Outlook 2021 – #1 in a series for Realtors, Commercial Brokers and Delivery Services

A crisis can be clarifying – be the leader.

What a customer is thinking when they see this sign:
And? What are you offering me if you are closed? Delivery? Good health or thanks? Tell me what’s next – do not waste this opportunity to communicate!

Does it seem like too much of corporate America is just stuck?  Still telling us they are trying and how hard it is for them? 

I keep waiting for some company to grab this opportunity by the throat and take advantage of the huge opportunities right in front of them.

During this quarantine and all that this virus has brought with it – marketers have a first-row seat to guide clients and their organization on how to flip this whole narrative on its back and taking over as a leader of what is to come.

Like what for instance?  Here are three quick ideas for 3 industries… more to come in future blogs.

Realtors – the paradigm has shifted, again.  With full-time in-home living and time to analyze and talk about future needs… here are some conclusions buyers are coming to:

  • Families are looking for new homes that have features previously considered to be for retirees.  As one parent of 3 elementary school children told me “if we have learned one thing during this quarantine our retirement is going to look a lot like this, minus the kids.  Our dream house is starting to look like our yesterday home.  We are thinking of a whole new way of living, and that to us means a house we can grow old in.”
  • Professionals are realizing work from home is absolutely their future, and the 9 to 5/Monday through Friday schedule will be gone too.  That means that offices in quiet sections of the home, with doors and a view of the outdoors will be high priorities.  In this case, the office priority might change the open concept mantra, and mean a bigger home.
  • Deliveries will mean adaptations and structural changes too.  Secure delivery areas, maybe even a refrigeration delivery area.  That means technology for notifications and security rise up in the features of the next home for many buyers.

Commercial Real Estate Brokers – you have been selling the same thing with a similar message for decades.  Location and square feet are just not going to be enough anymore.  You need to sell innovation and trust – why should I go to an office or a brick and mortar store when I do not need to?  The shopping experience was gone long before this pandemic and offices have simply not kept up with what the worker wants.

Change your story now.  Tell me why I should want to come to your location- have you updated the air systems to improve air quality?  Have you made it easier or better for me to come to work or shop?  How are you showing me you care if I am here?  For too many years I would have been glad if someone acknowledged I was even in their store – yes this customer matters more than repositioning that mannequin.

Do you know in Asia businessmen want to have offices near their children’s school and near medical facilities – families matter.  What is your location near?  Where is their beauty and nature?  How is your wi-fi and where are places to eat? 

Delivery services – right now you are the most impersonal, personal service possible.  No personalization of what we are ordering or when. From your website to the person who drops off the goods and hauls back to their delivery van – there is a different person every time.  No communication.  You are all looking the same, and more of a necessity than a choice. 

Do you want us to keep using your services?  Then build a connection!  Even a note of thanks in with the delivery, a small sample of something new you sell and some form of uniformity with your drivers and delivery people so you have brand recognition. 

There are much bigger ideas, but these are easy to implement, practically free and the window of opportunity for you is closing.

Big flashing light – use this time to think ahead and use what has been presented. All consumers want the same thing – to think it mattered that they chose your services, chose you as their Realtor or worked/shopped in your location. 

The opportunities are here, they are big, they are a pivot to a new mind set. You are ready for this – you can be the leader instead of a loser.

You Have 20 Seconds …Use These Techniques in 2020

This applies to everything — meeting someone new at an event, a post on social media or a cold call to someone you want to connect with.

If the first 20 seconds of your communication is all about you or your products and services, maybe it’s time for a rethink. Why is that? Why do we consider the opening part of the call to be the most important?

The best advice comes from professionals who do it every single day.  This advice from mtd Sales Training Specialists focuses on sales and how to start off on the right foot. Here’s what they shared about the first 20 seconds of an initial call.

This is outstanding advice whether you are trying to gain the interest of a journalist, a new client, an event producer or anyone who doesn’t yet know why they need you!

Think: What state or frame of mind is my prospect in when I call?

Think: What might they have been doing the moment before they took my call?

Think: What do they need to hear in the first 15 to 20 seconds that will at least make them listen to me for a further 15-20 seconds?

Whatever your answers, I doubt whether they included anything about being pushed towards a product or service they aren’t using at present.

What can you do, then, to lengthen this first call?

Of course, you grab their attention and interest by talking, not about you, but about them or something that can help them.

That first 15-20 seconds is golden time because it can make or break the next few minutes of the call.

You need to make it personal and specific to your market, but it should sound something like this:

“Hi, this is Bill Smith with Acme Widgets. Reason I’m calling is we recently helped a company in the (customer’s) industry increase their sales by 10% while reducing their marketing spend by the same amount. I wanted to see if we might be able to do the same for you.”

Now you’re talking about them. You’re talking about results. You’re asking if those kind of results would interest your prospect

When you talk about results, that is what the buyer would really be interested in.

It makes them curious and allows you to go into more detail as they are intrigued with what this might be about.

Of course, you need to be honest and truthful. Don’t lie about figures just to get an appointment.

You’re setting expectations that can’t be met if you do, and that will only cause more problems in the long run.

Did you notice that you didn’t mention your products or services in that first part of the conversation? It’s not relevant or necessary.

What you need to do is build their interest to know more.

You may have heard about the ‘AIDA’ principle before. That acronym stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Many salespeople go straight to their product pitch early on in the call because they are frightened of refusal or they think the product will sell itself. It won’t.

In any type of marketing, it’s important to get the prospect’s attention straight away. Without doing so, you risk the prospect saying they aren’t interested.

As the acronym states, you can’t build interest until you have grabbed attention. If they reply early with ‘I’m not interested’, it’s because you haven’t attracted attention first.

Think about when you go to the cinema. What comes on before the main feature? That’s right, trailers for upcoming attractions.

Filmmakers do that to grab your attention and build your interest for what’s to come. Treat your call like a ‘teaser’ or ‘trailer’ for what’s to come.

Just as you wouldn’t start off on a journey without knowing your end destination, think about what the end destination of your call needs to be. You’ll then realise that the opening of the call is the most important part.

So, talk about results and solutions, not products.

7 spam words to avoid in email marketing (and why)

#4 was the big surprise to me as I read this piece from EMMA the email marketing platform. Below you will see they not only list the spam words that cause your emails to be rejected, but why.

As a marketer, there’s so much on your mind every single day.

Not only do you need to worry about creating content that converts, you need to ensure that your emails are also accessible and GDPR compliant.

And … there’s another concern that all email marketers have: avoiding the email spam folder.

Ending up in the spam folder is basically a waste of the time and effort you expend to put together an awesome email campaign. Not only that, but it can also damage your online reputation. After all, no legitimate company would send spam emails, right?

Actually, it happens more often than you might think. You’ll find that there are many reasons why your emails might end up in your subscribers’ spam folder, but one of the most common is spam words in email.

In this post, we’ll share why certain words can get you tagged as spam and which ones to start avoiding like the plague.

Why certain words can land you in the dreaded spam folder.

The most common place to use spam words in email is in the subject line. However, if you use these words throughout the body of your content, you could still be flagged—especially if you are using other practices that make your emails appear spammy.

Spam filters are a great way for people to protect themselves from unwanted junk email or even harmful emails.

Spam filters definitely have their place. Unfortunately for email marketers, these filters can target emails that aren’t even remotely close to spam.

Spam words in email—even if it’s a perfectly legitimate email that people have signed up for—can land you in the spam folder. These are words commonly used to grab people’s attention and either excite them or scare them into action.

In 2018, three million people reported scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Of those, 25% had been scammed out of money—nearly $1.5 billion (yes, billion) had been lost to scammers.

Both the young and not-so-young were targeted.

Both the young and not-so-young were targeted.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Scam artists use a variety of means to take money from their victims, including the telephone, snail mail, and email.

Fortunately, email filters have helped to reduce some of the more blatant scammers out there. What’s not so great is that your marketing email can end up stuck in the spam folder with the scammers just because of the words used in the email.

Again, these words are used to entice people into taking action, which is the purpose of email marketing in the first place. However, there’s a way to motivate your audience without sounding like a spambot.


Words you should use carefully, or avoid using at all costs.

Here are our top 7 spam words in email that can get you into trouble. Avoid using them and you’ll not only stay out of your subscribers’ spam folder, you’ll actually improve the overall quality of your email content.

1. Dear Friend

Un-personalized emails are one of the first indicators of spam. You’re probably 99% sure you don’t know who is sending you an email when you receive one that simply says, “hi” or something like “dear friend.”

Even if you sent an email this way and it passed through the spam filter unscathed, that doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal.

Personalization is one of the keys of a successful email marketing campaign. You want each person in your audience to feel like you are writing specifically to them.

First of all, it’s just a courteous, professional thing to do. Second, you have to remember that your audience is always wondering “what’s in it for me.” If you can’t even take the steps to personalize an email, your subscribers are probably going to wonder why they should invest their time, attention, and eventually, their money in your company.

Takeaway: Always use your subscribers’ name if at all possible. Personalization is key.

2. Click here

Another phrase on the list of our top spam words in email is “click here.” When it comes to spam and scams, this phrase is a huge red flag. Millions of people have clicked where they shouldn’t have and ended up with a computer virus or losing money.

But isn’t “click here” a call to action? Yes, it is, but it’s not a call to action you want to use. Instead, use a call to action that tells your subscriber what will happen when they click your call to action button.

  • Pre-order
  • Take our survey
  • Read more
  • Learn more
  • Subscribe
  • Contact us
  • Schedule an appointment.

Takeaway: Calls to action are imperative to the success of your email campaign. However, you want to avoid using the click-bait call to action of “click here” and guide your potential customers to take a specific form of action.

3. Free

The word “free” is completely enticing. After all, who doesn’t love a deal, especially one that results in little-to-no money being laid down?

Unfortunately, this is a word that a lot of spammers tend to use.

This isn’t to say that you can’t use it at all. Using it once or twice in the entire body of your email copy is not a big deal, and it’s a great motivator for your audience.

With this word, remember that a little dash will do. Overwhelm the content of your email with it and you’ll definitely end up in the spam folder.  

Takeaway: If you have a free offer, make sure you don’t go overboard with your use of this word. Use it sparingly and you’ll avoid being tagged as spam.

4. Re: or Fwd:

When you think of spam words in email, you might not think of “Re:” and “Fwd:” because these are actions people actually take with their email on a daily basis.

Source: Pinterest

When you think of spam words in email, you might not think of “Re:” and “Fwd:” because these are actions people actually take with their email on a daily basis. It’s definitely not uncommon to forward a cool email to a friend or reply to an email that someone sent you.

Spammers know this, which is why they use these words so frequently.

“Fwd:” and “Re:” are used so often that when people see an email with this subject line, they almost always automatically open their email.

Avoid using these words unless you’re actually replying to an email conversation with one of your subscribers. Using them simply to increase your open rate is dishonest.

Takeaway: Avoid “Fwd:” and “Re:” unless you’re actually replying to an email from a reader.

5. Great offer

This is another one of those phrases that scammers know people are intrigued by—just as they are with the word “free.”

Again, use these types of phrases as you would salt—sparingly. It is also good to avoid using it in the subject line, just to be safe.

Takeaway: When using anything pertaining to spending money (free, great offer), make sure to lightly sprinkle the words throughout your email. Avoid stuffing the words in your email or using them in the subject line.

6. Guarantee

Who doesn’t love a guarantee, especially if the guarantee is related to getting money back or achieving some fantastic results?

Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to guarantee anything. “Results may vary” may seem cliché but it is the absolute truth.

Scammers know that the word “guarantee” feels like a security blanket to many people, though, so they use it often.

You can avoid false advertising, disappointing your readers, ruining your online reputation, and ending up in the spam folder by avoiding the word “guarantee.”

Takeaway: Can you really guarantee anything? If you’re not 100% positive it’s possible, avoid using this word in your emails.

7. Risk-free

“Risk-free” is often used in conjunction with “guarantee,” especially by spammers and scammers. It conjures similar feelings as the word “guarantee,” which is why it’s one of the most popular spam words in email.

Saying anything is “risk-free” is the same as offering a guarantee to your readers. If you can’t offer that, then don’t say your product/service is risk-free.

Takeaway: “Risk-free” is yet another spam email phrase. If you’re tempted to use it, ask yourself if you can 100% guarantee that what you’re offering is risk-free. If you can’t, don’t add this phrase to your email.

Honorable mentions…

Here are just a few more things to add to your “do not insert” list for future email campaigns.

  • Anything with a character: !$#&%
  • ALL CAPS SUBJECT LINES
  • Discount
  • Big bucks
  • Extra income
  • Fast cash
  • Apply now
  • Don’t hesitate
  • Explode your business
  • Join millions
  • This is not spam.

Wrap up

Using spam words in email is a sure way to send your emails straight into your subscribers’ spam folders. The following words should be used sparingly or not at all in your future campaigns.

  • Dear friend
  • Click here
  • Free
  • Fwd: or Re:
  • Great offer
  • Guarantee
  • Risk-free

Avoiding these words will help protect your reputation, as well as the time, effort, and money you put into your email marketing campaigns.

Sometimes it is simple; sometimes you need a role model

Richard Branson’s “Five rough guidelines for creating a successful business” stopped me in my tracks this morning as it is one of the best summaries I have seen.

Pay special attention to #5.

After five decades in business, I’m often asked if there is a shortcut to success. Unfortunately there isn’t — or if there is, I haven’t found it yet. Creating a successful and profitable business takes time, since you build your reputation as customers learn to trust and rely on you, one by one. 

Richard Branson

Image from John Armstrong Photography

Also, there’s no guarantee that spending a huge amount of money on marketing will slingshot your business forward. If you spend your time looking for shortcuts, you will find one — right out of business. 

While there are no set rules for succeeding in business, I have embraced some rough guidelines that can be very helpful:

1. Create a useful product or service

Image from Virgin Orbit

Above all else, you should not go into business purely for financial reasons. Running a company involves long hours and hard decisions; if you don’t have a better reason than money to keep going, your business will more than likely fail, as many new businesses do.

So it’s important to create something of use that is going to benefit society as a whole. If you do something you truly care about, you will be in a much better position to find customers, connect with them, and keep them coming back. 

Once you have decided on the type of product or service that interests you, focus on how to do things differently from the competition: Do your research, find a gap or an area ripe for innovation, and position your business in a way that sets it apart. 

2. Simplify your message

richard_branson_taking_notes_-_image_by_john_armstrong_photography.jpg

Image by John Armstrong Photography

Customers don’t just shop for a brand and its products, but also identify with its core values. Ask yourself, why did I start my business? Be honest – this will help you establish an authentic value and voice. Then break your message into something simple.

At Virgin, we stand for great customer service, good value and innovative alternatives to our competitors’ offerings. Most importantly, we view business as a force for good. Knowing who we are and what we stand for ensures that we don’t waste time or money on messaging that doesn’t represent us or resonate with our customers. 

3.  Market yourself

Richard holding his daughter Holly as he celebrates launching Virgin Atlantic

Image from Virgin.com

 Marketing is a powerful tool, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. My mentor, Sir Freddie Laker, a man who had started a company to challenge British Airways on their home turf, gave me some invaluable advice when I was starting up Virgin Atlantic. Knowing that we couldn’t match the more established airlines in terms of marketing budget, he encouraged me to drive the publicity myself: “Use yourself. Make a fool of yourself. Otherwise you won’t survive.” 

I took his advice and I’ve been thinking up fun ways to stand out from the crowd and draw the media’s attention to our company ever since, from breaking world records to pulling pranks. 

While I’ve always been interested in sports and physical challenges, that might not be the route for you. Find your tone, know your brand, do things your own way, and create waves. The free advertising will follow.   

4. Embrace social media

Image by Owen Buggy

Tools like Twitter and Facebook are wonderful ways to get your message out to a wide audience. Social media is not only more cost-efficient than advertising, but it also offers great opportunities for innovative engagement with your customers. Use it to your advantage.

Remember that there is a difference between selling and marketing. In my experience, selling a product through social media doesn’t always work – it’s better to simply communicate with your customers in an authentic way and have fun. As you build an online profile that people can identify with and trust, you’ll find that they will soon become customers. 

The feedback you receive on social media can be invaluable, especially when your business is just starting out. Listen to your customers’ comments about your company’s offerings to gain an understanding of what you are doing right and wrong. You can also use this feedback to sharpen your social campaigns and measure the effectiveness of your calls to action. 

5. Keep on enjoying what you do

Image from Virgin

If you genuinely love and believe in what you do, others will take notice and share your enthusiasm. 

If you find your interest flagging, it’s time to make a change — switch from operations to management, move on, expand into new territories, anything that interests you. To find success, you need to be fully committed or your work will show it.

Designing Future Business – Hire a PR Pro To Curate Your Unique POV

With the litany of tasks and costs that come with running a business, should you prioritize hiring professional publicity? What can you expect to get in return? We asked five publicists and designers, and the answer is more concrete than you think (even the publicists told us there is a wrong time to hire them). Here’s exactly how to figure out when it makes sense to hire PR and when it’s better to go it alone.

Hire a publicist when…

You want to tell the story of your business

“As long as there’s a story to tell, we’ll have PR,” says Ari Heckman, founding partner and CEO of ASH. “It’s about brand awareness.” No matter where you are in your career, a publicist’s job is to tell people who you are as a designer. And there’s more at stake than just reputation. Sarah Natkins, head of Camron US, tells AD PRO that PR is key to growing your business and boosting your bottom line. “Building awareness in a smart and strategic way can have a huge impact,” she says. ”If done in the right way, it can help expand a studio, and drive the right business.”

This doesn’t just apply to emerging designers; the right messaging can also help more established firms reach a new clientele. “A great publicist is especially helpful if you’re trying to speak to a particular audience or get the message out about a product you’re creating,” Heckman says.

How will you know when your PR strategy is working? Laura Bindloss, founder of Nylon Consulting, says although everyone’s business goals are different, you should regularly see your name in a variety of publications. “You want a real smattering and you want it consistently,” she says. “You want coverage monthly that can range from quotes to full features, and you want it in a variety of outlets. You want to be positioned as an expert in your field.”

You have a point of view

In order for a publicist to do their best work, Natkins says a designer needs to have a clear brand identity and know who their ideal client is, although they don’t need every detail hammered out. “A good publicist will work with you to help figure this out, and then develop a media strategy that communicates your vision,” she says.

Sarah Barnard, principal at Sarah Barnard Designs (WELL AP, LEED AP), doesn’t currently work with PR, but she credits a previous publicist with encouraging her to craft a specific message and find a niche in the market. Says Barnard, “We really care about a few specific things and those are the things we repeatedly stand on, come back to, and share.”

Bindloss says her firm, Nylon Consulting, wouldn’t take on a client who didn’t have a strong point of view and a professional website. “The first place we’re going to drive people is your website, and if your website isn’t communicating what we’re trying to pitch, there’s no point in paying us because you’re going to lose the customer when they get to your site.”

You have work to show off (and plenty of projects in the pipeline)

Publicists need finished work to publicize, so wait to hire one until you have plenty of projects under your belt and can hit the ground running. “Ideally, you want to hit a critical mass of work,” says Bindloss. “Enough to give a publicist so that they can run for six months with everything you have currently.” Usually, this means between five and 10 projects that are photographed and ready to publish, with several more lined up over the next six to 12 months. Remember, there’s no benefit to paying a monthly retainer until you can fully take advantage of a publicist’s time and expertise.

You’re better off on your own if…

You can’t comfortably float the fee

“Don’t hire a publicist if it’s a cost that’s going to keep you up at night,” says Bindloss. Although fees depend on the scope of the work, she says, it’s usually about the price of hiring a full-time employee. “Don’t think about PR as a monthly retainer but as an annual cost, like you would be bringing head count into the firm.”

Natkins agrees that monthly retainers tend to vary significantly, depending on what that client needs. “A small firm might start in the 6K range, a more established studio could be upwards of 10K, and a large firm with many projects around the world would go up from there,” she says.

If that sounds too spendy for your business right now, it’s probably best to wait until you have the cash to do it right. Publicity really is a “get what you pay for” service, says Heckman. “Probably like anything else in life, working with a publicist is a good idea if you work with a good publicist. I don’t know that it would have any value if you were just to hire anyone.”

You haven’t found someone you really connect with

A publicist can make or break your reputation, so be sure you take the time to find the right person. “Wait until you find someone you really trust,” says Bindloss. “This is someone who represents you to the press, so make sure you’re proud to have them speaking on your behalf.”

Heckman, whose firm, ASH, has been represented by M18 public relations for the past seven years, says they chose to work together because of a similar culture. “Our companies were aligned, both in their history and trajectory, and shared values,” he says. And, he points out, it’s a two-way street. Just as you’re searching for a firm to represent you, most publicists want to sign clients with a similar worldview. “A good firm is not just going to take on a retainer from any client. They realize that their credibility as a mouthpiece for their clients is based on who their collection of clients are.”

In fact, Heckman says, you can use a firm’s current client list as a guide to help evaluate if it’s a good match for you. “Probably one of the best ways that someone can go about identifying which firm they want to work with, is to find a firm with clients who share your vision, growth strategy, and aesthetic.”

You’re happy to multitask

“There is the small road also, for those who have the fortitude to do it,” says Barnard. As the owner of a small design studio, she prefers the grassroots approach over professional PR, because the authenticity is more representative of the actual experience her clients will have. “The primary benefit is I’ve maintained control over how I present myself to the world because it really is me. An overly polished, less personalized, sterile presence wouldn’t be a match for what they [the clients] are getting anyway. That level of refinement is not real.”

And some social butterflies just love the hustle. Gail Davis, principal at Gail Davis Designs, says she loves meeting people at events, and she’s gotten many opportunities by simply striking up a conversation. “You need to be authentically nice to people, not looking to get something, because you never know who will think about you for a job,” she says. “That’s how it has really worked out for me. We can all benefit by helping each other.”

Both designers stress that, especially if you forgo PR, professional photography is something you should never skimp on. “Snapshots on a job site for your Instagram feed—totally,” Barnard says, “but when it comes time to document your finished work, always hire a professional architectural photographers. A filter can only take you so far.” Davis agrees: “Pictures really tell a story and I want to make sure my story comes across clearly, and that person will think, Yes I need to work with her.”

Thanks to Architectural Digest, from their ADPRO online newsletter.

What’s Your Plan? – What ALL Marketers Can Learn From Real Estate Professionals – Part 2

The job of a real estate team doesn’t end when the transaction closes. In fact, that is just the beginning. A thriving real estate business depends on two vital components: repeat clients and referrals.

A few years ago, I was contacted by someone in my sphere of influence to help them find an agent to list their house and represent them on a purchase. I knew who had helped them buy the house they were selling—he is a great guy and a solid real estate agent. I inquired with the client as to why they were not using him again, and I quote what his response was: “He was a great guy and we loved working with him, but we can’t remember his name.” His lack of follow-up cost him approximately $20,000 in business that should have been his—if he had only nurtured the relationship.

If your team does a good job in the transaction, then you should expect to do business with the client again in the future, but only if you continue to nurture the relationship, which means you must stay in touch—forever!

At minimum, a 12-month marketing plan should include some kind of touch every 21 days, and should also include:
  • Birthdays (phone call, video message or a card in the mail)
  • Relationship anniversary (phone call, video message or a card in the mail)
  • Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day (phone call, video message or a card in the mail)
  • Home anniversary (include a reminder about their warranty expiring)
  • Market updates on their home values (annually or biannually)
  • Quarterly phone calls followed up with a handwritten card in the mail

In addition, a high-touch relationship marketing plan should also include, at minimum, one client appreciation event per year. It is recommended that you plan 6-8 events throughout the year where you are getting in front of and face-to-face with your top clients and sphere of influence. Some ideas include holiday open houses, movie events, happy hours, Thanksgiving pie giveaways, photos with Santa, sporting events, bowling parties…the list goes on and on.

Lastly, social media has created a unique opportunity for us to elevate our relationships, so pay attention to what people are sharing—they are begging for someone to make them feel seen, heard and appreciated. I will wrap up by sharing one of my favorite quotes from undoubtedly one of the best saleswomen ever, Mary Kay Ash:

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

Always be looking for ways to connect with your database and you will take your team’s real estate business to a whole new level.

 

I am on hurricane watch right now …

Yes, it’s a fact – as I write this, hoping the power and my internet stay on, the eye of Hurricane Dorian is heading toward Florida. Walt Disney World is closed, the Orlando airport is closed and so are schools, businesses and many others.

Like most publicists when things get serious, we get busy.

Hurricanes and other weather issues, tragedies, unusual circumstances, holidays and other out-of-the-ordinary occurrences are times when our companies and clients need us the most.

Image result for closed due to hurricane sign

Here are a few examples:

  • You are closing when you are usually open, or the reverse (think Black Friday)
  • You have a message for your customers on how to stay safe
Image result for open during hurricane sign
  • Your products or services are essential to help others through (think gas stations, grocery stores, tree trimmers, etc.) and you are available.
  • Times or venues are being changed, but the event is still on. (think sporting events that are held outside )
  • Because of the occurrence you are doing something extraordinary like donating food or fundraising for others in need.
  • You want to reach out to your customers to say you are thinking of them and you care – this outreach can go to your entire audience, but be written for those being affected.
Image result for football game rescheduled
  • Times or venues are being changed, but the event is still on. (think sporting events that are held outside )
  • Because of the occurrence you are doing something extraordinary like donating food or fundraising for others in need.
  • You want to reach out to your customers to say you are thinking of them and you care – this outreach can go to your entire audience, but be written for those being affected.

A PR pro knows how to deploy the message – get it out, reach people who need to know and do it visually and with words chosen to have the right tone, at the right time.

Image result for open during hurricane sign

Members of the media, social media channels, direct communications and every normal communications channel are all pathways to get the message out, and do it right now.

PR tip: Don’t make your drama the focus – unless you have something useful to offer; don’t add to the noise.

But when possible and appropriate, humor is memorable, and how smart of Waffle House to be the one place we all look to for food and information!

Insanely Good Ideas – What ALL Marketers Can Learn From Real Estate Professionals – Part 1

No one has more interaction with a client over a longer period of time, than a real estate professional.  All marketers can learn from them and so in this two-part blog I will share with you the advice they have for growing your business.

Some of these tips may be ones you have done for years, others could be new and worthwhile, take a look and let’s continue to learn from marketing pros in many different industries.

In Part 1 you’ll learn how to create your vision, identify your audiences, develop marketing goals, establish your Unique Selling Proposition (message) gain 1,000 impressions with a 3-week Instagram campaign and how to do all this within a budget.  Take a look at HubSpot for more excellent ideas.

12 Insanely Successful Real Estate Marketing Ideas from Top Agents

As a real estate professional, you want to grow your business, and marketing plays a large role in capturing the attention of potential clients. A 2018 study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found 87% of home buyers purchase their home through a real estate agent. It’s evident there’s a market for real estate agents. But how can you reach prospects?

Below, I’ve compiled some real estate marketing ideas top agents use to promote their businesses. Whether you’re just getting started or are an experienced realtor looking to attract new clients, these marketing tips will help you create a successful marketing plan.

Unique Real Estate Marketing Ideas

  1. Create a website
  2. Build a blog
  3. Develop email marketing campaigns
  4. Employ virtual staging
  5. Try experiential marketing
  6. Partner with local businesses
  7. Run paid Instagram promotion
  8. Use drone photography
  9. Create a Zillow profile
  10. Ask for referrals
  11. Make Your Own Videos
  12.  Co-Host a Webinar

1. Create a website

Many consumers search the internet to investigate products and services before they buy. Creating a website for your real estate business will show prospective clients what you have to offer. Include listings on your site and update them regularly — this will keep prospects coming to your site as they search for properties. And add something a little unexpected to set your website apart. Take this mortgage calculator, and easy value add for visitors.

   2. Build a blog

You can also start a blog and create content optimized for SEO. This ensures your posts show up in prospect search results every time. Tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs can help you find the search terms and keywords your target clients are looking for and will inspire you with fresh topic ideas.

Make it easy for them to navigate to your main website and link to your profile pages on other real estate sites so they can learn more about you and your business.

And don’t forget to create interesting images for your posts. This infographic would make a great addition to any blog post or email marketing campaign.Image source:

  1. Develop email marketing campaigns

Send a monthly newsletter roundup of your blog content, and reach out to contacts when new property listings are available. Include images of the properties that link to the full listing, a video walkthrough of the property, or a virtual staging of the home.

  1. Employ virtual staging

How can you pique buyer interest? Give them a sneak preview of what the home looks like by using a virtual staging website. Online staging saves you the time and money of physically staging the property. And a 2018 study of 4,200+ homes found 85% of staged homes sold for 6-25% more than unstaged homes.

  1. Try experiential marketing

Experiential marketing engages your prospects and “invites an audience to interact with a business in a real-world situation.” Host a tour of the area you’re selling in, hold an event to teach area homebuyers about the process of buying a home, or arrange an open house and invite buyers to view the home.

  1. Partner with local businesses

Use your local connections and partner with clothing boutiques, home decor showrooms, and coffee shops to promote listings, and invite them to participate in an open house event. For a unique way to encourage prospects to visit your open house, set up pop-up shops in different rooms of the house.

This encourages potential buyers to explore each room, and you can work with the local businesses to determine discounts on goods that can be offered to the home buyers.

  1. Run a paid Instagram promotion

Instagram is another tool to get in touch with home buyers, promote your listings, and grow your brand. And your most beautiful images can reach even more people with a paid promotion.

Instagram ads allow you to pick a target audience, budget, post type (e.g. image, video, carousel), and length of your promotion. And you can use targeted hashtags to ensure posts are presented to the people you’d like to reach.

  1. Use drone photography

Take sweeping shots of the home’s exterior and surrounding landscape using drone photography. Purchase a drone or use a drone service, like HouseLensor Sold by Air, to capture the perfect shot.

Use the photos to add an excitement factor to your listings. Video can be used to supplement your virtual tours or walkthroughs and show exterior features like patios and pools.

Don’t have the drone photography chops you need to show your clients’ homes in their best light? Services like Drone Base have thousands of experienced photographers around the globe and specialize in both residential and commercial real estate.

  1. Create a Zillow profile

With over 188 million monthly viewers, Zillow provides the opportunity to get your business in front of thousands of new prospects. This resource from Zillow lists the steps to set up your own profile. Your profile allows you to share your listings with a large audience and connect with potential clients, increasing the likelihood of gaining a new buyer.

  1. Ask for Referrals

Did you know 39% of sellers using a real estate agent found that agent through a referral from friends or family? If you’re not asking for referrals, you should be.

Follow up with buyers a few months after they’ve settled into their new home to ask how they’re doing and include a referral request in your email.

Does it feel like home yet?

Hello [Buyer’s name],

I hope you’re settling into your beautiful home! You picked a great neighborhood to buy it, and I’m so happy to have been able to help you through the process.

I so enjoyed with working with you. If you have any friends or family looking to buy or sell in the area, I’d love the opportunity to work with them. I’m hosting a happy hour next week to talk with people about the current market.

Feel free to share this event link with anyone you think might be interested: [Insert link to event page]

Regards,
[Your name]

Some realtors will offer to plan a housewarming party for their new homeowners and use the party/guest list to meet with potential buyers.

  1. Make Your Own Videos

It’s no secret that video can be a powerful tool for realtors. And it doesn’t have to cost thousands. Whether you go for a highly produced video like the one below featuring client testimonials, or use video software to record a message from your laptop pitching your services to a potential client, video can be a way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

  1. Co-Host a Webinar

Want to make it easy for potential buyers or sellers in your area to understand the current market? Partner with a local lender, title company, or even your favorite staging service and host a webinar on a topic that will interest those thinking of making a real estate move.

For example, you might team up with a local home improvement service to conduct a webinar on the top five most valuable improvements sellers can make to their home to boost sales price. These changes and tastes can differ per state, so this can be valuable information sellers can’t find online.

Real Estate Marketing Plan

Now that you have some marketing ideas, the next question is, “What’s the plan?” Without clear goals for your real estate business and marketing strategy, it’s difficult to measure success. Consider the following points when developing your marketing plan.

  1. Create a vision statement

What do you want to accomplish in the short- and long-term? Develop a vision statement to identify the goals you’d like to reach. This makes it easier to lay out steps for reaching your business’ vision.

  1. Identify your target customer

Who are you marketing to? Will you be marketing to sellers, renters, first-time home buyers, etc.? Identifying the personas you’re selling to paints a clearer picture of who to target with your marketing efforts.

  1. Develop goals

Set goals for your overall marketing initiatives, and summarize which strategies you’ll use to accomplish these goals. What are the business goals you’d like to reach? And what criteria will you use to decide if these goals have been met?

  1. Determine your unique selling proposition

Think about what differentiates you from your competition. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when developing your proposition:

  • What can you offer that others can’t?
  • How does your unique approach or personality create value for prospects?
  • What are the latest pricing, selling, and buying trends in your market?
  • How can you discuss these trends (including the numbers) with prospects?
  1. Determine tools and budget for each strategy

Pick the top marketing ideas that will work for your business, selling proposition, and ideal target market. From there, calculate how much of your budget to allocate to each strategy.

  1. Measure performance

Once you’ve identified the tools you’ll be using to market your business, write down key metrics to measure their success. Determine the timeframe for the strategy or campaign and set a goal. Let’s use a paid Instagram ad as an example:

Campaign: Instagram post promotion

Length of promotion: 3 weeks

Goal: The post should gain 1,000 impressions and have a click-through rate of 1%

With these marketing ideas, you’re sure to wow your potential customers and attract them to your services.

Creating a marketing plan will help you set goals for your marketing campaigns and develop the steps to reach these goals.

Written by Meredith Hart

Making Deals At Dinner – Much More Than Great Food

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Dinner parties are “on par” with golf for being an opportunity to enhance and expand a relationship; and to make a deal.  

#1 – For you, the host and your staff this is not social, it is work.  Each person sits at a different table, with the skill to keep the conversation light and appropriate.  Training must include potential worst case scenarios, a few ‘what if’s”, how to steer away from topics that could ruin the mood and to steer toward key moments that make the event memorable. Plan the evening with your ultimate purpose in mind.

#2 – Low centerpieces, if any – low-ish lights, soft music and comfortable chairs are all a must.

#3 – Food that is easy to eat (BBQ ribs are a no-no), dietary options and not too much emphasis on the wine and cocktails.  

#4 – A beautiful, calm setting, a team that knows how to guide a successful evening and staying focused can turn a dinner into a deal.

Below is a wonderful article from Claire Hoffman in BizBash (with thanks), that asks the experts how to plan and execute a successful dinner event:

Small, seated dinners have long been a popular way for companies and brands to thank their employees or entertain V.I.P. clients in an intimate setting. But as any event planner knows, hosting an effective dinner takes much more than just gathering guests for a great meal.

While social dinner parties might be focused on reconnecting with friends, corporate dinners are usually a bit more strategic—the company wants to convey some sort of message to key stakeholders. As such, ease of communication is crucial, and that goal should bleed into everything from the decor and the catering to the seating chart and the timing of toasts.

“Corporate events [need to] think ahead to a sound system, a scripted message, and who is sitting next to whom to promote a positive networking environment,” explains David Merrell, the C.E.O. and creative director of AOO Events in Los Angeles. “There needs to be a certain return on investment for the money the company is spending [on this dinner].”

But that doesn’t mean the dinner needs to be all business, adds Christopher

Confero, the owner of Atlanta-based design firm Confero. “Just because it may be in a setting with fellow professionals, don’t forget to soften the space. Dim the lights, add beautiful decor pieces—anything that communicates to the guests they are appreciated and highly valued as employees and colleagues.”

Here are some more tips for creating effective dinners for corporate groups.

Design everything with the goal of facilitating conversations.
For seated dinners, centerpieces should either be below or above the sight line, so guests can talk throughout the meal. “If you place your elbow on the table and sit your chin on the palm of your hand, low decor should always be below that height,” says Confero. “If you raise your arm all the way up, tall decor should be above palm level there as well.”

It’s also important to avoid super-wide tables. “You want to be able to speak with the person across from you in a natural tone,” notes Jennifer Coman, the director of marketing and events for Los Angeles catering firm Haute Chefs L.A. “Comfortable chairs are also key, and something with a cushion is always appreciated.”

Entertainment-wise, it’s nice to have ambient noise in the background to cut down on awkward silences. Confero suggests live jazz music, or light music piped in through an audio system.

But if the event’s host wants more extensive entertainment, such as a performance of some sort, make sure it’s chosen with purpose. “If you are going to grab their attention away [from conversations], that distraction should be tying them back to the message, brand, or purpose of the event,” says Merrell.

Lighting is also an important consideration. “It is one of those things that when done well, it transforms the environment,” says Coman. “With corporate dinners, you need lighting that is not so dim that it feels like a club, but you don’t want it so bright that it feels medicinal.”

Confero suggests using a lot of candles on the table. “The more the better, with varying heights and varieties,” he explains. “Typically candles will be a bit cheaper than other centerpieces, and everyone looks ravishing in candlelight.”

Prep the event’s host on ways to keep the conversation flowing.
The dinner’s host should be responsible for keeping guests engaged and comfortable. One way to do that is with planned conversation topics. “With social or corporate dinners, many times guests aren’t familiar with the person sitting next to them,” says Merrell. “Lead questions from the host can break the silence, so always have some in your back pocket.”

