Posts Tagged ‘Business Blogging’

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Five Tips You Can Learn From Food Trucks to Become a Better Tradeshow Marketer

November 4, 2013

This article also appears in the October 2013 Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. Click here to read it there.RSVP FOOD TRUCKS BLOG

Food Trucks have invaded your city. They park on busy streets in prime locations ready to serve their tasty wares, and have become quite successful in the last few years. Food trucks have been around since 1974 when Raul Martinez converted an old ice cream truck into a taco truck and set up in front of a bar. So why have they become so hot today? Their success is that by default, and the factors that shape their daily existence as a business, have forged them into razor sharp marketers. They leverage all the marketing tools available to them in their changing location each day. They have mastered the three tools that help them succeed in reaching their business outcomes through leveraging social, mobile, and local marketing. The following five skills they have learned can help you become a better tradeshow marketer:

Leverage or Overcome your Location It all starts in the planning. Food truck owners study maps of the cities before arriving, they determine foot traffic patterns, nearby attractions, and areas where people congregate during their hours of operation. You have that same ability in assessing tradeshow floor plans to determine where best to place your booth. If you are stuck in a poor location, you must use more tactics to draw your audience to you. You need to have a more disruptive or appealing presence to call out to your audience and draw them closer to your space.

Focus on Just in time messaging and Perfect the Limited Time Offer (LTO) You are in a tradeshow for a limited time. Messaging is best to capture attention or conversions right there as studies have shown that the further the time passes after the event before a sale or conversion happens, the odds of an actual sale or conversion decreases drastically. To a food truck, that means missed profit; what does it mean to your bottom line? If you are making a limited time offer for goods or services, make sure it is the best possible deal to induce the customer to become interested and buy right there. Many food truck operators know that missed sales on a day because of pricing may mean they can’t open their doors tomorrow. Imagine if that was your motivation during the show.

Maximize your presence locally on Social Media Channels Food trucks comb social media channels well in advance just like they would assess a map. They identify the powerful social influencers in the area they are going to be and try to engage and entice them to pass their messaging on to their followers. They follow local trends and keywords and try to leverage those in their messaging.

Align with like-minded businesses that won’t cannibalize your market Food trucks often partner to create their own mini event inside an event. Often creating a team effort to pull off creating a mobile food court. With the premise that a larger crowd of purchasers will be attracted, and that there will be a diversity of flavors and tastes, two or three will partner with the goal of raising the sales for all by attracting a larger group. The same tactic can work successfully in trade shows as well. Partner with synergistic vendors to draw a larger crowd and group of prospects to your area of the tradeshow. Banding together with others to cross promote, or sponsor a speaker or side event at the trade show will help you to stand out from your other competitors and can also allow you to have a larger presence than you may be able to have on your own.

Assess, Learn and Build relationships that will grow your Success Next Time Data is king. Building records and databases of places, vendors, venues and people in each city, will help you build quickly and exponentially each year. This is imperative in tradeshows that are stationary and annual. Learn what tactics worked, and where energy was wasted. You can change or replace these tactics for the next time. Food trucks build fan bases by returning often to locations that are lucrative for them to visit. How can your brand establish a fan base as well? Continue to show up with some sort of frequency. If one tradeshow is good for your company in an area, are there other shows there as well where you could have some form of presence? If so, then building your frequency of appearances in that market will increase your foothold there as well.

The keys to success in these situations is remaining nimble, innovative, and have the ability to strike quickly when the opportunity presents itself. You can use the same tactics of food trucks to maximize your presence and success at tradeshows. You have a limited amount of time to drive as much business as possible, and the clock starts now.

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The Keys to Success and Longevity in Business and Events

November 4, 2013

This originally was published as my contribution to the RSVP MN Magazine Article: Click here to read it therersvpmn-logo

In 2003 there was a huge transformation of the entire workforce in the United States as a whole generation of women bought into the mantra of a revolution known as “Opting Out.” Women were choosing to opt out of the job force to stay home and raise families and seek a balanced life. By 2013, with economics in their current state, women and men are choosing to “Lean in” to their careers and seem to be driven for success. Both movements became vastly popular, and have worked for several individuals, and that is where the problem lies.

