Get all Warm + Fuzzy: 3 Tips for a Stellar Brand Experience

You know that warm + fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve just popped into the Coach Outlet to grab a quick gift for your bestie {and happen to pick up a new wallet for yourself} and the girl that is ringing up your purchase is meticulously wrapping your gift {and your gift to yourself} in tissue paper with a little sticker and gingerly putting it in the bag?

That’s when you know you have had an experience.

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Dirty Little Secrets: I've had Enough with internet Searching

I HATE the Google!

There! I said it. And it feels sooooo good to get it off my chest.

I can't stand researching or looking up information. Your mouth just dropped open, didn't it? You are probably thinking... "You do know you are in the marketing biz, right?" "Research is your job."

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Bite me! I still hate the Google.

Every time I ask a question... "Well did you Google it?"  Noooo! That's why I asked the question. GEEZ!!!

Why does everyone love the Google? Our world depends on THE. GOOGLE. It is a verb in the dictionary for crying out loud!

goo·gle

verboften capitalized \ˈgü-gəl\

goo·gledgoo·gling 

transitive verb

:  to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web

Is this what life has succumbed to? THE! GOOGLE!

I mean.... COME ON! When you type in something you get a gazillion choices to pick from. Who the hell has time to go through all those links? I want an answer and I want it now. I don't want to click on 2, 3, 6, 10 links to find the answer. All I need is a phone number to my local liquor store DAMNIT! AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! I HATE THE GOOGLE!

*inhale... deep breath...and let it out slowly*

Ok, ok I have to calmed down... as you can tell Google brings out a whole other side to me. The side that likes to use A LOT of 4 letter words. I am sure THE. GOOGLE. can tell me all about that mental disorder that I MUST have because I get so angry when I talk about THE. GOOGLE.

But let's be real for a minute... I am going to admit something that is very hard for me, but you have to promise to not let Ronii know. It would go to that Rock Star head of hers. I mean she is the one who is always telling me to "google it” (I totally just made that crinkly nose, high pitched voice “impression” of her), even when I know she knows the freakin answer... buuuuutttttt...

The Google is a powerful, useful tool. (I wish I was the genius who came up with that brilliant idea and then brilliantly branded the hell out of it.) You can find ANYTHING on Google. It might take some navigating (this is what drives me to 50 Levels of Crazy) to get to the right source of information, but the information is there. The key to Google is the words you put in the search. You really have to be specific on your search criteria to get faster and more accurate results that are on the coveted page 1. Otherwise you will get lost in Google universe and will be sitting in front of your laptop screaming at the search results on your computer screen, making your family (and neighbors) think you've lost your ever lovin mind and need to be wearing that fashionable white jacket that keeps your arms crossed against your chest and ties in the back. (I can neither confirm or deny that I may or may not have done this.)

You can find anything, and anyone for that matter. Businesses (especially small businesses) need the Google to help market itself. You know... that little thing called SEO. Yeah if you have enough meta tags and keywords and blah blah blah, you will pop up closer to the top of the Google List. Doesn't that just make you want to hate the Google too? Doesn't that make Google seem like it is all high and mighty and chooses what the searcher wants to see?  What gives THE GOOGLE the right to randomly (well not technically randomly) pick what IT thinks I want to see? It's THE. GOOGLE. It should know I need the address (because now I am at level 30 on my 50 Levels of Crazy meter) to MY local liquor store. NOT a liquor store in Idaho, but the one in Martinsburg damnit. I mean it is THE ALL KNOWING GOOGLE!

But I digress again. Obviously, we need to The Google. And that local liquor store that I so desperately need the address too also needs The Google. This is why SEO may be an important factor for your business. While, I’d love to tell you that its easy, an SEO strategy is not. Google changes their algorithm constantly to get you, the searcher, better results but makes it harder for a business to get in front of those people. There are lots of articles and blogs out there that can give you tips and pointers on ways to get better rankings but truthfully and honestly when our clients ask us about SEO we recommend contacting a professional to talk to you about putting together a good strategy. One rule of thumb that we go by is: good content. Writing good articles and blog posts with valuable information is your best tool for SEO. People will find you if you have good information.

Now you are in the know as to why I hate the Google. I need something stronger than wine or Champagne now… maybe Fireball. Good thing I can Google the closest liquor store to go buy it...

So there are those of you that embrace the Google and love the Google. And there are those of us that despise it and just want a simple answer to a simple question and not having to take 15, 20, 40 minutes to find it. You obviously know where I am on that matrix! But where are you on the… love/hate the Google meter? Leave your comments below and tell me I’m not alone in this Google conspiracy.

Marketing Strategy: Tell a Story Pinterest Style

Pinterest Marketing Strategy

Hi. I’m Ronii. And I have a Pinterest obsession.

also have an elephant obsession, flamingo obsession and everyone knows about my crazy cat lady obsession, which you can find on my, you guessed it… Pinterest boards  There is no 12 step program for these addictions and I’m super excited about that. But I digress.

Recently I won this amazing Alesya Bag. How did I do that? My Pinterest obsession of course.

So Alesya Bags ran a contest on social media to tell them in 140 characters where you are going on your summer vacation and why you need an Alesya Bag for your trip. The top 5 most creative entries would win a bag and you can enter everyday until the finish of the contest. I’m sure that you are painfully aware as much as I am that 140 characters is short. Like Daisy Dukes kinda short. How am I going to tell my summer adventure in this short format and get the emotion I want across? Oh, and did I mention that you had a hashtag to use as well taking up even more precious characters? Yeah, that too. But...

Challenge Accepted.

Pinterest obsession rears its beautiful winning head with storytelling.

