Five Creative Ways of Making Your Startup Stand Out from the Crowd

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If you are working hard to get your new business off the ground, you might want to appear unique and approachable at the same time. While the majority of businesses created today operate on the internet, you should not neglect the importance of branding through networking and carefully designed marketing materials. Make a statement about your business online and offline, and show off your best side to potential business partners and customers. Find out how below.

1. Create Unique Stationary

“Business Cards” by Paul Reynolds is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It is important that your new business is credible, and you show your audience that you are serious about your offer. There is no better way than brand yourself and make people remember you from business meetings and networking events than creating unique business cards, Custom Labels & Tags, and promotional gift items. Make sure that you choose an appropriate and easy to remember logo and color scheme that you can use for creating brand awareness in your new market.

2. Engage in Video Marketing

One of the most underestimated ways of creating awareness about your new company is video marketing. You don’t have to have a full studio with all the latest equipment, and can create a short presentation in just an hour highlighting the benefits of your offer to potential clients. Many online marketers use videos for personal branding, as they can help them get their values and mission effectively communicated to the target market.

3. Create Unique Presentations

Whenever you meet a new potential client, make sure that you tailor your business presentation to their needs and industry. Use their name several times in the presentation or project proposal, and tell them why this feature is important for their business.

4. Personalize Your Messages and Videos

If you want to make a statement and get the job or project, you should create personalized video messages and send them to your potential clients through email or the cloud. This way, they will know that you made the effort to address their particular needs and concerns, instead of creating bulk marketing materials to distribute to everyone. Even if you have an autoresponder, it is important to segment the market and tailor each message to the individual company’s industry and level of engagement.

5. Create a Strong Brand Message

“Raising brand awareness – Own your Brand Conversation” by Thos Ballantyneis licensed under CC BY 2.0

Before you can become successful in the world of business, you need to develop a personal and business mission and vision. A brand message should be something your audience will remember, and can relate to. If you want to end their struggle with cloud administration, or want them to have more flexibility when hiring temporary workers, build your brand message around this aim, and make it consistent across all your marketing channels. This way, you will be the guy they remember for making HR easy, or one who saves them money on accounting software.

Whenever you are thinking about your future business, consider how your future customers will see you. Get them to give you feedback on your marketing and branding messages, and tailor your brand image to their needs and wants. Using personalization and unique marketing materials will help you stand out from the crowd.

Influencers: Why You Need Them And How To Identify Them

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The power of marketing in the digitally led global business climate should never be underestimated. The sad fact is that no matter how incredible your product, no matter how well run your operations and no matter how much time, blood, sweat and tears you pour into your business, it all amounts to little if the right people don’t know who you are. There was a time when marketing was a strategy of broadcasting. You’d send your message out as far and wide as possible and hope that the right people would find it. Today, the world of social media and digital connectivity has made it far easier to identify your target audience and market directly to them via pay per click advertising. This reduces extraneous marketing costs and maximises the chance of your content and advertising reaching the right audience. Yet, as important as it is to know your target market, it’s just as important to know who influences their behavior.

What is an influencer?

Influencers can make all the difference between your content falling on deaf ears or going viral.  The rise of the influencer is a relatively new phenomenon but one which numerous big brands recognize the value of. Influencer marketing works in a similar way to celebrity endorsement, but influencers tend to be easier to reach, cheaper and more receptive to working with brands. They tend to be individuals who have gained a sizeable and loyal following on social media.

Why you need them

Like celebrities, they’re usually attractive and aspirational figures whose look, style and habits your potential customers find aspirational. They can help you by endorsing your products, link building and even agreeing to be the face of your brand. They can also help to elevate your brand’s status, giving you a degree of “cool by association” in the eyes of your target market. Moreover, unlike roping in a celebrity, influencers tend to actively want to work with brands. They may well have content of their own to monetize and will be grateful to be able to piggyback on the recognition of your brand in order to expand their own reach.

How to identify an influencer

Instagram and YouTube celebs like Zoella or Jamie Genevieve may not be the best influencers for your brand, it’s important to find an equivalent that speaks to your target market. Looking for people with large followings and an interest in your product or service is a no brainer, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s important to keep an eye on an influencer’s social media engagement. Throwing money at an influencer with a large following is unlikely to pay dividends if that following is not actively engaged with the influencer. Make sure that their posts all have a healthy amount of likes and comments.

