Leveraging Video To Successfully Market Your Small Business

Using video marketing can boost your small business exposure in many ways.

Not only are videos a quick way to communicate information to your customers, they are immediately engaging and can be fun!  Feel free to get creative when making your marketing video and consider adding music to draw in your viewer.

Ivystone, a national Gift and Home sales and marketing agency creates unique videos simply by utilizing a variety of Gift and Home product images along w upbeat and captivating music to promote their national showrooms-featuring a variety of Ivystone vendors and products for the wholesale gift and home market.

View Ivystone’s summer 2016 Atlanta Showroom promotional video here.

Read more for 7 proven tips to use videos for your small business and go ahead and make some video fun!

Learn and Earn Word Of Mouth Marketing For Your Business

If you could master what has been identified as one of the most valuable forms of marketing, the one that most people trust above all others Word of Mouth Marketing 4and the one that is most likely to deliver sales for your company, would you instead choose to ignore it or leave it to chance?

Why would you simply choose to sit back and hope conversations will just happen organically about your brand? If you want to win the marketing race you need to unleash the power of word of mouth marketing (WOMM).

Most of the time, your talkers will come from the everyday actions you take to be a great business – they recommend their friends because they really like you. But sometimes you have to be more proactive about earning those talkers and getting them to spread the word.

Word of Mouth Marketing-GraphLook at the facts. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of  marketing.

According to Susanne Fanning, President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association for the word of mouth and social media marketing industry, marketers need to focus on the three E’s: Engage, Equip, Empower.  If you can master these, you can become the most beloved and talked about product in your category, which will ultimately lead to increased sales. “We’ve seen a good WOMM campaign generate thousands of conversations, recommendations and triple sales in just a year (yes, even for the boring products).”

Engage—Give your fans the gift of you. Engage with them. Listen to what they are telling you. Be part of the conversation about your brand. Be a presence in your fans’ lives. @NikeSupport is a prime example of customer service done well. They constantly respond to followers on Twitter, whether it’s about their apparel, Fuel Band or other products. Every few minutes, you can watch them respond to someone new.

Equip—Give them reasons to talk. It can be amazing products, great service, insider knowledge, social elevation, incredible stories, unbelievable facts or even funny disclosures. It’s on you. It really depends on you understanding your consumers and what they like about you and providing whatever it is they need from you. Apple revolutionizes technological devices and delivers amazing products to its consumers, allowing them to naturally rave about the newest iPhone. Another area to excel in and that’s on the rise is social customer service.

Empower—Give consumers different ways to talk and share. Let them know that they are important to you and that sharing their opinions is important to you. Help them find ways to share within their circles and find ways to help move their conversations around. Lay’s is an excellent Word of Mouth Marketing 2example to highlight how they empowered their fans to “Do Us a Flavor,” and allow consumers to create a new flavor of potato chips to hit store shelves. Over 3.8 million submissions were sent in 2013 making it one of the biggest marketing campaigns for PepsiCo owned Frito-Lay.

As is typically in these times, technology has increased social connectivity making it easier for consumers to do your marketing for you. A post Word of Mouth Marketing 3that takes just a few minutes for a fan to write will be seen by hundreds of friends who trust them, and it can rapidly travel out to thousands more. Very well planned messages have been shared by millions within the span of days.

Look at the Epic Split video by Volvo featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the video was released on YouTube on November 14, and on the first day the film was viewed over 6.5 million times and shared over 32 thousand times. Then in four weeks it was shared over 6 million times across social networks. It quickly became the most shared film on YouTube. The clip has received extensive media coverage from all over the world as well, and has been the subject of approximately 20,000 editorial pieces online thus far.

It is simply not possible to achieve these kind of results without technology. The results are undeniable; consider the fact that those who read these posts as well as yours could potentially have hundreds of offline conversations with friends, families and acquaintances.

Engaing, Equipping and Empowering  your customers will fuel conversations and drive passionate Word of Mouth marketing that will make a huge difference for your brand and your sales.

Send us examples of your Word of Mouth achievments and be on the look out for Part 2 next week as we share these and more powerful WOMM success stories.

 

Suzanne Fanning is the President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association for the word of mouth and social media marketing industry. Her social strategies have been featured in Advertising Age Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, and PR Week.

 

Learn From the Experiences of Fellow Entrepreneurs

10 mindsets of successful entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are all different. They all have a unique entrepreneur mindset that contributes to their success. Their mindset might have to do with their personality or even the field in which they have chosen to work.