At B&A we have been using Pinterest for a variety of initiatives over the years. We use it as a collaboration and content distribution tool. Branding and vision boards are big for us and our clients and it’s an amazing collaboration tool for us to gather visuals that drive art direction. And like everyone else we use it to distribute our content like blog posts, products and ideas.

Since on Pinterest you can tweet your pins (or post to Facebook), I decided I wanted to use it. One because I wanted to tell a story and not just a tweet and two because I freakin’ love me some Pinterest. I figured why can’t I use Pinterest more like a storyboard rather than as a vision board and then tweet out each pin with a teaser to read that piece of the story?

I will admit this storyboard idea took some planning and definitely time, but I WON! And if I can utilize this strategy to win an amazing bag (which by the way I’ve been carrying for a couple of months now and want to marry it) then I’m sure I can use the same strategy to win audience engagement and hopefully customers. 

Tweetable: Utilizing Pinterest in multiple ways for business is a good strategy for winning audience engagement and potential customers

Tell a story with a Pinterest Storyboard  

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I planned out the days of the contest and knew that I needed about a post a day because I got an entry per day.
  2. I created a separate board that was named the hashtag and wrote a short description about what my story was about.
  3. I outlined the story by day so each piece of the story had one post. I started my story with an overview of everyone needs an adventure and why I needed an Alesya Bag for that adventure. Then everyday you got a little piece of the adventure until we got to the final days and I revealed where I was going on my summer vacation. I put these all in a doc so that it could make the daily task of posting a bit quicker.
  4. Everyday I pinned an image that correlated with that day’s piece of the story and used the pin description to write that day’s adventure. It was longer than 140 characters but it gave an expanded detail of the adventure and then I used the tweet this pin on my Pinterest app to submit via Twitter with a shortened version or teaser of that day’s adventure.
  5. The last day I gave the big reveal. But then after I found out I won. I did do a final post to conclude my story that I did actually win the bag because that was the goal of that board.

This strategy was so much fun to plan and do and it worked. We can translate this same strategy into a marketing campaign that tells a story rather than just pretty pictures and distributing content. It's a great way to engage your audience and then get them hooked on following the story and engaging with your brand. It could work for as a story countdown on a product launch (watch for this from us in the fall) or leading into a big announcement or sale. The one thing that I found to be a disadvantage is that if you go to the board because pins post by day the story on the board is backwards and you have to read the whole story from the bottom up. But the point is to get people to follow daily so that shouldn't have a huge impact. 

What do you think about this strategy? How will you use it? Do you have any other cool tips for using Pinterest as a business or marketing tool? Let us know in the comments and if you decide to run a story, post it here so we can follow it. I’d love to know your results. 

Information Overload: 3 Strategies to Make Your Marketing Good

Buy this! Get this FREE! Sign-up Here! Get our new product here!

Our world is loaded with these and many other demands. Everyone is trying to get you to buy their product or get you on their mailing list. Let’s face it… it’s what we call Marketing! And you know what… we DO it too! We want your business and for you to like us, just like everyone else. And I bet you want people to buy into what you are selling or offering and like you too. It’s all part of your marketing too!

So how do you get your target to bite without sounding pushy or being like everyone else? How can you stand out from all the rest? With the information overload that your potential target market is on, how can you make them see AND trust you? Luckily for you, I came up with some helpful tips that we live by at B&A, and so should you.

Our top 3 tips to help you get through the information overload:

  1. Be yourself: Yes I said it… BE. YOURSELF. No one wants to buy into a fake personality or product. We preach that the brand of your company is what you do and why you do it. It’s about you. You can’t sell something you’re not and be successful. You have to be yourself. Your target will know if you are not sincere or authentic. Humans communicating to humans, what a novel concept. (and yes, I am aware that we have beat this to death in everything we write, but IT’S THE TRUTH AND NEEDS TO HAPPEN!)
  2. Know your target: You can’t market to everyone all the time. You have to know who it is that needs your product or service and can’t live without it. Part of knowing your target is also knowing how to reach them. Not everyone loves Facebook or Twitter. Oh let’s just say that you are an engineer. Chances are your target prefers email over social media avenues. So to market to that target, put your information into an email strategy. Now if your targets are young professionals between the ages of 23-35, chances are very high that adding a social media strategy into your marketing mix will resonate with this target group. Know who it is that needs what you are offering and how to reach them… we CANNOT stress this enough.
  3. Make your information fun: As you know, we love Champagne. So we created our Champagne Thursdays. Even wrote an ebook with our top 5 marketing tips paired with our favorite Champagne recipes (if you don’t have yours, go here to get our free ebook. Shameless, I know!). Along the way we have added Wine Wednesdays and the B&A book club to our social mix. What is something fun that you do in your business or with your employees? USE IT!! Market it, tell your peers and talk about it, put it to your advantage to stand out and be a little different. Make your information fun! Don’t make everything so business-y, business-y.  Offer your uncorked (yeah, see what I did there… another reference to Champagne) idea as a free gift. Draw them in to buy what you really want them to. If they like you and trust you, they will love the information you are giving them.

Being in today’s market as a small business, you need to have a great personality and stand out above the rest. That will get you noticed. So hopefully you are following the 3 tips we laid out for ya. If not, maybe you should start. Have fun with your business and make it fun for your customers and clients.

xoxoxo,

 

Strategorize Your Business

Strategorize Your Small Business

Strategorize? WTH? I get a look and a giggle. “You are making up words again!” Well I thought I would be able to prove the Chief Rockstar wrong… again, but it looks like… yeah, I am making up words again. LOL!

What exactly is strategorize?

