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Why You Should Engage Your Millennial Members With Print

Posted By McKenzie Decker, Marketing Manager at VP Demand Creation Services, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

By: McKenzie Decker, Marketing Manager at VP Demand Creation Services

www.vpassociations.com

Generation Y. Echo Boomers. Digital Natives. Millennials.

Whatever you decide to call us, you might have a misconception of our impact in the marketplace. Over the next few years, Millennials will make up the largest buying demographic in the world, which means it’s important that your association keeps up with the transition in influence. 

As a Millennial, I know – we’re those kids who know what we want and that we want it now. We’re “so deeply connected” through social media, text messaging, and email that we become disconnected with the outside world, hence we live in a “digital world.”  But, don’t pigeon-hole us just yet. While most of us are glued to our phones (and it’s not just our generation either), you will still catch us with our faces inside of books and magazines. Technology might be our first language, but traditional print still plays a significant role in our lives.

Data has proven that Millennials lead other generations in reading and still generally prefer print to digital. Sure, digital formats are more sustainable, more up-to-date, and easier to find considering it’s all on one device, but it doesn’t beat the value of a physical piece. More than half of Millennials are notorious for ignoring digital advertising and paying more attention to direct mail and print advertising (Quad Graphics).

In a study done by the TRU, a division of TNS Research Global, more than three-quarters of Millennials see paper being more official, more trusted, easier to keep confidential, and more secure.  As far as preference for paper over digital, books and magazines are preferred in physical form by over 70 percent of those surveyed! The study by Quad Graphics also states “it’s important to note that people have a multisensory connection with paper that is unique to printed matter. People prefer the touch, look, and even smell of books, newspapers, and other print, which makes the paper you choose all the more important.”

The TRU study goes on to show how we have emotional ties to physical print. Who wouldn’t prefer a birthday card in the mail over an email or a Facebook post? Eighty-seven percent of Millennials prefer the birthday card, 57 percent would rather receive a mailed invitation over an e-vite, and 55 percent would rather get a handwritten letter than an email. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, we’re usually reading something – books, magazines, blogs - and when we do it, the majority of our generation still leans toward print.

So, why does all of this matter? Within the vast Millennial pool are your next generation of members. Print marketing doesn’t have to be expensive if it is well planned and targeted. Consider these ideas:

·         Send physical renewal pieces to your members when it’s time to renew.

·         Spruce up your current publication or add a publication as a member benefit. Don’t forget a digital version, however, so that members and potential members can consume your content how they want, when they want.

·         Send personalized paper invitations to members for local chapter or annual events.

·         When you meet new colleagues at conferences, send them a handwritten note thanking them for their time. (In my experience, I’ve found that whenever I send a postcard to someone, I almost always get a reply – it works!)

Knowing what makes this generation tick is important in keeping your association current. And, just when you think you’ve got Millennials figured out, in will come our younger siblings. Stay tuned for Generation Z….

 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Monday, July 24, 2017

Oh Shiny! (Maybe not…)

This is not your typical tech blog. I know today’s tech options, but am not versed in their applications. However, I am versed at making decisions and knowing how to do that may be more helpful than a list of tech tools!

Note: for this article I use the term tech tools broadly to include software, apps, other platforms.

THREE TIPS

Tip #1

Don’t add technology just because you can.

·         Be aware of the “OH SHINY” appeal of today’s tech tools.

·         Do not apply a tech tool’s benefits to your challenge; identify the challenge and determine if it can be solved by a tech tool. Example: poor team member communication. Might project management software be a good investment?

·         Just because you think it’s cool doesn’t mean your target audience will. Choose for your them, not yourself.

Tip #2

Have a clearly defined objective for each new technology you use.

·         Invest based on how you/your meeting will benefit, not on how the supplier says you will benefit. List your desired outcomes and then match them against the list of the product’s features, not vice versa.

·         Prioritize your wish list. No tool will have every feature you desire. Identify what is non-negotiable and what you can live without.

·         Don’t get distracted by added features that don’t fulfill a pre-defined objective.

·         Reverse your thinking and identify the immediate and long-term consequences of not adding new tech tools. What will be lost? How will it position the meeting in two, five or more years?

Tip #3

Ensure you know the resources required to make each new technology successful.

·         Assume the supplier will underestimate the amount of resources, including woman power, consulting fees, surprise add-ons (oh, that is helpful to have), etc.

·         Get references, especially from users not offered by the supplier. Ask tough questions.

