Marketing Tactics For Small Business Owners


Owned Earned and Paid

Market like a 21st century business

Marketing tactics brands use to reach consumers have changed from the 20th C. Brands now have Owned, Earned and Paid media to use to share messages and engage their prospective customers. Your small business would be wise to structure your marketing tactics to include each of these in your strategic plan.

Critical to your success is the use a variety of marketing media and tactics. Be sure your marketing:

  • Tells a unique story, not just tries to sell, sell, sell.
  • Uses video. Video is the most consumed content in 2015 and will trend higher in 2016. Google is calling 2016 the year of the video.
  • Has product reviews by users. Reviews and testimonials continue as strong components. If your website sells products, include the ability for your customers to review your products.
  • Online sales continue to rise, so if you sell products and have only bricks and mortar, consider adding an online sales component of the most popular items in your store.

How do these key marketing tactics work for you?

  1. Storytelling and your brand. If you’ve not begun to use the stories native to your brand in your marketing, this finding indicates the power of storytelling with people Need help finding your story? In my recent article on mining your backstory for, I’ve shared five tips on how to use storytelling in the development of your brand. If your brand is tired, or you find people fail to remember the essential benefits of your brand, it’s time to refresh it. Social media which is both an owned and earned medium, is the perfect place for sharing storified elements with your prospective customers.
  2. A video is worth a 1,000 words. We all agree that pictures help us see. So if still images help illustrate, how much more powerful is video? Clearly respondents said it’s important. Do you have videos on either YouTube or Vimeo? If not, why not? Video can be a demo, a how to, a screencast tutorial, or a purpose shot video. It can be created from stills and set to music with voice over. Video has a long shelf life and is both earned and owned, depending on the distribution channel and the virality.
  3. User product reviews. Far from being something to be frightened of, product reviews by users are an authentic, transparent way to allow your potential customers to learn more from the user’s point of view. The days of one-way marketing speak are done. Social media is the perfect channel to allow user reviews to be shared. In fact, This holiday season, 34% of holiday shoppers will read reviews using their mobile devices during shopping and more mobile devices are used to access social media every day. In Facebook, you can promote posts on your Facebook page that are testimonials, gaining increased traction. Recent data demonstrate that brands using both paid and non paid posts within Facebook are gaining increased engagement.
  4. In-store experiences. Face it, you don’t shop Costco only for the bargains. I won’t go on Saturday because of the crowds who choke the aisles as they cluster around the food demonstrators. If you’re a consumer packaged brand, you must use in-store demos to give buyers a chance to taste your product. But non CPG brands can also provide in-store demos. Sometimes we call them special events or open houses. If you’re a retail fashion store, casual modeling is a great way to demonstrate how you envision your customers wearing the fashions you sell. From cosmetics to cucumbers in the Farmer’s Market, there are ways to allow customers to taste, touch, and feel the items you have for sale. If you are an online only brand, think local partners to demonstrate in a town. Use alliances to get your products out front.

Pull, not push, show don’t tell, intrigue not scream

These days a wise business owner understands that there are many paths to the consumer, but the best path is the one that the consumer creates to get to you.  Consumers respond to authentic stories and brands that others like and talk about. And consumers are more frugal than ever so they want to understand through first hand experience what they will get when they purchase your product. Integrate these tactics into your marketing plan for greater success.

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Public Relations Advice: Contrition and Confession–Recovering from a Disaster


Public relations crisis management means planning for disaster as well as recovery

When your enterprise or organization falls short, you can recover. However, recovery depends on an accurate appraisal of your faults and weaknesses.

When Penn State suffered a horrible crisis, they learned from the Freeh report which addressed all the problems that led to the child abuse at Penn State. The scathing report spared no one. How did the organization recover?

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View video from NBC News.

In Christianity, we are urged to confess our sins. Almost every church and belief system has a process or ritual to allow it’s believers to redeem themselves, whether transgressions were committed willingly or through negligence.

1 John 1:9
New International Version (NIV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

How can an organization do as the Apostle John directs? It’s almost as simple as John writes.

For most of the world, if we confess or bring to light how and where we went astray or had policies and systems that were not solid, we can recover as long as we clearly chart a path in the light of day. The organization’s leaders must signal their true desire to mend their ways, and undertake new practices to prevent similar situations in the future. Kenneth Frazier the Penn State trustee speaking in the video above states,

“…with  a mixture of humility and steadfastness, we pledge to work closely and cooperatively with the adminsitration in diligently facilitating open communication across all departments and levels of the university that will be for the benefit of the children that are on our campus and it will also be for the benefit of every part of the university.”

It is this kind of public admission of directional change that leads to trust in the recovery efforts.