Confero notes that this method also works if the party has multiple tables. One person seated at each table should be prepared with talking points. “Always put one large personality at each table,” he suggests. “If there is a lull in energy, they can jump in to pick things up. But be aware that you haven’t cast a bulldozer in this role—you don’t want someone dominating, only facilitating.”

One out-of-the-box way to facilitate conversation with a smaller group is the Jeffersonian Dinner method, where the entire table discusses one topic rather than having their own conversations with their seatmates. (BizBash covered this topic in a GatherGeeks podcast with Convers(ate) founders Taylor Buonocore Guthrie and Mollie Kinsman Khine.)

Toasts are also a great way for the host to thank everyone for coming and remind guests of the events’ purpose. “Make sure you have a sound system, or that the person giving the toast is loud enough for everyone to hear,” notes Merrell. “I also always encourage guests to not just toast with alcohol, wine, or champagne, but any drink that the guest has—you don’t want to promote drinking if [not all attendees] drink.”

As for timing, Coman says that toasts and other speeches should never be planned right before or during dessert. “We’ve seen it done, and you lose the crowd,” she says. “The best time for any ‘talking’ is going to be right when guests are getting warmed up and freshly seated, and between the first and second course.”

Think through the seating arrangements.
While assigned seating may be a good idea for dinner parties in general, it can be especially crucial for corporate dinners, says Merrell. “Meaningful business conversations and networking is one of the most important outcomes of the event,” he notes. “Seating configurations, the makeup of the guests attending, and the purpose of the gathering always dictate who is close to whom, and should always be considered separately from one event to the next.”

Confero adds that the client or host company should be involved in this process, since they know how best to group guests.

For dinners with multiple tables, it might make sense to play what Confero calls “a simple game of musical chairs.” “Each of your three courses is spent at a different table with various guests,” he explains. “It takes a bit more work for whoever is creating the seating arrangements—and of course on the kitchen and servers—but if you don’t have a large number of dietary restrictions it’s highly worth it to spend as much time as possible with different guests.”

Ask for dietary restrictions in advance—and keep catering simple.
In a corporate environment, it is especially important that guests with dietary restrictions don’t feel uncomfortable in front of their peers. “It is almost a given nowadays that you ask for restrictions such as allergies, gluten-free, or vegan,” says Merrell. “Asking up front sends the message that you care about the guests’ experience.”

With some exceptions depending on the group demographics, corporate dinners are usually not the time to get too experimental with catering. “Corporate dinners tend to stick more comfortably in the fish, chicken, and beef categories, and rarely venture beyond that,” says Merrell. Coman agrees. “Seated corporate dinners call for a plated, coursed meal with an option for restrictive diets and an easy switch-up for anyone with a serious allergy, for example. With our corporate clients, they always have a list of any executives that have allergies or dietary restrictions. In the rare case they do not [have a list], we work with our client to design a menu that is amenable to on-the-spot changes without sacrificing flavor,” she explains.

Like every other aspect of the dinner, though, food should never take away from the conversations. “You’d never want to be left ‘holding a skewer’ or having appetizers that take more than one easy bite in a corporate setting,” notes Coman. “It can cause for an awkward moment when needing to have a professional conversation.”

Confero agrees, adding that serving soup and pasta are not always the best idea. “There are always exceptions, but they are usually messy and loud,” he notes.

But, he adds, the dessert course may be a chance to get a bit more creative. “After a large meal, get guests up and moving around,” Confero suggests. “Make the dessert course something more relaxed and interactive. With space permitting, instead of serving the final course at the table, make it a couple stations scattered around the room.”

What is the Secret to Reaching Millennials? If you are producing an event…

Capturing the attention of millennials and the Gen Z crowd (also known as iGen) has been the holy grail of goals for meeting and event planners in recent years. Old-school methods and formats aren’t effective anymore. This new generation of attendees demands innovation and interactivity and expects social media shareability.

At the Center for Generational Kinetics, which specializes in generational research and solutions, an in-house team of experts, keynote speakers, and consultants work with clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups across industries such as automotive, banking, financial services, restaurants, hoteliers, and retail, to figure out what works and what doesn’t. (Hint: PowerPoint, no. Video, yes.)

The center deems those born between 1977 and 1995 as millennials. The center’s president, Jason Dorsey, who, at 40, rides the cusp of this generation, has spoken in front of many millennial-packed audiences at events, meetings, and conferences, including the Financial Brand Forum, GS1 in Mexico, Ultimate Connections Conference, and EO Nashville. Here, he shares his insights into planning a meeting or event that successfully taps into the mindset of this group.

What are the key elements that millennials look for in events?
Millennials want to be included in all aspects of the event. This means not having to sit in the back of the room because they have more junior titles or fewer years of experience. Millennials also want digital integration, fewer PowerPoint slides, more video, and more all-around interactivity. We have come of age in a time of instant feedback and collaboration, and we want our in-person events to include more of this before, during, and after.

What’s the main difference between reaching a Gen Z audience as compared to millennials?
Gen Z are younger than millennials, in some cases 15 years younger, so they are on the very front end of their careers. [Right now, Gen Z is up to age 22.] We find they value training on how to make the most of events, how to use technology to connect with people and resources at events, and interaction that drives new connections—as they likely know fewer people at the event than other generations. Gen Z also looks to other social media platforms, such as Snapchat rather than Facebook, which changes the type of digital interactions they want to create while at an event.

What’s the best way for planners to reach millennials at conferences and meetings in particular?
In our work with planners around the world, the best way to reach millennials is to create the foundation for a great event before the event happens. This includes videos, behind-the-scenes collaborations, and building up the excitement for the event before it takes place. Our work with meeting planners who have events with lots of millennials also reveals that millennials want the event to be tailored to them, when possible, and to give them options to find content and tracks that meet their specific needs including career and life stage. Millennials want speakers that are high energy, engaging, and who pull into the message and meeting, rather than traditional PowerPoint-heavy presentations with someone behind a podium.

Lastly, continuing the conversation after the event is key so that all the great content doesn’t just disappear, but drives engagement, enthusiasm, and action when everyone returns to work. We frequently work with meeting planners to film videos and create other content that is specifically designed to be delivered before and after the event, including live conversations post-event.

What types of speakers are most effective at engaging millennials?
Millennials get fired up about my take on our generation because I explain how millennials are actually two generations [early and late millennials], not one. This is a big deal and why many of us feel like we don’t fit in the generation. Other speakers I’ve seen that resonate with millennial audiences include Jay Baer, Rory Vaden, Erik Qualman, and David Horsager. All of them are very entertaining presenters with lots of great stories and humor, which is important as millennials have very high expectations for entertainment when it comes to speakers.

Is there anything that’s a major turn-off for millennials in terms of events? 
Yes, boring speakers with lots of slides, being treated as if they are not as valued an audience member as those with bigger titles, not having diverse food options, and events that are in hotels where they charge for Wi-Fi.

This article was posted here with thanks to the writer Michele Laufik and came from BIZBASH. http://www.bizbash.com.

YOLO!

We should all live like this …. Expedia just released new data about how Generation Z is redefining the world. (Wow that is a big statement!).

Generation Z, are people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, and who make up 25% of the U.S. population,making them a larger cohort than the Baby Boomers or Millennials.

The study says this group of consumers are YOLO – You Only Live Once.  They are open to new experiences, are deal-driven and have a long list of bucket experiences.

So ask yourself – who isn’t?  I hope they are right about this group, who are right behind Millennials, and can teach all of us about living in the moment.

Here’s a great chart from Expedia that shows the data as it relates to travel decisions. It applies equally to marketing and PR pros who are defining messages to reach all consumers.

Here are some things you should know about how Gen Z are shopping for, booking, and traveling when you are looking to reach and influence this new generation of travel enthusiasts.

  • They want a good deal.Seeking the best deals and most value for their money is universal among travelers of all ages, but especially for Gen Z, who are not yet or are just starting to be financially independent – and may still be spending mom and dad’s money. Gen Z are heavily influencing family travel decisions, and in the coming years, as more Gen Z enter the workforce and increase their disposable income, their prioritization of travel and their growing budgets will unlock myriad opportunities for marketers.
  • They are more open to influence.Two-thirds of Gen Z travelers are undecided on a destination when they decide to take a trip, and their diverse trip preferences illustrate broad opportunities for marketers to entice them. Seventy-seven percent of Gen Z travelers are open to help and inspiration when planning a trip, and nearly 70 percent use their smartphone when looking for travel inspiration.
  • They are social.Eighty-four percent of Gen Z travelers said social media can be influential, particularly deals or promotions and travel pictures or videos from friends or experts. Appealing deals and images are also impactful for the more than 60 percent of Gen Z who said advertising can be influential, revealing a receptive audience for travel marketers.
  • They are going to grow the bleisure travel market.Although Millennials are currently outpacing Gen Z in business travel – 6.4 business trips per year versus 4.8 trips – both generations are capitalizing on and saving for opportunities to extend business travel for leisure, or bleisure. Sixty-six percent of Gen Z business trips were extended for leisure, and 88 percent of Gen Z travelers save for bleisure travel. Bleisure travel will likely increase as more of Gen Z enters the workforce in the coming years, illustrating a burgeoning opportunity for travel marketers.

Get the full study, “A Look Ahead: How Younger Generations are Shaping the Future of Travel,” for more data and actionable insights that marketers can leverage to reach Gen Z and Millennial travelers.

This article came from Expedia Group, expedia.com and was written by Lisa Lindberg.  Here is a link to the article:  https://blog.advertising.expedia.com/how-younger-generations-are-shaping-the-future-of-travel?utm_campaign=Blog%20promotion&utm_source=3rd-party-ads&utm_medium=Smartbrief&utm_term=display&utm_content=travel-feat-cont

 

What are Hashtags (#) and How to Use Them on Social Media

Once upon a time, the ‘#’ was a simple pound sign or hash mark. But then the social blue bird flew onto the scene and turned this mundane symbol into an online sensation. Today, whether you are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social media channels, you simply cannot escape the all encompassing presence of the #hashtag. But what exactly is a hashtag? In case you always wondered but were too afraid to ask, we’ve come up with a clear and concise explanation of everything you need to know about this Internet phenomenon.

#lovelabpuppies

Not only that: once you’ve mastered the “what”, you’ll probably want to know “how” to use hashtags. Strap in because this article will help all levels of social media addicts. If you’re relatively new to the game, we understand that at first glance, hashtags might seem confusing. But once you understand them better, you will see that they are a powerful tool to grow your social impact and engage your audience – oh, and did we mention: all for the cost of $0.00? If you’re more advanced, you might want to know how to optimize your hashtags, in order to raise brand awareness and get more customers.

As a long time user and fan of WIX, the great advice below, with links left in, is so good I wanted to share with my blog readers. #bennettaboutmarketing  #greatPRadvice  #marketingnews  #lovelabpuppies

Here is a complete guide on  hashtags and how to use them efficiently:

What is a hashtag?

With thousands of images published every minute on all social platforms, it can be hard to stand out amongst the crowd. The possibility for your post to be seen isn’t promising, unless they are one of your followers. That’s where hashtags come into play. A hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#), written within a post or comment to highlight it and facilitate a search for it. Essentially, by including hash marks in your post; it can be indexed by the social network so that it can be discoverable to everyone, even if they’re not your followers or fans. For example, if your company has to do with extreme sports you can add the #bucketlist to your Instagram posts to snag those people with a passion for adventure and fun.

Why should you use hashtags?

Thanks to hashtags, your posts aren’t limited to just your followers. By adding one of these bad boys, your content will be accessible to all other users interested in similar topics who search for your hashtag. Choosing the right hashtag can greatly broaden the reach of your social media posts to thousands of potential followers, fans or customers. For example, if you have a healthy juice bar, it can be tempting to go for the obvious #fruit, but beware! With over a million posts and growing the chances of being seen are as slim as a banana peel. Now if you throw on a more specific tag like #drinkyourveggies, your looking at better odds. This is all the more relevant with the recent update on Instagram, where you can now follow specific hashtags just like you would friends or companies. So it goes without saying: make sure you don’t just slap # on any word.

Three powerful families of hashtags to use on social media

Content hashtags: If you are totally new to hashtags, first consider using some that directly relate to your product, service, market or area of expertise. We can call them the ‘content hashtags’ because they relate to the content that your content would be naturally associated with. As you can imagine, they will greatly expose your brand to potential customers on those social media platforms who weren’t previously familiar with your brand. For instance, at Wix we primarily use content hashtags related to websites – such as #SEO, #Illustration, #Photography or #SMB.

