Residential Resolutions: Gain Multifamily Renters in 2013

Good news, multifamily property owners: The number of multifamily renter households is expected to increase to 1.7 million by 2015. This stat gives you the perfect framework for forming a resolution for 2013 — to gain more renters. Below are some tips to help you get started on your property’s resolution for the New Year.

Know Your Demographic


Make sure your marketing and property are tailored to suit your target market.

In recent years, families have become a larger demographic in the multifamily world. According to Multifamily Biz, the average family size decreased by about 1 percent from 2000 to 2010. That 1 percent has had more of an impact than you might think — more families are going after smaller units and lower rent. So, when marketing properties to families, emphasize space efficiency and family-friendly amenities and events.

For niche demographics, consider highlighting environmentally friendly amenities for eco-conscious renters, pet-friendly policies for animal lovers, high-speed Internet or Wi-Fi for students and online rent payment for Gen Y tenants who are used to making purchases online.

Get Online


Take advantage of that high-speed Internet you’re advertising and dive into online marketing. While older demographics turn to classifieds and print directories, younger tenants are using their laptops and mobile phones to browse the Web and social media outlets for places to live.

Jennifer Saciokas, vice president of marketing for Lincoln Properties, suggests using targeted geographic mobile and location-based campaigns, as well as discounts and brand-building publications to reach your audience.

When using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, you should value quality instead of quantity. Users who follow your property do so because they are interested in your updates; however, 42 percent of people report unsubscribing from a business’ social media updates and posts because they feel overwhelmed by the constant communication. If your communication becomes overwhelming, even the best prospects will not hesitate to unsubscribe.

Don’t Forget About Your Current Tenants


Word of mouth spreads fast (especially through social media), so make sure your tenants’ experience with your property is as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible. Respond in a timely manner to current renters’ requests and consider investing in a call tracking system to keep track of when your tenants call with requests. Follow through by going back and listening to call recordings to make sure your employees are providing your tenants with quality service.

Keeping a New Year’s resolution can be a challenge. Use these tips to make a game plan that brings new renters to your multifamily property, and make 2013 a profitable year.

Now Introducing… Who’s Calling’s New Animated Infographic

Which ads are improving your bottom line?

Who’s Calling’s new animated infographic explains how our call tracking solutions help you answer this question, invest in the right ads and generate more revenue.

Enjoy and feel free to post and share with others!

’Tis the Season to be Marketing

The holiday season is upon us, and as the cold weather rolls in, marketers are rolling out strategies for finding the best marketing channels to invest in. With online consumerism showing no sign of slowing, HubSpot has created this infographic illustrating the increased focus on mobile, social and email marketing. Bring your business some holiday cheer by optimizing your marketing efforts and implementing these techniques.


Throw Your Marketing to the Sharks

Have you ever had the experience of coming across a new product or hearing about the launch of a new business and jealously thought, “I came up with that idea!”? If so, what stopped you from bringing that idea or product to the marketplace?

More than likely you didn’t know how to engineer the product, get investor support, create effective marketing campaigns or distribute the product in stores. When you start to think through the details of what it would take to make your original idea a reality, it can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, that’s why so many great ideas never make it to the marketplace.

ABC is currently running a show that relieves the frustration of our inner entrepreneur — Shark Tank. The show brings together experienced, successful business moguls and everyday hardworking entrepreneurs who are looking to launch their ideas and need help with the logistics.

On the show, the business owners that are brought into the “Shark Tank” are given the opportunity to present their ideas to five different investors. The investors then decide how much stake to put into the entrepreneurs’ ideas.

When you strip away the entertainment qualities of this successful reality show, you are left with something that can be very educational when it comes to marketing. As you watch the different investees present their ideas you can see firsthand what influences investors and consumers in the marketplace to buy and what doesn’t from a marketing perspective.

Some of the marketing insights that can be taken away from this show are as follows:

  • Know how to influence your target audience.
  • Be creative with your marketing campaigns.
  • Understand and be able to explain the financial aspects of your idea.

There is also a consistent virtue that is repeatedly seen in every successful venture — hard work.

We encourage you to take the marketing lessons from Shark Tank and apply them to your own business endeavor. Once your campaign is in motion, gauge your audience’s response by tracking your calls and linking them to the revenue you generate.

Black Friday: Another Year of Gobbling up the Savings

The number of people shopping on Black Friday has been steadily increasing since 2006, and marketers were glad to see that 2012 was no exception to this trend. Retailers encouraged shoppers to spend by opening their doors as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and according to pricegrabber, 64 percent of shoppers planned to take advantage of the extended store hours.

If you liked that stat, you’ll love the top ten Black Friday and Cyber Monday infographics of 2012.

Enjoy!

Take Your Marketing to the Streets

From Thanksgiving parades to charity balls, the holidays provide plenty of opportunities to get your brand out in the public eye. Check out Inc. Magazine’s compilation of 12 creative event marketing campaigns, which include a bouncy ball deluge, a very literal interpretation of “High Tea” and a large-scale paint spill.

What are some ways you’re taking your brand to the streets this holiday season?

Doing Well by Doing Good

When your company engages in a mutually beneficial collaboration with a cause (also known as cause marketing) you can help those in need while generating brand loyalty, positive press and support from consumers, employees and thought leaders for your business.

Statistics have shown that cause marketing is a great strategy to employ when you want to differentiate your brand from your competitors. The Do Well Do Good Public Opinion Survey found that 70 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a product that supports a cause.

A cause that dozens of big names are currently donating to is the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. The American Red Cross donations toward this cause recently reached $130 million. Here are a few of the major contributors:

  • Toyota USA — $1 million
  • BMW — $1 million
  • Lady Gaga — $1 million
  • AT&T — $1 million
  • Wells Fargo — $1 million
  • Enterprise — $1 million
  • Apple — $2.5 million
  • Goldman Sachs — $10 million

Ferrari created a buzz about its business while raising more than $1 million for the American Red Cross by auctioning off the first 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta available in the U.S.

Cause marketing can tie your business and its products and services to a charitable cause while boosting revenue and your company’s overall image. Consider supporting a cause. You can start by donating to the American Red Cross here to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Why “Feast” Is a Dirty Word When It Comes to Your Landing Page

Thanksgiving is near, and we are all excited to feast on the bounty of food that will be brought to the table. It seems the more choices there are, the more people choose to eat. You would think the same approach would apply to a landing page. But while you may be trying to do your consumers a favor by giving them a feast of choices, too much of a good thing can be overwhelming, according to Psychology Today.

The publication compared several studies that examined how an abundance of consumer options can stall decision-making. Take jam, for example: Customers were 10 times more likely to make a purchase if they were choosing among six flavors rather than 24. Analysts were led to the conclusion that the greater the number of options, the more cautious people were when coming to a decision.

With this information, you must ask yourself: What is the most imperative thing I want visitors to do when they visit my page? It might be to fill out a contact form, follow you on Twitter, like your Facebook page, call your business for more information or make a final purchase. However, it should not be all of these things.

The point is, when a visitor arrives at your landing page, if they are faced with too many choices, they may choose not to take any action at all.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your landing page:
  • Choose one call to action.
  • Keep it short and simple.
  • Track site visitors’ response.
  • Test the results.

Remember, too many choices can be overwhelming for consumers. Create a landing page with a clear call to action to convert your visitors into customers. View more information on how to accurately track how your landing page is performing here.

Three Marketing Challenges and How Call Tracking Can Solve Them

Marketers understand that the first step toward overcoming challenges is identifying them. However, it can be difficult to recognize what hurdles you need to clear without an understanding of how your business is currently performing. We’ve identified three challenges that marketers face and how using call tracking solutions can help you conquer them.

Problem 1: Targeting Quality Leads


Facebook boasts more than 900 million users, and Twitter just passed 500 million users in February. Needless to say, the world has never been more connected. Marketers swoon at the goldmine of potential leads within reach. The challenge comes down to identifying your target audience and acquiring quality leads.

Solution: Learn from the past.

One of the best ways to determine who your target audience consists of is to identify who your current customers are. Examine what your current customers value, how they heard about your business and what made them choose you over your competition. This information will help you send an effective marketing message to the right audience.

It’s also important to gather information about the calls coming into your business. Call tracking providers such as Who’s Calling can help you generate and manage leads by capturing and recording caller data.

Problem 2: Standing Out


Consumers have adapted to information overload by blocking out extraneous marketing messages that don’t impact them. In today’s market, simply saying that your company outperforms your competitors won’t cut it.

Solution: Identify which methods are working.

To catch a consumer’s attention, marketers must develop concise selling points for their business. Stand out by focusing on how your company will increase a consumer’s bottom line, improve their lives, make a difference, etc. It also helps to get a feel for which ads are getting a response. Call tracking services not only capture call data but also help show you which marketing efforts are generating leads.

Problem 3: Demonstrating ROI


When it comes to business, profit reigns. Marketers know that their front-end efforts can be difficult to justify because of their high expense and uncertain return.

Solution: Pinpoint benefits.

Because call tracking services show you which campaigns are generating sales and ultimately revenue for your business, you can justify and improve your marketing effectiveness. Cut out ads that aren’t working and invest in the ones that are bringing in quality leads.

Facing a challenge not listed above? Weigh in with your comments below.

Take Your Marketing to New Heights

On Sunday, October 14, 2012, the world watched in amazement as Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the sound barrier without an aircraft. In a pressurized capsule attached to a 550-foot helium balloon, Baumgartner soared to a height of 128,097 feet (or 24 miles) above the New Mexico desert.

Upon reaching the brink of space, he leapt from the capsule, free falling for an astounding 4 minutes and 20 seconds and reaching speeds of 833.9 miles per hour. Known as Fearless Felix, Baumgartner took the sport of skydiving to undeniable heights, forever cementing his place in the record books.

Though Baumgartner’s harrowing leap left acrophobes around the globe in utter disbelief, it also showed the world that the right combination of ingenuity, intellect and ambition enables us to reach heights previously thought impossible. Using innovative thinking can take your marketing to the next level and leave a lasting impression on the minds of your customers.

Sometimes businesses get into a marketing rut, using the same methods over and over again. You never know what’s truly possible for your business unless you make an all-out effort. Instead of reaching into the same old bag of marketing tricks, take your marketing to the next level by using fresh and innovative ideas to reach your customers.

Be Social


Take advantage of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter to allow your marketing team to reach a large number of people online. Set up an appealing corporate profile page and interact with as many potential customers as possible.

Shoot a Video


Make a promotional video about your products or services available on sites such as YouTube. Highlight the unique features of your products and services with eye-catching graphics and appealing music.

Create a Blog


Creating a blog will give you the opportunity to make your business accessible to the masses. Customers can interact with your company through your blog. Be sure to update your blog on a regular basis and always respond to any comments.

Go Mobile


In this day and age, most people use a smartphone. Use this to your advantage and create a mobile app with enough functions to place your product directly into people’s palms.

To make your marketing succeed, you must encourage yourself to be innovative, to think differently and to take action in new and unique ways. The effort you put forth will be worth it. Before you know it, your marketing will soar to heights that would make even Felix Baumgartner proud.

For more information about innovative Internet marketing ideas, click here.

TFNs and Why You Need Them

When it comes to advertising, any successful business knows that quantity does not top quality. When you take a shot in the dark with an ad campaign, you are more likely to shoot yourself in the foot rather than hit your target. In order to make the most effective use of your budget, you need to know when an ad has hit the bull’s-eye.

The key to successful marketing lies in placing the right set of tools at your disposal. If you seek a cost-effective way to not only measure but also improve your marketing efforts, toll-free numbers (TFNs) are a great tool to have at your disposal.

Here are five reasons to use TFNs:
  1. Availability. The placement potential of TFNs span across all marketing channels. Adding a TFN to a website, promo item or anything in between gives potential leads a convenient and cost-free way to contact your business.
  2. Convenience. Remembering a full 10-digit phone number is a rare ability in today’s world, but by using a creative vanity TFN, even the most forgetful consumer can quickly recall your contact information. If a potential lead is going to call your business, the first step they must take is remembering what number to dial. By fostering higher call volume, TFNs promise to increase sales volume as well.
  3. Credibility. Having a toll-free number implies that your business receives a high volume of callers and has taken the steps necessary to accommodate your callers. By using a TFN, you will make an impression of professionalism on anyone who comes across it.
  4. Consistency. Whether you’re changing the location of your offices or the provider of your phone service, your TFN will remain the same so you won’t lose a single caller or need to alter any of your ad campaign material.
  5. Marketing. A great way to shed some light on your campaigns’ effectiveness is by using TFNs. By assigning a TFN to each campaign, you can measure and record consumer responses to your specific marketing efforts and determine if each campaign is pulling its own weight by generating a profitable ROI.
Take our advice — if you aren’t already using TFNs to target your marketing campaigns, start. TFNs will help you shed the blindfold and see the light.

8 Tips for Maintaining Customer Loyalty

A successful business typically sees 80 percent of its business from 20 percent of its customers. Maintaining customer loyalty is crucial to any business, as it takes more time and money to find a new client than it does to keep an old one. Below are eight tips to help your business gain and maintain customer loyalty.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open


Create and maintain a database of contact information for the customers you already have and reach out to these customers on a regular basis. Email newsletters or monthly fliers are a great way to keep in touch with your customers. Your messages don’t always have to be advertisements; provide your customers with information that’s useful to them.

Go the Extra Mile


Customers remember when they are treated well, and a positive customer experience results in repeat business. Give customers an easy, accessible way to express their concerns, complaints or compliments with you, whether in person, by phone or by email. Above all, maintain a positive attitude when answering those customer communications.

Treat Others How You Would Like to Be Treated


Loyalty begins at the top and works its way through the company. If you are honest and respectful to your employees, they’ll pass that courtesy on to your customers.

Put Your Best Foot Forward


Your employees represent your company to customers. Proper customer service training will give them the tools they need to make a good first impression.

Make Your Business Worth Your Customers’ Time


Incentives such as discounts, specials and free shipping give customers a reason to return to your business. You can use incentive programs to boost business during slow periods and to promote new products.

Be Informed


It goes without saying that knowing your own product is essential to growing your business. Make sure your employees are knowledgeable about your products so they can confidently inform and assist customers.

Keep Your Word


A company’s reliability is nearly — if not equally — as important as the reliability of its products. If you tell a customer that a shipment will arrive on Tuesday, make sure it does. When customers are able to depend on you, they are more likely to recommend your services to others.

Play the Name Game


Make sure your employees learn the names of regular customers. Remembering someone’s name makes people feel respected and encourages them to repeat their business with your company. Employees should make a habit of sharing their names with customers right away to establish a deeper connection and show customers that they are willing to be held accountable.

Customers are the livelihood of all businesses. Make it a priority to keep them happy and impressed with your business, and they’ll reward you by becoming a loyal customer.

For more tips on building customer loyalty, visit allbusiness.com.

Outbound Marketing: Why There’s No School Like the Old School

Over the past few years, inbound marketing has stolen the spotlight from outbound marketing. Inbound certainly has its place, but should your business do away with direct mail, TV, radio, email and telemarketing altogether? Can a case still be made for outbound? Check out Source Demand’s infographic to find out.

Bringing Home the Bacon: What to Do When Your Marketing Resources Are Running Low

If you’ve been paying attention to the news or any of the various social media outlets, you’ve probably heard about the “unavoidable” bacon shortage reported for next year. According to Britain’s National Pig Association, the rising prices of pig feed have led to declining herds, leading bacon lovers to stock up on pork.

Although some say that the reports of the shortage have been grossly exaggerated, the bacon scare does pose an important question: What should you do if your resources are running low?

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when their resources are running low is to eliminate marketing tools. Instead of trying to save nickels, use the marketing resources you do have to make dollars. Strategic marketing will help you focus your efforts on profit-producing tactics and help you maximize all available resources.

The best thing you can do to get the most bang for your buck from your limited resources is to eliminate waste. Marketing doesn’t stop at creating a great campaign. If you don’t measure your marketing efforts, you can’t know what works and what doesn’t.

To determine the effectiveness of a campaign, you must have consistent tracking mechanisms in place. For instance, tracking information about the calls that come into your business provides you with the evidence you need to determine which marketing campaigns are generating the most leads. With this information, you can adjust your marketing budget and make your marketing dollars count.

Just as pork connoisseurs are bolstering their pork stash before the supply runs low, marketers who are working with limited resources should get smart and stock up on marketing ideas that work for their company — within their budget.

Treat Your Customers to Frightening Ads

Here’s our marketing tip of the month: Scare your customers. That may seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t the purpose of marketing to discover how not to scare your customers away? But at this time of year, people don’t mind a little fright, as long as the message is clearly communicated and cleverly executed.

Just take a look at these advertising campaigns for proof.

Boo at the Zoo


Who doesn’t remember telling ghost stories as a kid? The San Francisco Zoo’s advertising campaign for its “Boo at the Zoo” Halloween party played on the nostalgia of childhood and captured its audience with the “aw” factor.

Floss or Die


For many, going to the dentist is scary year-round. But one dentist bravely launched an ad campaign hoping to scare customers into his office. The ad featured a hooded figure holding a floss-pick reaper, looking, well, grim.

Fire Service Scare Tactics


Amidst all of the fun Halloween ads, there are also a few that shock and stick with consumers because of their serious nature. Consider the hard-hitting New Zealand Fire Service ad, which made consumers aware of the consequences of not having a working smoke alarm.







Halloween ads, whether sentimentally spooky, cleverly contrived or seriously scary, present an opportunity for marketers to step outside of the norm and capture the attention of consumers. A good way to see if your scary ad campaign is tricking or treating your bottom line is to implement a call tracking service.

The Quest for the Perfect Marketing Idea

Is there a perfect marketing idea out there?

This is a question that plagues marketers everywhere, and Forbes contributor Will Burns recently documented his quest for the answer. His criteria were simple. The campaign had to be:

  • Inexpensive
  • Visceral
  • Purposeful

During his search, Burns stumbled across three companies who made use of truly inspirational marketing tactics:

  • A nonprofit that created a marketing campaign on a budget of, well, nothing, using dirty windshields, pizza boxes, storefronts, coffee cups and anything else it could find to get its message across.
  • An airline that created a pass that allows passengers to pay a flat fee and fly as much as they want.
  • A restaurant that encouraged diners to interact more with each other by offering them 5 percent off their dinner bill in exchange for turning their phones in at the door.

The consensus? Yes, there are perfect, or near-perfect, marketing ideas out there, and they don’t have to eat up your marketing budget if you’re creative. We can’t argue with that.

300,000 Miles Closer to Giving Google the Wheel

Google’s fleet of self-driving cars is now boasting 300,000 miles driven collectively, and its engineering team could not be more confident in the vehicle’s abilities. So confident, in fact, that Google’s team members are using the car to make their daily commutes solo.

So are self-driving cars the wave of the future?

The George Jetson method of travel may not be too far away (minus the flying bit, of course).

Check out the full article from Forbes here.

Why Your Dealership Should Use eNewsletters to Drive Home Its Message

In today’s Internet age where consumers are used to instant, customized results, dealerships need a way to quickly drive their message home — so their prospects will drive more vehicles home.

Consumers are looking for vehicles that will meet their respective lifestyles, personal preferences and budgets. It only makes sense that auto dealers would take this into consideration when planning their marketing strategy.

Many dealerships are turning to eNewlsetters. Why? Because email marketing is one of the least expensive marketing avenues, and as the saying goes, content is king. Here are a few examples of how eNewsletters can benefit your dealership.

Steer Customers in the Right Direction (Toward Your Dealership)


First, eNewsletters can increase the likelihood of creating lifetime clients. By contacting customers on a regular basis and providing them with valuable information, you are building connections with them and in turn increasing loyalty. It is cheaper to retain customers than it is to gain new ones, so building and retaining this loyalty is important.

Another benefit to eNewsletters is that they can enhance your reputation and encourage customers to visit your website as well as your store.

Go Green


Just as many consumers are looking for fuel-efficient cars that will be more environmentally friendly and save them money on gas, many dealerships are looking for a solution that will help them get the most bang for their buck.

eNewsletters allow you to reach a large audience with little expenditure, especially in comparison to print newsletters (not to mention that eliminating paper is more eco-friendly). Because eNewsletters are a cost-efficient and effective method of communication, they can increase your lead generation and marketing ROI at a minimal cost.

Fuel Your Audience’s Desires


eNewsletters give you the ability to segment your target market as little or as much as you want, which in turn provides a higher response rate because your audience is more receptive to the newsletter’s content.

In fact, in a 2010 eMarketer survey regarding email list segmentation, 39 percent of respondents replied that they experienced increased open rates by segmenting their email list. Furthermore, 24 percent of respondents saw increased revenue and sales leads, 21 percent experienced higher customer retention and 15 percent saw increased customer acquisition. With eNewsletters, you are able to get instantaneous and trackable results.

Find a Chauffeur


If you’re not sure you have the manpower or the resources to handle the upkeep of an eNewsletter, Who’s Calling’s eNewsletter service can take the wheel and do the work for you. The service can deliver a professional, fully managed eNewsletter branded for your dealership. The eNewsletters are packed full of interesting articles and timely promotions to grab your target audience’s attention.

Who’s Calling also helps your dealership segment consumer markets by offering two unique eNewsletter options: one that targets prospects and one that targets customers. When you distribute content relevant to your reader, you invest in prospects and build loyalty with existing customers to increase revenue.