·         Get input from unaffiliated tech experts who know way more than you do. Please don’t spend the exorbitant time my team spent building, populating and maintaining a supposedly DIY mobile app. (Supplier: All you have to do is upload your website info. Us: Nope.)

ONE AWESOME IDEA

Parallel development.

Being a copy-cat is a fine quality in meeting planning. It allows others to work out the kinks for you. I think we should regularly be an attendee at other conventions. In this case, choose conventions that are using tech tools you are considering. Invite yourself in exchange for volunteer hours and/or an invitation to your meeting.

WANT MORE?

Check out New Tech Tools Enhance Every Part of a Meeting in Smart Meetings. Lots of good info, but note that they report, “technology is not so much reinventing how meetings are run as it is supercharging what’s already working and adding value for planners, attendees, sponsors, and others.” This supports my recommendation to have clearly defined objectives for adding new tools. I wouldn’t invest for the sole purpose of supercharging, unless it meets specific objectives. Nor would I discount the cool factor if I could confirm that using the tool this year will enhance next year’s meeting.

Adding tech tools does not have to be across the board or a massive endeavor. In May, the Trade Show News Network reported, “For 2017, event management teams are planning to focus on using technology to improve attendance marketing and communications, with exhibitor marketing and management, and data and analytics in a distant second place.” We can all benefit from improved attendance marketing and communications, which might be the first area to consider enhancing with tech tools.

You can count on Corbin Ball and his Meeting Technology Headquarters to provide “The Web's most comprehensive site about meeting planning, tradeshow and events technology.” He has articles, lists and assessments of tools, plus his speaking schedule. (He’s worth hearing!)

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

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ABOUT DANA

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website!

 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, July 7, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 6, 2017

Do the unexpected

Think about the meetings you have attended (not planned). What pops up? Is it a coffee break or something that was a pleasant surprise? (Okay, I do recall a particularly awesome coffee break setup, but that’s for another time.)

Dropping in something unexpected is an easy way to enhance your attendees’ experiences.

THREE TIPS

Tip #1

The unexpected can be something you planned for all along.

·         At your opening session, don’t publicize the group you’ve hired to sing a parody song about your industry. (Check out this one about meeting planners!)

·         At the closing session don’t announce that everyone there gets a discount on next year’s meeting; or receives a valuable gift; or gets one room night paid for (use one of your comps). Word will get out and more people than ever will stay to the end next year.

Tip #2

Don’t do it for you; do it for your participants.

·         Put your preferences/tastes/desires aside. This is about them, not you. (Drat!)

·         If you don’t know your participants’ preferences, on the event survey ask, “If you could add anything to this meeting, regardless of cost, what would it be?” Even the outrageous responses can reveal the type of things they like. (Speaking of outrageous, check out the surprise speaker at PCMA’s 2017 Convening Leaders in Austin.)

Tip #3

Provide unexpected food & beverage.

·         You plan an entire convention and the only comment is about the bad meal. That irritated me until I understood that it’s a mini vacation for many and food is important. Make it special so they won’t complain.

·         As an attendee, I’m most impressed by high-end breaks and hearty breakfasts because they are unexpected. Make them customizable, fun, and/or reflective of the newest trends.

·         As a planner I do not serve chicken, iceberg lettuce with cherry tomatoes, veggie, fruit or cheese trays, cocktail meatballs or wieners, or chef-carved meats. They are expected, over-served, frequently under-consumed, and dated. Plus, I don’t want anyone to say they had rubber chicken at my meeting. The exception, of course, is if you know your participants really enjoy these options, will happily consume them, and/or hate the idea of something new (gasp!).

ONE AWESOME IDEA

Let participants choose their giveaway.

Instead of distributing the same item to every participant, produce a variety of items that appeal to different members of your target audience. Display them attractively (like a boutique shop?) and invite registrants to choose what they want based on your criteria (e.g., one per person). Your sponsor(s) should be thrilled that attendees will choose items they like and will likely hang on to. Check out Pinterest for today’s popular convention giveaways.

WANT MORE?

Glean some ideas from The Meeting Magazine’s article, 2017 Food and Beverage Trends. Click here.

Tracy Stuckrath, of Thrive! Meetings & Events, provides direction for healthy convention eating. Check out her website. Her current blog, “Meeting Menu Makeovers—let’s do it!” is in honor of National Anti-Boredom Month coinciding with National Picnic Month!

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

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ABOUT DANA

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website.

 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, June 23, 2017

IT’S ABOUT THE HALL
Has it been awhile since you would describe your exhibit hall as bustling with energy? Instead of convincing attendees that it’s important to support exhibitors, design an exhibit hall your attendees don’t want to leave.

