5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Networking Events

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Whether you love networking at events or it strikes fear into your heart, it is an inevitable component of marketing that allows you to maintain relevance, continue to get your name out, build up your network, and remain competitive. In the past, we’ve looked at some ways that integrated marketers can project self-assurance in networking situations. Now The Event Manager Blog has put together a video and post about five practices to help you get the most out of your networking opportunities.

Go It Alone
While there is always comfort in numbers, sticking with your colleagues or people you already know will not help you to make new connections. Now is the time to explore who else may share your viewpoints or be able to bring you new business. Payscale recommends hanging out near the food or drink areas since everyone will eventually gravitate there, allowing you the opportunity to initiate small talk.

Prep for Your Prospects… and Don’t Forget Social
In addition to being a resource for promoting your organization’s events, social media is a great way to get up-to-date on who you might meet at a networking event. If you see on social media that some attendees you want to connect with have said they’ll be at the networking event, see if you can set up a meet & greet. Make time to set some goals for the event that will help you focus your efforts.

You Have Two Ears and One Mouth
When you’re nervous, do you ramble on about yourself? Try to curb that impulse when networking. Show sincere interest in each person you talk with—maintain eye contact, listen closely, and build a rapport. It’s better to focus on making a few solid connections than making it rain business cards while constantly looking for the next person you can connect with on LinkedIn. Ask questions, including some prepared ones if you need to get the ball rolling.

Be Particular About the Events You Attend
There are enough networking events available to keep you busy every night of the week, but be strategic with your time. Focus on the depth of your interactions, instead of breadth. Select those events that you find comfortable for encouraging conversations with new people, but allow for serendipitous encounters that may turn out to be the most valuable.

Take Your Cue from LinkedIn
Find out if any mutual contacts will be attending the event that can introduce you to coveted potential clients. Or be that key contact for someone else, if you have the connections they need. Warm introductions like these are always more effective than cold contacts. Remember your goals and continue to meet new people as time permits rather than lingering with the first person you engage with meaningfully.

Integrated marketers who put these five tips into practice will be able to substantially up their networking game. In all likelihood, many of the people attending these events have the same reservations and goals, so if everyone is thoughtful, considerate and prepared, networking can actually be beneficial…and maybe even fun!

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How Signage Color Affects Customers

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Let’s say you have a hot new promotion coming up, and you want to create high-impact signage to promote it.

You work with a creative service professional to hone the most compelling message. You select the right place for your signage to increase visibility. And you even consider your customer demographics when selecting typography.

But you are leaving money on the table if you’re not considering the psychology of color when designing signage.

According to Kiss Metrics, visual cues triggered by color choices can influence shoppers to spend more, recommend your brand, wait for a sale — or even walkway.

  • 93 percent of consumers say visual appeal is a primary purchase-driver, over sound, smell, and texture
  • 85 percent of shoppers say color is one of the main reasons they choose to buy a particular brand
  • Color increases brand recognition by 80 percent

“It doesn’t really matter what your favorite color is, although you’re certainly more likely to be attracted to brand images using the colors you prefer most,” freelance lifestyle, fashion and tech writer Charli Radke blogged at The Huffington Post. “But it’s really the subconscious emotional response and how colors are used in conjunction with one another that determines how visually appealing an image is.”

Marketers who study the psychology of color say that red, orange, black and royal blue trigger impulse shoppers, while navy blue and teal shades target shoppers on a budget. Pale blue and pink attract traditional shoppers, Radke pointed out.

To put these theories into action, work with your creative services professional to make these signage options a part of your integrated marketing strategy:

  • Pop up a red-and-black point-of-purchase display promoting new inventory
  • Hang a navy banner advertising a buy-one-get-one-free deal
  • Dress your storefront window with a pink poster touting value-based product or service benefits

For more inspiration, read our companion post, “Fall for Color: How Pantone Trends Affect Your Brand,” and then ask your signage professional for additional guidance on selecting colors for your next poster, banner or tradeshow display.

Ring in the season and bring in the business with a holiday marketing campaign

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Ready or not, Holiday Season 2017 is upon us. If you have a seasonal business (or even if you don’t), the holidays present many unique opportunities to let your business shine.

Our first suggestion: Review this Small Business Trends article sharing 50 thought-provoking (and potentially rewarding) holiday marketing ideas.

