Field of Dreams: Building the Right Plan to Attract More Customers

A post I did for Quantum Innovations.

Field-of-DreamsRecently, I came across a blog post by Seth Godin called Trust Brand. In the post, Godin asks the question, “When you have a choice in what to buy, you will first and foremost (and second and third, in fact) base your choice on a simple question, ‘who do I trust to keep the promise that the marketers are making?’”

At Quantum we work to build our Trust Brand on the platform of knowledge. Between the hands-on skills of our Tech department, the scientific strength of our Process group, and, of course, the years of experience of Norm Kester, knowledge is a resource where we believe we have a competitive advantage. However, being the “David” in an industry of “Goliaths”, perhaps like your lab, we must deal with the challenge of getting the information out about our knowledge, experience or strengths to an audience beyond our existing customers.

The following is a brief summary of how some of the pieces of our marketing strategy have come together and have proven to be successful. The tools are here for you to consider how they might work to benefit your business.

Know Who You Are

In his book, The 8th Habit, Steven Covey says that finding your voice (knowing who you are) is the first step in leading. Practically, this means knowing what your strengths are, and what they are not. Knowing what your core values are and how they will influence how you treat your customers, your employees – even your competition. Without knowing who you are and being true to that fact, each and every effort will be built on shaky ground. I once visited a lab that had a seemingly rich heritage of quality with their existing customers. However, they felt like they needed to compete on the basis of price, thus turning their service into a commodity. This “personality conflict” was contributing to a steady loss of business.  To repeat: You must know who you are and be true to your core values.

Know Who Your Customer Is

Another one that sounds overly simplistic, but is so easily overlooked. This requires time and interaction. A distillation of demographics, while helpful, can never tell the whole story. Real and frequent interaction will help you know not only “who” your customers are, but…

Know Where Your Customers Are

When people get excited about the idea of marketing that uses “new media”, one of the first ideas that is discussed is, “…let’s make (or update) our website”, or, “…we need to engage our customers on Facebook”. However, what if your customers aren’t on Facebook? Just because you create a digital footprint, doesn’t mean your customers will come, or know or respond.

While it’s true that these are all points that were discussed during your first lessons in marketing, they can easily be overlooked and not given the due diligence that they require.

The Tools

As discussed, our brand is being built around the strength of the knowledge we have available to share. This is a daily task that is being worked out in every single conversation that everyone in our office has with every one of our customers and vendors. No one is NOT in sales. Everyone is in sales. Everyone always represents our brand of knowledge. In addition to these daily conversations, we start our knowledge presentation with this blog.

Quantum Blog Posts

Every other Tuesday, we launch a new blog post. Typically, we’ll have two “technical” posts that speak to current trends, common problems or new solutions for labs or the ophthalmic industry. The value that Norm brings to the conversation has been found to be incredibly helpful to many labs (and frankly, makes producing this blog much easier, too). After two technical posts, we’ll feature a “cultural” post that focuses on leadership, family… the things that make us, us. Not just what we do, but the character elements that help us do it better.

Action: What do you have to share with your customers? What do you wish every one of your customers knew that you know would help them be successful? This is where you can start your blog. The frequency of your posts is less important than quality of the content.

Quantum Social Media Channels

We use many of the familiar channels: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. However, we don’t use all of them in the same way or speak to the same audience. This all goes back to the points of knowing who and where your customers are..

LinkedIn: Here we reach out to upper management and owners of labs. We generally limit LinkedIn to product or service announcements and Press Releases on our page. Also, when a blog post is created or a new edition of our monthly newsletter, QMail, we share the information on LinkedIn. This creates an easy way for folks to share this information with others who could benefit from the knowledge.

