Our Favorite Halloween Print Ads

We’ve already talked about some of the best Halloween ads of 2013, but this year we’ve seen even more eye-catching ads. Whether creepy, funny or downright scary, these ads capitalize on the hype surrounding Halloween and teach marketers some valuable advertising lessons.

Sharpie Halloween ad

Sharpies In Disguise

Not only does this ad feature Sharpie permanent markers adorably dressed up with other pen caps as “masks,” but it also gives Sharpie a chance to remind consumers of the array of products it offers.

One marker is wearing a cap from a Sharpie highlighter while another is wearing a Sharpie pen cap. This Halloween ad makes readers laugh and reinforces brand recognition.

Maglite Under Eyes

Maglite Halloween ad

This ad highlights the product while celebrating the spookiness of the holiday. Scary stories are closely associated with Halloween, and what better way to tell a scary story than with a flashlight under your face? Who doesn’t love that creepy, skull-ish look?

Although it’s probably not a flashlight’s intended use, Maglite's cheeky acknowledgement of the product’s potential encourages everyone to get a little spooky for Halloween and gets Maglite’s name consumers to remind them that flashlights have brands, too.

Transportation That Flies

STP Halloween adThis ad isn’t directly selling a product, and yet it still stands out among Halloween ads. The STP Motor Oil ad cleverly features a witch’s broom left in a parking spot with some oil on the pavement.

This ad is all about celebrating Halloween. The company logo only takes up a small corner of the ad, rather than being the center of attention. This season of advertising is all about standing out and entertaining audiences. If your company can achieve that, you can live in your customers’ minds forever.

This Halloween, whether you’re spooky, humorous or clever, participate in the seasonal marketing to stick out in consumers’ minds.

Do Your Customers Want Automated Phone Menus or Real People?

Businessman-in-a-BoxWell, hello there! Welcome to our blog. Would you like to continue reading?

If yes, press 1. If not, press 2.

OK, so you’re probably asking, "Wait. What’s going on? Am I on the phone right now?"

That, dear reader, er… caller (just go with it), is an example of a scenario in which a simple question can be answered without ever having to speak to a human.

And when these scenarios come up, your customers don’t always want to pick up the phone and talk to a real person to figure out the answer to their simple question, like how much they’re being billed for the 100-count Businessman-in-a-Box order they submitted.

That’s where interactive voice response (IVR) menus come in. Customers get answers quickly, your agents are free to do other things, and everyone’s happy.

But sometimes your customers’ situations aren’t quite so straightforward. Let’s say Michael Scott fat fingers his order without realizing it. When 100,000 businessmen in boxes show up in his office, he’s going to have a few questions — and IVR isn’t going to be much help. In that scenario, Mr. Scott is going to want to talk to a real person.

The question is, when should you use IVR and when should you live agents?

We’ve got an answer for you. Just download our white paper "IVR or Live Agent?"

The Right Way to Use Retargeting

Have Halloween costumes haunted you in every advertisement after you searched for your ideal outfit two weeks ago? That's retargeting! Well, more appropriately, it's bad retargeting if the ads seem like they'll never leave you alone.

When retargeting is done correctly, an online ad casually reminds potential customers of products they viewed previously and may still want to purchase. In fact, it can benefit businesses tremendously. Retargeting advertisements increase response rates by up to 400 percent and, while on the website, retargeted customers are 70 percent more likely to convert.

Man alarmed by hands reaching out of computer screen
To paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference between good retargeting and average retargeting is like the difference between lightning and lightning bugs — the latter isn't bad, but it's nowhere near as powerful as the former. Here are a few tips to help take your retargeting to the next level.

Use Frequency Caps

Nobody wants to see the same advertisement 31 times a day, even if it's for a product they like. One Ad Age writer even described his experience with retargeting as feeling like he was being stalked by a pair of pants. Clearly, this is not the desired effect!