These movements have had a huge impact on both our corporate culture and the dynamics of companies, but they have failed to last the test of time. I believe they fail because they have been focused on the individuals that make up a team or company. They fail to work on or have impact on the entire team and culture. The focus has been on the change of self rather than on the team, business or culture. While this has profound effects for individuals, the impact and benefits to business and events has been scattershot and in many instances has had a negative effect.

To go the distance and have longevity, an event or business has to pull together as a team and effect change for growth and success. They need to innovate. The key to all Innovation is that the people in charge are able to keep their vision focused on the Big Picture, instead of being sucked down into the mire and details that often leads to tunnel vision. We have two incredible examples of a company and an event here in the Twin Cities that are exemplary models of this: Target Corporation and the Minnesota State Fair.

Target was recently named as No. 10 of Fast Company’s 2013 “Most Innovative Companies” and is in the caliber of such companies as Nike, Pinterest, Square and Amazon. Its attention to the trends and needs of current shoppers and the future of shopping has lead it to re-imagine its “Big Box” concept to create CityTarget, a half-size store prototype that launched in Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.

This model focuses on a demographic that is looking for four-packs of toilet paper rather than a 36-pack, has furnishings more suitable to apartment and balcony dwelling, smaller packaged food proportions, and is more mobile friendly for research, e-commerce and speeding up checkout lines by having additional employees deployed with mobile register scanners.

Target’s focus on value versus volume has proven so successful that they will add three new stores, doubling their new concept and look to take this concept globally in the future. Target’s ability to continually transform and respond to the rapidly changing retail behaviors will keep its chain ahead of its competition at a time when its competition struggles to keep pace and in fact are downsizing the numbers of locations.

The Minnesota State Fair has had innovation at the core of its mission statement since 1859. An event that has continued and has thrived for 154 years has put in a lot of work to keep its offerings fresh, educational and entertaining. Each year, from attractions and food offerings, to events and displays, the Fair not only embodies and lives out its own belief of innovation, but encourages and challenges its participants and vendors to do so as well. Continual feedback and communication from attendees each year drives changes for the future.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the food vendors that innovate each year to come up with the newest flavor trends or gimmick “food on a stick” (candied bacon cannolis or deep fried pickles and chocolate anyone?). Not only does the food then become an innovation that is fresh, but the popularity of the inventive foods has driven media coverage, self fulfilling its ability to remain relevant and fresh year after year.

It is clearly evident that the companies and events that are built on a best practice that focuses on the entity or event such as innovation will far exceed and surpass any practices that focus on the individuals involved. If your team and culture can fully embrace a concept that leads to benefits for all, versus benefits to one, than it is a concept that can stand the test of time. It’s time to opt out of bad practices, lean in to a team concept and employ innovation to your business.

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Businesses – Are you failing to maintain your online presence?

April 13, 2012

Negative Comments Can Spread Like Wildfire

It’s not enough to have an online presence anymore.  It is great that you have a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, and YouTube channel, but are you maintaining them?  In 2011 we saw many businesses leap online, eager to try out social media and leverage the communication and business power of these tools. Now, a year later, the scary fact is that most of these websites and social accounts have been abandoned or are not being used effectively (or even correctly in some situations).  You may have had the right intentions by setting these accounts up, especially if you were doing it to secure your IP and registered business names to protect your corporation.  If you set up accounts in order to have access to the platform, to monitor or listen to feedback, criticism, and comments, that is also a great reason to be on social media, but only if you are engaging back. OK, so now you are thinking to yourself: “So what?  We have a presence on social media platforms as our bosses told us we had to do.”

