Wednesday, November 7, 2018

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. emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

7 Tips for Productive Client Sales Meetings

According to a recent report by Industry Week, Americans attend more than 25 million meetings each day—and we waste approximately $37 billion on unproductive meetings annually. The reality is that client sales meetings are essential; and when approached with thorough planning and preparation, they can be incredibly productive.

I spent years as a straight-commission sales rep. Now, as an executive, I see the meeting challenge from both vantage points. This type of structure is what I appreciate when a salesperson calls on me:
  1. Reconfirm the start and end time. This helps to keep the meeting on track and sends the message to your customer that you value his/her time.
  2. Reiterate the reason for the meeting. Are you reviewing project status? Introducing a new product or solution? Be specific. And above all, be flexible: The client might have more pressing issues that have come up since you scheduled the meeting a week ago; be ready to pivot and redirect to best meet your customer’s needs.
  3. Create an agenda. This helps to keep you on track and will direct you back if the discussion veers off topic.
  4. Be prepared. Do your research! This is particularly important for first-time client meetings. Not only should you spend time learning as much as you can about the company, brand and industry, be sure to research competitors to see how they market their products/services.
  5. Ask questions. To maximize meeting productivity, prepare questions in advance. And then set the tone for your meeting by letting your customer know that this isn’t a one-way sales pitch: “I’m sure you’re going to have questions for me—I know l have questions for you.”
  6. Identify next steps. Make a list of actionable items throughout the meeting. Identify what needs to be done to move the sales process along—maybe there are benchmarks that you’ll need to hit to move the process forward. Remember: Not every meeting results in a sale. It could be that there is no future—and that’s ok, too. Either way, you want to know where you stand before you leave the meeting.
  7. Follow up within 24 hours. Whether you’re sending an email that identifies action items, next steps and deadlines, or hand-writing a thank-you note, be prompt.
Sales is all about serving the customer: Let them talk about their needs and expectations—and really listen to what they have to say. The rest is all about following up with quality products/services and personal service. At the end of day, regardless of our industry or market, we all want to work with a sales rep who really gets us—and then gets it done.

Good luck,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Value of Your Time

As the adage goes, Time Is Money. So then, ask yourself: Am I spending it wisely?

I’ve found that, in some instances, it’s worth the effort to invest your time…

Sometimes I drive to Costco to buy steaks. While it’s further away from home than the supermarket, the quality and price is much better, so it is worth the extra time investment.

I call and sing to people on their birthday. It takes more time than a text or Facebook post, but I think the investment of extra time is worth building and maintaining these relationships.

Other times, it’s best to protect your time…

Let’s face it, as a professional, some work is worth more money than other types of work. If you’re an attorney and you find yourself making copies and filing to reduce costs, you might want to re-think how you’re spending your time.

As a salesperson, you need to spend as much time as possible strategically selling. That means face time, introducing new ideas, finding ways to save your client time and money, and conducting business reviews. It also means avoiding less financially impactful work.

Do the math!

How much money do you want to earn? Figure out the hourly value, and consider outsourcing all work that falls well below this hourly number. That is called PROTECTING your time.

Now, INVEST the time you’re saving and use it wisely. That means more billable hours for the attorney, and strategic selling for the sales professional.

Be mindful of how you choose to spend your time: It’s a valuable asset. 

Which everyday tasks are worth your time investment? Which can you delete or cut back? I’m interested in your feedback. bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net

Good luck,
Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tips for Marketing to Millennials in 2018

Times are changing. The latest Pew Research figures show that by 2019, at 73 million, millennials will overtake baby boomers in population, becoming America’s largest adult generation. Loosely defined as those between ages 21 and 34, millennials are a unique demographic that have come of age in the digital era.

So, what does that mean for us as brand marketers? When it comes to connecting with millennials, video marketing remains the single-most effective channel that influences what they buy. Yet, there is so much more to consider when we look at how to make memorable brand impressions with this target audience. Here are a few ideas to help guide you:

Be socially conscious. Millennials make purchase decisions based not only on products—but on how products and brands make them feel. Tout those important things about your brand, such as efforts/practices that are environmentally responsible or the opportunities your company affords those in need in your community.