Important caveats

Any time you associate your brand with any individual, there’s always an element of risk. There’s a chance that they could be ostracized by their following by their actions, their posts or their political affiliations. They can misrepresent your brand or mislead your potential clientele. Thus, it’s extremely important to make sure that your influences are vetted and well managed.

Digital Marketing Strategies That Work: A Quick Guide

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In this modern technological world that we live in, digital marketing needs to be part of your business plan. Businesses and consumers are all going to be looking online, so if you want to get their custom, then having a good online presence is the way to help that happen. If you’re just starting out with your business, then it can feel like a pretty overwhelming place to be as it can be ever changing. So here are some of the sure fire ways that you need to be implementing as part of your digital marketing strategy; are you doing any of them already?

Know Who To Target

To market your business in the best way that you can, you need to know who your business is trying to target or who the ideal customer is for you. You might have an idea of this, and may have designed your business in a particular way for a certain demographic. But when you use online platforms, you can actually check who your business is marketing. Using online tools related to your website, you can check the location of people that view your site. You might not have intended to go global. But if you have plenty of viewers from overseas, it could mean you targeting your audience or product to suit those overseas too, for instance.

Identify Goals

Having an idea of what you want to get out of your online presence is a great way to be specific with what you decide to do. Do you simply want to get more followers on social media or more hits and shares on your blog posts? Do you want to rank on the first page of a Google search for a specific keyword? Do you want to double your current revenue from your online store? When you identify a goal, you will then be able to take the right steps to achieve it.

Look For An Agency or Mentor

If you have only got a small team of people at work, none of whom are particularly savvy when it comes to digital marketing, then it could be a good idea to look for an agency to outsource the work to. You could also look for an online mentor to help you, such as someone from LDI (Lifestyle Design International), for example. If you’re not sure what that is, then you could look up a Lifestyle Design International review to see if they could help you achieve what you want to do. When you want to achieve online, then you do need to get the best advice to help you.

Audit Your Owned Media

At the heart of what you will do with your digital marketing strategy is your owned media, which will essentially be the content that you have. If you have a website, then anything from your about or contact page needs to be looked at, as well as blog posts and anything relevant you are sharing that way. Boost the posts, use keywords, images, and social media posts to help.

Social Media Engagement 101: How To Boost Your Followers Interaction

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If you’re considering making any form of branding or business online, it’s always important to remember your audience. If you want to build your online presence, you should always consider social media engagement.

Some might think that since you’re starting an online business, or want to gain revenue from blogging, it’s alright to stop with just increasing your audience size. However, you’re missing an essential step. It’s always important to be consistent with follower interaction to grow your presence online. For those who are curious, the following are the top ways on how to increase follower interaction on social media. Let’s take a look.

Social Media Engagement: Why Follower Interaction Matters

If you want to make your online presence considerably relevant to your customers and fans, it’s always important to engage with them on a regular basis. This allows them to “grow” into your products and services. People who frequently visit your sites and social media accounts should be the ones you constantly engage with.

  • These people, although “lurkers,” can be transformed into fans and even customers.
  • Devoting time to build relationships with them can potentially jumpstart sales, increase numbers in positive reviews, and even develop customer loyalty.

Follower Interaction Know-How

It’s therefore a priority to make sure you’re engaging with your followers in order to boost your so-called “cred” or credibility. After all, it’s much more comforting as a customer to be able to interact with a service or a brand as it establishes good relationships. Customers may prefer to buy products from a service that they know they can ask questions to or talk to, than to buy from a “reputable” brand that ignores its customers.

If you think it’s time to start focusing on follower interaction, you’re on the right track. Here are some of the best behaviors for social media engagement that you can do for your business and branding.

Consistency is key. Perhaps you can start by making sure there is a consistent theme throughout your social media platforms. Use a common color scheme, a common logo, and focus on your niche. This allows people to “know” what they’re getting into.

  • This affords them the opportunity to trust you, as they know what to expect.
  • This also means it’s important for you to start developing ways to “show” your brand to other people.

Advertising is perhaps the most common way to generate follower interaction. Be warned, however, that it also tends to be extremely expensive. Social media platforms such as Facebook give you the option to “expand” your reach via your ads. For a fee, Facebook can “boost” your posts and help reach more people.

  • This is a double-edged tactic, however, as there’s no guarantee on the level of interest people who will see your ads. They can be potential customers, or just lurkers who can see your advertisement.
  • This is still a good shot if you have the spare budget. After all, expanding your advertisements’ reach can help you assess just how popular a potential product or service can become.

Creating unique content is perhaps the second-most common way to generate follower interaction. It also tends to be the cheapest way. However, be warned that this process takes a lot of time. This is because you have to slowly develop content to make you a relevant figure in your niche.

  • If you’re planning on sharing pieces created by others, don’t forget to give them credit.
  • If you’re planning to make unique content, try utilizing useful quotes, viral videos, funny GIFs, and even entertaining graphics.
  • Remember to always create content that’s unique and not used anywhere else as this helps to improve your overall reputation as an authority leader.
  • Make sure all content is spell checked. Spelling mistakes can appear unprofessional.

Collaborations can help, especially if you’re friends with people from other famous brands. If not, try approaching the notable figures in your niche if you could perhaps do a collaboration. You can for instance offer if your service or products can be “joined” with theirs, as you can boost the chances of selling products.

  • Examples of collaborations can be blog posts that promote products and services, contests and giveaways, and other forms of unique content.
  • This also helps you develop more fruitful relationship with other figures in your niche. This can help establish a good presence even to other members of the market.

Other Things You Can Do

Finally, here’s some other things you may be able to try to help increase follower interaction.

  • Offer freebies, contests or other incentives that may grab your follower’s attention.
  • Trigger emotions by sharing funny posts.
  • Share random questions or quotes to help peak their interest.
  • Share something controversial but not too controversial. You want to peak interest but not make people hate you if they don’t agree with you.

These are just some of the ways that you can engage your followers better to get better interaction.

Conclusion

At U-Thrive Marketing, we know that these tips above of course do not work “instantly.” You have to mix and match elements of these tips in order to boost your chances of getting more followers to become customers. Try to find ways to have these techniques “match” your branding and marketing, as this helps establish your “identity” in the market.

Bill Sheikh

I am the founder of U-Thrive Marketing, Tulsa’s premier online marketing and website design firm. We have helped hundreds of businesses across Oklahoma and the rest of the US take their online marketing to the next level. We specialize in generating more customers for the businesses we work with by utilizing proven online marketing tactics such as SEO, PPC & Social Media marketing. We also have a team of experts that specialize in website development, website design and graphic design. I have also been personally featured on many national and local publications related to marketing. 

Once More With Feeling! Making Emotions A Key Part Of Your Marketing

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When you are marketing your business, an impression needs to be made right off the bat. Ultimately, standing out from your peers is key; this will bolster your brand, your identity, and will beat your competitors. To do this, it’s almost a very simple formula; you trigger the emotions of the right audience at the right time. So how do you do this?

Giving Your Customers Meaning

You need to provide a sense of meaning for your customers when it comes to marketing a specific product if your customers are unhappy, whether this is because they don’t have a specific product in their life or not, you can attempt to provide a way to avoid pain. The notion of the psychology of pain is something that lots of marketers talk about. And while fulfilling a need or filling a hole in your customer’s life is something that you can do by showing how your product fulfills these needs, it is important for you to be genuine in this respect. If your marketing is, in essence, untrue, this is not particularly moral. You have a moral responsibility to uphold too!

The Importance Of Resources And Platforms

Platforms in the marketplace, such as online stores, are a valuable resource to get your product out on a mass scale. And for entrepreneurs like Issa Asad, Amazon is one such platform that is a great way to present products and to stimulate your customer’s emotions. Instagram marketing is another one where you can reach a lot of people quickly. But it’s also important to make the most of the resources at your disposal, such as marketing agencies, but you can also use your own wealth of knowledge, and also research into these platforms like Amazon, and see where certain products are going wrong, and why they are not travelling as far as they should.