Quantum LinkedIn

Twitter:  Is used more for general information, interesting facts or articles. Generally, we’ll send two “Tweets” a day – one in the morning (between 7:00-8:00am Eastern time) and one in the (between 3:00-4:00pm Eastern time). These can be industry announcements, news stories you read or that are shared with you by colleagues. Another tool we use is Google Alerts. Google Alerts allow you to create a search phrase that Google will use to search the internet and find new stories related to that topic and then email the results to you. You can then review the 10-15 stories found and determine if they are consistent with the message you want to communicate (Know Who You Are) to your customers (Know Who Your Customer Is). Many experts will say that we don’t have enough tweets per day. While that may be true statistically, we’d rather focus on the quality rather than quantity. We believe that better represents who we are as a company.

Quantum Twitter

Facebook: The name that everyone associates with “social media”, we use Facebook for lighter announcements or quotes we find motivational. It’s more of a “fun” interaction. Also, photos have great success on Facebook for us.

Quantum Facebook

Instagram: Recently purchased by Facebook, Instagram makes it easy to post and share photos. We use Instagram to highlight product photos, new product releases, or when our latest Fusion ships out the door.

Quantum Instagram

Bringing Them All Together

Beyond sending out your message, another advantage of social media is the ability to cross promote between each channel. This can be done manually by going to each channel that works for your lab, or you can use a tool called Hootsuite that helps you manage all your channels from one interface to help save time and effort.

Hootsuite

While this is just a cursory review of these tools, and how we use them, the bigger questions are where we started.

Action: Answer the following questions for you, your lab and your customers.

  • Who are you? What are you uniquely equipped to communicate to your customers?
  • Who are your customers? What information do they need to know, even if they don’t KNOW they need to know it?
  • Where are your customers? You may find, by answering the first two questions, only one of the tools listed above will work with your customers, or it may require something else that isn’t listed here. By correctly answering the first two questions, you are guaranteed to find the correct answer to the third.

Knowledge is the brand that we want to further develop and promote. We believe that when we do it  well, we help to make “Quantum” be a compelling answer to your question, “Who do I trust when it comes to helping my lab perform better?”

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10 Surprising Social Media Statistics That Will Make You Rethink Your Social Strategy

KNOW WHAT THE FASTEST-GROWING DEMOGRAPHIC ON TWITTER IS? OR HOW MANY NEW MEMBERS JOIN LINKEDIN EVERY SECOND? THE ANSWERS WILL SURPRISE YOU!

If you’re managing social media for your business, it might be useful to know about some of the most surprising social media statistics this year. Here are 10 that might make you rethink the way you’re approaching social media.

1. THE FASTEST GROWING DEMOGRAPHIC ON TWITTER IS THE 55–64 YEAR AGE BRACKET.

  • This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.
  • The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
  • For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%.
  • For Google+, 56%.

Those are impressive numbers against the prevailing idea that social media is “just for teenagers.” It certainly points to the importance of having a solid social media strategy if these age brackets fit into your target demographic.

Rethink it: Keep older users in mind when using social media, particularly on these three platforms. Our age makes a difference to our taste and interests, so if you’re focusing on younger users with the content you post, you could be missing an important demographic.

2. 189 MILLION OF FACEBOOK’S USERS ARE “MOBILE ONLY”

Not only does Facebook have millions of users who don’t access it from a desktop or laptop, but mobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This is a 7% increase from the end of 2012 already.

Rethink it: There are probably more users accessing Facebook from mobile devices than you thought. It’s worth considering how your content displays on mobile devices and smaller screens before posting it, particularly if your target market is full of mobile users. Of course, make sure to make sharing to social media from mobilemore straightforward.

3. YOUTUBE REACHES MORE U.S. ADULTS AGED 18–34 THAN ANY CABLE NETWORK

Did you think TV was the best way to reach the masses? Well if you’re after 18–34 year olds in the U.S., you’ll have more luck reaching them through YouTube. Of course, one video won’t necessarily reach more viewers than a cable network could, but utilizing a platform with such a wide user base makes a lot of sense.

Rethink itIf you’ve been putting off adding video to your strategy, now’s the time to give it a go. You could start small with simple five-minute videos explaining what your company does or introducing your team.