What if I told you that these abandoned, neglected, and incomplete accounts are actually hurting your business, and that they were actually costing you money to your bottom line, in spite of the fact that it was free to set up accounts on most of these platforms. If you are neglecting, abandoning, and failing to complete and monitor these accounts, you are losing customers, for the following reasons:

  1. The perception that your company is “Out of Date”, “Out of Touch”, and downright “Incompetent” in engaging your audience on social media – Many customers that encounter your business on the web, will check out these accounts just to see what is happening.  If, for instance, your Twitter account hasn’t been updated in the last 90 days, you are perceived as being “out of touch” and therefore a company that is seemed as approachable and eager to listen to a customer.  Incomplete profiles, pages without headshots or branding, or important information missing, such as contact info, gives off the impression that you are incompetent, especially to the under 35 crowd that is pretty much living their lives on the internet and mobile devices.
  2. The perception that your company isn’t listening – 98% of all internet users expect you to not only have a presence on these social media platforms, but they want you to engage with them as well on these platforms.  Especially when a customer has a question or complaint. Today’s internet users in this text driven society, demand and expect to have a response from your company quickly on the social media platform where they made the comment or complaint.  24 hours is an eternity and will not gain you any favors.  You need someone to actively manage these accounts and respond. 
  3. The perception that your company is ( insert descriptor word here: bad, evil, inept, uncaring, etc.) – More and more web companies live or die by their online reputation. If your company lets too many negative reports build online over any subject, without addressing and responding to these comments and complaints, can lead to the escalation of the issue, and in turn its ability to go viral.

Ultimately, you can think of each of these social media accounts the same way you would as building little campfires.  If you neglect them, all sorts of things can result. Your best hope is that they fizzle, die, and disappear.  occasionally though there are those fires that can flare up, escape its confines and end up becoming a raging wildfire, leaving behind swaths of ruin for your business.  If you are struggling with how to maintain your social media accounts, contact us and we’ll help you to take control of your accounts. www.sterlingcrossgroup.com.

All stats were compiled from www.pewinternet.org

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My Apologies for the Lapse in Blogging – Real Life Interrupts Virtual Life

January 5, 2012

When you blog or post regularly on social media sites such as I do, there is an expectation from readers to have new content posted on a regular, frequent, basis. I have failed in my end of the bargain.  I hope I can be forgiven, as my reasons are fairly legitimate.  Part of the reason for my lapse was that I have been busily finishing my first book: Checking Into Foursquare – Strategies for Retail and Restaurant Marketing with Social Media, and working on my second and third books relating to QR Code Marketing and Online Reputation Management.

The remaining reason, and reason I have had a lot of time for writing is that I have gone through some pretty major heart health related issues over the past year, that has taken me out of the game for long stretches of time.  I am back and recharged (literally)and look forward to seeing if I can regain some readership and faith in my ability to provide useful relevant content going forward.

Thanks for Reading!

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Removing Social Media Accounts – What happens when you need to end a presence online?

June 30, 2009

It’s become a fact in this economy that companies are going out of business.  Even those companies that were forward thinking in their marketing have not been able to escape the factors in the economy, and they have had to close down.  A client of ours became such a casualty two months ago.  They had just launched several online platform accounts at the beginning of the year.  All was going very well for them as they built their followers slowly and steadily to amass an engaged audience.  Then we received “the email” alerting us that the client was ceasing all business activities and requested we shut down all of their accounts online.

This would be a first for us.  We’ve worked with over a dozen companies, all with varying degrees of success, but, it has always been success.  It was even successful for this client as well; we had executed the initial strategy well, and were growing our audience to allow us to move into the second phase of the strategy.  Now we had proof though, that even the almighty social media with all of its bells and whistles could not solve all problems a company faced.

So we went and started deactivating accounts and learning to what degree the information could truly be removed or purged from the internet.  The results were interesting to say the least:

The Corporate Website – This was able to be turned off. Searches to the domain name now lead to a placeholder page put up by the hosting company.  Two months later though, the site still shows up in searches.  The links are broken, so I will assume Google, Bing, and other engines will eventually drop the results, it wasn’t gone in two months.  The search engines have archives and cached pages of the website, which are starting to deteriorate as well. Queries made to the search engine companies have come back with inconclusive answers as to how long something can live online.  Some items that are heavily linked to from other sites will last longer than those that had only a few links.

