How to Succeed at Email Marketing

By Peter DeHaanPeter DeHaan

Email marketing is a cost-effective and simple way to reach out to touch clients and customers. But just because it’s cheap and easy, this doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea. When done wrong, email marketing can alienate the audience you’re trying to cultivate.

Here are five tips for successful email marketing:

Send Only Useful Messages: Several years ago I had the grand idea of using an email-marketing program to inform and engage advertisers and potential advertisers for my magazines. When I began working on the next issue, I emailed them with the theme and deadlines. A week before the due date, I sent a reminder. When the magazine went to print, I dashed off an update, and when it mailed, I let them know.

This lasted two issues. Although sending the messages seemed free, it cost me time. Plus I worried about becoming a nuisance. And in those early days of email marketing, I couldn’t tell who was reading what I sent.

I scaled back my messages to one per issue. That initial email letting them know the theme and deadlines was what mattered most. Besides, if I emailed less often, they would be more apt to read what I did send.

What are the messages that matter most to your audience?

Segment Your Audience: I quickly fell into a rhythm of sending out one mass email per issue, but it wasn’t as smooth as I wished. It seemed that no matter how carefully I worded my message, someone would be confused. This resulted in more communication to clear up my miscommunication.

The problem was that I tried to make one message work for everyone: regular advertisers, occasional advertisers, and potential advertisers. A message for regular advertisers might confuse the occasional ones and vice versa. Alternately, a message encouraging potential advertisers to run an ad might cause regular advertisers to make wrong assumptions about their status. To solve this, I divided my list into three groups in order to send specific messages tailored to each particular audience.

Your biggest client is different from your smallest, and both are different from your prospects. How should your list be segmented?

Send Only Wanted Messages: Twenty percent of my magazine readers receive their subscription electronically. I email them when a new issue is available to view, download, or read online. As part of their subscription, we also send an occasional email message relevant to the industry that has a high likelihood to be of interest. So that we don’t overwhelm or irritate readers, we send no more than one additional email per month. If you’re like me, you’ve unsubscribed from publications you liked simply because they contacted you too often.

What type of messages does your audience want? Which ones do they just delete?

Allow Unsubscribes: Even though it’s a legal requirement to provide a means to unsubscribe, I’m shocked at how many email marketers don’t. Plus, a few let you try to unsubscribe, but they don’t follow through.

Allow for and honor unsubscribes. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the law.

Don’t Spam: Though I have no firsthand experience in this regard, it’s apparently easy to buy an email database. It’s also common for companies to harvest contact information and send you messages you don’t want. (I know because it happens to me all the time.) These messages are spam; no one likes a spammer.

In your zeal to market, make sure you don’t spam your list or look like a spammer.

When you send useful and wanted messages to your segmented list, allow for unsubscribes, and avoid spamming, you are ahead of most companies. You are providing the right amount of contact, and your email marketing is poised to succeed.

Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit www.peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media. [This article first appeared in Connection Magazine.]

Choose Your Business Partners with Care

By Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaanConference planners sometimes ask me to sit on a panel. The common format is that each panelist makes an initial presentation, followed by a Q&A. Other times the presentations are longer, with no time for questions.

Most of my panel experiences have not been positive. For my first one, my fellow panel members dismissed my suggestion to coordinate our presentations. I went last and was alarmed when the first panelist covered some of my planned remarks; the third person addressed most of the rest. I needed to come up with new content at the last minute.

Another time, at an early morning panel, one of the panelists had stayed up all night partying. Sitting next to me, he smelled like a brewery. His speech was slurred, his judgment impaired, and his humor – some of which was directed at me – was not so funny. I spent the entire time praying he wouldn’t get sick on me. I doubt he realized he made a fool of himself and demeaned the rest of us in the process.

Another time I thought I was safe. Three of us discussed our remarks in advance, but the fourth person was vague, implying he would ad lib something aligned with our presentations. He went just before me. The first two people gave practical advice, as was my plan, but the third guy delved into high-level theory, giving a well-conceived strategic vision for the future. He outclassed us all – and I had to follow him.

Not surprisingly, I no longer agree to sit on panels. I’m fine with solo presentations, where success or failure sits solely on my shoulders, but keep me away from group presentations.

In business, we often have occasions to collaborate with other companies. Like my panel opportunities, these seem easy to do, require less prep, and share risk. The key word is seem.

Here are three areas to consider:

Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is performance-based promotion, where one entity (a person or an organization) pays another entity for each lead or sale generated from the first entity’s customer base. Often done via email, there is little cost and a potentially high payoff. Bill stuffers are another example. At a basic level, a company allows an ad aggregator to place relevant promotions on its website. The payoff is pay-per-click revenue.

