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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Use Marketing Asset Management To Drive Association Membership

In survey after survey, associations of all sizes cite building and retaining membership as their greatest challenge. So how do you attract and engage members? Assuming your association offers attractive, tangible member benefits, the next step is to promote that message through branded marketing.

Marketing asset management (MAM) is a smart solution for managing personalized, brand-driven association marketing initiatives for both your chapters and members.

Efficient program deployment. From a single online portal, MAM allows you to manage your entire marketing effort. Tradeshow banners, apparel, email campaigns: MAM displays the options available to your chapters. Each chapter can then co-brand the items with their location-specific information.

Brand control. MAM delivers the control and consistency that is vitally important to brand protection, with the ease of online ordering and fulfillment. Your association’s brand guidelines are programmed into the site, as is market-specific data, which allows you to pre-program select marketing assets available to specific chapters or regions.

Easy co-op management. MAM has built-in functionality that allows chapters to order pre-approved branded items such as gifts, or promotional items for giveaways, using co-op dollars. Substantial savings. MAM streamlines the marketing automation process by housing all marketing assets and offering personalization—all with a few clicks. The result is significant savings, both time and money.

Comprehensive. MAM automates day-to-day marketing management within one portal and can be embedded with twitter feeds and other social media links to provide an at-a-glance view of all association marketing activity, from one dashboard.

Do you use a MAM tool for your association marketing? Are you interested in learning more? I’d like to hear from you…

Kathy Lawlor

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Account Based Marketing 2017

Most of us agree that it feels good when someone we’ve just met makes it a point to remember and greet us by name. That personal connection is the warm and fuzzy foundation of the latest industry buzzword: ABM, or Account Based Marketing.  ABM is the practice of targeting individual prospect/customer accounts, as opposed to taking a broad-based approach to marketing to wider groups or verticals.

While we’ve actually been doing this for years, the recent clamor surrounding ABM stems from the fact that today, with the advent of intuitive online tools, it’s easier than ever to combine sales and marketing in one seamless effort. Now, the left hand effortlessly works in conjunction with the right without wasting time and energy bouncing back and forth between departments.
Essentially, ABM is a laser-focused B2B strategy that allows us, as marketers, to hone in on potential/existing customers within a market, and then deliver personalized messaging that resonates with them, using specific and relevant channels.

According to the latest data from Aberdeen, 75% of customers prefer personalized offers. The ABM approach is rooted in that personalized customer engagement: It aligns sales and marketing efforts to target, engage, and then generate revenue from high-value customers or leads.

This summarizes the basic ABM steps:
  1. Define high-value accounts/prospects and prioritize based on revenue potential
  2. Identify key players and decision makers within each organization
  3. Strategize content and messaging that speaks to the organization’s specific business challenges and makes a personal connection
  4. Identify key channels best used to communicate with your target audience
  5. Launch targeted, coordinated campaigns aligning sales and marketing efforts while managing content delivery across all channels
  6. Test, measure and re-deploy as needed   
Done right, ABM requires a data and lead-generation platform and a system for managing the moving parts of an integrated marketing and sales effort.  If you’re interested in learning more about the options available, click here for a great blog that outlines the Top 12 ABM Tools.

Have you used any of these platforms as part of your ABM effort? I’d be interested in hearing from you

All The Best,
Tim Connor

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tips For Successful Event Marketing

A successful special event takes more than an engaging program and an open bar, it requires strategic marketing to drive attendance at, and create a buzz surrounding, the event experience.

Following is an essential event marketing checklist to keep the effort on track:

  1. Why/Who? Consider these questions first: Why and to whom are you marketing your event? Is this an annual meeting? A women in leadership event? The answers will shape messaging and drive marketing decisions.
  2. Survey. Send out a survey prior to the event—the responses will help shape content and can be used to generate ideas for session topics, speakers, etc.
  3. Invitations. Start with a save-the-date (card or email) 8 weeks out; and 4 weeks prior, follow with an invitation that provides complete event details.
  4. Content. Make it relevant to your audience. If it’s not, leave it out.
  5. Email. Take advantage of your regular email campaign schedule and use that as a platform to promote your event.
  6. Blog. Beginning four weeks prior to your event, blog weekly. Add videos to engage your audience: If you have footage from the previous year’s event, use that to drive interest and excitement; or create new video highlighting speakers, entertainment, venue, etc.
  7. Homepage link. In all communication (email, blog, social channels) provide a link back to your event homepage where people can register.
  8. Social media. Take advantage of all social media channels to market your event before, during and after. Facebook is the most popular social media choice leading up to and after an event, while Twitter holds the top spot during events. (Source: FreemanXP, Event Marketing Institute)
  9. Track results. Check to see what’s working from the links in different channels (i.e., email, blog, Facebook). Redeploy as applicable.
  10. Promo items. Consider your audience and put thought into choosing a useful and/or unique gift.
Prior to the event, I always meet with my team to help outline individual charges: During the event, who do you want to meet? What are you hoping to glean? What does that conversation look like? 