The Importance (And Power) Of Value

The thing about marketing a product is that it’s not just an item that delivers a specific need, it actually fulfills an emotion. A great example are modern smartphone advertisements, these phones are not just a way to contact someone, but they are now a way to capture your children’s first steps, capture vacations with friends, and can span generations, in addition to the handy little features on the phone itself! But the emotion is the key to getting a product to fly.

Communicating With A Purpose

With so many different marketing campaigns, it’s much harder now to keep your customers attention. Their attention span will go to the cheapest competitor, and so this is why you need to push emotions with your marketing, this is going to be the thing that will resonate. The cliché, of course, when people buy an item from a store, is that it’s not about what they bought, it was how they felt when they bought it. This is a key to establishing relationships with your customers, so if you can work hard at the emotional aspects, this will have a lot of benefits for you, not just in terms of the marketing, but in terms of the business.

Emotion is the vital thing when marketing products now, so instead of that flashy poster, think about stimulating your customer’s emotions. This will prove beneficial in every aspect of your business.

How To Get People Offline & Into Your Store

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Although many retailers are focusing their attentions on their online sales and their website presence, for many of us our businesses are all in bricks and mortar. Having a retail startup in the digital age comes with its own set of challenges. Whilst online retail is all about getting traffic to the site, physical retail outlets are all about increasing foot traffic into the store.

With the continual rise of online shopping it has never been more important to be looking at unique and creative ways to make our retail stores thrive. So today we are sharing our top tips on how retailer startups can boost foot traffic by using different approaches to garner attention in-store.

USB Chargers

This is a bit of a new development when it comes to the sorts of things that shoppers are looking for. Providing USB outlets within your store is a great new way to keep people in your store for longer than they would usually stay. Have you noticed people gathering around USB portals in train stations and airports? We have such a dependence on our mobiles now that keeping them charged has become really important.

So whilst it might seem like an unnecessary detail just think about all that extra time shoppers will be spending browsing as they wait for their phones to charge. It is a super simple strategy to creating a solution to the age old problem of how to keep shoppers in your store for longer periods of time.

Free Wi-Fi

This again is tapping into our love of mobile phones. With many mobile phone providers no longer offering unlimited data, people are now turning to more and more places and areas that offer free wi-fi. Advertising in your store window that you offer free wi-fi can seriously boost the foot traffic to your store. A recent study revealed that over 60% of shoppers spend more time in-store after they have tapped in wi-fi details. So again this is a simple trick to getting more people inside your store and keeping them there for longer periods of time.

Your Entrance

If your entrance looks shabby and old then you are going to struggle to get people through the door. Think of design features such as aluminum canopies to offer shelter to customers coming in and out, whilst also offering an attractive design feature. Focus on your window displays in order to best show off your products and keep these fresh by changing things around every month or so. You can even ensure you bring in dog lovers, by offering somewhere for people to tie up their dogs with a bowl of water (and even biscuits, if you want to show that you really, really love dogs). You’d be surprised how much custom is lost by customers not being able to find anywhere to tie up their dogs, so use little tricks like this to your advantage.

In-Store Events

All store owners should be looking at ways to promote their company and ways to peak interest in the local community. In-store events and clubs, depending on the type of products you sell, are one of the best ways to do that. Look at your store as a way of being a key member of your community, a company that pulls people together and a company that thrives to connect the local people through the products that you stock.

You can also think about sponsoring and co-hosting local events, again to raise your profile and to have a bigger and more well respected presence in your local community and stronger relationships with your customers.

So, as you can see, it only takes a few simple details and a bit of strategic thinking to get more foot traffic to your store and to increase the profile of your store in your local area. So get thinking about the different ways you can ensure the success and future growth of your retail business.

Shake Up Your Site With A Complete Content Supercharge

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When it comes to creating content, you can often find yourself getting a little bit stuck. Whether you’re always running out of ideas, not reaching the traffic levels that you’d hoped, or can’t seem to engage with your audience, you may be in need of a little help. Sometimes, you don’t even know that you’re struggling until you read something like this and think, yes – that’s me! When that’s the case, you may even need to shake things up and go for a complete overhaul. But again, how do you know where to start?