Recently I bought a tutorial from someone I met at a convention. This person added me to his mailing list and began blasting out affiliate marketing pitches on a weekly basis, with multiple messages for each promotion. I grew weary of the hype and eventually unsubscribed, even though I was open to buy future products from him. Because of his implied endorsement of the people he promoted (some who I deemed questionable) and his unrelenting marketing for them, he lost me as a customer.

Strategic Alliances: Sometimes we seek opportunities to better serve clients by working with other businesses to provide a one-stop solution. Reselling products is one example, as is bundling services provided by other businesses.

When seamlessly integrated, customers don’t realize they are dealing with two companies, and the interaction occurs flawlessly. But when there’s a problem, the caller sees only the initial company, blaming them for the shortcomings of its partner. In these cases, we can succeed and fail based on what our alliance partner does or doesn’t do.

Outsourcing: Sometimes it makes sense to outsource work that other companies can do better or cheaper, yet in each instance, our reputation is placed in the hands of someone else who we have minimal control over. Is it worth the risk?

Whether it’s sitting on panels, affiliate marketing, strategic alliances, or outsourcing, we must proceed with care, not allowing someone else to control our reputation or determine the results.

Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit www.peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media. [This article first appeared in Connection Magazine.]

Media Mixology: Crafting the Perfect Publicity Cocktail

By Russell TrahanRussell Trahan

The handcrafted cocktail has skyrocketed in popularity. Thanks in part to period-piece television dramas such as Mad Men that romanticize bar scenes of yore, drinks like the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac have risen from the recesses of the speakeasy to the drink menu of the neighborhood watering hole. With its focus on precision and detail, the art of mixology has effectively taken taps and brass rails by storm.

From the bar room to the board room, a different brand of mixology is taking place: the meticulously designed publicity campaign. All beneficial and lucrative PR strategies are devised like a classic cocktail, with an emphasis on industry-standards, creative execution and an array of unique approaches that parallel the goals—or tastes—of the business or individual. There are many different options to consider when concocting the perfect publicity campaign, but it is paramount to remember that in order to achieve the desire result, the mix of media must be just right.

Local & Community Print: The Base: This is the heart of any publicity campaign. Like an aged, smoky Rye, targeting print media publications forms the base of your PR cocktail—everything builds off of it. Articles placed in local and community magazines helps to establish visibility and lends to credibility in your particular field. When you are looking for the proper starting point, look no further than the printed page.

The diversity of readership and focus in the wide-range of print outlets allows for producing audience-specific content across a variety of industries, and positions you for the best chance of increased name-recognition and profit-margins. While the allure of a television or radio interview can seem enticing—and they do have their place in the publicity mix—your information in local and community print publications offers permanence. A satellite outlet or emergency-broadcast message will not interrupt your expertise.

Broadcast: The Modifier: The purpose of a modifier in a drink, traditionally an additional liqueur such as Vermouth, is to enhance the impact of the base. That brings us to interviews and appearances on the broadcast medium, which works to augment your efforts in the area of print. The modifier will not make your campaign, but it will absolutely enrich it.

A targeted approach with radio and television, promoting events and engagements in a geographic-area, will provide a spike of PR activity that builds from your local and community print base. Your presence in print has brought your thoughts and ideas to your audience; your presence on their televisions and radios will put a face and voice to them.

Interviews & Op-Eds: The Flavor: The flavoring in an artisanal cocktail truly sets it apart from its traditional counterparts. Grenadine, tropical juices, ginger beer—ingenuity in flavors makes your beverage stand out; and the same is true for your publicity campaign.

Interviews that result in quotes in daily newspapers—local and national—and newsstand magazines bring your personality to the forefront. A controversial or distinct idea in the pages of publications with massive readerships puts your views on wide-display, and helps to establish you as a one-of-a-kind expert in your area.

Op-Eds take this a step further. They provide you with a forum to distinguish yourself from your colleagues, imparting a unique opinion or thought-process on your audience can make you a household name for your beliefs. Do not be afraid to push the envelope—professional mixologists take concerted risks to create a name for themselves.

Online Components: The Garnish: The garnish is the icing on the cocktail cake, if you will. You are finishing your creation with a flourish that doubles-down on your established base, modifier and flavors. The PR mix uses print outlets’ online components as a garnish.

Since most—if not all—print media have an associated website, newsletter or blogging arm, many articles or interviews that appear in print will also be featured online. This achieves a dual-impact of your original piece, as it now exists on computer screens as well as in tangible print, which only helps to extend your reach.

With the advent of our social media society, articles online may garner even more mileage, as sharing pieces deemed particularly informative or valuable has become one of the cornerstones of Facebook and Twitter. You’re only ever a few clicks and shares away from going viral.

