember to give them a key to open it?

Charm is the key to your box. Thinking of others and how to bring out the best in them unlocks potential. It is the catalyst for action; the very path to making something estimable. It inspires one to reach new heights, to stretch abilities and expound on possibilities for growth.

Forget generals - general audiences, general topics, general mediocrity. Start thinking specifics. Think of individuals, their needs and their potential. This is the way to estimable success.

Other articles in this series:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Succeed being Convenient

In our succeed series thus far, weʼve covered the importance of being structured, useful and clear. Itʼs time to talk about the necessity of being convenient.

Sometimes looking at things backwards is a great way to define what you want. In determining how to make your email marketing convenient, letʼs start with a definition of the opposite; inconvenience.

When you think of the word inconvenience, a pretty clear image comes to mind. But take it one step further by adding these definitive words to your understanding: discomfort, nuisance, bother, trouble, annoy, disturb, harass.

That sounds far too familiar in the world of marketing. Just ask any person whoʼs received a couple solicitation phone calls. Sadly, itʼs far too likely that all of us have personal experience with the concept of being inconvenienced. These are definitely terms and feelings you want to avoid with your marketing. So letʼs look at this from your reader and customerʼs point of view.

To avoid bothering, annoying and harassing your clients, think for a moment on how to flip that. Your goal should be to find ways your message fits in well with a personʼs needs, activities or plans. It should involve little trouble or effort on their part. If youʼve been following the series, youʼre already on the right track because these are the very principles weʼve already discussed. Setting yourself a plan, determining how what you can provide is both useful and clear are the keys to making your message a convenient one. But thatʼs not enough. You must also consider other factors here, like frequency and length.

Dress up that bland dish with some spice!
How often will you be sending your marketing material? You may want to start by asking yourself how often you would want to receive the type of material you are sending. Finding a balance between too little and too much is critical. And what of length? Well, thereʼs an old adage for that: “Your material should be like a womanʼs skirt, long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting.” If you find your content running long, consider breaking it up over several mailings. Another great option for adding variety and cutting down length is to diversify delivery. A simple coupon or thank you discount goes a long way. Think of these tactics as your seasoning in cooking. Dress up that bland dish with some spice!

Empower yourself and your business by taking time to think on making your email marketing a convenient one. A little consideration will do much for your campaign and your clients will appreciate your efforts.

Other articles in this series: