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.

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.”