Are You Leveraging These Up & Coming Social Media Apps To Make Your Brand Standout?

Up & Coming Social Media AppsYou’ve finally gotten a handle on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. But here’s one guarantee about social media platforms: They’re constantly changing. What’s today’s popular site is tomorrow’s old news. Translation? You have to take extra care to pay attention to what’s new and where people of all ages are flocking.

Some of these sites are likely on your radar. Those include Snapchat and Vimeo. Others, like Yo and Yik Yak, might be less so. Why do more and more new sites keep popping up? Because more and more users worldwide are diving in to social media—some estimates place that total in the billions.

There are social benefits for individuals to all these programs, but businesses aren’t excluded from good things, too. You’ll cement your community, increase your sales, and boost your brand presence.

Use this graphic to get started on what’s new, and understand what you need to do to take advantage of social media platforms

Click To Enlarge

11 Smaller Social Media Apps Poised to Break Out in 2016

Via Salesforce

Planning Success: 5 Critical Steps To Creating A Marketing Plan

Effective Market Plan OutlineIs your sales team expert at getting around, through or under the walls customers put up? Marketing can help identify and guide the sales team to the best walls to attack. Plus help supply the tools to be even more effective in winning the customer’s attention and, ultimately, their business.

Having a marketing plan forces you to take the time to understand and identify those customers and tools that will have the greatest return – as well as understand the resources necessary for success.

Effective marketing plans are very detailed. They force you to stop and take a snapshot of the marketplace, your customers, competitors and products. With that starting point, they help you define your goals and the path to achieving them.

This guide is an outline to help you put together a comprehensive, strategic and effective blueprint for your business.

Planning for success: your guide to preparing an annual Marketing Plan

There are many steps and details involved in fleshing out a comprehensive and compelling marketing plan, so here are some general guidelines to think about as you get started.

The first step to Marketing Plan success is fully understanding the Situation Analysis

The path to an effective Marketing Plan starts with knowingwhere you are goingThis is an analysis of where we are (ourselves, our competition, our market, our distribution) and how we got there. It should be factual and objective. If possible, your data should reach back at least three to five years. The further back in time your data goes, the more meaningful will be your trend lines. Select what is most meaningful, focusing on those areas where your patterns differ from your competition.

  • The size, scope and share of the market
    • Sales history of yourself and competitors, and share of the market, in dollars and units
    • Market potential and major trends in supply and demand of this and related products
  • Sales, costs and profits of your product
    • Sales history, by sizes or models, by sales regions
    • Cost history, including cost of goods delivered, selling, advertising, administrative, and all other expenses
    • Profit history (not profit on sales and on investment), including competitors if known
  • The distribution channels
    • Identification of principal channels, with sales history through each type including competition if known
    • Buying habits and attitudes of principal channels, your product vs. competitors
    • Your selling policies and practices, in comparison with competitors
    • Trade advertising, literature, samples and displays
  • The consumer or end user
    • Identification of person making the buying decision
    • Consumer attitudes of your product vs. competitors, on quality and price
    • Consumer purchase habits including factors as time of purchase
    • Consumer use habits
    • Your marketing, packaging, promotional and advertising history
    • Website, social media, PR and other educational influences
  • The product
    • Story of your product – quality development, design, sizes or models, delivery and service
    • Comparison with competition and evidence of performance
    • Product research and product improvements planned

The next step to building an effective Marketing Plan is identification of problems and opportunities

  • What are the major problems that are restricting your profit or impeding your growth?
  • What opportunities do you have?
    • Overcoming the above problems?
    • Modifying products, streamlining the product line, or adding new products?
    • Increasing your market penetration or developing new markets?
    • Improving the efficiency of your operations?