Trending hashtags: Another great way to boost your brand’s visibility is using existing hashtags that have grown popular among millions of users, also known as ‘trending hashtags’. Watch out: before you add the ‘#’ symbol to a trending topic, remember to first ask yourself whether your social media posts are adding value to the existing conversation. Value can be interpreted in many ways: a unique piece of information, an original look or opinion at what’s is going on, or simply a funny statement or image. If your post does not add any value, it is highly likely to be ignored and lost in the plethora of posts. If however your post is informative, funny or viral, it will get re-shared by fellow users ultimately increasing awareness of your brand. Generally, trending hashtags are a lot of fun! It can range from holidays to random spur of the moment games like the Tweet below:

Brand-specific hashtags: Sometimes, the problem with using generic or popular hashtags is that your posts might be lost in the noise of hundreds of messages using the same hashtags. Hence, it is a good idea to create your own dedicated ‘brand-specific hashtags’. These can be used for general branding, promotions, events, contests or other marketing campaigns. The key to creating an effective brand-specific hashtag is to ensure that there is no one else using the same hashtag. It has to be unique and memorable. For general branding, use a short motto or tagline. When creating marketing campaign-specific hashtags, make sure to give users a compelling incentive to use them. For example, you could get users to post with a campaign-specific hashtag to stand a chance to get discounts or win prizes. In return, your brand stands to benefit from major viral marketing publicity. A brand-specific hashtag that we hold very near and dear to our hearts is #WixPhotography, which we use on all of our relevant social media platforms – like Facebook.

Brand-specific hashtags

How to use hashtags wisely?

To create a hashtag, all you need to do is include a ‘#’ and a relevant keyword or phrase. This, you already knew. But what you didn’t know is that not all hashtags are born equal. In fact, they are only powerful when handpicked and used wisely. Here are two crucial general tips that apply to all social media and businesses:

Keep it short: To save everyone the headache, don’t squish too many words into one hashtag. Nothing turns people off more than overly lengthy hashtags – #YouDontWantToTryThisAtHome.

Don’t overuse: Another thing you want to avoid is writing your entire caption with one hashtag per word. #Because #its #not #really #fun #to #read #like #this #is #it? The number of hashtags you can allow per post depends on each channel. But as a general rule of thumb, only put an hashtag next to word that are really significant.

Think strategically: This applies to the ‘content hashtags’. By definition, since you won’t have created them, they are probably used by other brands. Which is a good thing, since people will look after this hashtag. But at the same time, when a hashtag is overcrowded, you can be sure that your content will go unnoticed. So it’s highly recommended to mix content hashtags with a high volume, with other hashtags that are more specific. For example, let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to post a picture of your latest gnocchi dish on Instagram. #Food is an obvious choice, but with over 258 millions posts using it, you have no chance to stand out. Try and find more ‘niche’ hashtags, such as #gnocchi or #gnocchiday. As always, a little research will go a long way. Hashtagify is a good place to start. And of course, nothing will beat the good old trial and error: experiment, learn and have fun as you go!

What are the best hashtag practices for each social media

Twitter

How many hashtags per postResearch shows that the optimal amount of hashtags is two. Over that, the tweets have a significant drop in engagement.
How to find the best hashtags around: It’s important to make sure people are engaging with the hashtags you use. A great place to start is Hashtagify, it allows you to check the popularity and recent popularity to know if your hashtag is relevant.
Where to place them: While you are more limited on Twitter with the amount of #’s you are less confined as to where they should go. It can be used at the end of a Tweet or incorporated as part of the sentence.

Instagram

How many hashtags per post: The more hashtags you use, the more engagement you see – up until a certain point. After about 10 hashtags, you risk losing out on some of that engagement.
How to find the best hashtags around: Head over to the search box and check what your audience, competitors, and industry leaders are already using. Pay attention to the number of posts, and how many likes the first images received.
Where to place them: In order to keep everything organized and neat, it’s best to put your hashtags at the end of your caption preferably separated by either dots or asterisks. If you’re a neat freak, you can also add your hashtags in a comment to your post.

Facebook

Believe it or not, hashtags are not important on Facebook. We recommend limiting the number of hashtags to a minimum. Indeed, concise captions tend to perform better on this platform. Of course, using your ‘brand-specific hashtags’ won’t hurt.

LinkedIn and G+

Same as for Facebook: hashtags can be added, but they don’t really have an effect on your post.

Pinterest

How many hashtags per post: Pinterest themselves recommend you add no more than 20 hashtags per Pin.
Where to place them: Hashtags only work within the Pins’ descriptions.

Ready to make an impact online? It all starts with a stunning website from Wix!

Tali Marks
By Tali Marks
Community and Social Media Manager, Wix About the Wix Blog

Secret Sauce? – “Like Their Friend In The Newsroom Made Sure They Knew What They Needed To Know”

Whether it is a newsletter, a video, a social media post or a cocktail party – the basics remain – think about your audience and be interesting.  Below is the recipe for the secret sauce to communicating, and engaging, your audiences.

shutterstock_698002942 purchased July 2018

The New York Times recently announced that it now has 14 million subscribers across its 55 newsletters. According to Elisabeth Goodridge, The Times’s editorial director of newsletters, the “secret sauce” to good newsletters is as follows:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Have an expert write it (or be quoted)
  3. Design it beautifully
  4. Maintain it with best practices in mind
  5. And, perhaps most important, “offer something valuable that you can’t get anywhere else.”

It should also be an intimate and controlled space. “We want it to be a friction-free experience,” said Andrea Kannapell, the editor of briefings at The Times. That means shorter, lighter sentences; a conversational voice; and information that equips readers to take on news conversations at work and at cocktail parties. “We want them to leave the briefing feeling uplifted,” Ms. Kannapell said. “Like their friend in the newsroom made sure they knew what they needed to know.”

Thank you to the American Press Institute for sharing this article.  Blog readers:  Isn’t this what our jobs are too?  Whether it is delivering information TO a journalist, or shareholders, or employees or our communities … these simple steps are indeed the recipe to the ‘secret sauce’.

I am a subscriber to several of these NYT newsletters and usually I take the time to review and read them; they are that worthwhile.  This is a free service, delivered online, so I encourage you to take a look, experience their ‘secret sauce techniques’ and see if one of these 55 newsletters might be what you need to know.  Laura

Holidays Include Customers, Co-workers, Supporters and Time To Enlarge Your Circle

This time of year is an opportunity to truly connect with customers, supporters and co-workers.

We often forget our ‘work family’ as we focus outside the workplace and maybe this is the year to widen the circle of people who you and your company appreciates and thanks.

The year ahead will be full of successes and challenges, and I thank you for your support of this blog and the Bennett & Company family of professionals, clients, vendors and our friends in the media.

Wishing all of you a Happy Hanukkah,

Merry Christmas and that you thrive

and find wonder in 2019.

Free Marketing Tools – Which Ones Are Right For You?

Sometimes online sites give you a tool that makes your day … that’s how I felt when the infographic below arrived via Social Media Today.  I’ll let the infographic and their introduction tell you the rest. I’ll be doing future posts on which of these work best for me and the team at Bennett & Company too.

The right tools can help you maximize your digital marketing time, and improve performance with less effort – but with so many tools now available, it’s hard to know which is best for which aspect, or even, what each tool does, exactly.

To help, the team from Crello have put together this listing of 100 free marketing tools that you should try. A note: Many of the apps listed do require subscriptions to access their full functionality, but the free versions should provide enough insight as to their value for your business, enabling you to make a proper assessment before committing expenditure.

 

Be Part Of The Bliss That Comes With An Out-of-Office Message

So incredibly smart!  Heathrow airport, offers a ready made Out-of-Office message for travelers.  You have to sign into an airport Wi-Fi so while you are at it, why not use their Out-of-Office message too??

This article from ADWEEK, ran July 3, just before Independence Day in the USA – but offers us so many ideas for all the businesses that add joy/special moments of bliss/fun/escape – you-fill-in the benefit to our lives – think of what hotels, recreation, destinations, retails, transportation and so many more could offer.. think about it – how do you add joy to your customer’s life?  Now produce a video or message for use not only as an out-of-office message but for social media channels.  

Now if you are a toy store, pet shop, ski resort, beach bar or more – you might just go wild with this idea – have big fun!

An entirely new way to send your corporate message!  

Though people across the pond won’t be celebrating the Fourth of July on Wednesday, Heathrow Airport still understands the sentiment of a holiday week—as it proved in a new spot that’s all about embracing your vacation days.

Havas London, the British-based agency behind Heathrow’s now-famous ads featuring a pair of bears returning home for the holidays, created this new spot for London’s landmark airport. In it, a woman drafts her out-of-office message while sitting at her gate at Heathrow. As she finishes, she laughs with her two children before the family giddily gets up to board their plane.

Heathrow: Out Of Office  – link here: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/heathrow-out-of-office-ad/
“Heathrow is just as much about those longed-for week-long summer holidays as it is about weekday business trips and round-the-world epics,” Lynsey Atkin, creative director at Havas London, told Adweek of the spot. “We wanted to celebrate the small moments that have great significance when it comes to our precious time away with those we love. Setting an out of office is one such moment, where the world of work is packed away and our focus shifts to the really important people in our lives.”

The ad’s approach is simple: A reminder of the feeling that comes along with the seemingly-minute, yet instantly relief-inducing act of setting up an out-of-office message before heading out on an awaited-for vacation. Atkin says that going into the campaign, the Havas London team wanted “to tell a seemingly small story that had big resonance.”

To make the family interactions feel natural and relatable, the spot’s director, Tom Green of Stink Films, worked with the cast for two days of shooting “to allow for natural action and dialogue that feels utterly relatable and part of the fabric of family interactions that play out every single day across Heathrow,” Atkin said.

The campaign aims to highlight Heathrow’s “Closer” tagline, meant to showcase “the airport’s ability to bring people closer together for special moments every day,” according to a release. Beyond the video spot, also included in the campaign are several out-of-home ads featuring images shot by Christopher Anderson. In these ads, close-up photos of different faces are featured. At the bottom of each image, there’s a personalized out-of-office message.

“At its very heart Heathrow is about bringing people Closer to each other,” Atkin said of the message behind the Closer tagline. “And in a time when that seems increasingly rare, it feels fitting that a place that knows the power and emotion of being together should be flying the flag for it, however big or small.”

Credits

Project name: Out of Office
Client: Heathrow Airport Limited: Simon Eastburn – Director of Marketing, Modupe Adeboye – Senior Marketing and Brand Manager, Kellie Heath – Campaign Marketing Manager, Silvia Cardinale – Campaign Marketing Manager
Creative agency: Havas London
ECD: Ben Mooge
Creative Director: Lynsey Atkin
Creative: Tom Manning
Account team: Caroline Saunders, Oliver Lester, Claire Petzal, Naomi Hollowday
Agency producer (film): Kiri Carch, Adrianne Godfrey
Agency producer (print): Hatty Middleton
Planner: Clare Phayer
Media agency: Carat
Media planner: Hanna Puggaard
Production company: Stink Films
Producer: Ray Leakey
Director: Tom Green
DoP: James Laxton
Editor: James Forbes-Robertson at Whitehouse Post
Post-production: The Mill
Soundtrack composer: Roots Manuva ‘Fighting For’
Audio post-production: Jon Clarke at Factory

 

Thank you ADWEEK for another smart and creative story.  Laura

Have You Decorated … your social media channels?

10 Creative Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season

Yes it is the holiday season, and nothing matters more the other times of year than our social media efforts, so include them in the holiday spirit too! #BennettHolidayMarketing  #HappyHolidays2018

As a long time PR professional, I am always looking for really great ideas, that are business-like yet have impact. 

Thanks to Wix (where I host the wwww.BennettandCo.com website), here is a list of 10 great and creative marketing ideas, and examples of how they were implemented for the Wix brand:

Months ahead of the holiday season, retail stores start decorating shelves with tinsel, candles and festive lights. It seems that every year, the holiday prep starts earlier and earlier. Call shop owners overeager, but planning ahead actually has its perks. This is especially the case when it comes to marketing. Planning for these predetermined dates can prevent your business from getting hit with unexpected snowballs – like last minute promotional campaigns, holiday re-designs, and battles with creative blocks.