4. EVERY SECOND TWO NEW MEMBERS JOIN LINKEDIN

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, continues to grow every second. From groups to blogs to job listings, this platform is a rich source of information and conversation for professionals who want to connect to others in their industry.

Rethink it: LinkedIn is definitely worth paying attention to. In particular, this is a place where you may want to focus more on new users. Making your group or community a great source of information and a newbie-friendly space can help you to make the most out of the growing userbase.

Make sure you share consistently to your LinkedIn company page and profile by, for example, scheduling your posts.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA HAS OVERTAKEN PORN AS THE NO. 1 ACTIVITY ON THE WEB

We all knew social media was popular, but this popular? Apparently it’s the most common thing we do online. So next time you find yourself watching Kitten vs. Watermelon videos on Facebook, you can at least console yourself with the fact that the majority of people online right now are doing something similar.

Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop.

Rethink it: Putting time and effort into your social media strategy clearly makes sense in light of these stats. If you weren’t already serious about social media, you might want to give it a bit more of your time now.

6. LINKEDIN HAS A LOWER PERCENTAGE OF ACTIVE USERS THAN PINTEREST, GOOGLE+, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

Although LinkedIn is gathering new users at a fast rate, the number of active users is lower than most of the biggest social networks around. So more people are signing up, but they’re not participating. This means you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter.

Rethink it: If you’re hoping to get people involved, think about which platforms are best for that. Looking at the latest Twitter statistics and Facebook statistics, these platforms might be a better place for your contest or survey, while passive content like blog posts or slide decks might be just right for your LinkedIn audience.

7. 93% OF MARKETERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS

Only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business. That means there are lots of people out there getting involved and managing a social media strategy. It’s becoming more common to include social media as part of an overall marketing budget or strategy, as opposed to when it was the outlier that no one wanted to spend time or money on.

Rethink it: If you’re struggling to make your strategy work, or you just want some advice, you don’t have to go it alone. If 93% of marketers are using social media for business, you can probably find someone to give you a hand. Plus, there are lots of blogs, videos and slide decks around to help you out. Be sure to find the right social media management tool for you to stay on top of everything.

8. 25% OF SMARTPHONE OWNERS AGES 18–44 SAY THEY CAN’T RECALL THE LAST TIME THEIR SMARTPHONE WASN’T NEXT TO THEM

It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space that we need to pay attention to. And we’ve all heard the cliché of smartphone owners who don’t want to let go of their phones, even for five minutes. Well, apparently that’s not too far from the truth. If 25% of people aged 18–44 can’t remember not having their phone with them, there are probably very few times when they’re not connected to the web in some way.

Rethink it: While you can reach people almost anytime, since they have their smartphones with them almost always, this also means you can interrupt pretty much any part of their lives. Don’t forget that having a phone in your pocket all the time isn’t the same as being available all the time.

9. EVEN THOUGH 62% OF MARKETERS BLOG OR PLAN TO BLOG IN 2013, ONLY 9% OF US MARKETING COMPANIES EMPLOY A FULL-TIME BLOGGER

Blogging is clearly a big focus for marketers who want to take advantage of social media and content marketing. This is great, because blogging for your business has lots of advantages: you can control your company blog, you can set the tone and use it to market your product, share company news or provide interesting information for your customers. With only 9% of marketing companies hiring bloggers full-time, however, the pressure to produce high-quality content consistently will be a lot higher.

What a lot of people struggle here is how to write the best headlines for your articles, when the best time is to publish posts and lots of other blogging questions that arise when people are starting out.

(Of course, not all marketers work at marketing companies, but the stats are still interesting–how many companies in any industry can afford to hire–or already have–a full-time blogger?)

Rethink it: If you don’t have (or can’t afford) a full-time blogger for your business, be aware that having a content strategy that requires consistently posting on your blog will mean a lot of work for your marketing team and/or other team members in your company to keep up that volume. This can work, it’s just important to realize how big a task it is to run with a full-time content strategy without a full-time content creator.