To learn more about how eNewsletters can drive home your marketing messages, visit our site at whoscalling.com/eNewsletter.

ClickPath @ SMX East 2012

Hey, online marketers, are you traveling to the Big Apple to attend SMX East from October 2 to 4? We are! You should stop by our booth. (We’ll be in #410.)

Here’s why:

  • Last year, online advertising passed the $30 billion mark and is estimated to approach $50 billion in 2015.
  • We know that click-through rates and site rankings are just not cutting it anymore when it comes to weighing the value of your online advertising.
  • We’re all about conversions, and we’ll show you how to link your ads to the revenue
    they generate.
  • We also smell good. (You’ll see.)

Schedule a time to meet with us at SMX East if you haven’t already. See you there!

Migrating to Mobile

Regardless of the operating system your phone runs on, the increase of mobile users is great news for marketers. As phones continue to increase in both complexity and utility, the potential for mobile devices as a marketing medium grows. Mobile phones are a platform that rarely leaves the presence of the target audience and thus presents a tantalizing opportunity for marketers.

Mobile Email and Media Trends


Mobile devices have begun to edge out other forms of marketing media, such as newspapers, magazines and even PCs. Last year, email opened from a mobile device increased by 34 percent, while opens on webmail and PCs decreased by 11 percent and 9.5 percent. Research also shows that adults spend more time viewing media on mobile devices than on newspapers and magazines combined.

Mobile Shopping Trends


Smartphones are also becoming widely used shopping aids. 79 percent of smartphone users use their phones to help them shop, and 74 percent make a purchase as a result. Consumers use mobile apps like Amazon Mobile, Google Shopper and Coupon Sherpa to compare prices, find discounts and read reviews while shopping in-store.

Marketers from all industries should start asking themselves how they plan to adapt to mobile trends and avoid missing sales opportunities.

We’re on board with mobile. Check out the all new mobile capabilities of our RESCUE feature here.

The Power of an Image

An image can be many different things. It can be a factual representation of a scene or the preservation of a life-changing moment. It can sweep us away to a place of fantasy or remind us of what is truly important. It can even evoke an emotional response. We can connect with an image in an instant.

With this in mind, the importance of an image’s presence in your blog posts should be evident. There are a few guidelines that you should keep in mind when choosing an image for your blog post.

Relevance


Your image should contain subject matter that is relevant to your post and allows the reader to make a connection between the image and the post. The image could relate an implied connection, stirring an emotion that you want your reader to experience as they read your post. It could also show a direct connection that relates to the topic you are addressing in your post.

Quality


Above all, the image that you choose should represent the professional sensibilities of your brand. It is very important that the image be of a professional quality that is in line with your branding standards. There are several great microstock image companies, such as iStockphoto and Thinkstock, that offer a wide variety of high-quality images at affordable prices.

There are a few things to consider when choosing an image: lighting, composition and creativity.

Lighting
The lighting in the image should be consistent. It’s important not to post an image that is overexposed, or too bright. You should still be able to make out details in the shadows and highlights of the image rather than seeing just black or white. With that said, there should also be a healthy level of contrast in the image so that it doesn’t appear monotone or flat.

Composition
Composition is also very important. When considering an image, keep the rule of thirds in mind. Simply put, if you were to divide the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, does the main subject of the image land on one of the intersecting lines? Many images in which the subject matter is centered either vertically or horizontally can lack depth and may actually detract from your post.

The image on the right accurately portrays the rule of thirds. The subject is strategically positioned on the far side of the image, and the horizon transitions on the bottom rule of thirds line.

Creativity
Lastly, you should always consider the creativity of the image. You want the image to elicit an immediate reaction. If the image is something expected or relays a stale idea in general, then readers may not find merit in the content of your post and might actually react negatively to the piece.

The tech blog Gizmodo is a great example of how to positively use images in your posts. The blog regularly includes creative images with a comedic relation to their post’s subject matter, and features product shots that are professionally done. The images are typically at the top of the post, so they immediately grab the reader’s attention.

SEO


Images can also play a strong role in your search engine optimization (SEO). Although search engines cannot see images in terms of keywords, they can recognize alt text and the file name of your image. Your images should be properly tagged so search engines can identify the content of your image. Blogging programs have various methods to attach alt text to an image, or the alt text can be added within the HTML code.