Well the thing is… I have a habit of running two words together when I am talking, especially when I am drinking. AND because this word came out of our previous Champagne Thursday Mastermind Session… wait… WHAT?... you haven’t heard of our infamous Champagne Thursday Mastermind Sessions before? Well you really need to go check it out -> HERE!

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah making up words especially when drinking, Champagne something… blah blah blah. So anyway, we were discussing the plans for our Champagne Thursday Mastermind Sessions and POOF… strategorize just came out. This led to some giggling and laughing and “WTH does that mean?” and “You are making up words again” and some more laughing… So what was I trying to say?

Strategically Organize The Shit!

Yeah that’s right…strategically organize turned into…STRATEGORIZE!

So what does it mean? It means to strategically organize. LOL! Sorry I had to state the obvious. Really what it means is that we will be organizing our mastermind sessions to fit the targets participating. DUH! Really that is a no-brainer. But really we are gearing the lessons to those in the need. We will strategically organize or… strategorize the aspects of running a business and operations marketing to fit your needs. We find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, and compose the mastermind session around it. We strategorize your needs so you better benefit from our lessons. It really is a WIN WIN for all involved. And let’s be honest…strategorizing can be used in all aspects of your daily day-to-day life and your day-to-day business operations. Don’t let important dates go by the wayside. Keep your budget on track. Don’t get overwhelmed with your kids activities and your work schedule. Keep important documents in a safe place. Keep your projects tracked and on task. Keep your to-do list manageable. And the list is endless. Simply…Strategorize That Shit!

So…how did you strategorize today?

Jenn.png
 

Taa Daa - New Website! Why We Switched

So if you haven't noticed... we have a new website. If you didn't notice, you must be living under a rock or something. You may have also noticed that in this re-design we changed things up a bit (I really mean a lot). Not only do we have a new look but we have some new offerings and a new flow to our business. And I'm sure that many people are totally confused because I preach consistency, consistency, consistency. But I have a business case for why we are changing things.

Even though I love research and data, I'm a creative at heart. And as a creative I get bored easily. But that definitely was not the driving factor of this re-design. While our old website was beautiful, it didn't reflect who we are today. Our style has evolved and changed over the years as well as the direction and service offerings of the company. Creatively, the old website was a conglomerate of several team members that are no longer with the organization and the impression it was making was starting to pull away from who we are now and where we want the brand to go. That was actually reason #2.

Reason #1: The bigger reason for the switch is a platform version change. I'm a huge fan of Squarespace. I have been on SQSP5 for a long time and fell in love with it the moment I signed up but it just wasn't functioning the way I wanted it too. As you may recall in a previous post that we had a rough summer. Over the past 6 months we have been working away in our Champagne Thursdays on the strategic direction of the company. I have made no secret about how I'm tired of the consulting business model and exchanging minutes for dollars. It just isn't scalable, hence making it hard to monetize. I have been working on a product line up for years and have been dragging my feet partly because I couldn't figure out how to sell downloadable products on the SQSP5 platform and it seemed like a daunting task to figure it out (I'm not an html expert and I don't really want to be). In the past year, I have put a couple of my clients on the SQSP6 version of the platform and fell even more in love. And guess what, e-commerce are already built in.  Even for digital products and services! Wha, wha!

I actually started talking about a new website in the spring and drug my feet on that too because I spent so much money building the old website. I wanted to get as much out of that site as I could because I was so invested in it, monetarily. But it just wasn't functioning the way I wanted it too. I couldn't sell products. I couldn't make changes easily. The blog layout wasn't the most optimized. But I had invested so much time and money in it! And it was pretty and people loved it. I had people all the time tell me how much they loved our website. It has been a struggle for me for a long time letting it go and deciding it was time for a change. It was time for a functionality, design and business model change.  Functionality being the main driver.

I played with the idea of a brand refresh too. That was a different business decisions that I made and will talk about more in the future. But in the meantime, I hope that you love our new look as much as we do. We are so excited to have a refreshed look and flow to the site. Throughout the whole process the motto was 'simple and authentic' and I feel that we achieved that. We want people to understand what we do and how we can help your business and I hope this new site gets that message across. There will be lots more coming over the next 6 months as we develop all the tools and trainings and we will keep you posted when those are available. 

Until next time, be cool man, 

Ronii.png

Use Your Words

A couple of Thursdays ago we had our monthly Champagne Thursday Inspirations session and let me just tell you… IT WAS 4 HOURS LONG! That’s what happens when you work with such great friends. It takes you over 2 hours just to get caught up on life (and maybe a wee tiny bit of gossip). But really that is what makes us work; although sometimes we forget that just because we are great friends, we still CANNOT read each others’ minds…we still have to USE OUR WORDS! I mean, really, we can read each others’ minds to a point, but not all the time. We would totally be the coolest branding and marketing firm out there if we could read minds. But OH WAIT!... we are really cool because we have Champagne Thursdays and send ya’ll awesome tips and tricks and advice. (See we can read your minds. We know you want FREE stuff.)

Ok so where are we going with this? At B&A we are in the process of some refreshing and redefining things. Ooooh don’t worry lovelies, we are not changing what we do, why we do it, or who we are. That would really go against EVERYTHING we preach y’all. We are just making a few minor changes (really some pretty big changes to us but I digress). So watch out for some awesome updates!!!!