When figuring out your own approach to the challenges of entrepreneurship, it can help to learn from the experiences of others.                                                                          Sharing Entrepreneurial Stories

Here are the experiences and entrepreneur mindset of 10 well-known entrepreneurs from a variety of different fields.   We hope that you will find something in each of their stories that will help you in your own entrepreneurial adventures.  From Small Business Trends (10/16/13)

How a Big Yellow Duck Delivers So Much Happiness

It’s a simple idea really…..take the convergence of 3 large rivers, the gateway of the city of Pittsburgh, and turn it into an art project representing a large bathtub.  All that was needed was a big yellow duck and the result was millions of people flocking to see the 40’ bobbing body of happiness delivering much more than anyone could have imagined.    Big Yellow Duck-Pittsburgh Point of 3 Rivers

 

Yes, I visited the duck one incredibly beautiful Sunday morning on my weekly 15 mile bike ride on the Pittsburgh bike trails.  I was thrilled to see the gigantic

MMScolieri on a Sunday morning bike ride w a big yellow duckbundle of sunshine along with the emotional enthusiasm in the enormous crowds delivered by the presence of “the big yellow duck”.  It was a unique bike ride that day and so is this equally happy and unique marketing perspective from the Jill Berardi Group.

       9 Marketing Musts Delivered by a Duck

 

Is Your Brand Forgettable?

Brand marketing can create a strong connection and value for your business audience.  When done correctly, the marketing of your brand will help you to really shine and stand out from your competitors. Shiny Golden Egg

Consider building a modern day brand so chock full of personality that people can’t help but love or at the very least, keep talking about.

Here are a few tips:

  • Focus on your strategic goals.  Define these goals, both short term and long term and use these as your roadmap. Are you looking to gain new customers?  Communicate more closely with existing customers?  Increase traffic in your store by 25%? Whatever the goal, define it!
  • Define your audience.  Find out where they spend their time and on what social media channels.  Then create powerful stories about your brand that connect with them.  Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine here.
  • Choose one social platform to start.  If you’re just getting started; get comfortable with one social tool and make it work for you and your audience. If strapped for time, seek out someone on your staff, friend or family to help get you started.  The topics to connect customers to your brand are practically endless; customer service, sales, product uses, customer favorites, best sellers, company history.  Think creatively to grab attention to your audience.
  • Expand and experiment If you are seeing connections and results, expand your reach, scaling it up as you find what works with your audience.
  • Be willing to modify your strategy.  Understand that marketing your brand takes time, twists and turns.  Be flexible and don’t be afraid to ditch a strategy or social media tool that just doesn’t produce results.  The important thing here is to not tackle so many channels at once that you have no concept of what is and is not working for your brand awareness.  When in doubt-see tip #1.

Don’t miss these branding lessons from 8 companies–bold, brash and brazen ideas that may help you amplify your own brand.

While they might not be for everyone, they definitely will give you a creative launch. 

Need help getting started or have outrageous brand success stories to share-let us hear from you.

Winning Holiday Strategies for Retailers and Brands

Winning Strategies for Holiday Planning 2013To help retailers prepare for the busy upcoming holiday season, Retail Touch Points has compiled the 2013 Holiday Outlook Guide, featuring insights from a number of leading industry experts, case studies, including a variety of tips and tactics that will help deliver a joyous holiday season to retailers, brands and consumers.

This year the guide focuses on 11 different topic areas, including:

  1. Omnichannel
  2. Mobile Commerce
  3. Mobile Apps & Sites
  4. Pricing
  5. Inventory
  6. Personalization
  7. Outbound Marketing
  8. Showrooming
  9. Workforce Management
  10. Payment

Download a complimentary copy of the Retail TouchPoints_Holiday_Outlook_Guide_2013.

Use the guide to plan a successful holiday sales strategy.  Make plans to engage with your customers early and consistently throughout the season.

Let us hear about your own insights and successes.

For an abundant selection of wholesale gift and home products for your retail operation, connect with Ivystone and Simblist sales teams.

 

Retail Touch Points delivers cutting edge content directed towards acquiring, serving and retaining customers in the new world of multi-touch retailing.