There are few things as enjoyable as a finely-crafted cocktail. Mixologists behind bars across the globe are using their imaginative brains to create innovations-on-ice; using the classics as foundations to bring about something entirely original. The media mix for a publicity campaign should adhere to the same process: an emphasis on time-honored local and community print placements, a boost with broadcast media and heightened name-recognition with interviews and opposite-editorials. Top off your campaign with online features and exclusives and you have the mixture for the perfect publicity cocktail.

And you just may become the toast of the town.

Russell Trahan is President of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. PR/PR represents experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization. Russell and PR/PR will raise your business’ awareness in the eyes of your clients and customers. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net or email mail@prpr.net for a free consultation.

Take Control of Your Brand: The 4Cs of Brand Management

DeEtta JonesBy DeEtta Jones

There are plenty of reasons to care about your brand, and high among them should be to make your voice heard: your unique voice. Voice is the contribution made to something larger than oneself. It’s the medium for sharing one’s purpose, values, talents and vision for the future. Yes, there are plenty of examples in contemporary society of people creating a shallow brand seemingly for the sole purpose of increasing the number of social media followers. But, before you too hastily follow that line of thinking, consider the bigger picture—and your values. Where do you want your name and legacy to appear in people’s minds and hearts?

Some of the most fundamental elements of a value-rich personal brand are reflected in the 4Cs of brand management:

1. Conviction: How do your values show themselves in your life? In the way you carry yourself? In your conversations, friendships, choices? How do others know what you stand for? People with strong brands—those who are most influential and apt to attract followers and allies—are mission-driven. Their words and deeds are predictably consistent with their values. Conviction is more than a noble concept; it’s about having an unimpeachable character that is, and is understood by others to be, working in the service of something greater than yourself. Again, what is the “greater good” that you are striving for, and is it known to others through the large and small behavioral choices you make on a regular basis?

2. Caring: Managing your brand means caring enough about how you are perceived to invest time and be open to behavioral modifications. Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, brought in to turnaround the riots in Ferguson, MO, personified caring at the press conference held on August 15, following the shooting of Michael Brown. Media from around the country were carefully positioned to record his every word, yet the locals standing 20 feet in front of him could not hear his remarks. Brown walked away from the staged microphone and into the crowd because, as he stated, “my concern is that the members of our community hear me and be heard.”

People who are most in control of their brand are able to keep small the gap between how they see themselves and how others see them. Research shows that with ascension in titular leadership this becomes more difficult, particularly because there is less access to the unfettered truth. Simply, the higher one goes up the proverbial ladder, the smaller the peer group becomes. Fewer peers means there are less people willing (often because of fear of reprisal) to share honest perspectives about the behaviors that need to stop or be changed. Without access to this feedback, and with ascension, it is easy to only pay attention to the limited, and affirmative, feedback received. Over time, and as people are expected to perform in increasingly sophisticated and politically nuanced environments, the higher the probability that past strengths will become weaknesses. A classic example of this is people who move from #2 to #1 positions in an organization. The operational strengths that helped them move through their career are no longer considered as relevant when one is expected to perform as a strategy-savvy CEO.

Caring is also—and perhaps appropriately weighted—being concerned about the impact you are having on others.

3. Class: “Keep it classy” is a mantra for those who sometimes forget that brand is shaped with every choice made, every word uttered. Whether choosing to act or not act a choice is being made. Even thoughts are choices—choosing to focus mental and emotional energy on certain things over others.

Classiness requires intentionality. Think of your life as a story to be displayed on a television show. You are one of several cast members, each requiring a clear identity that contributes to the overall theme of the show. Who are you relative to the other members of the cast? Are you the Protagonist? Hero? Victim? Underdog?

Create a personal narrative; psychologists call it self-authoring. You decide the story line, then position yourself in the role that is most desirable for you and others. Writing the story forces you to explore the needs and motivations of others; to develop the characters and your relationship to them—your colleagues, boss, clients, children, spouse or partner and friends.

This desire to understand what motivates others is a key to fully fleshing out your character’s role and behaviors in enacting the story. It is also the essence of building a strong personal identity—understanding yourself in relation to the needs and motives of others is one of the most effective ways to create a credible brand, a brand powerful enough to positively influence others.

4. Confidence: Confidence is the toughest of the Cs in this list. It can’t be taught or bought; it has to be earned. There are people who are full of shallow entitlement that comes across as smug confidence. Don’t pay attention to them, and certainly don’t let yourself become one of them. It’s transparent. They’re hiding something, which will be discovered in time.

Earned confidence is beautiful to observe. It shows itself as an effortless comfort in one’s being, requiring no airs. People with a deep sense of personal confidence often have many relationships, varied interests and deep passions, make an effort to stretch their boundaries and are comfortable saying no. Confidence is built through experience and relationships, and wise people invest—on an ongoing basis—in the nurturing and acquisition of both.