Anyway, back to my point… the only way that this refresh is going to work is if we USE OUR WORDS to communicate with one another and our fans. …IMPORTANT TIP AHEAD!!! PAY ATTENTION!!!... Remember in our last blog post when Ronii wrote about the elusive WOW! Factor, to get that you have to… use your words. It’s really hard to give you what you want if you can’t tell us what that is. Ronii does this to me all the time. She has this big vision for projects but then doesn’t use her words so that I make that vision happen because I can’t read her mind all the time (oh, the travesty). You know this. You experience it with you clients too. They don’t tell you what they want. We can’t (insert verb here like: help, buy from, be interested in, etc…) you if you don’t use you words. Just as we can’t help you if we don’t use our words. OMG! Who would have thought that? LOL! So are you getting the picture? GOOD!

So to recap what are you supposed to do with your customers, sales copy, projects, or that contractor you are hiring? And are we (B&A that is) supposed to do so you know what we do and can work together? OMG DID YOU SAY USE YOUR WORDS?!?! Sweet, you got the picture and we were effective at using our words. Makes us feel good that we aren’t just babbling for our own enjoyment on here. So go out and be the absolute best communicators you can be! USE YOUR WORDS!

The Elusive WOW Factor: 7 Tips to get the WOW

Generally, when I'm working with someone I ask what they are they looking for from their marketing and business and the answer I get 9 times out of 10 is, "I don't know, I just want the WOW Factor."

What does that mean?

My wow factor is different from your wow factor, which is different from the next person's wow factor. Use your words people. What does that mean?

Someone might look at the work I do and think, "that chick is nuts, how could anyone work with her." Obviously, they would be right but that's another post for another day. But others love it and want more of my WOW Factor. So what is that wow factor and how do you get it?

The elusive WOW Factor is that 'thing' that makes people go 'whoa.' For some it is in the look and the design, the visual. For others it is the words you use and how you make them feel. But regardless, the wow factor grabs you by the balls and makes you say, "how you doin'?"

Some tips that we use when creating the wow,

 

  1. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail: Do I really need to explain this again? You must plan and you must set goals for any project and that especially includes your marketing and branding.
  2. Be consistent: I feel like I say this over and over and over... and over. Please people, if you never ever work with us or you hate us and never read another post, please take this advise. Be consistent with your brand acorss all medias. That means no different logos that are just slightly changed to fit the piece you are working with.
  3. Be differnt: No one ever remembered the status quo. Did you? Remember, sometimes even bad press is good press. Case in point, Miley Cyrus' twerking VMA disaster. You think that was a coincidence that she had an album coming out like the next week?
  4. Stand for something: Dammit! What do you stand for? Shout that from the rooftops and hold your ground regardless of the naysayers. 
  5. Less is more: This is self explanatory. Size really doesn't matter.
  6. Know your customer's wow factor: You have to know who your target customer is and what makes them go "whoa, how you doin'?" Because that's when they buy from you.
  7. Use your words: While we are living a visual world, the word is still powerful. We still need to use bold, desciptive words like kumquat. Don't be a kumquat.

 

This WOW Factor thing isn't all that easy if you aren't clear on what you do, and more importantly, why you do it. I'll be honest. I struggle with this for B&A as well. I like to over-analyze and over-complicate things that I lose clarity sometimes. I'm currently going through that where I'm getting back to the roots of why I started this company and how I serve others with my work. I'll sit down with a glass of champagne (go figure) and work out a new plan and then go from there with all the other points to get my mojo (or WOW Factor if you will) back. It's all coming together soon.

What's your thoughts? Use your words and tell us how do you capture your WOW Factor or what brand just that somethin, somethin. Until the next big things comes along...

be cool man,

It Is What It Is… Or is It?

It is what it is… if there is one saying that I ABSOLUTELY hate in the world today is this one… It is what it is! NO IT BLOODY HELL IS NOT! Sorry! I get a little angry when I hear that saying. Even when I say it, I get all fired up and start cussing and shit! Ooops… I did it again. Isn’t that a Brittney Spears song from when she was cool? But I digress.

Is it really what it is? I don’t think so. I think that's a cop out for people that are afraid of change or don’t know how to fix whatever it is in their life that needs fixin’ (that’s my southern girl coming out).

Whether you are in a job that you can’t stand, a relationship that is no longer working or your four year old cries all the time when he doesn’t get his way (YES that is my child. My god that child seems to cry all the damn time. He has cried from the time he entered this world). Yes, I spoil the crap out of him because he is my baby but does he have to cry all the time when he doesn’t get his way. It is what it is… right? Ugh. Sorry got off on a tangent there. Where was I… oh yeah, whatever that little thing is that is bothering you…FIX IT! It is not what it is! People change, jobs change, environments change… it is ok if you change too. Don’t let it be… it is what it is. If you can fix it, fix it!

Now how does this apply to your marketing you ask? Do you ever say 'it is what it is' about your marketing campaign? (Don’t you hate it when someone answers a question with a question?) Don’t let your marketing be… well… it is what it is. If it isn’t working, change it. It’s your business, right? Now remember don’t change your brand message or story, people identify you by that. Keep your brand your anchor (don’t know what we mean, check out this article Ronii did for SheOwnsIt.com). But change up the rest of your marketing if it has gotten to the 'it is what it is' point. Add a freebie for your new customers, like we did with our new ebook. (You can sign up and get it right over there <-. I know. Don’t judge me).

Change your marketing around. Don’t use the same ones all the time, particularly if it doesn’t work. I give you permission to break up with that old, out-dated marketing that doesn’t work anyway. That feels good doesn’t it? Like a weight has been lifted. You know you could reach new customers by trying different marketing, right? So go out there and don’t let your marketing or your life be… IT IS WHAT IT IS! It doesn’t have to be.