The file name of your image should also describe the content of the image rather than containing random numbers or unrelated words. For example, the image at the beginning of this post includes an owl. The file name may simply be owl.jpg or owl_with_snowy_forest.jpg. This provides you with another opportunity to use relevant keywords to drive traffic to your site.

It is also essential to optimize your images for the Web. If an image is larger than necessary, it can impede the load times of your site and detract from the reader’s experience. This can lead to readers not returning to your site and can also negatively affect your SEO.

Image size can be reduced with a number of different image editing programs or within some blogging programs. For Web content, 72 dpi is ideal. The physical size of the image may vary depending on the use of the image, but around 600 px on the long side of the image is a good starting point.

Overall, the consistent use of creative imagery in your posts can help boost the consistency of your readership and impress upon your audience the creativity of your brand.

Putting the Ball in Your Consumer’s Court

Ads have come a long way from a simple sign saying “Eat at Joe’s.”

Audiences today expect not only to hear what a product does but also to be entertained and intrigued by ad campaigns. As we all know, if an ad fails to provide anything of interest, it will quickly be forgotten.

Ad agency BBDO understands the concept of innovative advertising well, as shown by a publicity stunt it put on for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive in Frankfurt, Germany.

While Smart cars are known for being eco-friendly, gas efficient and space conscious, they’re not necessarily considered fun. In order to demonstrate the Smart car’s quick responsiveness, two Smart cars were set up as controllers for digital cars on a giant screen. Participants drove their cars back and forth to play Pong with a creative twist.

The stunt was very effective for the following reasons:

  • It allowed people to experience the product.
  • The demonstration showcased the car’s responsiveness.
  • The stunt resulted in free advertising through word of mouth and media coverage.

See the “Smart eBall” game for yourself here!

The Secret to Effective Call Management

Companies that respond to customer queries within the hour are seven times more likely to qualify leads. Doesn’t sound too hard, right? Then why is it that only 37 percent of businesses meet this challenge? The truth is businesses miss calls, or worse, mishandle them frequently.

You know this. You see it every day. So what can you do about it?

There’s a simple solution. Record your calls. You’ll be able to listen in on your inbound and outbound calls and hear when that one salesperson is telling prospects that your top-selling items are “not that great” or when a caller on hold just can’t take the elevator music anymore.

But while recording calls solves the issues mentioned above, you’ll soon discover that you have a new problem. You’re rarely at your desk for more than 10 consecutive minutes and you really don’t have time to listen to all those calls.

Hiring a team of professionals to listen to your call recordings and notify you by text or email when a call has gone awry may be a good solution for you. RESCUE by Who’s Calling provides this service and recently added the capability to listen to call recordings on mobile devices.

Problem solved!

The Debate: Internet Media Versus Traditional Media

Internet media has taken the world by storm, capturing consumer attention and opening up a whole new realm of marketing possibilities. Many marketers wonder whether traditional marketing efforts like television and print advertisements are worthwhile or merely a waste of resources.

A recent article by eMarketer featuring research by Triton Digital, a digital service provider for online and traditional radio, may provide insight into this debate.

When a survey group was asked which media source they trust most for news and information, the Internet surprisingly came in fourth, with only 10 percent of responders saying they view it as an accurate source. Out of those surveyed, 45 percent trust television the most as an accurate news source, followed by print and then radio.

Does this mean that online campaigns should take a back seat to traditional advertising?
Not necessarily.

Responders were also asked which media source most influenced their buying decisions. Of those surveyed, 61 percent said that they turned to the Internet for product research and recommendations once they had decided to make a purchase.

When traditional media sparks a consumer’s desire for a specific product, that desire can be fueled with online reaffirmation. Investments in both traditional and online mediums can provide the right balance to get your consumer from the consideration stage to the purchase stage. Analytics tools such as ClickPath can help you determine how to invest your marketing budget wisely.

To see the full article by eMarketer, click here.

Three Successful Marketing Strategies and What We Can Learn From Them

There is much to learn from the success of others. Today we’ll share three timeless marketing strategies from businesses of the late 1800s to the early 2000s that were right on target.

Daisy


You may be surprised to learn that Daisy, the popular air rifle manufacturing company, didn’t always sell air guns. The story begins back in the mid-1880s with Clarence Hamilton, who owned both the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company and Plymouth Air Rifle Company.