It’s the nature of content to be interesting, entertaining, informative, educational, or even inspiring. When you find that your site’s content isn’t any of these things, you may need to regroup and get yourself back into a strong position once again. Whether you’re a writer and run a blog, or you’re an entrepreneur with a business site, the process is going to be largely the same. Because content is content; it needs to be engaging regardless of its purpose. So now’s the time to spice up your current content and start to head in an entirely new direction, and here’s how you’re going to do it.

Research

Read Anything & Everything

First of all, you’re really going to want to get your research in. This can often be the most important part of all. Because how are you to know where to improve, if you’re not able to find out what you should be doing. Looking at different content marketing ideas as Forbes.com tells us is just one avenue towards making this happen, but you can also read different marketing and business sites and blogs to find out some great ideas for taking your site to the next level.

See What The Industry Is Up To

But you’re also going to want to take a look at some of the sites in your particular industry too. Whether you have a blog or a business site, you should be looking at what your competitors are doing with their content, as well as other blogs and sites that are in the same niche as you. Here you will be able to see what you’re doing well, as well as where you need to improve, and even get some ideas for going forwards too.

Head To Social

Then, you’ve also got social media to scour too. Because you can often get some really great ideas from different social media platforms. In short, you need to be able to tackle your research from all kinds of different angles, and social media can often provide you with that final piece of the puzzle to pull things together.

Create

Generate Some Ideas

Okay, with your research complete (or enough for now anyway), you’re then going to want to get onto the actual creation side of the overhaul. And the first part of this is all about generating some ideas. Based on your research, your mind should be buzzing with different creative ideas you have for new content, as well as things like design and even features too. So, now, you need to get these ideas down on paper.

Spice Up Your Posts

Then, when it comes to creating some content, you’re going to want to think about making things a little more exciting. There are lots of different ways that you can spice up your content, but you’re definitely going to find that varying your post types can help too. Don’t always stick to long, lengthy posts. Go in with videos and fun imagery, even detailed infographics to make things more exciting too.

Focus On SEO

From here, you should also be sure that you’re putting enough emphasis on your SEO. If you really want your site or blog is sing, it needs to be optimized. But don’t panic, if you know nothing about SEO right now, you can learn all about it. With a few tweaks to the way you approach creating content, you’ll feel like a pro in no time.

Analyze

Analyze The Results

Then, you’re going to want to think about analyzing the results of your new efforts. Because putting content out there isn’t enough. You need to be ensuring that it works and actually engages with your audience. To do this, you need to be checking in with your site analytics on every post to see which are working and why, and which aren’t, and why.

And Your SEO

You should also think about doing this with your SEO. Again, you don’t have to panic. Because there are software services such as Botify.com that were created to specifically help you with this. You need to ensure that your SEO is not only working, but that it’s getting you the results you need, and to do that, you need to start analyzing it.

And, Finally, Your Social Too

The last area that you should look to analyze on a regular basis is your social media. Because if your want your content to be king, social plays an important part in it. Is your content shareable, or popular with your audience? You can use social to find out. So you need to get onto your platforms and look into the analytics to find out what’s working the best.

Optimize

Create New Content Based On The Results

From here, you then need to take all of that analysis that you’ve just done, and come up with some clear conclusions. The results are likely to show you what kinds of content works for you, and what doesn’t do so well. So you’re then going to be able to take this information to continue on creating new content. But this time, you should find that the content is much more of a hit.

Try New Things

As you start to move forwards with your new content, you’re also going to want to ensure that you start to try new things. Because sticking to the same old stuff is just one way to get yourself stuck in a rut again. So, to help you try out new things, you not give A/B or split testing a try? You could find out what ideas work best among your audience, to continue to optimize your content going forwards.

Ask The Audience

At this stage, you should also be asking your audience what they want. It’s easy to think that you should know what they want, but you’re only human – you can’t read minds. To find out what your readers want, you need to ask them. It’s what all successful businesses do. Because if you want your content to work, it has to be what they want.