As a small business owner, it’s worth taking a lesson or two from these retail giants. Although you’re going to need to put in some work, we promise that it will be nothing short of fun. That’s because we’ve included inspiration for holiday content for your website, decked-out social pages, creative newsletters and much more to dress up your business in festive and seasonal attire. And after you’ve implemented these holiday marketing strategies, your business will be just as jolly as a proudly-standing snowman (carrot nose and scarf included). So without further ado, here are 10 effective and fun marketing ideas you can implement on your site for the holiday season:

01. Decorate your social media channels

Just like putting up lights in your front yard or garnishing your front door, the point of decorating your social channels is to signal that your small business is well aware the holidays are in full swing. So, how will you begin? Pull out your digital arts and craft supplies and start creating some holiday content. For social media, upload a new cover photo that features a design of a simple festive image, a holiday wish written over a patterned background, or a promotion of a holiday sale. If you want to create your own designs, you can use a graphic design tool, like Canva, which allows you to choose your social media image size, then easily layer that base with customised photos, shapes, and text. Once you save your design, you can simply upload it to the corresponding social channel.

You can also use your FacebookInstagram, and Twitter profiles to post some holiday cheer. To create social posts, one effortless tool is Wix Social Posts because it enables you to simply pick a pre-sized, flawless design, then drag and drop your text, and add stickers (graphics) and images for a personalized look that speaks to your brand identity. Then, save and upload your design onto the social channels of your choice – or even onto your website. The type of content you can share is anything from upcoming events to promotions for the holiday season, such as contests, themed sales, and blog posts full of holiday inspiration. And don’t worry, we’ll cover all of these points and more in the tips to come. Just focus on filling your pages with joy and spirit for now.

holiday marketing ideas for social posts

02. Create a themed version of your logo

A logo certainly holds the core position of your business and branding efforts. It also represents your business’ personality – like Google’s playful color palette, for example (learn why they chose a green ‘L’ with this cool article about the stories behind famous logos). As an ambassador of your personality, it only makes sense that your logo reflect that your business is also celebrating it up during this holiday season. This holiday version can be as simple as replacing the dot on an ‘i or the letter ‘o’ with hanging lights or candles. Even if these letters don’t apply to you, you can incorporate a tinsel or glittery border into any design. Get as creative as you wish here.

If you don’t have a logo, not to worry we’ve got a solution. You can always turn to a trusted logo creation platform that can create a professional logo for you in seconds: Wix Logo Maker. All you need to do is simply answer a few questions about your company, industry, and style preferences. Then, watch the artificial intelligence technology work its magic and generate numerous logo options faster than you can wrap a present. And the best part is that they’re all completely customizable, which will allow you to make it as cheerful as you wish.

Creating a themed logo is a holiday marketing idea

03. Invent a festive hashtag

One proven way to get people talking about your brand is by creating a unique hashtag. In short, a hashtagis the combination of a ‘#’ symbol followed by a keyword or phrase that allows the accompanying post to become searchable. There are millions of popular hashtags that can certainly help with post engagement, particularly on Instagram and Twitter. However, a self-created seasonal hashtag or one related to a specific holiday date will stimulate a potentially viral campaign.

But first, let’s take a step back and discuss the phrase ‘user-generated content (UGC).’ This is the concept where everyday users create content for your business and share them online – essentially advertising your brand for you. Typically, these online posts are accompanied by hashtags, which funnel all of the UGC content to one central location. So, let’s make up an ultra specific campaign idea. For example, say you have a business, Ruth’s Vintage Apparel, and you want to host a costume contest. There are two requirements: participants must wear a clothing item from your online shop, and they must post about it using the hashtag #RuthsCostumeContest. This will generate hype around your brand because consumers will be enthusiastic to participate and check out the competition (hence, they will browse more of your posts for items from your store via the hashtag). It will also benefit your business by expanding your promotion reach much more than physically possible to do on your own.

04. Hold a competition

Anything from an ugly sweater contest, to a race to sign up for a free scented candle, will generate buzz around your business. It’s similar to the previously mentioned concept of creating a hashtag. User-generated content is certainly relevant here, as well, in order to spread the word about your company. Yet, the main difference between a hashtag and this strategy is that a contest needs to be incentivising. Whether you’re giving away a product, gift card, or featuring a customer on your website, you need to offer something in return to the chosen winner of your contest.

While the options of the type of contest you hold are endless, there are a couple of basic competition guidelines you should consider:

  • Set a clear goal: All that you do regarding your marketing strategy should have one clear goal in mind. Is it to get more followers on your Instagram account and Facebook page? Or is it to promote your newest holiday product? You’re going to want to come up with a game plan of how you can reach that goal. This includes everything from choosing the platform to researching the guidelines of hosting a contest there.
  • Entice your audience with a prize: Let’s face it. This is the entire reason consumers will be interested in playing. Whether it’s a gift card to your online store or a holiday gift (really, everyone loves scented candles), keep it relevant and in the spirit of your chosen festivity.
  • Include all of the rules: For legal purposes and overall transparency, this step cannot be neglected. Think about all the possible factors that go into your contest and write them down somewhere. It can certainly take up a lot of room on your social feed, so it might be worthwhile to make and link a PDF at the bottom of your contest post, include it as a section of your website or even create a one page website dedicated to the competition.
  • Promote your competition: Some promotional efforts are free (like email marketing), and others might cost you a bit of money (like Facebook advertising). Decide on your budget, content, and design. Then, throw your flyers into the wind.
  • Post about your winner: The final place you can truly make sure your first goal is met is by sharing the results. It’s the last opportunity you have to generate more content from your activity. So, make sure to create exciting content centered around your winner and company, and share it all around – your website, your blog, a newsletter, your social media, and more. Just don’t forget to get the winner’s permission first.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwix%2Fvideos%2F10155805870270429%2F&show_text=0&width=560

05. Send a holiday shoutout

The most effective form of marketing proven again and again is email marketing. In fact, over 80% of retail professionals claim that email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention more than any other form of digital marketing – and yes, that number even takes social media into account. And the last, most important reason, is that it’s free or extremely cheap to send effective newsletters.

Have we convinced you to implement this holiday marketing idea yet? If so, send out a beautiful, easy-to-design and fully customisable email from your business’s own custom email address in order to make sure that your business looks as professional as possible to consumers this holiday season. If you’re a Wix user, you can easily send out a newsletter right from your account thanks to the all-in-one email solution, Wix ShoutOut. This tool allows you to customise your templates, sync your contacts, send out newsletters, then go back and track your stats to learn more about your community and how you can improve based on feedback and statistics.

When you prepare your email, include everything from the subject lineCTAs, and content, to themed images. (Here are some email marketing tips to get you started.) While crafting your email plan, make sure to think creatively, as you certainly won’t be the only business sending out a holiday email this year. You’re going to have to put in some work to stand out. Here are some creative examples for your inspiration:

  • Launch a countdown leading up to a specific holiday date: For example, you can list X number of products (with links to your online store) in descending order to entice readers to scroll through the whole email.
  • Animate with videos and GIFs: These are two engaging forms of content that will get visitors interested in your email.
  • Send a holiday gift: Anything from a voucher for an actual product to something much simpler, like a coupon or printable greeting card that they can share with their loved ones.
  • Announce a sales campaign: Sales are as inescapable as cut-out cookies during the holiday season. This is why you should considering creating a sales campaign for your eCommerce website.
  • Give out warm holiday wishes: Create a digital greeting card with a festive photo of you or your team – including your pets if you have any (because really that’s what people care about the most).

Wix Shoutout Email holiday marketing ideas

06. Highlight a sale on your website with a Lightbox

No, we aren’t talking about the box of string lights you stored away from last year, although we are sure that you can find something festive to do with those, too. Digitally speaking, a lightbox is an interactive message that appears on your website immediately upon a visitor’s arrival and then prompts them to take a specific action. So, if you’re hosting a sale, this is the perfect way to ensure that you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention. When you create a Lightbox for your Wix website, you can customize everything, including content, colors, fonts, layout and background images. This way, you can create a specific design to suit the holiday theme that you want to target. In addition, it’s possible to personalize the call-to-action (CTA) for your lightbox, such as a signup form to receive your sale discount or a link to your store’s sale page.

07. Write a festive blog post

Hmm… We wonder where we got this idea from? You can certainly take this article as an example for a holiday marketing blog post idea. Furthermore, not only is blogging a great practice to increase your SEO efforts, it’s also something that your customers will appreciate. If you don’t have a blog already, creating one is easy with this step-by-step blog guide. Here you can highlight anything holiday related at your company: a sale, a holiday gift or recipe guide, or a countdown of something. Then, once you’ve completed it, make sure to share your posts on your social media channels and marketing emails.

08. Wrap up your year with content

We can all learn from Spotify’s Wrapped Campaign. The music streaming platform used an algorithm to compile playlists for the top songs and artists of the past 12 months in order to ‘wrap up’ their year. You can use this awesome marketing campaign as inspiration for your business, whether it’s a list of best-selling products, the top social media posts, or other successful stats like new email subscribers and followers on Instagram. You can proudly display those results in any form you choose: an infographic, a blog post, Instagram Story, video, or Facebook post. This is one piece of content that can be promoted everywhere. It’s your time to flaunt the outcomes of your hard work and celebrate what your company has done this year.

09. Shoot a themed video

Consumers are 85% more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. This and many other video marketing statistics explain why video content is the way of the future. If you’re scrambling to find a topic or theme to create a video about, then the holidays is the perfect excuse. Some ideas include describing a product, giving a behind-the-scenes look at your business, or ‘writing’ a blog post in video form. Just remember to make it festive 🙂

Based on the latest social media trends, it’s apparent that short videos are much more effective than their long-form counterparts. So, don’t stress about creating one longer than a minute, or even 10 seconds for that matter. You can turn to one of the many different video creation platforms to start building your mini film, like Magisto and iMovie. Once you complete your creation, save it, then share it on YouTube, Facebook, and your website. With Wix Video, you can effortlessly upload videos from YouTube or Facebook to your site, showcase them in stunning layouts, and then track their success through detailed stats.

10. Create a holiday Pinterest board

Pinterest and holiday inspiration go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows. That’s why the holiday season is one reason to create an account on the platform and start using it for the excellent benefits it provides, like growing a community, increasing brand awareness, and driving traffic to your website. Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that allows you to find and share ideas for projects. Here, users can follow accounts, brands, businesses, and boards.

Pinterest Boards are the backbone of the platform, and each one represents a different category. You can create as many as you like on any topics you like. That’s why filling a holiday-themed board is an excellent way to bring in the festivities. Use this as a chance to share anything related to your company in holiday version, from recipes to beauty products, gift guides, infographics, design inspiration, and so much more. New to Pinterest? This guide explains everything you need to know about using Pinterest for your business.

Ready to hang some lights and sprinkle fake snow all over the Internet? Create a stunning website with Wix today!

 

Jennifer Kaplan
By Jennifer Kaplan
Community Writer, Wix About the Wix Blog

Social Media is an every day task – here is the ultimate social media checklist

Feeling swamped by the endless ‘things-to-do’ for social media?  Think of it this way… the more you do the better you do… the bigger and better the results.  So start with a little organization and things will be smoother.

TIP:  Saturday is one of the best days for getting your posts read, don’t limit them to weekdays only.

See the terrific chart on this blog?  It’s from Social Media Today, one of my go-to sites for smart advice.  Print it out and use it for a week and see the difference.

Now you can go beyond this and think bigger and better.  Like what?  Consider these additional bits of guidance:

Your starting place – do a quick communications audit.  Are your colors right?  Do your key words line up on all platforms?  Establish a benchmark number of how much engagement you are really getting… and then beat it, and elevate it and be proud of the difference this is making in sales.

Exhale, remember success of any kind does not follow a straight line, and enjoy the process.

40% of US Consumers Began Holiday Planning and Shopping YESTERDAY! And… a terrific infographic

The Importance of Holiday Marketing in October – Less Cost +More Results

According to recently published research from Adroll, marketers should definitely consider launching their holiday campaigns in October (or mid-August for PR) in order to maximize performance and response.

How To Make A Bad Review … Better

The media and the communication vehicles that reach our customers, are the partners of businesses, especially marketing and PR. 

When the Associated Press gives out advice on how to handle negative commentary – it is something to heed.  Thank you AP!  

NEW YORK (AP) — A bad review can seriously hinder a small business’ reputation, but dealing with negative social media and online posts is now essential.

The popular online review site Yelp.com recently won a case in California where an aggrieved law firm tried to force it to remove negative posts. Such an action would run afoul of freedom of speech, according to internet companies, but business owners say it could leave the door open to spreading falsehoods without consequences.

There are several measures a business can take to respond to negative reviews to mitigate any potential damage.