Is your marketing 'it is what it is'? What are you going to do to change it? Let us know in the comments below.

xoxo,

The Next Big Thing in Marketing: Crowdfunding

Last week I attended the Charleston AMA Signature Luncheon on crowdfunding. Have you heard of it? Of course you have. If not, you have probably heard of crowdsourcing. Whole different ball game. Crowdsourcing is the polling of consumer perceptions and trends (my marketing speciality) where as crowdfunding is more along the lines of a marketing campaign that raises capital. John Osborne from fundingcharleston.com was our speaker and talked about how crowdfunding can create brand loyalists. If you weren't there, you totally missed it. It was awesome! You should join AMA so you don't miss out on cool stuff like this. But I digress.

So, why is this important to you? Because as the marketing industry grows and evolves, marketers and business owners will look for new ways to reach potential customers. In the past few years social media has come on the scene as a marketing channel big time and we have all been experimenting with it to 'figure out' how we can make it work for our particular businesses and brands. While that has been great sometimes marketing strategies can get stale. Not your brand, your marketing (If you are little confused you can check out my article Make Your Brand Your Anchor and you'll understand what I mean.) And, I think crowdfunding is the next big thing in marketing communication to keep us fresh. And I'm super excited for it!

In 2012, over $2.7 BILLION were funded to projects. With platforms like kickstarter.com and fundingcharleston.com there are all kinds of opportunities for businesses to reach new audiences. Crowdfunding is the perfect opportunity to create brand loyalists. These are your early adopters and favorite-est (that's a real word that I just made up) clients. By getting them in as a "founding partner" on new products or services you make any cusomer brand loyal to your company. Brand loyalists will always have your back and they will talk and talk and talk about your company and really you can't get any better marketing than that (not that I'm trying to work myself out of a job but I kinda am).

While there are several different points to make a crowdfunding campaign successful, the biggest thing to start with is an amazing story. I preach this all the time - storytelling. It has to be compelling and concise because people love a good story but their attention span is only, like, 5 seconds. That is where a marketing and branding firm or copywriter comes in and can really help you hone that message (Ahem, someone like, I don't know, us. Wink, wink).

I love this idea of crowdfunding as a marketing and branding strategy. I think it gets back to the root of communicating a brand story and why businesses came up with concepts that solve consumers problems. And it makes consumers investors in products, services and brands they love. Hell, you may see one for B&A soon. Tell us, have you ventured into crowdfunding yet? What strategies worked for you?

xoxo,

ZEST IT UP! And You Will Come Out Smelling Like Lemons Too!

Have you ever had a headache so bad it felt like your head was being split wide open? Yeah I had one like that the other day, and every little or LOUD noise my boys made, I thought my head was splitting even further open. UGH, IT HURT SO BAD!!! And trying to concentrate on client work was hard, but I managed to get a few things done. GO ME! Anyway, Ronii was telling me about this home remedy thing she heard about… you put lemon rinds on your temples and secure with a towel tied around your head and leave on until you start feeling a tingling sensation then remove. Yeah I see that face you are making. That was my reaction too, BUT IT WORKED! It took the splitting feeling away. I could again function and handle my ever so active boys. AND, I smelled all lemony fresh too!

Ok so where am I going with this you ask? It’s all about the zest. The zest of the lemon, which is the rind, is what helped my headache, and zest can help with your marketing. ZEST IT UP! Don’t sit around being all blah and shit, add some zest. Grab people’s interest. Do something zesty and fresh that you are not seeing from your competitors. You could provide some kind of give-a-way to get people’s attention. People love FREE stuff. Take B&A for example, we have this fucking awesome gift for you if you sign up to get our Champagne Thursdays Inspiration tips and antics (Oh I know, I am shameless), but you will love our little gift. And yeah it involves Champagne and a lot of it. It’s zesty! And it’s here, right now. Over there <- ! So GO, sign up. It's free.

Adding that zest to your marketing is super easy and doesn’t have to be complicated. Make it fun and exciting. Have a customer appreciation party, provide something fun for FREE, offer a promotion that will grab their attention… the list could go on. But if you are looking to make a BIG statement, update your look. You don’t have to go all crazy, but maybe change the look of the outside of your office building or the décor inside.  People will notice the little changes. That is what grabs their attention. So find what best suits your needs and ZEST IT UP BABY! And trust me you will come out smelling like lemons. Or is it roses? Lemons works better for my example. You get the drift.

Sweet & Salty Marketing: Top 3 Ways to Mix It Up

You probably know this but B&A is a virtual company. My right hand girl, Jenn, is in West Virginia and my other starlets, Taylor and Corinne, are all over Charleston. And me? You can’t nail me down, I’m all over the universe most of the time. Because we are a virtual organization we love, love, love cool communication tools like Skype. A couple of weeks ago I was instant messaging with Jenn about this and that and the other and most of it was completely unproductive (like the conversation we had using all emoticons). Music was a big topic of conversation for us that day probably because we are so inspired by it and how it forms the soundtracks of our lives. Back in the day, I was a huge Bush fan (still am!) and somehow they came up in the conversation and Jenn says (types actually) that she follows Gavin Rossdale on Twitter (we’re marketers so we are OBSESSED with social media tools). She then says (types) he curses A LOT.  I LOL’ed back saying (typing), ‘I love when British guys curse because you expect them to be prim and proper with that accent then foul curse words come out and its shockingly good. You know, kinda like sweet and salty together.’

Light bulb, most people love sweet and salty, right? I know I do! It’s a scientific fact that your taste buds transmit the sweet and salty tastes to your brain triggering different parts of the brain. These reactions in the different parts of the brain are what give us the pleasure of sweet and salty together. Why not mix up your brand story and marketing messages into sweet and salty morsels for your customers to gobble up (I don’t know that I like the word gobble but I’m going to use it here anyway). Here’s 3 ways you can mix with sweet and salty. 