THREE TIPS

Tip #2

Create an appealing environment

  • Test your hall. Walk in as if you were a first-time attendee. Do you feel drawn in it? Many of us order coordinating carpet, pipe and drape and call it decorated.
  • Look above and around the booths and identify low-cost ways to add any visuals, color, graphics, lights, etc. Up lights are one of the least expensive ways to create a dramatic effect. Well-designed signs add art, as well as facilitate attendees’ visit.
  • Consider all senses when planning. In addition to visuals, how can you also introduce scent, sound, touch and/or taste? Consider the energy level you want to achieve. Don’t play calming music when you want an animated crowd.
  • Ensure that enhancements do not detract from your goal—your target audience talking with exhibitors. (Which is why I do not allow announcements of any kind in an exhibit hall.)

Tip #2

Get the right exhibitors

  • Don’t settle for only the obvious. Ask your audience which companies are missing. Who would drive them into the exhibit hall?
  • Desirable destinations are a draw. Create a desire to be where the cool suppliers will be.
  • If you think an interested company is not a good match for your target audience, ensure you make it clear to them. Bad fits result in disappointed exhibitors and participants.

Tip #3

Give your exhibitors lots of TLC

  • Happy exhibitors have more energy, which rubs off on participants, which makes them happy to be there, which keeps them in the hall.
  • TLC can mean lots of things; customize it to your exhibitors. Maybe it’s lots of hand-holding pre-event, a few extra drink tickets, or visits from association VIPs. If you’re unsure, ask exhibitors how you could enhance their personal experiences.
  •  

ONE AWESOME IDEA

Design a Hall of Experiences, not an exhibit hall

Invite exhibitors to sell experiences. Not every exhibitor will be able to fulfill this challenge, but many will. The goal is for participants to experience the benefits of using products and services. An experiential introduction will stick with people longer than a sales pitch. Be creative and challenge your exhibitors to be, too.

WANT MORE?
See how Girls Scouts of the USA’s exhibit hall includes a Hall of Experiences at its G.I.R.L. convention—click here.

Catherine Simmons, VP, Strategic Events at Salesforce.com spoke at the PCMA Northern California Chapters’ L.E.A.P. Conference last month in Oakland. She presented, “Bringing Dreamforce to Life,” a description of how her team reflected Dreamforce’s 2016 Trailhead theme in a 37,800 s.f. space called Campground. Other themed convention areas were also designed for experiential participation, all based on the Trailhead theme. Check it out on Facebook and in a Convene article.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

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ABOUT DANA
Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website!

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, June 16, 2017

MAKING SPECIAL EVENTS SPECIAL
I am still exploring Event Design, one third of The Meeting Planning Triangle©, whose strength lies in having well-written objectives for your meeting.

Each of your special events should have clearly identified objectives that is supported by current needs and participant interests, not those established 33, or even three, years ago. Additionally, planning a special event can soak up a lot of money and staff time, making it imperative that it is a worthy investment.

So, are your special events really special? Would your participants think so? Have you asked them lately? The objective of all special events should be to provide a lovely experience—which can be a challenge with so many types of participants!

Tip #1
Don’t plan a special event just because it’s what you’ve always done.

  • That is, unless you can confirm that it continues to provide that lovely participant experience.
  • Consider whether it’s the special event that is important or the reason for the special event. For example, do you have the 3.5 hour Awards Gala because everyone loves the banquet and award winner honors or is it because the association wants to recognize the honorees in a special way? If it’s the second, how else can you accomplish that?

Tip #2
Participants from multiple generations might have different preferences.

  • There are many people who really love a banquet—the atmosphere, the public recognition, the food(?), the entertainment. They are likely long-time members who would miss it if it were gone. Consider how you can honor them while also including the preferences of younger generations.
  • If your special event is not a banquet, the same thought process applies. How can you create a special experience for each person, regardless of generation? Consider a split-interest event—same destination, different ways to experience it.

Tip #3
Ensure you know the entire cost of implementing a special event.

  • Have you ever tallied the cost of planning and putting on a special event? This includes your time, site visits, printing, publicity, gifts, etc., as well as the obvious costs of f&b, rentals and entertainment.
  • For fun I did some math and came up with $144 per person for 25 hours of planning time and very conservative figures for f&b, printing, entertainment and a gift. Double that for a city-based meeting. Does your ticket price cover it? Is it a $145 experience?

