Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marketing Success On Pinterest: Lessons from 5 Leading Brands

With more than 150 million active users, Pinterest has become the go-to resource for everything from recipes and makeup tutorials, to furniture refinishing and tattoo designs. Pinterest positions itself as the world’s catalog of ideas—but it’s also a prime channel for brand marketing: In a recent survey, 93% of pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases—and 87% have purchased a product because of a pin.

What does it take to be a standout on Pinterest among the more than 75 billion pins? Following are five lessons from top brands that are killing it on the social media channel, building brand loyalty one pin at a time.

1. Offer variety. Don’t pigeon-hole your brand. With 4.5 million followers, upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom is one of Pinterest’s most recognizable brands. They’ve created a devoted following by casting a wide net—men’s fashion, prom, handbags, denim, baby. With 443,000+ pins on 78 boards, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you at Nordstrom.

2. Find a common thread. Specialty retailer L.L. Bean is a great example of how to make a brand connection by appealing to your audience and their interests. With 5 million followers, they’re doing it right: Boards like Outdoor Fun and Take Me Fishing draw pinners to the brand based on lifestyle, activities, pursuits, etc.

3. Provide value. Give them more, and they’ll keep coming back: Home improvement retailer Lowes goes above and beyond basic product info—they also provide step-by-step tutorials to show pinners how to use those products to complete DIY-projects.

4. Make it user-friendly. How many times have you searched for an item online but then struggled to find a retailer to make the purchase? Global marketplace Etsy simplifies the process, allowing you to search, pin and purchase products directly from your digital device.

5. Keep it subtle. Instead of leading with a product pitch, why not welcome your audience in like a good friend? Lauren Conrad does just that—her Pinterest page feels like that of any user, rather than that of a brand. With 1 million+ followers, she shares inspiration and introduces new ideas and products with fellow pinners without making a hard sell.

Which brands are most prominent on your Pinterest feed? I’d be interested in your feedback.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Now Hear This: 5 Steps to Better Listening

In today’s noisy, busy digital world, the workplace has grown increasingly loud. In response, we’ve desensitized ourselves to everyday distractions by tuning out and zoning in. And in doing so, we’ve changed the way in which we communicate, often losing sight of the value of simply listening.

Listening remains one of the most important elements of business success, particularly in sales. When you really listen, you become fully engaged: Listening allows you to understand your customer’s problems, which better positions you to formulate a solution, and ultimately, provide greater value. That value creates trusted, long-term relationships.

Sound and communication expert and 5-time TED talker, Julian Treasure, captures the lesson succinctly: Conscious listening creates understanding. It follows, then, that better listening fosters the valued business relationships we seek to create.

So, is it possible to train ourselves to be better listeners? In one of his TED talks, Treasure offers five exercises to help improve conscious listening skills:

1. Silence. Take three minutes every day to re-set your ears and recalibrate.
2. Mixer. Notice the sounds around you: Even in a noisy environment, focus on identifying the various sounds and their channels.
3. Savor. Enjoy and appreciate the mundane sounds—rain, the washing machine, birds.
4. Listening positions. Take an active role in listening by moving and adjusting your physical position: Active, passive, reductive, critical.
5. RASA: Receive. Appreciate. Summarize. Ask.
  • Receive the sound: pay attention
  • Appreciate: show that person that you are hearing them—a nod, a smile, an affirmation
  • Summarize: use of the word “so” is important in reinforcing what you’ve heard
  • Ask questions about what you’ve heard

The link below connects to Treasure’s TED talk—five minutes out of your day well spent.

Do you have techniques or tips that you use to improve your listening? If so, I’d like to hear from you.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Marketing Tips For Non-profits

While most non-profit organizations are strapped with doing a lot more with a lot less, among their greatest challenges is to stand out among other non-profits vying for donors’ attention—and dollars.

In today’s digital age, there are a host of simple and inexpensive ways for a non-profit to stretch their budget, while optimizing marketing efforts to promote their brand, connect with donors, amplify fundraising efforts, and increase donations.  

A recent article from Forbes magazine offers five tips for non-profits to reach donors:

1. Use social media. To reach donors, you need to connect with them where they are—and Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is where they reside. Place ads on these channels and take advantage of analytics to ensure the best ROI.

2. Make your message clear. Transparency is important: Donors want to understand exactly how their money being spent and the impact it will have.

3. Use content. Content marketing is a powerful way to demonstrate to donors what you stand for and to make them passionate about your goals. Use video or link back to a landing page to gain more traction for your message.

4. Take SEO seriously. In order for donors to give money, they have to be able to find you online—so embed social media feeds, ads, blogs and key words to boost SEO.

5. Write a blog. This platform gives you the opportunity to share more about your cause and to tell your brand story.

Also popular among my non-profit clients is the use of custom and turnkey digital apps. These apps can include a host of event or campaign-specific functions such as push notifications, GPS/map features, schedule of events, social media tags, response polling, video links, program updates—the list goes on. As with any brand-promoting effort, the key to non-profit marketing success is to use an integrated strategy that employs multiple channels as part of one seamless campaign.

What is the most memorable non-profit marketing campaign that caught your attention? I’d be interested in hearing from you.

 Brian Phillips

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

6 Tips For Productive Sales Meetings

Like many sales organizations, Shamrock gathers our team for an annual sales meeting to provide updates, share new ideas and build team camaraderie. For companies like ours with geographically dispersed locations, it’s even more important to bring the entire team together at one time, in one place, to create connections and allow for face-to-face conversations: These interactions are essential to our team-centered culture. 

Over the years, we’ve developed our own formula for managing engaging, productive sales meetings. We start by creating a theme for our annual sales meetings to frame content and messaging. And we bring in vendor partners as guest speakers to provide timely, insightful presentations about marketing solutions relevant to every sales rep.