Here are nine ideas to get you going, from Small Business Trends, and your friends at MarketingTango:

  1. Decorate your website. Put your holiday spirit on display and surprise customers with stockings, holiday trees, or stacks of gift-wrapped presents. You might also develop a holiday-themed landing page touting seasonal promotions.
  2. Announce a Facebook holiday photo contest. Create a competition around having followers post holiday photos. There could even be an off-line component – print out the finalists and create a poster displaying the best entries.
  3. Cross-promote with coupons. It’s a good idea to include a coupon or special offer with every purchase. This year, attract customers from other local businesses by sending coupons to the business’s customers – and vice versa. Holiday hint: Date the coupon for after the holidays so customers will come back for more in the New Year.
  4. Create a holiday-themed YouTube video. Produce a video that puts your holiday spirit on display. Think outside the holiday gift box with a parody of a favorite holiday song or story.
  5. Host a thank you dinner. Reward special customers by treating them to lunch or dinner during the holidays. (Holiday hint: You might have better luck with this idea if you don’t schedule the meal too close to the actual holiday.)
  6. Be featured in Holiday Gift Guides. Do some of your products make thoughtful gifts? Try connecting with local bloggers and see if they will share your products in a gift guide.
  7. Post a creative holiday hashtag. To boost engagement on Instagram, come up with a holiday hashtag and encourage customers to share how they use your products.
  8. Gift some holiday swag to your people. Much of the client-pleasing swag you give to your customers can double as thoughtful gifts for employees. From inexpensive ear buds and blue tooth speakers to ritzier items such as embroidered jackets, let your imagination (and your budget) be your guide.
  9. Be active – and passive – with your holiday campaign. Some of the ideas above are designed to stimulate business now, which you might call the active part of your marketing. But other ideas – such as a memorable gift your client is likely to use and hold onto, or a holiday blog expressing your company’s appreciation for its customers — are more passive in nature, with a far softer sell. See if you can mix in active and passive aspects for your holiday campaign.

The holiday season can be challenging to small business people trying to promote their products while spending quality time with family and friends. But it’s also brimming over with opportunity for smart, creative integrated marketers. Cheers to a happy and profitable season!

Monster.com’s 3-Word Content Strategy How (Wow, Now) Will You Adapt it for Your Business?

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Monster.com has been a leading resource for job seekers since 1994, but in recent years they’ve also become known for their content marketing savvy. With a strategy that Monster’s managing editor Margaret Magnarelli calls How, Wow, Now, the company has expanded their target market beyond job seekers to include the unhappily employed, and those simply interested in following employment trends. Best of all, this three-pronged strategy is ripe for customization by creative integrated marketers.

How: Service Journalism
Service journalism provides consumers with guidance or advice, identifies helpful information, and offers ways to conquer their challenges for a better life. Above all, this type of content is intended to form and maintain a relationship with the reader, positioning your organization as a trusted resource. In the case of Monster.com, this may be tips for sprucing up their resumes or articles about the workplace. Consider how you can help address your prospects’ pain points and offer them clear, practical answers.

Wow: Build an Emotional Connection
Emotions play a huge role in how consumers act and react.” If you can tap into what matters to your prospects, creating compelling stories that will resonate with them, you are more likely to stand out from the ‘noise’ that they are getting from a constant bombardment of marketing messages. Monster has used a variety of Wow methods, including modeling a resume tutorial after viral-style recipe videos, and a first-person account of lessons learned from a layoff. Think about ways in which your organization can use humor or heart to tell a memorable story that will stick with your readers.

Now: Timely Content
Be on the lookout for hot, relevant topics in the zeitgeist that you can use as a jumping off point for original content creation. If you can tie your demographic or industry into a current event, incorporating keywords for topical searches, you may be able to generate organic traffic, as well as entertaining or interesting regular consumers of your content. Monster’s team keeps tabs on employment data, important dates, and other industry-related information that they can repurpose with their own perspective and data. Think about events now or in the near future that may provide natural parallels with your own industry, and that would make for a persuasive read or watch.

Does your current content strategy give you opportunities to take advantage of How, Wow, Now moments? What can you or your team do to incorporate these tips into your content strategy? Shrewd integrated marketers will embrace this straightforward approach to creating truly effective content, whether tackling one prong, or all three.

Love Your Prospects, Love Their Pets: Pet-Themed Promo Items Have Surprising Benefits

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One thing that savvy marketers understand is that, even when you’re doing B2B marketing, you’re still marketing to a real human being. So there’s a very good chance you’re marketing to a person with a pet, since 68% of households in this country share their space with a pet. Why not abandon the tried-and-true-tchotchke formula and shake things up with pet-themed promotional products? For example, consider:

  • Sublimated bandanas
  • Bowls and mats
  • Toys and laser pointers
  • Pet food lids and bag clips
  • Pet hair removal brushes

Now consider what these items can do for your marketing efforts.

Pet promo items are unique
It’s true that a clever, well-thought of promotional product can break through the clutter, and that there are some innovative, useful products that work both for internal and external audiences. But chances are good your prospects probably receive (and then immediately throw out) the standards, like t-shirts, ball-point pins and calendars. A pet tag, doggie bandana, or toy can help you stand out, which can help you make an impression.

Associate Your Brand with Powerful Emotions
It’s scientific fact: interacting with our pets produces oxytocin, or the “love hormone” (and at least in dogs, the feeling may be mutual), a neurotransmitter that is associated with powerful and positive emotions—it helps us love, trust, and make bonded connections. Now, imagine what’s going to happen when your prospect is clipping your branded tag to his or her dog’s collar, or playing a round of catch. As your prospect’s brain is flooded with oxytocin and pet love, he or she is also going to associate your brand with those moments.