 

  1. Mix your industry buzz words with some hard-core slang: Well, maybe not gangster hard-core but you get what I mean. Industry buzz terms are so status quo, blah, blah, blah; so mix it up with some cool ass slang like, ‘We are marketing professionals with mad skillz.’
  2. Use opposing colors in your visual identity and representation: Color is very powerful in your branding and marketing because it is so emotional. Did you know that red (and several variations) makes people hungry? That’s why restaurants use red in their décor. Using colors that are opposites on the color wheel can work very well together like blue and orange. Sweet and salty.
  3. Partner with an unlikely vendor to provide your clients something completely different but amazing: This one may be a little tougher but opposites attract, right? Hence, sweet and salty. Recently, Ash Ambrige at the The Middle Finger Project released a FREE legal clinic for her audience. Technically, she’s in marketing and this is about legal business stuff. Sweet and salty at it’s finest.

 

Two flavors that are completely opposite but work so well together, that’s what you’re trying to achieve. Life isn’t match-y, match-y and your business doesn’t have to be either. When looking at these messages keep in mind your target market because your messages should always be centered on them. But I bet you if you asked them, they might think its odd to have chocolate covered bacon but would love to try it.

What are some of your sweet and salty ideas? We want to hear what you have done to mix it up in your business.

Uncork Your...

Uncork Your…Champagne? No wait… Marketing? No…Champagne!

So obviously ya’ll know by now that we love our Champagne. I mean come on, who doesn’t? Ok, so I know some people don’t, but you can do so much with Champagne… When you uncork that bottle, the bubbles start flowing and the smell is intoxicating. I personally like my bubbly with some Chambord Liqueur. It adds that little bit of sweetness to the dryness of the bubbly.

I recently had to research drink recipes that involve Champagne for a little 'som, something' that you will so want to get your hands on (stay tuned for more info about that, you DO NOT want to miss this). Who knew there were that many drink recipes involving Champagne? I was in heaven, and now have a MUST DRINK list ready to go for our Champagne Thursdays. What’s Champagne Thursdays? Really, you haven’t heard of our Champagne Thursdays? Where have you been, under a rock? You really need to read our social media posts more often. Maybe even go to our website and sign up to get tips and antics from our infamous Champagne Thursdays brainstorming sessions (I know, I am shameless for this plug).

Ok so where was I… oh yeah, talking about the oh so many Champagne recipes. Like I said, I was in heaven. So many options and different scenerios to try… kinda like marketing, don’t you think? Hence, why we at B&A LOVE our Champagne and our Champagne Thursdays brainstorming sessions. Some of our best ideas come from these sessions. You would be amazed at the craziness that comes out of these sessions. Marketing couldn’t get any better. LOL! No but seriously, you don’t want your marketing to be dry like some bubbly is, that is why there are so many flavors and mixtures you can make and add. Do the same with your marketing… Diversify, experiment, mix it up!

Now I am not saying go out there and get all crazy and go all willy nilly. No, you still have to have the brand, basic message, your tagline or most important message you are trying to relay, (your Champagne) and then you take that message and add it to your business cards, website, brochures, signage, social media sites (these are you mixing ingredients). You want a consistent message that shows up everywhere. So find your Champagne, and then decide what you want to add to it to get your message out there. Oh and maybe uncork a bottle of Champagne to drink while you figure out your marketing recipe.

Why Didn't I Think of That?

Picture this. You can’t sleep. It’s 3AM. You finally get up because you’re keeping the cat up (or your spouse, it’s your story). You wander into the living room in a sleep-deprived state. You turn on the TV in hopes that you make the noise in your head stop and get pre-occupied with whatever is on the TV. The only thing on is infomercials because really that’s all that’s on at 3AM. You finally get tired of flipping through all of them and just land on a channel with an infomercial about, let's say, how to clean your house better. You call the number and order one because it is totally going to change your life. Your head starts churning again about work and your watching the commercial thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that and make millions?” 

You’ve done it, I know. Admit it. We have all looked at Mark Zuckerburg and thought, “Why didn’t I think of that? A website that other people generate the content for you? WTF?”

I’m in the car a lot. And I’m a radio listener. Radio as an advertising medium is another topic for another day but FYI if used right it is very effective. I’m listening to the radio and my head is wandering. When that happens I tend to not flip the channel when a commercial comes on. I’m sitting in traffic and a commercial comes on and the very first thing they say is, “FREE PIE WEDNESDAYS!Now you have attention!

Are you fucking kidding me? FREE PIE!

I mean who doesn’t love free? And who doesn’t love pie?

Don’t tell me you don’t like pie because if you don't we can’t be friends.

Why didn’t I think of that? FREE PIE WEDNESDAYS!

The commercial is for O’Charley’s and you can view the YouTube commercial here. What a brilliant promotion.

You have to purchase an entrée to get the free pie and it is only on Wednesdays and its for a limited time. Why is this great? Well, let me tell you. It's. FREE. PIE. But seriously, this is a great promotion because it gets you to come in a buy something on one of their slowest nights for a new product they are introducing. And they have made it exclusive by saying it is for a limited time only. It hits all the high points of a promotion. And its free pie! The point (besides I love pie)… create promotions and incentives with very specific goals. And give away free pie.

I’m totally bummed that I didn’t think of this promotion. I should have thought of that. I’m smart enough to think of promotions like that. I wish I had thought of that. Although, we do have Champagne Thursdays.