Facebook – the Company’s professional page was shut down, but the owner of the Company kept his personal page up to continue building his personal brand for a new career/job.  Facebook is fairly complete when it comes to deleting material permanently.  Due to the fact that most of the content is kept inside of the Facebook community tags, and unless it was open to search by the outside internet community, it seldom shows up in outside searches.

Twitter – After the corporate Twitter account was shut down, it was determined that the content would not easily go away, in spite of Twitter having the content open for immediate outside search.  The several different search applications associated to Twitter archived Tweets almost immediately and most kept running archives up to eight pages long.  The owner of the company decided to re-brand the Twitter account and continue its use for his personal brand.

A WordPress Blog – The blog was deactivated, but is still found in several searches. The codes that many blogs are created in are very search friendly.  Search sites have copies and cached copies of the blog posts, and many of the posts were reposted on other sites.  Unless those posts are removed by the individuals that reposted them, they will stay online.

Linkedin – The Company profile was removed, but the fact that it is listed by former employees, and as past positions of the owners, the company listings will stay online in Linkedin.

Some of this material can be litigated to be removed, but you’ll want to make sure you are going down the right path with the right legal team for that.  Most bloggers are protected by 1st Amendment rights and you will need to engage an attorney with experience in Constitutional law.  Other sites may require formal legal requests to remove photos, videos and other charts and images.

The bottom line is that yes you can deactivate your accounts and remove some material online, that it will not result in the immediate removal of all of the material from being found online. It may fade over time, like the memory of the company, but for now it is a record of existence that won’t easily go away.  With that in mind, what kind of online legacy is company leaving online?

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Making your blog stand out in a crowd…

June 6, 2008

 

I was asked a great question in the comment of my last post (Thanks Kathryn!) about how can you make your blog stand out in a crowd of, according to Technorati, millions of other blogs out there each day.  It was not such an easy question to answer.  There is a lot of background information I would need to advise someone on a specific blog.  I had responded to the comment with ten of the questions I ask clients during a blog assessment, and I decided to list them in this post.  To help develop any strategy to promote and differentiate a blog, you need be crystal clear on what your blog’s purpose is and what you are intending to be the outcome of your blog.

In my next post I will go into some of the strategies to best differentiate your blog and will include some great examples of blogs that are achieving these, including some special guest appearance posts from these bloggers.  Here is the list and let me know your thoughts:

1.       What is the purpose of your blog? (Business? Personal? To give you a voice?)

2.       Who is blogging? (Several businesses use a team approach to blogging and share the writing, while other companies such as ours are set up where we each have our own individual blogs. See them at www.sterlingcrossgroup.com/company/the-team/)

3.       How often will you update the blog?

4.       Who is the audience? (Is this communication to an internal audience of team members or employees? Or is this to an external audience (customers, prospects, target demographic, etc)?

5.       How will you promote this blog?

6.       What other items will be on this blog (links, resources, widgets, etc)?

7.       Will you try to or do you desire to monetize this blog?

8.       Will this blog include multimedia (videos, audio, pictures, etc.)?

9.       Where will this blog reside (on your own website, on a tool such as wordpress or blogger)?

10.   What other initiatives is this blog tied to?

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Giving a Presentation on blogging to Business Executives…

June 4, 2008

I am giving a presentation on blogging to Business Executives that have no experience with blogging. I love to use this video as a conversation starter.  For those of you interested in attending (this will be very basic entry to blogging level stuff) and are in the Twin Cities, I will be presenting to: The Council of Independant Consultants on June 27th, 2008 from 7-9AM (CST).  You can click here for more info: http://www.cipcmn.org/.  What tools do you recommend for new bloggers without any experience? Share and I will give you a plug at my presentation!

more about “Giving a Presentation on blogging to …“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

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