One Awesome Idea
Invite your participants to plan a special event.

Assuming that you are planning to rethink your meeting, ask your participants to help redesign the special event. Schedule a brainstorming session at this year’s meeting, inviting them to respond to key questions, including

  1. What do you think is the purpose of the XX event?  This could be very telling.
  2. If you had no limits on resources what would this XX Event look like? Dreaming big.
  3. If you had very limited resources what could this XX Event look like? Back to reality.
  4. What other ways could we fulfill the purpose?

Want More?
Read how nonprofit consultant Joan Garry ensures the success of special events. How can you apply her ideas to your events?—How to Create a Successful Special Event

Another nonprofit consultant, Richard Male, writes about fundraising special events. Once again, what can you learn and apply?—How to Make Your Special Events Special

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, May 26, 2017

PARTICIPANT NEEDS + TOPICS + SPEAKERS = A CHALLENGING EQUATION

Most participants say they attend meetings for the education and/or the networking. They want the networking, but to justify the expense, they need the education. Nothing interesting? No registration. It behooves you to research and deliberately plan your programming.

Tip #1

Develop your programming based on topics, not on speakers.

  • To identify current needs, regularly poll members at board and committee meetings asking something like, “What is your biggest challenge right now?” “If you could attend only one session at Convention, what topic would it be on?”
  • Include valuable education for each subgroup in your target audience, considering expertise, years of experience, and other factors pertinent to your group.
  • Even with your popular, come-every-year speakers, careful topic selection should be a priority.

Tip #2

Free isn’t always good and expensive isn’t either.

  • Base speaker choice on expertise and podium presence, regardless of your budget. A volunteer should be vetted as carefully as a professional. Adopt a protocol that requires proof of successful presentations for all potential speakers, including board and committee members.
  • Presenters with higher fees may be proven speakers, but are only worth their fee if they are a good fit for your audience.

Tip #3

Call for Presentations don’t guarantee good sessions.

  • For non-scientific and non-academic meetings, relying solely on the CFP process for session selection may be limiting because you can’t be sure you’ll receive applicable topics and/or skilled presenters.
  • Honestly assess the value of your CFP model and determine whether you’re getting what you need. If not, consider a strategy to solicit proposals for specific topics in addition to an open invitation for topics.

One Awesome Idea

Be on the hunt for speakers and topics all year.

  • Ensure topics address this year’s needs by reading industry publications, newsletters, blogs, etc. throughout the year. Save links and references to pertinent information for easy retrieval. Ask your education committee members and coworkers to do the same.
  • Ask your counterparts in other states and at affiliated industries for their lists of topics and speakers so you can do some parallel development (copying their good ideas!).

Want More?

Learn tips from other planners:
9 Unshakeable Tips for Choosing Conference and Event Speakers by Jeff Kear, Planning Pod
5 Tips to Choose the Perfect Speaker for Your Conference by Brand24

Earn CMP credit by reading Are You Finding the Best Speakers for Your Event?, one of Convene magazine’s CMP Series articles.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, May 12, 2017

CHANGE HURTS, BUT NOT IN SMALL PIECES
Meeting planners are thinkers and doers. Let’s get those good ideas in place so participants can benefit from them, pronto. Members are not always so eager. Even with reluctant leaders, change can happen, but it may need to happen slowly. (Patience, dear planner…)

Tip #1

Respect their reluctance.

  • Acknowledge their hesitation.
  • Ask questions that unveil their fears. They may not even know what they are.

Tip #2

  • Don’t fight slow adapters, plan for it by proposing changes in bite-sized pieces.
  • For example, you think the (long, boring, tired) Annual Awards Banquet needs to retire. Instead of wiping it off the agenda at once, consider the following:
    • Year 1—Hold the banquet, but downsize the ceremony; recognize the honorees in other ways, e.g. Wall of Fame, meet the winners, publish winners’ profiles.
    • Year 2—Design an event on the same night that is less banquet-y and more fun for your participants (you’ll have to determine what that would look like); introduce honorees and continue to recognize them in other ways.
    • Year 3—Based on feedback from the past two years, determine if giving awards is still necessary. Might it be wise to invest time and resources into a different, more meaningful celebration of industry excellence?

Tip #3

Give them lots of details.

  • Be prepared to answer questions you didn’t even think of. You know that one person who will ask, right?
  • Present the pros and cons. Be honest about the cons, even though you’d rather not.
  • Include proof of the benefits and/or examples of the change successfully integrated at other meetings.