Did I mention that I love pie? Keep that in your back pocket for any special events like the upcoming B&A anniversary on July 1st. But guess where this girl is going on Wednesday night? Who’s going with me?

Fooo... Oh, look a squirrel!

Do you ever suffer from what I like to call Squirrel Syndrome? No? You don't loose focus? You already have, haven't you?

If you're like me there is so much jammed packed into my schedule that I get overwhelmed, which in turn distracks my attention constantly. And its easy to get distracts by, say... 

OHHH... SPARKLY!

Sorry. Focus, Ronii. You are writing a blog post. Squirrel.

As I write this post, the TV is on and I'm trying to 'multi-task' and out of the corner of my eye the cat is taking a bath on the couch. Distracting, no?!?!

I think you would agree that we are a distracted society. And I think that marketing, in part, has made us this way. Everywhere we turn there is a marketing message trying to vie for my attention, time and money. I'm trying to vie for your attention right now with this blog post.

It's TOO much! I can't handle!

So, how can businesses like us 'cut through the clutter'? (I know that is totally cliched but cliches exist for a reason... becuase they are true.) We make people feel something through our story.

We all have a story. I do. You do. They do. We all have a story we want to share and hope it resonates with our potential clients. But the key is to be concise with that story and envoke a feeling so we don't get distracted by squirrels or, in my case, shiny objects.

When tellig your story, remember how you felt going through it. Use adjectives that will make your listener or reader feel those same feelings. I preach it all the time: people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Most consumers purchase on feelings, not practicality. So make them feel something because most likely they have been in, or are in, the same spot and feel the same way. And because you have been through it you know exactly what will fix it and you are willing to fix it for them... for $19.95.

Now, time to get distracted by some sparkly champagne. Happy focusing!

~Ronii

It's a Small World After All

Someone in the B&A office just got back from a trip to Korea for 3 weeks.

THIS GIRL!

My daddy and I went to Seoul, South Korea to visit my brother who has lived there for 10 or so years. My brother works for the government in one of those jobs where if he tells you he will have to kill you (I did get to see the building where all the secret stuff happens). We had a great time and did tons of stuff that wore us all out.

Since getting back everyone has asked me how it was and how different it is. My response every time has been that outside of a different language on the street signs, I could have been in any big city in the US. Korea is a thriving economy that has adopted an "Americanized" way of living. The coolest thing to me was that everyone works resulting in very low crime because no one is desperate for money but terrible drivers because of the commuting.

My brother is about an hour and half south of Seoul but it's hard to tell where Seoul ends and the burbs begin. It's just big with a lot of people. Being the marketing guru that I am, I paid attention to how the Koreans did their marketing and advertising. Obviously, in an economy where everyone works there is money exchanging hands and marketing becomes an important component in the business strategy and the Koreas use every bit space they can find to market or brand.

Every single square inch!

They use the land for agriculture and they use their buildings for advertising. And you thought we were ADD from marketing clutter. We have nothin' on the Koreans.

Street in Osan

Seaport Town SeoulEvery inch of the buildings and almost every window has a sign in it advertising something or other. Most live in high rise apartments and I noticed that even on those building they plaster a logo under the building name. Samsung is everywhere on those kinds of buildings. Talk about brand placement.

How do you pimp your marketing? Do you plaster your brand or marketing message on every available space possible?

MAYBE YOU SHOULD.

This is just for fun.

Me breaking into the Palace because I always knew I was meant to be a princess.

The New Marketing Craze: Content Marketing

Have you heard? Content marketing is all the craze!

How so very hipster-ish of us to share valuable information with the world. But I thought I was already doing that? Wait, what? You mean I have to spend more time doing more stuff to get people interested in working with me?

Why, yes. Yes, you do.

What is content marketing you ask? Well, honestly, it's a lot of writing. Taking your thoughts and ideas and opinions and putting them out into the world for everyone to see and use if they so choose. Really, the concept of content marketing is quiet simple. You write a piece (articles, blogs, white papers, etc.) that is valuable and useful to the reader and the you promote the hell out of it. Easy peasy.

The theory is that as if you write good content you begin to gain trust from your audience because they view you as a thought leader beginning that ever important marketing tool called the relationship. I know what your going to say, 'but Ronii, then I give all my secrets way and no one will hire me because they have all the information to do it themselves.' Of course you know me and I have an answer to that. Yes, they do and they can go do it themselves BUT ... they won't. And even if they do, their not the kind of client you want to work with. 

The fact of the matter is, all the information for any of us in business is laying right in front of us on The Google. All we have to do is search for it. But if you are anything like me (and I know most of you probably are) you don't have the time or the energy to put all those pieces together. You don't want to plan your marketing campaign, write you copy, design your ad, negotiate and buy ad space, or promote the hell out of your content. You can. You have all the information and know how to do it. But you won't. You will hire us.

That's why it works. You gain trust with your audience and they say, 'i don't have time for this. Here's some cash. Can you take care of everything?' Why, yes. Yes, I can.

Take this blog for instance. I'm telling you that you write a 3 to 5 paragraph blog post on your area expertise. Mine is marketing, hence this article on content marketing. Then you promote it. You share it on all your social media platforms, you comment on other's social media about your great tips, you send it out in an email to your database, you talk about it with everyone you meet and tell them to check out your blog for all kinds of great tips. You know how to do all that. That's good information on telling you exactly how to do content marketing. Maybe a little over simplified but you get my drift. But will you do it? Maybe, at first.

But eventually, you'll get busy and that will go to the back burner because you don't have time or inspiration. BUT, you may remember this article from me and say, 'I know I need to do this and it's important to drive traffic, I'll call Ronii. She can take care of it. That's what she does everyday.' Voila! Content marketing!