Be authentic. Millennials want real brand connectivity—and they can see right through a self-serving promotion. Instead of traditional sales tactics, try boosting personal interaction like replying to customer reviews, using an online contest to drive interest surrounding your brand, or sharing posts by your team members or customers.

Be engaging. Studies continue to reinforce that millennials value experiences over products, which is why experiential marketing is essential. Brainstorm creative ways to promote interaction with your brand. Sponsor a yoga class, create a pop-up store experience: Engineer opportunities for people to connect with your brand—and create simple ways for them to share their experiences.

Be visual. Digital dependence is growing: Nearly half of all millennials look at their phones more than 50 times a day and 25% spend more than 5 hours every day on their smartphones (B2X 2017). With all that scrolling content, use bold graphics and call-outs to cut through the clutter and communicate your brand message with clarity.

Be social. A recent study by Annalect showed 47% of millennials claim that social media has helped introduce them to new brands; and 71% are more likely to buy from brands they ‘like’ on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Revisit your brand’s social media presence and be sure it aligns with your core values.

Be accessible. Lead with mobile-first design. With 80% of social media time spent on mobile devices, it’s imperative that your digital content be optimized for mobile platforms.

How do you connect with your millennial customer base? Join the conversation on Shamrock’s Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

What You Need To Know About Marketing to Baby Boomers in 2018

The claim that 50 is the new 40 might not be too far-fetched. Medical technology and improved nutrition have extended our lifetimes, with many baby boomers (age 54 to 72) living healthier and more active lives than generations before them.

But, while today’s seniors may be more vital, there is still a misconception that boomers are old and stubborn. The reality is that baby boomers are tech-savvy, enjoy learning and, as the most valuable generation in America, are well worth your marketing dollars. Here are a few facts about boomers to consider as you formulate your brand strategy:

They have money to spend. Americans over age 50 have the highest net worth of any segment of our population (Venture Capital Assoc., Ernst & Young) and 70% of disposable income is held by baby boomers (Nielsen). Over the next 20 years, spending by those age 50+ is slated to increase by 58%, so be sure that if this demographic buys your products/services, that your marketing strategy includes reaching out to them directly.

They are social. About 82 percent of boomers belong to at least one social media site, with Facebook being their most popular choice (DMN3). They use Facebook to catch up with friends and family, and to share information: Baby boomers are 19% more likely to share content than any other generation (Fractl). Align your social media content strategy accordingly, using ads, sharing content and engaging with boomers on your page. Be sure to link to your website or product purchase page on your social media posts.

They check their email. According to a Third Age/JWT study, 96% of boomers use email; 92% of those who receive promotional emails click through on the advertising product or service; and 55% have purchased a product or service based on a promotional email. By using a drip email campaign, you’ll keep your brand and services front-of-mind for this audience.

They watch video. According to a study by Google, boomers and seniors spend more time online than they do watching TV. What’s more, more than 50% of baby boomers watch online video. (YouTube is the preferred site with 82% of video watchers using it). The study also found that 3,600+ baby boomers Google "YouTube" every minute of every day—that’s a 10% higher view rate than millennials. Check your brand’s online video activity and consider incorporating YouTube marketing videos and/or ads.

They value personal service. Boomers value—and reward—authentic interaction and exceptional customer service. According to a Loyalty One study, if boomers felt the sales associates did not appreciate their business, 54% were “very or somewhat unlikely” to return (as opposed to only 33% millennials). Include a hand-written note with your product shipment; send an email when a favorite item is restocked—the extra effort will reap rewards.

They are loyal. With many baby boomers downsizing and adjusting to living on fixed incomes, they are partial to incentives and loyalty programs. Start with focusing on maintaining exceptional product/service quality and ROI, and then consider giving a little brand love back to your customers with a simple loyalty program that makes them feel appreciated.