One Awesome Idea

Use a design-driven model, where you create innovations customers don’t expect, but come to love.
I interpret this concept from the corporate world to mean that, when possible, slip in a change or two you are confident will be accepted, perhaps loved, if only given a chance. In my experience, I find that volunteers over think and under try. The other way to describe this is to ask forgiveness, not permission.

Want More?
Design-Driven Innovation—http://www.designdriveninnovation.com/

There is an association for everything, including change management. I wonder how often the Association of Change Management Professionals changes its convention, which is next week in New Orleans? http://www.acmpconference.com/cm2017

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, April 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 27, 2017

CONVINCING THEM IT’S A GOOD IDEA
The most difficult part of change can be convincing stakeholders that it’s needed. You’re working with people who see the meeting through their own filters, including long-held beliefs (beef for Thanksgiving, anyone?). This allows for healthy debate, but can be a stumbling block when consensus is the goal.

How can you manage the conversation without tearing out your hair?

Tip #1

Know your audience

  • Know your supporters and detractors.
  • Pre-wire key influencers.
  • Determine how your stakeholders best accept change—managing the scope (not all at once); demonstrating the new practices (see it in action); hearing it from an outside expert (they always know more than you, right?!); etc.

Tip #2

Prep them

  • Identify strategic goals in advance so everyone starts on the same page. The goals are not part of the discussion, they are the basis for it. Support this by listing them on your agenda.
  • Provide examples of:
    • successful use elsewhere
    • measurable benefits
    • potential outcomes if change is not accepted
    • additional material needed to support objections you’re likely to face

Tip #3

Allow for time acceptance

  • Build in time to ponder the proposals. Don’t expect full acceptance at the first meeting.
  • Get feedback, asking for their likes, concerns and suggestions.
  • Consider a phased-in approach by introducing changes over several years instead of all at once.

One Awesome Idea
Make them feel the change, not just think about it
Your stakeholders’ responses are loaded with emotion. To sort that out, assign each stakeholder a role that represents one participant perspective (e.g., young professional, seasoned exhibitor, one discipline, etc.). Coach them to put themselves in that person’s shoes as you verbally walk through your meeting, asking them to think about how they feel as they “attend” the meeting.

You need to be a great storyteller. Stay neutral by focusing on the outcomes. They need to shed pre-conceived notions and to stay in their assigned personas.

When you get to “happily ever after”, discuss their reactions to determine if you’ve built consensus, need to tweak some things, or try a new approach.

Want More?
There are many resources about persuading stakeholders. Check out a few based on the Google search “how to persuade stakeholders.”

Source Credit:
Aimee Gabel, Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC and David Saef, GES MarketWorks, who presented the awesome session, Win Stakeholder Support for Cutting-Edge Programming at PCMA’s 2016 Convening Leaders.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Tags:  association  events  isae  Leadership  marketing  meeting planners  meeting tips  meetings  social media 

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Where to Start

Posted By Stone Interactive Group, Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017

A successful online marketing effort starts with identifying goals, examining expectations, and organizing a few foundational tools you’ll want to have at your disposal.

Goals

Goals are good and lofty goals can be even better.  They keep us motivated.  They push us.  And, often, we will never achieve significant results without having aggressive goals.  But the higher our goals are set, the more time, effort, and potentially budget will be required to hit them.

Interested in doubling website traffic?  Tripling website lead flow?  Would a quarterly email outreach to current customers help drive incremental or repeat sales?  Each of these goals is achievable.

Goals should be quantifiable, trackable, and within the realm of reason.  We won’t outrank Zappos for shoes but we can get creative and identify many ways to improve our site visibility.

Writing these goals down somewhere visible and reading them at least once per week will help keep them real, relevant, and top-of-mind.

Online marketing goals are reached one step at a time.  Website traffic will likely increase 5% before 10%.  It will increase 20% before it does 50%. Don’t get discouraged if results take a bit of time.  Continual improvement is the key and should be the focus.

Expectations

Between the status quo and your goal sits a metaphorical hill.  For some goals that hill is steep.  For other goals that hill is easily crossed.

What makes such a hill steep?  There are three primary factors.

Competition – The number of competitors and the quality of their web marketing efforts have a direct effect on your results.

Desired Visibility – The phrases you’d like to be found for affect that incline.  General search phrases and visibility across a wide geography will take more effort than specific phrasing and geo-specific efforts.  For example, achieving excellent rankings for “native plant seed in Michigan” is a much easier task than simply “plant seed”.  The good news is that – most often – we truly only want traffic resulting from specific phrasing.  More on this soon.