Now it’s time to think through where you want to go by creating objectives for your Marketing Plan

  • Creating an Effective Market Plan OutlineYour assumptions for future conditions
    • Level of economic activity
    • Favorable/unfavorable legislation
    • Level of industry activity (market forecast)
    • Activities of competitors: product innovation, marketing strategy, pricing, etc.
    • Changes in customer needs for your products
    • Changes in distribution
    • Changes beyond your control in your own cost of product and sales
  • Your primary objectives
    • Sales and share of market objective
    • Profit objective
    • Turnover objective
    • ROI objective
  • Overall strategy for achievement of primary objectives
    • Sample statement strategy: Shift sales emphasis from product line A to product line B. Emphasize penetration of key market areas X, Y and Z. Reduce capital employed by bringing accounts receivable back to standard P.
  • Functional (departmental)objectives
    • Sales objectives by product and by market
    • Distribution objectives
    • Advertising and promotional objectives
    • Customer service objectives
    • Pricing objectives
    • Product modification objectives
    • New product objectives
    • Product deletion objectives
    • Expense control objectives
    • Manufacturing objectives (plant additions, capacity utilization, unit costs, etc.)
    • Personnel training objectives

Understanding how you are going to get there is the role of action programs in your Marketing Plan

Put Your Marketing Plan Into ActionHere you will detail the specific action steps, priorities and schedules relating to each of the functional objectives. If, for example, one of your objectives for sales was to “increase sales of product X,” now is the time to pinpoint specifics from what will be done, by who, to increase sales with specific customers.

If one of your objectives was to “introduce a new product by X date,” now specify development cost and deadlines, production planning, schedule, market introduction plans, advertising and promotional support, sales and service training needed, etc.

Most of this programming should be delegated and worked out “from the bottom up” rather than from the top down.

Don’t skip the control and review procedures step in creating your Marketing Plan

How do you determine your pricing?  It’s probably a rigorous process, but is it science or art?Decide how you will monitor the execution of your plan once it is set in motion.

  • What kinds of “feedback” information should be rendered periodically to each responsible person so that actual progress can be evaluated against the plan expectations?
  • How frequently should each element of control be reviewed?
  • How should the carious elements of control information be “packaged” so that they:
    • Can readily understand them
    • See important pieces of information simultaneously and in their relationship to each other, so as to determine what corrective action should be taken?
  • Set a date for a full scale review of progress vs. plan

While creating a marketing plan is never a simple task, the process will force you and your team to evaluate the opportunities – and challenges – that your business faces. And because the marketplace is never static, this should be a living document, periodically being reviewed and updated. It never should become a binder sitting on the shelf.

Good Selling!

 

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

 

Are QR Codes A Marketing Gimmick?

QR Codes Are Stupid -- Only If You Use Them IncorrectlyThere are plenty of articles talking about the failure of QR codes. Most with pictures proving their point. My favorite is the QR code on a billboard.   The proverbial wrong tool for the job.

So QR codes are stupid, right? Nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

Let’s not jump to conclusions. Granted they haven’t taken off like some thought they would. And no one will argue that using a marketing tool in the wrong way will every work.

QR codes are only a tool in your marketing toolbox

Not surprisingly, we think QR codes can play a key role in your marketing mix. Especially when used on packaging.

Here’s why: If you have a story to tell to the shopper, and not enough room on you package to tell it, a QR code can help provide critical information.

With the rise of smart phones, QR readers are commonplace. That means that consumers can scan your code if they want to.

Using a QR code is the beginning of your marketing, not the end

QR codes are only a tool in your marketing toolboxMany marketers slap a QR code on and have it point to something easy – like the home page of their website. How’s that helping your shopper make any kind of decision to purchase your product?

Instead, create a micro site for your product that’s designed to be viewed on a mobile device. And have a 15 or 30 second video that’s tied to the product.  An example might be to explain the ease of use, demonstrate installation steps or to add critical details to a complex selling story.

An added bonus is that those simple videos can also be used as rich media content on your A+ pages on eCommerce sites like Amazon.

The micro site has pictures of the product in use, tips and other important points that bring your product to life for the consumer.  All in a quick, simple and concise way.

Using QR codes will impress my buyer!

new-bright-ideaYour buyer will probably not be impressed and is likely to question the strategy. Be prepared to answer any questions your merchant may pose factually. And never underestimate the power of a demonstration in their office.

Share with your buyer the key reasons when QR codes make the most sense:

  1. Limited space on the packaging to bring the product to life
  2. When you have a complex selling story
  3. When a demonstration is a powerful closer

Clarify where the QR code will point and how the content there is relevant and can be re-purposed for eCommerce and in other social media use. In other words, how you plan on using it to drive consumers to their stores.

Share how you plan on tracking click-thrus and be willing to share that data with your merchant. And don’t worry if the numbers clicking are small.

By using QR codes appropriately and as part of your overall marketing mix, your buyer might just be impressed!