Using frequency caps on retargeted advertisements is a good way to make sure your message doesn't become annoying. Two ads per user per day is typically enough to get the customer's attention. Along the same lines, only one or two ad networks should be used simultaneously to avoid undue frequency increases. By limiting the number of communications, you can mitigate the risk of your retargeting efforts seeming pushy or creepy.

Take Advantage of Email

Retargeting isn't limited to banner ads on websites. The tried-and-true method of emailing potential customers also works! More direct than website ads, emails have the ability to communicate with potential customers in a more personalized way. When creating emails, make sure they're tailored to fit the needs of your target market. This is important, because no one wants to see an irrelevant email.

Measure the Impact of Retargeting

Everyone's experience with retargeting is different; what may be a great tip for one company could fizzle for another. The only way to be sure is to measure the results. That way you'll know how well your retargeting ads are working, and you can compare them to each other to see which one is most effective.

Measuring return on investment (ROI) by tracking online-to-offline lead conversions is particularly beneficial. By placing a unique toll-free number (TFN) on different advertisements, you can measure the response from each online ad and determine the highest performing one. With this information, you can make better business decisions, especially as they relate to retargeting campaigns.

Use these tips to avoid the pitfalls of retargeting, and you just might see your company gain the extra edge it needs.

Lessons From a Bad Customer Service Experience

Frustrated and confused customer on phoneSome companies aren't kidding when they say they'll go to any length to retain a customer. But unfortunately, as one former Comcast customer found out, that might not always be a good thing.

The recording he made of a customer service call gone horribly wrong has become an Internet sensation. It's quickly becoming the rallying point for the common man, downtrodden by poor customer service for far too long! OK, so maybe it wasn't that significant, but it did leave Comcast with a PR mess to clean up.

Many growing, midsized businesses may fall victim to similar problems thanks to an underfunded and overworked customer service department. To avoid situations like the one described above, you might need to make a few adjustments to your customer service.

Train Employees Thoroughly

When a business starts growing, the work can become a lot faster paced. Resources may be put towards further expansion and in turn push customer service training to the back burner. It can happy to any company! Efficient solutions are needed to correct this problem while allowing growth to continue.

Call recording systems can be helpful if this starts to happen in your company. Recording your phone calls gives you both good and bad examples of customer service calls to use for training purposes. All your new employees can be trained quickly with real-life examples rather than boring training documents. This scalable process will grow alongside your business and assist you in providing top-notch training.

Listen to Customers

One of the biggest mistakes the Comcast representative made was that he refused to actually listen to the customer. He just said the same thing over and over again. After the 29th time repeating something, you’re probably not going to change the customer’s mind. 

The number one way to create a respectable business is to constantly ask yourself how you can best serve the customer. The only way to find the answer is by listening to each and every complaint carefully. Customer service representatives must be patient enough to hear the client without interrupting, assess the situation and provide a response that fits, rather than launching into a pre-determined script before the customer says one sentence.

Don't Over-emphasize Sales

When a business is just starting out, sales are the priority. After all, if no one buys the product, the risk of failure is pretty high. But when a company starts to become more established, an over-emphasis on sales can actually hurt if it means poor customer service is delivered. The trick is to increase the amount of new customers without losing the ones you already have.

You need to put emphasis on building relationships with your current customers. One way to do this is to use a call management tool that allows you to take notes during phone calls with customers, right beside their personal information. This will help your customer service reps deliver a personal message and make your customers feel valued. 

Follow these tips to avoid a PR nightmare, but just in case the need arises, keep these tips in your back pocket to deal with social media gone amok.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet

So we've already mentioned that 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies are on Facebook (and over 77 percent are on Twitter), but social media accounts are more than just building up a community and a following. They project an image about your company, and if your accounts look sloppy or amateur, your followers will associate those characteristics with your company.

An attractive looking social media page adds credibility to your account and your company. Your profile picture and banner image can be used to great effect if they don't look squished, stretched or cropped. To keep your accounts looking good, follow this handy image size cheat sheet by Mainstreethost to make sure your social media's pictures are top notch.

Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet

For more social media tips, check out this infographic for some up-and-coming social media marketing trends.