Starting Point – If a website is poorly optimized or poorly designed, then basic improvements will most likely yield significant progress toward your goals.  When a site is already highly optimized and well designed, the low hanging fruit has been picked.  More sophisticated strategies and offsite marketing efforts will be required to improve results.

For each piece of this online marketing plan, we will provide guidance on how to access the competition, desired visibility, and starting point.  To start, though, take an honest inventory of which competitive sites you’d like to analyze, emulate, and eventually surpass.

Tools

There are a few building block tools that you’ll need to be familiar with to have online marketing success.  They are mostly free, well-supported, and relatively easy to use.

Google Webmaster Tools is your control panel into your website’s health in the eyes of Google.  Via this tool, you can ensure your site is indexed, address any Google errors, understand how Google is interpreting your site, and manage your link profile in some important ways.

Google Analytics is the de facto standard for website analytics.  It is imperative that you have Google Analytics tracking code on your site, allowing you to gain a world of insight into your site’s traffic and usage patterns.

Keyword Analyzer software can provide a wide range of useful info such as: how often a key phrase is searched for, how difficult it is to rank for a search phrase, as well as listing complementary words and phrases to consider.  One such high quality tool is KWFinder.

It’s well worth an hour or two to familiarize yourself with these foundational tools as they will play an important role at every turn.

Local Search is an increasingly important piece to the online marketing puzzle and we’ll dig into that exciting topic in our next post.

 

Stone Interactive Group is a web design and online marketing company based in Ann Arbor Michigan.  For more information please feel free to visit our site at http://www.stoneig.com.

 

 

 

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Online Marketing Made Simple

Posted By Stone Interactive Group, Friday, April 14, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017

Americans spend an exorbitant amount of time online.  The web is our source of news, our social outlet, our entertainment, and our primary form of communication.

Purchases are researched and completed online; from big ticket electronic items to dinner plans.

The web has become our new marketplace.  Our customers are online and – more importantly – our future customers are online.  Knowing this, it only makes sense that companies effectively market themselves online.

But just what does that actually mean?  And how does a company go about effectively marketing itself on the web?

Most things in life look more complicated than they actually are. Perhaps said a better way, things are easier when you know what you’re doing.  Having a plan makes all the difference and online marketing is no different.

The web is brimming with articles and conversations pertaining to online marketing.  It’s not easy to know exactly where to start or whom to trust.  If your company is already out there spreading the word, then a sincere congratulations to you.  If you haven’t started or, more importantly, if you’re unsure where to go from here then this guide was written for you.

Our team of online marketing experts has created a series of straight forward articles as a guide through the seemingly complicated world of online marketing. We’ll cover the best place to start, how to put the fundamentals in place, and we’ll provide links along the way to helpful tools that will make everything just a bit easier.

Topics will include:

How To Start
We’ll being by discussing goals, expectations, and a few building block tools that will let you take control and actually see the benefits of your online marketing activities. 

Local Search
Google and the 2nd tier of online business directories are the modern day yellow pages. They provide results, directions, reviews, photos, links to websites, everything a potential customer might want to start. We’ll discuss the major local search players and how to ensure that your profile information is included and accurate.

Site Optimization / SEO
An optimized site is critical.  In this piece, we’ll examine the most important site elements, ensuring that you give Google what it’s looking for when determining site relevancy.

Social Marketing
Some of us are fans of social media - Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram – while some of us just don’t pay attention to it.  The fact is that social media can play a helpful role for your organization and we’ll lay it all out for you. It’s not difficult and can even be a good deal of fun. 

Content Marketing
Back in the 2000’s there was a go-to phrase in the online marketing industry … “content is king”. To a very large degree this is still the case. 

Email Marketing
Email marketing can be an extremely effective way to grow revenue. Here we’ll uncover some ideas and tools to make email marketing simple.

AdWords / Pay-Per-Click / Retargeting
Google AdWords and Facebook advertising can provide valuable website traffic. There are strategies to consider that only the pros use and, best of all, it can cost a lot less than expected.

Reputation and Reviews
The power of good reviews cannot be underestimated. We will cover the major players, what you can do about poor reviews, and simple day-to-day tactics we can employ to help generate positive reviews.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics can feel overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be.  There are a handful of key reports and metrics that you should track and we’ll point them out at this time.

Look for our next article – How To Start – on this website in the coming days.

 

Stone Interactive Group is a web design and SEO company based in Ann Arbor Michigan.  For more information please feel free to visit our site at http://www.stoneig.com.

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