While Shamrock usually opts for an offsite venue, this year we held the meeting at our corporate headquarters, which allowed sales reps to connect and integrate with the rest of our employees at the home office. More than 30 years in sales has taught us: Change is good and mixing things up helps keep the entire team energized.

If you’re preparing for your team’s meeting, consider these tips below from Entrepreneur magazine for organizing a productive sales meeting:

1.    Start with an energizer. Engage the group right from the start to set the tone for the meeting…introduce a motivational speaker, a video, or a group ice breaker.
2.    Keep it simple. As you build your agenda, ask yourself: “Does this need to be included as part of the group meeting…or is this best managed as a sidebar?”
3.    Manage individual updates. Give yourself a time allotment for updates—and stick to it.
4.    Motivate and reward. Build motivation into the team meeting by making sales reps feel supported and appreciated. Use awards—funny, team challenges, performance-based—or simple hand-written thank-you’s.
5.    Capability activity. Make sure reps walk away with new information that they can use to better manage and grow their business—whether that’s a new CRM platform or tips for bolstering social media presence.
6.    Keep to a standard agenda. By following the above steps, you’ve created your agenda: Use it to keep you focused and on track.   

Do you have unique elements or program features that are part of your annual sales meeting? We’d like to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Honoring Powerful Women.

In 2012, Shamrock celebrated women throughout the entire month of May. Digging through our archives, we found this oldie but goodie: A blog by Bob Troop about the influence of powerful women. So, before this month comes to a close we’d like to share this post from May 2012…its message still resonates with us today.

MAY BRINGS FLOWERS, MOTHER'S DAY AND POWERFUL WOMEN. This week Bob provides some interesting facts about women in powerful places.
May, moms and flowers. Since this is the month of Mother's Day and there's an abundance of blooming flowers, these three naturally go together. As kids, we always scrounged enough money together to buy a card and flowers for mom. My kids always remember their mom on Mother's Day, and I hope this tradition continues in every household.

But today Mother's Day is different in many homes, from single moms, to two moms, to CEO moms. Many working mothers today hold powerful and significant positions in government, business and the media. While the glass ceiling may still be visible, it's filled with cracks and holes and appears to be weakening year by year.

One thing is clear as a bell: more and more, successful women in business are not forsaking motherhood for business success. For example, one astounding statistic that was brought to my attention is that 88% of women on the 2011 Forbes' List of The World's Most Powerful Women are mothers with an average of 2.5 children!

While many women aspire to have it all: Mom, Wife, CEO of Big Business, some women choose to start their own business so they can manage a career and motherhood to meet their personal needs. If their choice is to own and manage their own business, I say, "Go for it."

However, I like to think that moms who work at Shamrock can have it all! At Shamrock we value and respect the needs of all parents who may require time away from work to be with their children or other family members. But the truth is that many large corporations are not so understanding. Susan Spencer, former general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, raised an interesting point when she was interviewed on CBS (CBS News interview with Susan Spencer). Spencer, the first woman to manage a major sports team, said, "... It's all in the numbers – women are more likely to be discriminated against, passed over for raises and just passed over even when they're not asking for flextime and a maternity leave so they can raise a family. I think women who are raising a family are better off starting their own company than working for someone else..."

ONE LAST THING... The bottom line is, each of us must decide how to balance work and family life. Regardless of whether we're moms, dads, single or married, our success comes not just from our job away from home, but from the joy and pleasure we achieve in our time away from our job.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Boost self-discipline. Here’s how.

Look in the mirror and answer yourself honestly: Do you have self-discipline? Many of us strive for things within our reach—better health, a happier life, earning more money. If you have a goal, and a plan to achieve that goal, the only thing standing in your way is…you, and the self-discipline required to execute your plan. Here’s an example:

•    Goal: Earn more money
•    Plan: Write a detailed business plan with     tasks required to achieve better results
•    Execution: Make time to work my plan every day, consistently!

Simple, right? Not so much. The execution is where we often fall short, and can be due to a lack of self-discipline: I’m too tired to go to work early. I didn’t have time to make those extra calls today.

Self-discipline requires you to focus on your purpose—what you really want. And it also requires a focused practice.  A recent Forbes article offers six strategies to help increase self-discipline:

1.    Acknowledge your weaknesses (uncomfortable making cold calls or speaking to a crowd?)
2.    Establish a clear plan
3.    Remove temptation when necessary (social media, office distractions)
4.    Practice tolerating emotional discomfort (getting past rejection)
5.    Visualize long-term rewards
6.    Recover from mistakes effectively

Does your lack of self-discipline keep you from achieving what you want in life? If so, look in the mirror and take back control, one step at a time.

Good luck,
Bob DeGarmo

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

LLS Cleveland Campaign Earns $584,000

What an amazing fundraising effort: 8 candidates. 10 weeks. $584,000 earned for LLS.

This past weekend at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) 2017 Man and Woman of the Year campaign wrapped up at the annual Gala event.

Supported by my incredible team, we raised $81,477 for LLS, and in doing so, I was humbled and proud to receive Cleveland’s 2017 Man of the Year title—a distinction that I share with all of those who worked during the past 10 weeks of the competition to raise funds to find a cure for blood cancers.

I was blown away by the generosity of the NE Ohio community and beyond: People gathered in Charlotte at a neighborhood BBQ, solicited and donated auction items, and participated online to support my campaign. On behalf of leukemia survivors like my sister-in-law Katie, as well as those who are battling the disease today, thank you!

I’m pleased to have served as a voice for those whose lives have been affected by cancer—and I’ll continue to support LLS in working to make someday, today.     

Tim Connor