Hamilton invented an all-metal air gun and showed it to the windmill company’s board members. Upon firing the gun, the general manager exclaimed, “Boy, that’s a daisy.” The name stuck, and the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company began offering the Daisy air gun as a premium item included with each purchase of a windmill.

By 1895, as luck would have it, sales of the gun were booming. The company decided to ditch the windmills, exclusively sell air rifles and change its name to the Daisy Manufacturing Company. It later acquired the Markham Air Rifle Company, which helped form Daisy into the leading air gun manufacturing company it is today.

Marketing Lesson: Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on an innovative product offering.
It was more than luck that helped the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company see the potential in the Daisy air rifle; it was good analytical assessment of what was truly driving sales. Many successful business owners will tell you that it’s important to know the meat and potatoes of your business.

It’s also essential to have analytical tools on hand that allow you to hone in on innovative products and services that could potentially lead to a wealth of opportunity.

Online analytical tools like ClickPath can help you evaluate what products and services are bringing in business by tracking the specific ad campaigns that are driving your leads. With these insights in your holster, rather than taking a shot in the dark, you can zero in on potentially explosive innovations.

Arm & Hammer



In the 70s baking soda sales were in decline. Statistics showed that people weren’t baking as much as they used to, and Arm & Hammer needed to devise a strategy to stay relevant in the market. Arm & Hammer employed an impressive angle.

It began to give consumers ideas for using baking soda in ways they had never thought of. It ran advertisements introducing baking soda as a toothpaste, deodorizer and cleaning agent and later as an additive in laundry detergent, deodorant and cat litter. Today, Arm & Hammer offers an ever-expanding variety of household products that are used in 95 percent of American homes.

Marketing Lesson: Don’t just think outside of the box; determine what else the box could be used for.
Businesses often struggle to remain pertinent to consumers in a continually changing market. However, unlike in the 70s, a brand’s online image can play a key role in how consumers assess a company’s offerings.

By researching your specific consumer demographics and what is meaningful to them, you can identify features and functions of your company that are compelling, relevant and motivating to your consumer. Chances are that your brand has multiple appealing components that you can incorporate into your website.

With the use of SEO, you can identify not only how consumers search for your company online but also the most relevant keywords to drive consumers to your site over the competitors’ sites.

Lastly, develop a research-based online marketing strategy that aligns your products and services with your target consumer’s priorities.

Herbal Essences



Procter & Gamble’s Herbal Essences, a globally sold hair-care brand, was in a rut at the beginning of the 21st century. Its advertising campaigns were labeled as “overused and anticlimactic,” and while Herbal Essences’ featured product scents were appealing, sales were in decline.

Consumers had a difficult time finding the right Herbal Essences item to fit their hair-care needs. Procter & Gamble set a goal to rebrand Herbal Essences within 12 months by targeting Gen Y consumers, who tend to be more practical and objective when making purchasing decisions.

In 2006, Herbal Essences refreshed shelves with attention-grabbing color-coordinated package designs, product labels that clearly addressed consumers’ hair-care needs, and a simplified, sleek logo. Procter & Gamble’s rebranding of Herbal Essences not only helped it experience a 6 percent increase in overall volume share but also won it the 2007 ReBrand 100 Global Award.

Marketing Lesson: You can pump up the sales volume with a targeted marketing strategy.
There comes a time in the life of a business where it must appraise what its target demographic is and whether its marketing strategy is effectively reaching its intended audience. What we can learn from Herbal Essences’ successful transformation is that marketing your brand is all about knowing your consumer.

The first step in establishing your target demographic is to come to terms with the fact that you must have one. You may not want to exclude any potential customers, but you can’t target everyone. It’s important to focus your marketing dollars on consumers who are more likely to buy from you.

Next, research your current customer’s buying habits. Determine how your business meets their needs so you can target other consumers like them. You can leverage call tracking services like Who’s Calling to learn more about the customers and leads that call into your business. The use of toll-free numbers gives you the ability to not only gather customer information from incoming calls but also identify the advertisements, products and services driving leads.

Lastly, evaluate your product or service. What offerings does your company have, and what types of groups would benefit from doing business with you? Once you target the right demographic and form a marketing strategy, you can measure your advertising effectiveness to see if you are on the right track.

These timeless marketing tactics teach us the age-old lesson that knowing your industry, your company and your consumer usually leads to the creation of a research-based, targeted marketing strategy that keeps businesses in the green without leaving them in the dark.