This is the event marketing framework that I’ve found to be most useful. Are there other items that you would add?  Connect with me

Megan Smith

Megan has been with Shamrock for a year and a half and previously in advertising and Event Sales for 14 years.  She has a son who is a freshman in high school and plays baseball and hockey.  She loves Cleveland sports, plus is looking forward to attending the Masters next year.  Megan is the beloved “Kick-Ball Manager” here at Shamrock for our team that competes in Flashes of Hope to raise money for childhood cancer.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Using Social Media to Increase Engagement in Higher Education

Know your audience: It’s the key to every successful marketing effort.  In the higher education  market, when a campaign is aimed at students, there is one essential link that connects with them above all others: Their cell phones.

A recent study from Baylor University found that female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while male students spend nearly eight hours. Most of that time is spent texting, followed by emailing, and checking social media feeds (in that order).

That data helped to formulate a targeted marketing solution for my client: a private university with 10,000 students. The university was looking for a new way to connect with students on campus, to foster a greater sense of school pride, tradition and community involvement.

We proposed an outreach program using social media as the main marketing channel to build those connections. And here’s why:
--It’s immediate. Social media campaigns centered around campus events, activities and performances spark interest and reaction in real time
--It’s transcendent. Social media feeds are effective in creating buzz before and after an event; and are shared with friends/family/community for a broader reach
--It’s engaging. These campaigns generate excitement about campus events that connect people as part of a shared experience—whether students are participants, are following an event feed, or are merely reacting to or sharing a post
--It’s personal. Students want to hear from other students—using students as the voice of the campaign creates a more compelling connection than does the message delivered by a third party

While our campus campaign is still in the planning stages, we do know that the most successful campaigns are those that start with strong, targeted messaging, and that use multiple channels to connect with the audience. When you consider that college students most often have their cell phones in hand, social media and email marketing are two fail-proof ways to make those connections. I’ll be sure to share the campaign results upon conclusion.

Which is the best channel for marketers to connect with you? Consider that question as you craft your next campaign.

Best of luck,

Tom Backus

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dare To Be Different To Make The Difference!

Dare To Be Different—and Outwork Your Competition

In the world of marketing, it often feels as if everyone is trying to sell something. Everyone wants to
be the person to deliver the latest and greatest products and services to the masses. But if we are all climbing the same mountain at the same time, how do we make it to the top? How do we stand out above the competition and achieve success?
Just be different. Ask yourself how you can get in front of perspective clients and what you can bring to the table that others won’t.

Start by constantly reinventing your business: Don’t let yourself get pigeonholed into one genre of resources. Set yourself up for success by targeting and profiling companies with which you want to work. Then, apply consistent marketing tactics using multiple quality touches, for ultimate exposure. These tactics could include phone calls, emails, self-promo marketing campaigns, direct-mail pieces, etc. Just make sure your touches are creative and highlight all your capabilities: digital, mobile apps, postage-savings tactics, etc. The point is to catch your audience with an “ah-ha” revelation.

Once you’ve grabbed their attention, don’t just present one solution. Use this opportunity to consult on an entire marketing package for a project and present EVERYTHING.  Think of the project from your client’s point of view. Use the mindset, “you brought me here to provide X, but I can also give you Q, R and S!” This avenue of presentation will be time-consuming but ultimately will earn business. Take your time—and stand out.

When it’s time to execute, gain your customers’ trust and confidence by communicating what to expect until the products are in-hand. A Thank You email, followed by proofs, ship dates and tracking confirmations will keep both parties connected and involved. This extensive customer service will push you ahead of the competition.

After your transaction, keep in contact. Present new ideas and cutting-edge solutions. This approach is more consultative and educational than trying to “sell” something. Offer to hold lunch
meetings to present these ideas. Whether you get one or 12 people in a room over sandwiches, the exposure is critical. Show them what’s new and hot from each aspect of your portfolio; perhaps a new mobile app or trending direct mail items. Bring solutions to the table to remind your customers that you are one contact with multiple resources, reinforcing the value and time savings they enjoy by working with you, and not seven different companies.

This path will not be easy. Each of these tactics takes time, effort and creative brainpower, but hopefully will set you at the top of the mountain. You will not only rise above the competition, but will no longer be selling stuff. Now, you’re providing solutions, you’ve developed solid relationships with your customers—and it all started by being different.

Bob De Garmo