Here’s the simple truth: perception does count. People make split-second judgments all the time. Taking control of your brand means that you are putting yourself in the driver’s seat, making a conscious choice to intentionally reflect behaviors and choices that allow the best of you to shine.

DeEtta Jones is a leadership strategist, social justice advocate and author. She has more than 20 years of experience working with individual leaders and teams in some of the world’s most prominent universities and corporations. Her multidimensional background and fresh perspective leaves clients feeling heard and empowered to take on some of the major organizational and workforce challenges of our times. For more information or to have DeEtta speak at your next event, please visit www.deettajones.com.

The Importance of Brand Cohesiveness Across Social Media

By Ben LaubeBen Laube

Developing and representing your brand effectively on social media is one of the most important tasks to consider when jumping into social media marketing. By doing so, you bring brand awareness and cohesiveness to your audience to build familiarity and trust.

Representing your brand on social media is fairly simple as long as your business has its ideals and image secured. On multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, you’re able to upload cover photos. It’s important to use the same concept of design in each cover photo for visual brand cohesiveness. Though some dimension variations of the photos have to be taken into consideration due to the sizing limitations of each network, having the same graphic concept will help people remember your brand. It’s called “Social Branding.” Make sure your logos are consistent across the profiles, as well.

The next step is ensuring your brand’s “voice” is heard throughout the text of the page, as well as in the posts. If you’re a financial brand, you shouldn’t be using slang terms and Internet abbreviations such as “LOL and “JK.” Establish a voice that clearly defines who you are and the culture of your company. Remember, social media is essentially your online persona and face; let it represent who you are.

Having a cohesive social content strategy is another facet to strongly consider. What are you posting? How often are you posting? Are you posting the same content to specific profiles? Take a step back and decide how and what you want to post. Social media is about being social. You never want to bombard followers with promotion after promotion after promotion. Ask them questions; find out their opinions. Engagement is key; talking at your followers rather than talking to them is the quickest way to lose your following.

With the vast array of social networks out there, it can be a bit confusing as to which ones your brand should be on. You have to think strategically, and find the best fit to represent your brand. Many companies now believe they have to be on every single platform, but not every platform is right for every business. Here’s a quick rundown of the top platforms, what they do, and how they can be utilized by all brands:

Facebook: Facebook is basically the home base of all social media today. No matter the industry, your business needs a Facebook Page to interact with your customers and build a relationship.

Twitter: Twitter is the popular microblogging (140 characters or less) platform that allows users to reach out to others and find people with the same interests easily. It’s also a fantastic news outlet to syndicate your brand’s press, ideas and thoughts to the world.

Google+: Google+ is essentially the Google version of Facebook, but does have great collaborative abilities such as Google hangouts. Google Hangouts is a new messaging, video, chat, file sharing platform created by Google which is great for collaboration. In addition to being free unlike other services (Skype), Google Hangouts integrates well within your other Google apps and allows you to easily share information. Also, all Google+ posts are indexed by Google and show up in their search results.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the professional social media hotspot. This is where you can represent yourself and your business in a professional manner, building connections and further expanding your company’s outreach.

With those four main social networks being utilized by all brands, there are other popular platforms that many not suit every brand.

Pinterest: Pinterest is a fantastic way to share and explore creative ideas and visuals. However, if your brand isn’t a visually heavy concept; Pinterest may not work for you.

Instagram/Vine: Instagram and Vine are the mobile social network sensations that rely strictly on pictures and videos. If your brand doesn’t produce images, products, etc. – these networks may leave you with lackluster results.

Now that you’ve chosen your networks, your social strategy and how to represent your brand online, here are few tips to ensure a positive social environment for your audience.

Do:

  1. Engage your followers with contests, questions, comments or provoking thoughts.
  2. Post on a regular basis
  3. Choose what type of content is most appropriate for your brand, and limit the confusion of posting anything and everything

Don’t:

  1. Over promote yourself. Remember, if you were talking to someone face to face and all they did was promote their business to you, it wouldn’t go over well. The same goes for social media. There is a healthy ratio we like to follow of 60% Conversation/Engagement and 40% Promotion. A healthy balance to keep your followers interested.
  2. Over post. It’s great to share quality content on a regular basis, but don’t post every hour. Remember, these posts show up in people’s news feeds and can be seen as “spam.”
  3. Don’t trash/criticize other brands on social media. It’s important to keep your brand’s online reputation and image seen in a positive light. Trash talking your competitors will only hurt you and turn your followers away.

Now go be social with social media!

Ben Laube is President and Founder of POLR Marketing, a growth marketing technology company. Through the use of content writing, pay-per-click, ethical SEO practices, web design & development graphic design, and strategic planning, POLR Marketing offers the services you need to help grow your business to the next level. To learn more call POLR Marketing at 407-712-4836.