See how easy that was? Now, call me, maybe!

3 Website Insight to Make You Stand Out

The beginning of this year has brought me some exciting new projects. I have dubbed this the year of the website. My clients have been overhauling or starting new websites because they are trying to stay ahead of their competition and look more modern. Statistics show that when consumers land on your website, you have 3 seconds to capture their attention (it used to be 7 seconds) and then you only have 20-30 seconds to keep their attention.

WHOA!

Talk about ADD. Does your website capture my attention in 3 seconds? Does mine?

I have a few tips to help you wen thinking about your website strategy that will help you capture that reader's attention.

  1. Clean, modern design that speaks to your brand and target market: This is your first impression - the 3 second rule. In that 3 seconds visitors gather their first impression of you. Are you presenting your brand or yourself the way you want to be viewed? This is where they judge the design and layout of your site and form an opinion on if your message resonates with them.
  2. Intriguing and engaging messages and copy: If you get your visitor's attention in that 3 seconds they start to read. This is where you have 20-30 second to keep them interested and want to further explore your website. Your messages and copy have to be intriguing, bold and concise. They need to tell the visitor exactly what they need to know about what you do.
  3. Hub your website: When I think about my marketing mix, my website is the hub and everything stems off of it. The purpose of every marketing piece that I do is to get you back to my website where you learn more about why you need me and become part of my sales funnel. See how important your website is now!

Websites aren't for just holding information anymore, where prospects drop in to get your phone number. They want to build a relationship with your brand and the website is how that happens. Websites have come so far in the past 5 years. Open source platforms like Wordpress and Squarespace have made it easy to update, maintain and create content instantly. There are so many beautiful templates and great designers that you can spend as little or as much as you feel is necessary on a website that is beautiful, functional and brand centric.

I'll make you a deal - I'll look at your website and give you 3 free ideas that will help you capture your clients attention. Did you hear me? FREE! head over to the contact form and fill it out with a love note and I'll send you a FREE assessment of 3 things you can do to make it more effective. Do it! Do it now!

Thinking Outside The Box

In today’s market, you have to stand out from the rest to grab the attention of your target audience. Marketing is no longer just about print ads, radio blurps, or commercials. With today’s economy it just isn’t as cost effective to go the traditional routes, so businesses are getting creative. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to cut out the traditional methods of marketing. I am talking about thinking outside the box. Be creative and find something that separates you from the rest.

Anymore, social media is playing a HUGE part in marketing for small businesses. Small businesses can’t afford to run print ads or commercials all the time to grab their target audience’s attention, but posting products and information on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. is a way to have a little fun with your marketing and create a buzz. Now this doesn’t mean to solely put all your marketing eggs into the social media basket. It means to diversify, branch out…BE CREATIVE. Create a BUZZ. Maybe do a print ad in a popular magazine and provide product information or catchy phrases to your Facebook fans.

Having a catchy tagline or gimmick would work too. Get business cards that stand out from the rest. Start walking the streets handing out business cards or product brochures to everyone you meet. They may not need the information but might know someone who does. Get involved in community activities to spread your name and what you do. Partner up with another company that isn’t in direct competition with you and help promote one another. The list just goes on and on and on…

Ronii thought outside the box and has proclaimed herself to be the Rockstar of Bartles & Associates. It’s catchy and creative. BE CREATIVE! HAVE FUN WITH IT! THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!

Southern Hospitality

It’s almost summer time here in Charleston, SC and we all know what that means…tourists everywhere. While we sometimes get a little frustrated with the masses of individuals blocking traffic, we remain thankful for the millions of people that travel to this historic city every year to witness the beauty we experience every day. Let’s count our blessings! And why are we so thankful? For most of us that work in Charleston, those masses of individuals allow us to keep our jobs with the ridiculous amounts of money they spend in the tourist industry. So here is my point; just how do we successfully market to these individuals in order to keep them coming back for more?

While being rated the top travel destination in 2011 is a great honor for Charleston, and will definitely boost the foot traffic on these cobblestone streets, it may not be enough in the long run to sustain the income tourists provide us. First of all, make them feel at home! Travelers want to feel immersed in the culture they are visiting, not like a herd of cattle that we bring in, then push back out quicker than they can say, “Hey look, a dolphin!” Because of this aspect, it is important to model tourism marketing efforts around marketing tactics of the local community. A strong form of marketing that works well under this model is word of mouth. Tourists rely heavily on recommendations they receive from restaurant employees, hotel staff, etc. (Trust me, I give out hundreds of recommendations a week…and they love it!)

Now on to my next topic:  Why do most women come to Charleston? The shopping of course. Don’t worry guys; we have plenty of fun to be had for all. In reality, most travelers model their budgets off of souvenirs and splurges along the way. They want something that they cannot find in the places where they live, and we want them to be able to personalize their experience with the products we can provide. Some tourists are hesitant to buy large, mostly due to suitcase space and the hassle extra baggage contributes. Market an easy form of shipment that takes all of the worry out of their time of vacation relaxation. By keeping their best interests in mind, they will not hesitate to splurge on a little something extra. Other ways to fill their experience with ease include providing alternative methods of shopping for the exhausted walkers that spend hours on their feet (updated websites), having parking that is easily accessible (impossible in Charleston, right?), and store displays that are not only inviting, but locally designed.

While these are just a few examples of how to market to tourists, proper marketing research will maximize your success. If you understand where your customers are coming from and what they are looking to get out of their experience, your return on investment will be thanking you. Let’s make them feel so at home, they won’t be able to stop the recommendations from spilling out of their own mouths. The season is already here, are you ready for it? 

~Laura