Here are some key points for business owners:

ASK HAPPY CUSTOMERS TO POST REVIEWS OF THEIR EXPERIENCE

It’s important to be proactive and have staff ask customers to post their experience. The offensive part of this strategy involves having a base of good reviews from happy customers. It’s even more important because people who are upset are usually more motivated, Kagan said.

That can leave a skewed picture of a business. A solid base of good reviews will help give a potential customer a broader view.

RESPOND IMMEDIATELY AND POLITELY

People want to know that the owner is professional and cares about fixing legitimate problems. Simple things, like saying “I’m very sorry you didn’t enjoy” the meal or product can go a long way with potential new customers checking out your reviews.

“You will often find that you’re playing to the audience, which is sort of neutral,” Kagan said.

PROVIDE A FACTUAL REBUTTAL

While owners should acknowledge a person’s feelings, there are some issues where a factual rebuttal is necessary.

For a restaurant, this could include providing a link to a health department grade or report if somebody falsely accuses the restaurant of being unclean. For some companies, it could mean posting a statement on steps being taken to improve a product or service.

“You’re not necessarily going to fix an upset person,” Kagan said. “What you can do is limit the impact.”

I am often asked if I can make a negative comment “go away” – the answer is no.  But what I will do is reposition the comment with the facts as we know them, remember the audience is wide and large, respond directly to this one comment, and treat everyone’s opinion as valid.  Just because we are responding to one comment, it is imperative to remember many others will be reading what you say too.

Instagram Connects You With Your Younger (and Future) Customer

Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know

Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing app and social network. It was created in 2010, and in 2012, Facebook purchased it for $1 billion. According to Instagram, more than 500 million people use it daily, and it has more than 800 million monthly active users.

Instagram is photo- and video-centric. Users can edit and post images and short videos, record Instagram stories, and go live with video. Before using Instagram for your business, here is what you should know.

Although it can be viewed on a desktop, Instagram is primarily a mobile app, so you need to download it before you can sign up for an account. Instagram is free in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

To sign up, you can either connect your Instagram account to Facebook or enter your email.

You will want to convert your brand’s Instagram profile to a business account to receive access to analytics and insights. To do this, you’ll need to connect the account with your business’s Facebook page by following the in-app prompts from the Switch to Business Profile option under Settings.

Once your Instagram account is created, you can go to the Profile tab and tap the Edit Your Profile button to change your name, username and profile picture, or to add a website and a short biography. To change the app’s settings, tap the gear button on the top right corner.

When you open the app, you’ll be taken to the home page. Here, you’ll see an endless stream of posts from the users you follow, sponsored posts based on your interests and your own posts, if you’ve added any.

  • Home button: This takes you to your home page or your feed.
  • Search tab: This tab helps you find interesting content and users to follow. Using the search bar, you can look for certain content, users or hashtags. If you don’t tap a category (People, Tags or Places), the app defaults to Top, which shows the most popular results for that search term. You will also see a horizontally scrolling row of photos called Trending Tags and, below that, a feed of popular posts, called Explore Posts. These features are great ways to find other people and brands whose interests align with yours, and following users with similar content may even earn you some followers.
  • Add button: With this button, you can add a new photo from your gallery, take a photo or shoot a short video.
  • Heart button: On the activity page (heart tab), you’ll see two tabs at the top of the page: Following and You. The You tab is the default; this is where you can see recent notifications showing who has followed you or liked your photos, comments other users have left on your photos or mentioned you in, and posts you’ve been tagged in. When you switch to the Following tab, you’ll see recent activity from the users you’re following – other photos they’ve liked or commented on and users they’ve followed.
  • Profile: Your Profile tab is where you can see all your posts and story highlights, edit your profile and update your settings.
  • Geotagging: Instagram allows you to add your location to your photos when you post them. Adding your location to photos displays that location above your photo in each post that has been geotagged. You can toggle your location on and off before posting an image.

To post a new photo, tap the add (camera) button on the bottom of your screen. This will open your phone’s camera, and you can either take a new photo or record a short video, or select one from your camera roll.

Upon clicking Next, you’ll be taken to a screen with multiple options, including Instagram’s filters and an Edit button, which allows you to adjust the photo by changing the brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, color, fade, highlights and shadows. You can also add a vignette or tilt-shift the picture.

Once you’ve edited the photo to your liking, click Next. Then you can write a caption to describe the picture, add a location to geotag it, tag people and share it on other social media platforms. You also have the option to turn off comments, found at the bottom of the Advanced Settings page.

Before posting public photos, business owners should consider adding hashtags to their picture for optimal exposure. If you want to change or add something after you’ve published a post, tap the ellipses (…) button on that post and select Edit to update the caption or add a location or tags. You can also share the post on other social networks or delete the post if you’re unhappy with it.

Now that you know how to create a profile and post photos, here are the different ways you can use Instagram to promote your business.

Instagram Stories are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. At the top of the home page is a horizontal bar featuring photos of the people you follow and one for yourself. When you select the photo of yourself, it opens another screen with eight options to add to your story.

  • Normal: With the normal option, you can take a regular, still photo.
  • Live: This is for live videos.
  • Type: Type is the only option that doesn’t require a photo or video. Instead, you can choose from different background colors and fonts and type whatever is on your mind.
  • Boomerang: This option creates a GIF.
  • Superzoom: Superzoom allows you to zoom in during a video with dramatic sound effects.
  • Rewind: Rewind lets you post a video to your story that’s in reverse.
  • Hands-free: Records a video without requiring you to hold down the record button.
  • Stop motion: With this feature, you can take a long series of photos and Instagram turns the photos into a GIF.

With all options, you can draw, type and place stickers and polls on photos and videos. These features are very similar to those on Snapchat, so if you’re familiar with that platform, it should make it much easier to navigate. Instagram stories are a great way to promote a new product, give a behind-the-scenes look at your business or show a new blog post.

With Stories Highlights, you can group stories together into highlights and feature the groups on your profile below your bio. Highlights stay on your profile until you remove them. To edit or remove a highlight, just tap and hold it. Instagram also automatically saves your stories when they expire and keeps them in the Stories Archive, which is accessible on your profile.

In addition to Instagram Stories, users can take and stream live video that disappears – sort of like a combination between Facebook Live and Snapchat. You can give customers a live look behind the scenes of interesting aspects of your business, show products or answer live questions through the comments.

Once the video ends, it lives on your Instagram stories where it stays for 24 hours. If you want video that remains on your Instagram feed, you can upload video you’ve taken or shoot video directly through the app to post. If you choose to shoot or upload video, you can still add filters and change the cover. You also have the option of including sound.

There are many ways to interact with other users on Instagram. For instance, you can tag other users in your photos or privately message people.

  • Liking: Liking is a simple way to connect with other users. To like a photo, either double-tap the image or tap the heart button under the post.
  • Commenting: Next to the Like button is a Comment button – just tap it, and the app will take you to the Comments page for that photo with a text box where you can enter what you want to say and hit Post when it’s complete.
  • Mentioning: As on Twitter, you can use the @ symbol to tag other users in your Instagram comments or post captions.
  • Tagging: Instagram allows you to add tags before you post an image or video. To do so, tap the Tag People option before sharing your photo, and then tap where in the photo you’d like to add a tag. The app then prompts you to type in the person’s name to search for his or her account. Once you’ve tagged other users in your photo and shared the image, other users can tap on the photo to see the people who are tagged.
  • Direct messaging: To access Instagram Direct, go to the home page and tap the button in the top right corner. Here, you can send private instant messages, photos and videos to other users. To send a new direct message (DM), tap the + button in the top right corner, and select Send Photo or Video, or Send Message. Once you’ve sent the message, you and the recipients can message back and forth. Users who are not already following you will be asked whether they want to allow you to send them photos and videos before they can view your direct message

Using hashtags is a great way to help other users find your content on Instagram. Hashtags can include letters and numbers, but they can’t contain any non-numerical characters. For example, #DaveAndBusters works as a hashtag, but #Dave&Busters does not.

Because users can both search for hashtags and click on hashtags they see in posts in the app, using relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, make sure you’re using the right hashtags for your brand and don’t go overboard.

Hashtags such as #nofilter (a photo that hasn’t been heavily edited with filters), #selfie (a picture of yourself) and #tbt or #throwbackthursday (old photos) are all incredibly popular on Instagram, but they may not work for you or your brand. It’s a good idea to look at other established brands or even personal users and bloggers in your industry for examples of what to do when it comes to hashtags.

Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post or comment, but using that many would be excessive. The fewer hashtags you can use to get quality responses, the better. Using a lot of popular hashtags might earn you a lot of likes from other users, but it probably won’t increase your following all that much, and the interactions you get will likely not be from people who are interested in your brand but rather those who just saw and liked your image.

Once you understand hashtags, you can branch out and experiment to find which ones work best for your brand. It’s also smart to create a custom hashtag for your business or even an event you’re hosting. This way customers can use hashtags, and it’ll be easy to find their posts as well.

Like other social channels, businesses have the option to advertise on Instagram. There are three formats for advertising:

  • Photo Ads: These look like regular photo posts, but they have a Sponsored label above the photo. They also have a Learn More button in the bottom-right corner, under the photo.
  • Video Ads: Like the photo ads, these look like regular video posts, but with a Sponsored label on top.
  • Carousel Ads: These ads look identical to photo ads but feature multiple photos that users can swipe through.

All three ad formats appear in users’ home feeds. These ads support four objectives: video views, click-throughs to your website, mobile-app installations and mass awareness.

For more information about advertising on Instagram, go here.

Not sure how you can use Instagram for your business? Try some of these cool strategies:

Show off your products or services. Take pictures of cool new products as you get them in, or share pictures of your most popular products. Or, if you run a service business, like a hair salon or a restaurant, take the time to take photos of your work.

Go behind the scenes. Take pictures and videos to show how your products or goods are made, especially if the process is unique or interesting, or something customers ask about often. This not only provides interesting content for your Instagram account, but it shows your customers and followers exactly what goes on in the background.

Include your employees. Make your brand’s Instagram page more personal by including your employees in your posts. Share pictures of your team members hard at work or having fun at company outings.

Ask your customers to show off their photos. Put your Instagram handle and custom hashtags on your products or promotional materials to encourage customers to tag you when they share photos of your product, service or work. This way, other users who want to know where it came from can find you easily. Just make sure you’re checking them out, liking them and commenting on them.

Post exclusive deals on your Instagram. Give back to your Instagram followers by offering them discounts for following you. Share an image with instructions on how to use the deal. For example, you can create a coupon code users input when purchasing something on your website. Another option is you can ask users (when they’re paying for a product or service in-person) to show that they follow you. This will make your followers feel special, and it’s likely to get them telling their friends about your business, too.

To get the most out of your Instagram account, keep these tips in mind:

Links don’t work in Instagram captions. The only place you can share a working link that actually takes users to a website is in your profile. Links don’t work in captions or photo comments, so if you’re trying to direct people to a specific web page, you can change the default link in your bio to that particular page and note in the caption that the link is on your profile.

Make sure your posts relate to your brand. It can be tempting to share photos of food, fashion and animals because they’re so popular on the platform, but if your business has nothing to do with those things, this could make your social marketing look disjointed and confuse your followers. However, if you can find a way to incorporate pictures like these while still making them relevant to your business, it could make your social marketing strategy more successful.

Run giveaways and promotions. Post an image advertising your giveaway, sale or contest, and ask users to repost that image with a specific, custom hashtag to enter. You can then search that hashtag to see who has reposted it and pick a winner. Promotions like this allow your customers and followers to market your brand for you by talking about your promotion on their personal pages, and it drives more people to visit your profile.

Respond to other users’ comments. When people comment on your photos, reply to them. Interacting with customers and followers shows that you are paying attention and that you care about whether they see your photos and what they say. They’ll be more likely to continue following you and interacting with your pictures if they feel like they matter.

Embed Instagram posts on your website. From the desktop version of Instagram, you can get an embed code to add specific images and videos to your company’s website. This can show visitors that you’re active on Instagram and help you gain more followers. Just select the photo you want to embed, click the ellipses button in the bottom right corner and select Embed. This pulls up a box with the embed code and gives you the option of whether you want to display the caption. From there, copy and paste the code where you want it to go on your website.

Use Instagram influencers to promote your business. Influencers are people who have a large following on Instagram. You can pay influencers to market your products to their followers in a natural way. These sponsored posts typically are subtle and don’t look like an ad. This is helpful because people typically hate advertisements.

If You Are Not Focusing On Women Over 50 – You Are Leaving Big $$$ On The Table

  • IF the money is controlled by woman

  • AND women over 50 have the most disposable income

  • WHY aren’t advertisers and marketers focusing on this huge and important market?