10. 25% OF FACEBOOK USERS DON’T BOTHER WITH PRIVACY SETTINGS

We’ve seen a lot of news about social media companies and privacy. Facebook itself has been in the news several times over privacy issues, Instagram users recently got in a kerfuffle over changing their terms of service, and the recent NSA news has seen people become more conscious of their privacy online.

But despite these high-profile cases of security-conscious users pushing back against social networks and web services, Velocity Digital reports that 25% of Facebook users don’t even look at their privacy settings.

Rethink it: Assuming that all of your customers are thinking along the same lines could be a big mistake. Especially if you’re basing that on what you’ve heard or read in the tech news. Remember that your customers might have very different priorities than what you expect.

Your social media strategy really comes down to what your goals are, and who your target customers are, but it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the trends happening across the web. Hopefully these stats will help you to identify trends that will affect your strategy and adjust accordingly.

For more social media studies take a look at this post.

This post originally appeared on Buffer, and was reposted on Fast Company.

7 Tips for Improving Your Online Marketing Writing

Some great reminders here. There have been more than a few occasions where I wish I would have put these simple, but effective tactics in place before hitting “publish”, or “submit” or “send”.

The one point, I would comment on relates to item 4, “Always end your writing on a strong point“.

In my opinion, his point is far too diluted. A definitive call to action is an absolute must, not just a good idea. All too often, especially in the realm of social media channels, this point gets missed. Whether the call to action (CTA) is to pick up the phone, click “send me information” or to have the reader review what they are doing now and evaluate if/how it could be done differently,  a CTA is needed. Without it, what’s the point of your writing?

Not only A call to action, but frequently the CTA needs to be offered many times. Offered just once, or too casually, your fantastic writing can cause them to forget what you’ve asked them to do. Again, if the reader does nothing with the information you’ve provided, what’s the point of your writing?

What do you think? Tell me which points you agree with or don’t agree with and why. I’d love to hear your feedback.


Even if you work with an experienced online marketing team, there are times when you’re bound to have to do a bit of copywriting yourself. Even the busiest business owners and executives get tasked with the occasional tweet, article, or email, and it pays to be able to convey key messages in a succinct way.

With that in mind, we’d like to share with you seven tips for world-class copywriting that virtually anyone can use:copywriter at work crafting a blog article

1. Write with a single person in mind.

Here at Kayak, we use marketing personas for this exact reason. The more you can picture your perfect client in your mind’s eye, and write something that appeals directly to him or her, the easier it’s going to be to create a one-on-one marketing effect (which, of course, should be your goal).


2. Say what you mean, as clearly as possible.

Where a lot of business people trip up is trying to think like professional writers, when they should simply communicate clearly. When in doubt, use a simpler word instead of a more complex one. Aiming too high with your language doesn’t always make you look smarter; it can just as easily come across as jargon. Or worse, it may sound like you are talking down.


3. Support your key statements.

If you are making a claim that flies in the face of common sense, or accepted wisdom, try to back it up with something credible. Often, a statistic or case study will do. However, if those aren’t available, a personal anecdote or testimonial from a customer can be helpful. There is a fine line between being unconventional and being out of touch, so support your strongest statements in the best ways possible.


4. Always end your writing on a strong point.

Every marketing communication you put together (with the possible exception of short tweets and personal notes, of course) should end with a definite conclusion, a call to action, or both. If at all possible, invite the reader to take the next step, or share an opinion. I practice this rule in every communication I write, from emails to staff or clients, to closing out my twice-weekly blog articles. Simple truth: if you don’t ask for a response, it’s less likely you’ll get one.


5. Write once and edit twice.

A lot of what people consider “writer’s block” is just a lack of momentum. For your first draft, just keep putting words together and trust you’ll find the ones you need. After you have a complete draft, edit twice. The first time for structure and organization; and the second time to eliminate anything that isn’t needed to help tell your story or make your point.


6. Read the document out loud before you send it.

Most simple typos, grammatical errors, and structural problems that people struggle with can be fixed by simply reading the draft out loud. Take your time and don’t rush over the words. You’ll find that as much as 90% of the most common writing issues can be taken care of this way.