There’s just one caveat
Before integrated marketers invest in thousands of pet toys, they need to invest in maintaining a bullet-proof list: after all, receiving a pet toy in the mail might be confusing to a prospect who doesn’t have a pet at all! So it’s essential that you know whom you’re talking to.

Putting it all together to get your customer to sit, stay, roll over, and beg
So now that you have the genius ideas to court clients by appealing to their pets, you’ve still got to hone in on the audience, what the bigger campaign is going to look like, and what else you’re going to do to lure them deeper into the funnel. Keep reading for more genius ideas that will help with all of the above.

Targeted, Timely and Tailored: Location-Based Mobile Marketing

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Location-based marketing (LBM) is fast gaining recognition as a powerful way to build engagement with users on their mobile devices. Integrated marketers deliver real-time, relevant content triggered by a user’s physical location.

Target Marketing offers four tips for engaging with consumers using LBM to create interactive experiences and deliver personalized messaging. Campaigns can be designed as simple check-ins, or use a more complex system of rewards and promotions, like badges and points.

Consider the Customer Experience
Target Marketing suggests planning for the customer experience, looking beyond ads and coupons, and considering video, games, or giveaways. LBM only targets those with proximity to an event or desired location, so it also carries with it a perceived exclusivity and personal touch.

Take the Long View
Businesses that consider the long-term consumer value of using LBM avoid being “salesy” or pushing too many messages because of the risk of audience disengagement. While one-off discounts may temporarily engage a customer, it takes more to build lasting relationships. Integrated marketers that build a plan before LBM implementation will find it easier to get “the right content to the right people at the right time.”

Targeting Beyond “Entrance Events”
When considering location-based marketing, businesses often look at the “entrance” trigger, but there are countless ways to reach mobile users. Targeting can include exiting a location, point of sale or spending a specified period of time in one locale.

AdWeek recounts the story of a marketer who used an app for dinner reservations and later received a reminder through his phone’s personal assistant telling him when to leave in order to make the booking. This type of integration will continue to grow, ensuring that those organizations that have planned ahead will be better positioned for success.

Test and Measure
LBM is still relatively new to the mobile marketing mix. Target Marketing advises taking a ‘test and learn’ approach. Traditional metrics don’t work in this environment, so SMBs instead look at the quality of engagement, foot-traffic, and sales tied to location pushes. Mobile platforms provide precise and prompt feedback, as well as insights into consumer actions when responding to pushed messages.

Conclusion
Location-based marketing is a compelling strategy for driving targeted engagement, encouraging purchases and visits. Its relative newness to the array of marketing strategies means that trial and error are inevitable, but as businesses experiment and adopt more advanced targeting techniques, this type of outreach will continue to make strides.

4 Reasons Why It’s Time to Freshen Up Your Signage

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Who hasn’t heard that old chestnut, “A business with no sign is a sign of no business?” Most integrated marketers appreciate the benefits and the necessity of quality signage, but simply having an ‘open for business’ sign isn’t enough. Signage, like the business it represents, should continue to evolve, and here are four reasons why now is a good time to make sure your signage fits your brand and your business goals.

Bricks and Mortar Stores Are Here to Stay
Sure, it’s important to have a standout website, but there are significant indicators that traditional stores are going strong. Forbes is bullish on retail stores —they make retailers more money than e-commerce does; all but one of the top 10 retailers in the U.S. are bricks and mortar, and even Millennials and Generation Z prefer the old-fashioned shopping experience. So why miss out on all that retail love? Make sure your signs enhance the IRL experience.

Your Current Signage Doesn’t Look Like Your Current Brand
Good retail signage like awnings, outdoor signs, and way-finding graphics are no small investment; and when you purchase high-quality signage, you probably want it for the long run. But yet, if you’ve updated any of your branding elements, such as a redesigned logo, make sure it carries through to the rest of your signage. Your signage should make use of the fonts, color palette, graphic treatments, and other elements of your current brand. And both your signage and your brand should reflect your current marketing and positioning: for example, if you started out competing on price-point but as your store as attracted customers, your new hallmark is personalized service, you may want to consider ditching garish SALE! Signs.

There’s Some Really Cool Signage Technology Out There
Integrated marketers who believe that digital signage technology just isn’t right for them are missing out on opportunities to engage, entertain, and delight their customers. Unlike analog signage that just does one thing, digital signs can tell customers about a product, recommend other items to purchase, display content you’ve created around your merchandise or the store, and keep your customers in your store for longer.

And digital signage has been embraced almost everywhere, from gas stations and quick service restaurants to fashion boutiquesgrocery stores, and public transit.

Your Signage Looks Old
We’re not talking about deliberately retro: If your floor clings are blemished with scuff marks and dirt, or your awnings are so faded by the sun that all the colors have turned, then it’s definitely time to think about signage. Old signs can scare off potential customers!