Repeat

Re-Apply New Results

Then you’ll find that you get to the stage where you’re pretty much repeating the above processes. It’s the best way to ensure that your content stays relevant and really gets you the results you want, whether you’re a blog or a business. You should be researching, creating, analyzing, and optimizing over and over to ensure you’re putting out the best of the best.

Trial Trends

But, again, don’t be afraid to try new things. You should be thinking about the different ways to can apply new content marketing trends as sites such as Contentmarketinginstitute.com talk about, as you’re going forwards. Some might not work, but when something does, you’ll be glad you gave it a go.

Adapt To Industry Changes

And finally, you’re going to want to ensure that you move with the times. That’s why the idea of constantly repeating the steps is so important. The world of content is fast-paced, and what works for you now may not work for you in a few months time. So you need to use this repeated process to keep yourself ahead of any industry changes.

Are Daily Deal Sites a Good Idea for Your Business

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Daily deal sites are gaining more and more traction with savvy customers looking for the most bang for their buck. With millions of consumers using sites like Groupon and Living Social, many businesses are taking the plunge into the deal-a-day world. While there are many advantages to this marketing tactic, a poorly planned discount can have adverse effects on your business. Take a look at the inherent benefits and disadvantages using a daily deal site can have for your business and determine whether or not this strategy works for your individual aims.  

The Benefits

If used correctly, partnering with a daily deal site could mean huge profits for your company, as the advantages can be manipulated to further a company’s inventory movement, customer base, and demographic utilization.

Inventory Movement

If you have slow-moving items or unutilized services, offering them at a discounted price on daily deal sites can see a surge in profits. If your aim is to move product in this way, offer your product on daily deal sites only occasionally for specific reasons. This is especially true for a low-cost or fixed cost expenditure business, as you’ll gain income without putting out more money.

Expanded Customer Base

Groupon enables companies to expand their customer base and direct traffic to their business websites. Take Shari’s Berries, for example. This fruit and dessert company offers their product on Groupon with savings of up to 50 percent—an enticing bargain. About 80 percent of the daily deal clientele are first-time customers, meaning the company will see a higher amount of traffic on berries.com as these new consumers seek to cash in their deal purchases.

Different Demographics

By and large, the daily deal demographics include younger, smarter purchasers. Sixty-eight percent of Groupon users are between the ages of 18 and 34, largely female, and almost 80 percent have a bachelor’s degree. Understanding the faces and wants behind the Groupon interface (and other similar daily deal sites) means better chances of capturing your target audience. If you are seeking to get your product and company name into the hands and minds of younger consumers, then a daily deal site could be the answer.

Bolstering Email Campaigns

Sites like these can help your company bolster email campaign efforts. CanvasPop was able to further their specified business aims through Groupon sales. The photo-to-canvas conversion company chose to capitalize on email captures during their time spent on the deal site. In order to redeem the voucher, customers were required to input their email, an ingenious way to quickly grab consumer information. These recorded email addresses could later be used for designated email campaigns to further encourage customer retention.

The Drawbacks

Choosing to offer your product on a daily deal site isn’t without its risks. Using a website like Groupon or Living Social can have negative consequences on your business aims.

Brand Reputation

If you do choose to offer your product at a discount on one of these sites, you’ll need to be sparing with your promotional efforts and the frequency at which you offer these lowered prices. Price promotions can inadvertently hurt your brand name and identity by associating your products and services with cheap offerings. It can also make these customers price sensitive, leaving them less inclined to pay full price for your other products.

Not Necessarily Profitable

Depending on the site you use, you’ll see a portion of your profits disappear. Groupon keeps 50 percent of the earnings from each deal, meaning you will have to gross margins in excess of 50 percent to make the promotion lucrative.

Low Conversion Rates

Groupon isn’t known for its conversion rates, and many customers that try your product might not be so inclined to return, whether because it was a one-time item purchase they don’t need again, or based on the fact that they refuse to buy your product full price without a coupon. Only an estimated 19 percent of voucher redeemers become repeat visitors.

Devaluing Existing Loyalty

If you are a small business and have built your business upon a foundation of personal relationships with loyal customers, then a Groupon could do you a disservice. When offering a discounted rate to new consumers, you’re devaluing the loyalty that has made you successful in the past.