7. Never send or publish something you’ll have to take back later.

We live in a world where a single ill-advised email, blog post, or social media comment can lead to big problems. So, before you publish something to the Internet, or send it to any of your contacts (or especially, to all of them), think carefully about whether it’s an idea you really want to express, or a thought you may want to keep to yourself.


You don’t have to be a born writer to put together effective business communications, or add blog posts or social updates to your online marketing efforts. All it takes is a bit of focus and attention to detail… the rest just comes with practice.

Read the original post written by Randy Milanovic

What Time Is It?

I know much has been written on this in the past, but little things like this always fascinate me. (See the piece below written by Michael Zhang at PetaPixel as well as the video on break.com, posted by Bob Zamuda.)

I was recently reminded that advertisements for watches always show the time at 10:10 (give or take a few minutes). With watch ads running rampant with just weeks remaining before Christmas, it’s a fun one to notice (but I’m kinda “nerdy” that way…)

watchphoto1

Have you ever noticed that the watches and clocks found in product photographs and advertisements usually show the time 10:10? If you haven’t, pay attention the next time you’re flipping through a publication and come across a watch ad—the rule is almost always true.

If you have noticed this, do you know why 10:10 is the default time for watch photographers?

According to the New York Times, the main reason is quite simple and obvious: aesthetics. There are a number of visual advantages to having the hands set at the 10:10 positions.

One is that the hands are kept from overlapping. Having them on both sides of the watch face ensures that the hands themselves are visible and can be appreciated.

The position also allows the hands to look nice on the face of the timepiece. The 10:10 position is symmetrical, and the human brain tends to appreciate symmetry and orderliness.

Some product photos of watches foun

Some product photos of watches foun

Another reason is that key details on the face of the watch or clock usually remain visible at 10:10. The logo of the manufacturer is usually found under the 12, and sometimes next to the 3-, 6-, and 9-o’-clock positions. Logos found under the 12 are nicely framed by 10:10 hands.

Finally, the 10:10 hands look “happy” due to the fact that the hands look like a smile (or like a “V” as in “victory”). The NYTimes reports that Timex used to use the time 8:20 in their product photos, but eventually decided to turn that “frown” upside-down.

There are a number of urban legends regarding the 10:10 time floating around in the world. Many of them attribute it to a historic event (e.g. Lincoln/JFK assassinations, the dropping of the atomic bombs), but there isn’t any truth behind those explanations.

 

The first lie…

Seth's BlogAnother pearl from Seth Godin.

The first lie…

is that you’re going to need far more talent than you were born with.

The second lie is that the people who are leading in the new connection economy got there because they have something you don’t.

The third lie is that you have to be chosen.

The fourth lie is that we’re not afraid.

We’re afraid.

Afraid to lead, to make a ruckus, to convene. Afraid to be vulnerable, to be called out, to be seen as a fraud.

The connection economy isn’t based on steel or rails or buildings. It’s built on trust and hope and passion.

The future belongs to those that care and those that believe.

Color Psychology in Logo Design

As the color of marketing starts to incorporate reds, greens and golds because of the Christmas season, the Color Psychology in Logo Design from Ultralinx was an interesting read.

Colour-Psychology-in-Logo-Design

What does the color of your logo say about you? Is it on point? Does it reflect the story and image of your brand that you want?

“Try Not to Become a Man of Success. Rather Become a Man of Value.”

This is one of my favorite quotes. I came across it again on this Lifehacker Post.

“Try Not to Become a Man of Success. Rather Become a Man of Value.”

Being successful isn’t always the hardest thing in the world. It’s equal parts luck and hard work. But adding value to something is a lot harder, which is why Albert Einstein’s quote is a good reminder if you find yourself blinded by the hunt for success.

There’s nothing wrong with success, but oftentimes it’s easy to lose sight of who you are when you’re successful. If you keep your eyes on your own values, you’ll end up both successful and a good person, which is a pretty good combination.