Do you have a strategy for reaching baby boomers through your marketing effort? Join the conversation on Shamrock’s Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Why human interaction is good for your business

Do you remember when you got lost on a road trip and had to pull out a map to get yourself back on track? No voice-assist GPS. No recalculating. Even as a Waze user, I’m confident that need be, I could find my way using map-reading skills. Without digital tools, I could still get there.

But is the same true of my business communications? If I didn’t have a mobile device to connect with customers, would I still be able to make meaningful connections with my clients?
 
In this age when digital is our go-to communication channel, it’s important not to lose the human touch. Forcing ourselves to step away from our phones and PCs—and make personal contact a priority—can help us be more successful, and here’s why:

In-person interaction is more effective. There is value in meeting face-to-face. Interpersonal interaction captures peoples’ attention, engages meeting participants and leads to greater collaboration. It also allows you to ask questions with free-flowing dialogue that can help uncover details that might otherwise be overlooked. Looking to drive productivity? Boost sales? In-person meetings might help get you there:    
  • Research shows face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than those sent by email (Washington Post).
  • Remote meetings generate on average 10.43 ideas, while in-person meetings generate an average of 13.36 (Hubspot)
  • The close rate for in-person meetings is 40% (Hubspot)
  • You are twice as likely to convert prospects into customers with an in-person meeting. (Forbes)
Nonverbal cues help clarify communication. The groundbreaking (and still relevant) 1967 study published by the Journal of Consulting Psychology found 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. Eye contact, gestures, tone and inflection, posture, and body language all affect our understanding of context and meaning.

You can’t read nonverbal cues in an email. So, in addition to digital touches, make the effort to meet customers in person to ensure the intended message or information doesn’t get lost.

Personal connections build relationships. Greeting your client with handshake and getting to know them on a personal level helps build relationships and establish trust. No matter which business or industry we’re in, we all work with people. In-person contact is genuine and real. In conjunction with digital tools, it can help you nurture the authentic, long-term relationships that drive business success.

How often do you meet with your team? Your clients? Chime in our Facebook page.

Tim Connor

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

5 Tips for Selecting Executive Gifts Your Customers Actually Want

It’s the thought that counts: That’s the gift-giving mantra that many of us embrace—and one that rings true when considering executive gifts: Putting thought and effort into the discovery process first is what helps us arrive at the right gift, for the right occasion, and at the right price.

Now is the time to start thinking about executive holiday gifts. Here are my 5 essential steps to gift-giving success:
  1. Vet your client list. Consider there are many organizations that cannot accept gifts from their clients and vendors. It’s important to vet the client/recipient list so that the gift campaign does not work against you.
  2. Identify your demographic. Think about who the gift is going to and then, how will it arrive—wrapped? In original retail packaging? Personalized with your logo? Will it be shipped, hand-delivered or presented at an event?
  3. Consider the occasion. Is the gift commemorating a holiday? An anniversary? A thank-you gift?
  4. Identify how the gift will be used. Do you see your gift sitting on your client’s desk? Is it a lifestyle product that you hope makes it to your client’s home? An impact piece? Something that has a short shelf life, such as food?
  5. Establish a budget. Does that include packaging and shipping?
Shamrock jackets using the subtle 3-ring version of our logo.
These discovery prompts lead to solid gift-giving solutions. For example, one of my customers wanted to spend $50 on a client gift (something that the client would use/keep). He decided on apparel; but then worried that putting a company logo on the chest might prevent the client from wearing it. The solution: We imprinted the customer’s logo on the lining of a jacket, which gave a nod to their brand without making the gift feel too self-promoting. My customer was pleased with the result—his gift was the right product, presented in the right way (with subtle branding), and at the right price.
 
Some customers start the gift-giving process backwards—starting with the item first. But to get it right, it’s more about knowing your audience than picking the right product. Using this discovery process as a guide, you’ll find that you arrive at the ideal gift.

What’s the best executive gift you’ve received? I’d be interested in your feedback tberry@shamrockcompanies.net.

Take care,
Tim Berry