Steps to recovering after a public relations crisis:

  1. Quickly acknowledge the crisis and sincerely express sympathy for all involved, harmed or hurt during the crisis.
  2. Cooperate with law enforcement. (Yes, you must listen to your lawyers, and you also must be responsible citizens. And you can do both.)
  3. Address the causes of the crisis and how the organization is working to correct the issues that led to the situation.
  4. Have subject matter experts prepared to speak topically to specific items and discuss what happened and how it can be changed.
  5. Keep the public informed about what the organization is doing to recover and assist victims.
  6. Form a panel of individuals to analyze the situation and formulate changes to prevent future similar crises from occurring.
  7. If the crisis is deep rooted, make sure the panel is comprised of outside experts who have no stated or hidden loyalties to the organization, but are instead experts in the specific issues.
  8. Publish the findings in the pure light of day.
  9. Follow the steps outlined in the findings to change processes, procedures, and planning to prevent future crises of this type.
  10. Provide ongoing updates to the public reporting on the steps taken.

Recovery is possible

Human beings are forgiving, for the most part. If your organization is truthful, mends ways, seeks to prevent future crises and demonstrates the leaders’ conviction to prevent similar situations, leaders can restore the organization to strength. It won’t be easy, it won’t be swift, but it can be done.


Photo credit: flickr creative commons user emilio labrador

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Ten spot-on ways to develop articles for your business blog

blogging ideas when you're stuck

If you are writing a blog for your business, you need to stay focused on the goals you set when you decided to begin. Frequent reasons for blogging include: demonstrating your firm’s experience and capabilities and enhancing search engine results by providing consumers or buyers with the right information at the right time.

When you’ve been blogging a while, you may find you’re stagnant or fresh out of ideas. These ten ideas will help you write interesting blog posts even when your creative muse has gone on vacation.

  1. Look to the news of the day; are there any major news items that impact some aspect of your business’ core competencies? If so, write about how and why. Google News has a robust search feature which allows you to hone in on your most significant keywords.
  2. Look to your interactions with your clients. Did you have any “teachable moments” or interactions in the past few days that you feel are common and which, when shared, can provide learning opportunities? If yes, write about those moments; be sure to keep the names of those you mention and identifying comments discrete. You don’t want to embarrass your clients or yourself.
  3. Write about some of the “basics” of your business. It is always good to refresh yourself on core competencies and share fresh insights as to why these basics are so important.
  4. Write about management issues affecting your business. Each business has issues that are common to them all and often generalize to others in the industry.
  5. Look to trends in your industry and analyze how one of them may affect clients in your industry.
  6. If your blog is client facing, write about new developments that are sure to produce results for them. Tell why.
  7. Invite another industry / sector expert to be a guest blogger. They can write about their insights into key issues in your industry.
  8. Share a client success story (with permission of course.) Tell why they succeeded and if you were a part of that success, help readers see how and why the client succeeded.
  9. Share a major learning experience; an Ah-ha moment. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be bullet proof…just healed. So say how and why you got insight that helped you redirect.
  10. Share information about your colleagues or employees or even new staff member news, awards and competencies. I would even suggest having one of your employees write a guest post. Invite them to share some of their personality and talents they bring to working with you.

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Strategic Blogging for Business

Blogging and content marketing are powerful tools in your public relations and marketing strategy.

To help you learn how blogging can benefit your business, we’re sharing our presentation covering the basics.

Feel free to share it with others and let us know if your organization would like us to present a customized workshop for you.

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Holiday Communications for Your Business

Holiday graphics for Bright Partner Christmas holiday communications for Bright Partner

Bright-Partner-Christmas-holiday communications

For our client Bright Partner, we created a variety of holiday designs incorporating the firm’s logo with embellishments.

Holiday communications sent by your firm should reflect your brand as well as send greetings. At the close of the calendar year, people of various cultures celebrate a variety of holidays which move our focus from work to home and family. Often firms thank their clients and customers for their patronage in the previous year. Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule (Midwinter) or other festival time, you may wish to visually represent your celebrations in graphic terms that accompany your communications.

Use seasonal symbols

Every festival has it’s own symbols and colors: For Chanukah, you will frequently see blue, silver and white. For Christmas, red, green and gold, for Kwanzaa black, red and green. For Yule, red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.


2014-All Seasons-Merry-Christmas-Eblast

For All Seasons Mulch holiday email to clients, we incorporated an illustration of ornaments selected for the use of all colors of the All Season’s logo.

Many businesses choose to create holiday greetings using menorahs, candelabras, garlands, shiny ornaments, trees, wreaths and stars, each a symbol of the holiday. Some send customized holiday greeting cards via the post, some may choose more contemporary digital messages, and some may send gifts.  We have also used digital messages to share a review of the year and promote our clients.

For Business Success Dynamics we created a customized greeting using the company’s logo colors.


Business Success Dynamics Shirlie Taylor Holiday Card Image

It’s simple to look online for customized holiday cards, but then your design is exactly like some other firms. I’ve worked at offices in the past where we received the same card from different firms, with only the signature being different. These days, you do so much to set your firm apart, would you agree that it is wise to do the same with your holiday greetings?

In 2012 we created this digital holiday card to share with our clients.

2011-Christmas-holiday communications to clients

Trying to figure out how to say thank you to your clients this holiday season? If you need holiday design assistance give us a call. We can customize a holiday greeting for digital or printed use.

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