8 Solid Ideas to Add Customer Names to Your Email List

Grow your list, grow your engagement. A clean, well-managed email list can be your best asset, whereas “dirty” lists with out-of-date information are a leading cause of deliverability failures and are sure to damage your sending reputation.  Adding customer emails to your list

List hygiene is the process of removing “bad” addresses in a timely manner. Good list hygiene practices are essential to avoiding spam traps and keeping your bounce rates low – key drivers of your reputation. There is no better way to assure consistent deliverability success than by regularly cleansing your list of hard bounces, unknown users and other inactive addresses.

Businesses and brands need to check their email list size on a regular basis. It’s a good to track three metrics: net growth of your email list, net growth of email IDs for your direct mail file, and a steady increase in opens and clicks -this implies some form of interest in your email campaigns.

Take a hard look at your preference strategy. There are three tips on capturing preferences: ask them (your customers), observe them and group them (into categories). Use your preference page on your register or in a notebook on your check-out counter, to ask the consumer about their other channel preferences.  Don’t forget to inform them about your social media sites-where you post info about your business.

Take these extra steps: First, put up your preference page to sign up for email on your social media sites and websites.  Second, use popular social sites  (make sure it is where your customers are also hanging out) and include testimonials and content from your customer/vendor base within these sites and on your email campaigns. Third, post your email campaigns on your social media sites.

Here are 5 additional quick tips for using email marketing to promote and grow your business.

Independent Retailers Across the USA Show Off Their Patriotic Pride!

Patriotic merchandising techniques and messages appeal to the “pride in our country” emotion buried somewhere in all of us.  The eloquent words of Abraham Lincoln summarize it well “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

Abe’s message did not directly refer to displaying, buying and consuming patriotic merchandise, however in the present day, our ability to demonstrate our love of country through patriotic products is both traditional and satisfying and appeals to each of us on an emotional level.

Most folks have many fond memories from childhood celebrating patriotic pride throughout the summer. Traditional family gatherings, flag waving, parades, fireworks and a visual picnic of stars & stripes are a staple of the festivities well before we even realized what patriotism meant.

Now that we have grown in our own individual understanding of patriotism, we take the time to enjoy the holiday that allows us to embrace our own adaptation of patriotism for our country and particularly show our gratitude for the people who have served to protect our freedoms.

Some of America’s most creative independent retailers have joined our Pinterest Display Contest by sending in unique photos of their Patriotic Displays.

We Want You to show us yours……snap a photo of your favorite patriotic promotional display that conveys your sense of national pride and join the ranks of fascinating folks and stores across the country who have shown us theirs.

You could win $1000 of wholesales products for your retail store by sending a photo to Patriotic Display Contest before July 4th!   You will be featured on our Pinterest page with the winner being featured on Pinterest and all of our social media channels.

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Hurry….contest ends on the 4th of July!!!! 

Social Media and Marketing Lessons from Retail Industry Expert Crystal Vilkaitis

Instant sparkle  and high energy zips across the room, phone or webinar screen when interacting with Crystal Vilkaitis, Owner of Crystal Media, as

Social Media guru Crystal Vilkaitis of Crystal Media

she opens up about her excitement over social mediat tools and her experience connecting with independent retailers over the past  2 years.   Crystal has successfully connected with hundreds of independent retailers through her informative seminars, webinars and snappy hours, all with the goal to inform and educate them on navigating the world of social media and marketing. 

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Crystal’s expertise and boundless enthusiasm for all things social media has helped countless retailers understand the benefits and reasons to increase their own customer connections and to experience the positive effects social media has on an independent retailer’s store traffic and sales.

This first in a series of posts is designed to help retailers learn and get as excited as Crystal about social media and marketing to help their business soar to new heights.  Crystal Includes her concise “to-do list” to jump start your successful social media planning! 

You have been a pioneer in the social media industry for independent retailers, tell us a little about your experience and how it can help retailers across the country.

Crystal V: I came from the social media industry and joined the retail sector about a year and a half ago. I was surprised by how slow this industry is to use social media to market. A few of my first seminars were way too advanced and I had to take a few steps back. After realizing that, it became my mission to help get retailers and vendors using social sites to market and help them learn how to effectively (and efficiently) use these tools.

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 Approximately how many retailers have you spoken to and worked with in your seminars, webinars and over the phone?

Crystal V: At least 350 across the country last year and over 500 in 2012 and it’s only March!

 What is the typical evolution of learning and growth with retailers just starting out with social media to having them feel comfortable using these tools to grow their business?