As a female marketer I have long wondered why so many brands and services are so clueless.

Look at the photos on this blog – both groups of women shop in similar ways, both groups are having fun – and both groups are either researching or purchasing online – but when you look at the photo of the older women – you should think to yourself, now they are spending money! p.s.  I had a hard time finding photos of women over 50 in any venue, and that was on paid photo sites!

Who is in the photos on your website and in your ads and posted on your social media?  If they are all men or a mix of men and young women – you are missing a huge, inclusive message – a message that says ‘you are our buyer’.  And please be sure to have diversity too!

Your company and your marketing can be the smart ones, be data driven and go where the money is!  Take a look at this research:

article: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/01/24/nearly-three-quarters-women-over-50-shun-all-advertising

72% of women aged 53 to 72 – dubbed ‘babyboomers’ – don’t pay attention to advertising, according to a report examining the evolving relationship between women and marketing.

Elastic Generation: The Female Edit sought the opinion of women aged 53 to 72 from the JWT London Innovation Group, in an effort to pin down an accurate depiction of this key demographic.

It found that 91% of respondents wished advertisers would treat them as people and not as stereotypes with 90% agreeing with the statement ‘I’m not going to start dressing in beige just because I’m over 50 now.’

In a similar vein 71% stated they were still a ‘kid at heart’ while 73% expressed displeasure at how their generation was patronized with regards to technology. Adding weight to these findings 81% of women polled said they did not recognise themselves in advertising supposedly targeted at their generation.

As such brands are encouraged to think beyond age as a number and get to the bottom of what really motivates their target audience while ensuring that depictions of older people in advertising are authentic – binning outdated stereotypes once and for all.

Such findings will be highly worrying for marketers given that 78% of over 50’s command the purse-strings in their households, with the age group accounting for half of all consumer spending.

More to come on this topic!

The War For Talent Hinges on the Workplace Experience

The United States is a nation built on hard work. Even with technology increasing workforce productivity, an amplified advocacy for work-life balance, and the proliferation of non-standard work schedules, Americans, on average, still clock in a 40+-hour work week , and more than 83% still work primarily at the office.

At one time, workplace efficiency and selection was based almost exclusively on costs and proximity to employees’ (if not solely executives’) homes.

Today, providing a compelling workplace experience is an important way for companies to attract, retain and engage employees, as well as express the brand.

This article was written by workplace expert Jeff Lessard, a senior managing director in Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Business Consulting Group, it was first published with this photo of Unilever’s offices, in Connect, last month.

In our work with clients across all industries we see a clear trend—one that differs in meaningful ways from the traditional office environment. Today’s professionals crave agile workplaces that support the full range of activities across the work day, as well as authentic spaces that feel more like home or a boutique hotel than an office.

Ranked first in Fortune’s 2018 100 Best Companies to Work For list, Salesforce implemented an Ohana Design–influenced by Hawaiian culture–across the company’s global workplaces. The offices feature residential-like furnishings, environmentally-friendly interior materials, and designated quiet space for recharging.

In another example, Hyatt recently debuted its new Downtown Chicago headquarters designed to enhance flexibility and cross-team collaboration. Unveiled in 2017, it was designed to reflect the experience that customers have while visiting a Hyatt property. Indeed, “Experiential” is the keyword for the award-winning space.

Both these workplaces reflect the “resimercial,” workplace trend, which infuses comfort and familiarity into commercial office spaces. Key characteristics of this workplace strategy include diversity of furniture, a design that encourages serendipitous interactions, an ecosystem of amenities, easy flow between hospitality and work areas, and frictionless working for guests.

What’s special about the “resimercial” workplace is that it’s universal. It can be applied in offices of varying size, location and operational needs.

Unilever—a global consumer goods company that includes brands such as Lipton, Dove, Klondike and Hellmann’s—recently renovated its North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ to enhance the employee experience, in part through a resimercial workplace strategy across its 325,000-square-foot campus. (see photo above)

The buildings are centered around a main atrium that is pierced with a variety of exciting spaces, comparable to a boutique hotel or a coworking space’s lobby. With its new look and feel, Unilever’s campus continues to create an exciting work environment that has increased engagement among existing employees, and has served as a differentiator in the eyes of prospective talent.

Employees’ attachment to their employers is not what it used to be. A 2018 study from Robert Half found that 64% of professionals polled think changing roles every few years can be beneficial—a 22% increase from a similar survey conducted in 2014. These findings lean even further against employers for employees ages 18 to 34.

To attract, retain, and engage top talent, companies must invest in workplace strategies that fit their business aspirations, work flow, culture, and appetite for change. If not, they will fall behind in the War for Talent.

Time is $ – Here’s How To Make Your Meetings Maximize Both

At my agency we track hours, right down to the 10 minute block – it’s what’s fair for our clients and keeps us all on track.  Most days it feels good to finalize those timesheets and know you had a successful day with tasks checked off your to do list and added to the time sheet.

But if you are the owner of the agency, like I am, you can’t help but grimace at the number of hours spent in meetings and other time not billable.  It comes to at least 30% of the time spent every day in an office.  Add in holidays, sick and vacation days and other non-billable time – and it adds up!

When I saw this superb article by Jim Sullivan in Nation’s Restaurant News I knew he was hitting on all cylinders and I want to share it with you. Here are a few of his key points:

  1.  Leave an open chair at the table — this is for your customer.  Powerfully visual.
  2. End of time.  No matter what and make sure your agenda has a sense of purpose with most important items first on the agenda.
  3. Accountability and Thanks – they go together.

Here is Jim’s piece in Nation’s Restaurant News – an industry where every minute counts and ‘you can’t serve the same customer the same meal twice’.

As any employee (or spouse) will tell you, the No. 1 challenge when two or more people work together is communication. The No. 2 challenge is accountability. And since a good deal of a restaurant leader’s time is spent in meetings with team members (and vendors), perhaps the best place way to improve communication and accountability is by learning how to plan and execute more effective employee meetings.   

A restaurant leader’s work life is chockablock-full of meetings. You probably just spent the last 60 days in planning, budgetary and performance appraisal meetings. Restaurant GMs meet with their fellow managers and Area Directors weekly or monthly, and then there’s the all-important but routinely overlooked daily Pre-Shift Meetings with your hourly associates. Since we spend so much time in meetings, I thought it may be helpful to share some industry best practices for getting the most out of them.

1.     Consider the ROI first. Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time. And the weekly/monthly manager meeting is one of the more commonly overlooked controllable expenses a restaurant has. Consider the collective salary/wage cost of each person at the meeting, along with the expense of what’s not getting done while you’re meeting. If you had to write a personal check for your next meeting, would you still have it, or would you plan it or run it any differently? Begin manager meetings by saying something like, “Today’s meeting will collectively cost our company approximately $715 in salary in the next hour, so let’s make this investment and meeting worthwhile.”

3.     Leave an extra chair open at every sit-down meeting. Even though they aren’t present, every meeting should include a ceremonial place for customers at the table to remind us how every decision should relate to making their experience with your brand better. Amazon employee meetings have employed this visual touchstone for nearly two decades.

4.     Have a plan and stick to it. Ambiguity is the source of most conflict between managers and teams in the workplace. Strong meetings foster clarity. Planning is paramount, whether it’s a routine weekly meeting with your fellow managers or a company-wide annual conference in another state. Commence each meeting with three stated objectives that relate specifically to the quarterly goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you’re focusing on. Share the agenda, objectives and expectations with participants ahead of time.   

5.     Skinny the monologue, fatten the dialogue. Effective meetings are both productive and developmental. Attendees should leave feeling: “That was worthwhile and I know more now than I did before the meeting.” Structure each meeting to simultaneously inform and teach, and build discussion into each decision topic. The meeting leader should not dominate the discussion, otherwise you’re more effective sending an email.

7.     Bring and share two best practices each. The foodservice industry is a free university if you pay attention. Ask every manager to write down and share two things they learned at work since the last meeting. Compile their insights in a Key Learnings list and update it every meeting. You’ll be amazed at what great insight you’ll accumulate over the next 12 months. Share the lists with your new managers and post it on your company intranet. None of us is a smart as all of us.

8.     Determine and assign pre-shift meeting topics. One of the most important things you can do in a manager meeting is to identify what you’ll collectively focus on as a team between now and the next meeting. And the best way to do that is to agree upon and assign a specific topic to every pre-shift meeting over the next two weeks. Align the pre-shift topic to the KRAs you’re focusing on. If managers don’t give their hourly teams specific goals each day, they’ll presume you don’t have any, and then they’ll substitute their own. For a free downloadable template for planning and executing daily pre-shift meetings, visit Sullivision.com.

9.     Pursue the bright spots. Too much leadership time is devoted solely to fixing problems when just as much progress can be achieved by identifying outstanding performers and figuring out how to replicate their performance. Don’t just talk about what to fix. Discuss how to scale and replicate the innovation that team members demonstrate.

11.  Always end with energy and positivity. Thank people for their contributions. Keep the meeting upbeat throughout. Summarize key items. If you have exceptional news to share, the end is usually the best place to do it, not the beginning.  

Meetings are like elevators. They can lift you up or bring you down. Planning, purpose and productivity are the key elements of the kind of meetings that maximize efficiency and value. These are the kind of meetings we anticipate instead of dread.  

Jim Sullivan is a popular keynote and workshop speaker at restaurant leadership conferences worldwide. 

 

Panels that WOW – whether you are the organizer or a speaker

Have you ever…

…had a panel moderator who liked the sound of his own voice a little too much?

…sat through a discussion where one of the panelists hogged the stage so other panelists never got to speak?

…watched as the audience wasted time with a bunch of irrelevant questions?

A great panel moderator fixes that!  See the 28 tips below, thanks to MeetingsNet, written by Need James

accomplishment achievement adult african

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

But not all moderators are great. You need to focus on finding a moderator who will create the best experience for your audience by educating, entertaining, and interacting with them.

At your next event, implement a BDA (that’s just my way of saying before, during, and after) process, and ask your moderator to consider the following strategies:

Before the panel:

  • Create bullet points for discussion and share with the panelists.
  • Organize a conference call so the panelists can connect.
  • Get photos, social media information, and short biographies of panelists.
  • Provide three questions to panelists in advance to help them prepare.
  • Keep those questions contextual so panelists can be flexible in their responses.
  • Prepare case studies and examples you can add to complement panelist input.
  • Manage logistics: i.e., make sure everyone has water, individual microphones, and seating, and advise panelists to silence their cellphones.
  • Determine the social media strategy: What hashtag are you using? Who will manage questions that are tweeted by audience members?
  • Determine the seating and speaking order; begin with a strong panelist.

During the panel

  • Kristin Arnold, a Certified Professional Facilitator, says, “Start with something interesting to get your audience to lean in to the topic. A simple tactic is to take a poll so that you and the panelists can focus attention on what really matters to the audience.”
  • Make the first question easy, and allow the audience to get to know your panelists.
  • When asking a question, direct your attention to the panelist and then look out into the audience (that will encourage the panelist to look at the audience when they respond).
  • Advise the audience about social media guidelines and what the hashtags are.
  • Encourage the audience to share learnings from the panel on their social channels.
  • Project the panel’s contact information, social media profiles, and conference hashtag on the screen for people to easily connect and tag them.

Managing the panel

  • Keep questions contextual—don’t let panelists stray.
  • Ask them to focus all their responses to benefit the audience.
  • Shut down any sales pitches of products and services.
  • Provide a variety of good and bad examples and case studies for the audience (don’t just share good news case studies).
  • Allow the panel to talk to each other (and over each other a little, but not to be rude).
  • Allow debate, not stage hogging.

Managing the audience

  • Always repeat the question for the benefit of the audience and the panelists.
  • Ask audience members to state their name before they ask their questions.
  • Ask audience members to ask questions that the whole room will benefit from.
  • Use microphones for all questions.

After the panel

  • Share the panelists’ contact information with the audience again.
  • Encourage the audience to meet the panelists one on one.
  • Send thank you notes to the panelists.

Having just been at a conference that schedules one panel after another, the ones that prepare like recommended above are the ones that WOW the audience, and are memorable.

Whenever possible use visuals on dual screens beside the panel stage – tutor your panelists to have slides and images that can be photographed, use large type and have lots of definition.  Please no gray type and gobs of copy – remember if you are wowing the audience they’ll be using their cell phones to photograph these images and posting across the web.

Think about what you ask them to wear, seating arrangements, microphone testing, sound levels and signage – all the better for those social media posts that will amplify your message and give you reportable results!

 

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