Crystal V: A lot of retailers I talk to are very fearful of social media sites both personally and professionally. There’s always fear of the unknown and these retailers typically didn’t grow up with this technology. It is a completely new space for them. In the beginning, like most businesses I’ve worked with, there needs to be some hand holding, but comfort comes with doing and one of the best things retailers can do to become familiar and comfortable with these tools is simply use them.

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In addition to the fear, a lot of retailers say they don’t have time to use these social media tools. However, if a retailer understands how to efficiently and effectively use social media, they’ll find that it doesn’t take a lot of time. In January we had a retailer panel where three successful retailers shared how they market their stores and what kind of response they’ve had from their tactics. Everyone was using Facebook. A retailer in the audience said, “I just don’t have time for Facebook” and the retailers on the panel went crazy saying, “I don’t spend more than 5 minutes a day” “you’d be shocked, it really doesn’t take that much time, I promise!” I loved seeing retailers tell other retailers their own experiences so it made using Facebook seem not as difficult. They saw that retailers were using it and seeing a response, and were only on it 5 minutes a day! If a retailer is brand new to social media marketing, it make take some extra time in the beginning to learn how everything works, but after that, it really doesn’t take a lot of time to market your store using these tools.

 From your frequent interactions with retailers, have you seen consistent challenges or stumbling blocks to using social media? What are some ways business can learn from other’s mistakes and move quickly into positive results with social media?

Crystal V: Like I said before, the first step is to get over your fear or excuses and, in the words of Nike, just do it! It’s important to know what your goals are when using these sites – Are they to announce new products when they come to your store, enhance customer service, create a platform for conversation, stay in touch daily, an outlet to promote events, sales and exclusive offers, or maybe a combination of it all? Once you know how you’re going to use these tools to market then you have a better idea of what to post and how often.

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Independent Retail seminar on Social Media -Dallas World Market Center

If you’re brand new to social media marketing, I suggest attending a few webinars or local seminars to learn how to effectively use these tools. If you take the time to learn in the beginning to understand them, you’ll save a lot of time in the future. Through these webinars/seminars you’ll most likely also learn some tools that can make it easier for you, saving you time. SnapRetail is launching a marketing calendar in March for retailers that include Facebook post ideas and email marketing campaigns because they know how busy retailers are and saw a need to help by being a tool to save time.

Can you share some specific success stories of business growth using social media?

Crystal V: One tactic that has a high rate of response is simply posting pictures of new product arrivals. During my social media seminars I talk about this tip and always ask if the audience does this for their store. I almost always had at least one retailer that has and they typically have customers come in that day to buy.  One of our retailers completely sold out of Mud Pie gloves within a day because she posted pictures on Facebook using SnapRetail’s Online Photo Albums. Through this app, Fans of a page can “Reserve” product right from the Facebook page. This retailer sold out because she made the product available via Facebook.

Another great way to drive traffic to your store using a Facebook page is by posting exclusive, time-sensitive offers. One example of this is a furniture retailer outside of Chicago I talked to who was having the hardest time selling a chair. He marked it down, moved it to different areas of the store but still couldn’t sell it. One day he took a picture of it with his Smartphone, posted the picture to his Facebook page and said, “Today only, 15% off!” He sold the chair that day.

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 Can you provide a top 5  “TO DO LIST” of what every retailer should be doing  for a successful launch into social media to market their business:

Crystal V:

  • Set goals!
  • Find the social sites that are right for you/your store (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, a blog, are the top favorites and most frequently used )
  • Decide what you want to use these social sites for-and be specific here, no vague statements like increase business (customer service, showcasing new products, channel for exclusive offers, promote events, or a combination of all)
  • Set up tools that will help save time (Hootsuite)
  • Most importantly be authentic and personable when you post to these sites, people will connect with the content more and build longer lasting relationships.

 Part 2 in this series dives into the benefits of specific social media tools.  Can you share any of your successes with launching into social media?

5 Key Steps to Start a Customer Loyalty Program

Repeat business deserves special recognition. You want to acknowledge and reward the people who help to support your small business — and keep them coming back for more. An effective way to show your appreciation is through a carefully designed and implemented customer loyalty program.

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Many small businesses designate April as “Customer Appreciation Month” and the folks at SnapRetail share some great ideas to show your customers how much you love them!

Intuit’s Small Business Blog delivers the goods on how a customer loyalty program can bring you more business.

Share with us the customer loyalty ideas that have been successful for your business.