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Tips to Creating an Engaging Internal Newsletter

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 06:00

Everyone has heard the saying, “A happy employee is a productive employee,” but it isn’t always easy to keep your employees focused and motivated. One simple way to inform and inspire your staff is to create an internal newsletter.

“An internal company newsletter can be an important tool to keep employees in the loop about company activities, policies, products, and services,” Mario Almonte, a partner at Manhattan-based Herman & Almonte Public Relations, says.

Among its many services, Almonte’s company handles internal public relations for businesses, which includes the creation of employee newsletters.

“Done right, it can be effective in strengthening the company messaging and creating a sense of family among employees,” he says.

Here are a few tips to create an internal newsletter that your employees will look forward to reading.

Aim the content at employees

First and foremost, all content in an internal newsletter should be about employees and things they care about.

“An internal newsletter is not a propaganda piece,” Almonte says. “A company should remember, ‘It’s not about you, it’s about them.’”

Company product launches and any kind of news that impacts employees should be included. Articles about new hires are also a great idea, Almonte says.

One popular feature is to mention an employee who has been promoted or recognized for their service or spotlight employees’ lives outside the workplace to foster personal connections. The city of Ozark, Missouri does this with an “employee spotlight” in each issue of its newsletter.

Newsletter content doesn’t have to be dry, either. For example, Riverside Healthcare in Kankakee, Ill. made a creative animated video for its “Riverside Connection” newsletter to highlight the year’s achievements.

Write to tell, not to preach

You want your employees to enjoy reading the newsletter, so keep the tone conversational and highlight the positives, Almonte suggests.

“Write the newsletter in plain English,” he says.  ”Leave the buzzwords for the sales literature and press releases.”

If done correctly, a newsletter can boost morale and motivate employees, he says. Consistently great articles will have the added benefit of reminding your employees of the quality products or services they produce and make them feel like they’re part of a thriving team.

“It’s not a place to lecture or threaten employees for underperforming or behaving badly,” Almonte says. “It’s just the opposite.”

Keep it short and simple

You don’t want your newsletter to distract your employees from being productive, nor do you want to bore them with lengthy essays, Almonte says.

“If you make the newsletter too long, no one is going to read it,” he says. “Since most people will read it at work, keep the articles short and succinct. Employees will probably be interrupted several times during the course of their reading, so they’ll have short attention spans.”

An internal newsletter from Hawaiian non-profit WorkLife Hawaii is a great example. The newsletter is short and concise with bite-sized articles.

Be consistent

From design to content, you want to be consistent with your newsletter.

“Just like a real newspaper, everyone should know where their favorite section is, so that the can immediately flip to it and read all about it,” Almonte says.

Your newsletter frequency should also be consistent. Almonte suggests a monthly newsletter, which keeps your employees engaged but not overwhelmed by company news.

In the end, an internal newsletter is a feel-good platform, Almonte says, which should educate and entertain your employees.

Do you have an internal newsletter at your company? Have any tips of your own to add?

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Tips to Creating an Engaging Internal Newsletter appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

7 SEO Myths Demystified

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 06:00

It’s very normal to feel intimidated by search engine optimization (SEO). Alongside that intimidation, there also tends to be some SEO myths that arise. Buying into these myths could lead you down the wrong path. So to help out, we demystify 7 popular SEO myths once and for all:

Myth #1:  SEO is too hard for a “regular Joe.”

Like we said, SEO can be intimidating, but the basics are actually pretty simple, (just don’t tell your boss). With an easy-to-use content management system like WordPress, you can install various SEO plugins, like Yoast, on your site that can help you get on top of some basic SEO.

Myth #2: If you’ve never done any SEO, you’re too far behind.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact that you’re reading this article, means you are taking the right steps to get informed. Like we’ve said before, in just a few hours you can get on board with local SEO. Here’s a list of some free local SEO tools to get off on the right foot.

Myth #3: SEO takes way too much time.

You can bust this myth in one Saturday afternoon. Sit down with your favorite beverage, laptop and some tunes and crank out the SEO basics in a few hours.  This article has the three SEO must-dos.

Myth #4: If your business is really small, SEO isn’t worth it.

This myth couldn’t be more busted! If you have a small business you need to get on top of your local SEO to stay competitive with your competitors and peers. Check out the free tool getlisted which will get you started in the right direction.

Myth #5: Any backlink is a good link.

This is the most dangerous myth on the list. Far too many times we’ve seen a small business buying into the scheme of getting 1,000 backlinks (links pointing from another site to yours) for X amount dollars, thinking it’ll get them a leg up on the competition. This is a sure fire way to get you a penalty from Google, which can decimate your online presence overnight. There isn’t a magic number of back links you need, but you can work on getting high quality links from a reputable source. Here’s a good blog post from Rand Fishkin from Moz to get started by seeing what back links your higher ranking competitors have.

Myth #6: Meta Tags are great for SEO.

This myth is easy to confuse with an actual SEO best practice. Titles and meta descriptions are good, keyword meta tags are a thing of the past that Google doesn’t use to rank your site. Keyword meta tags were an old way for bad SEO managers to over stuff keywords into their site thinking it’d help their site rank better for trophy or vanity keywords. So instead of worrying about keyword meta tags, focus your time on writing a great meta description that’ll entice a searcher to click through to your site. Remember keep it under 160 characters.

Myth #7: SEO is too expensive.

Hiring a full time employee or a company to do your SEO might cost you some bucks. Luckily, you can knock out your local SEO in just a few hours a month max, so no need to pay top dollar to have a consultant on hand to help. Here’s an awesome article to help you wrangle local SEO all by yourself.

For more SEO advice, tips and how-tos, grab our free Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

Although SEO can seem a little overwhelming at first, by demystifying these common myths, you can move forward to SEO success. Any SEO myths we missed that you want answered? Post them in the comments and we will help debunk them!

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What’s New Weekly – Jaybird Reign + Razer’s Modular Project Christine [VIDEO]

Sat, 01/25/2014 - 06:00

In this episode of “What’s New Weekly” we share the new fitness tracker from Jaybird called Reign. We also take a peek at a futuristic desktop tower from Razer called Christine.

 

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post What’s New Weekly – Jaybird Reign + Razer’s Modular Project Christine [VIDEO] appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Enhance Customer Engagement with Online Hangouts

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 06:00

Advertising, keyword search tools and social media marketing are some of the ways you can attract new readers and prospects to your blog or website, but sometimes it’s best to find them where they hang out. Online hangouts—tools that let groups of people chat via text, audio and video—are making their way from the personal toolkit, to the marketing one. Take a look at some of the options below to determine which of the following online hangouts might benefit your specific product or service.

Tweet chats

A tweet chat is a pre-arranged discussion that takes place on Twitter at a specific time. Some businesses host tweet chats once a week, at the same time each week (usually an hour), asking participants to answer a series of questions with a specific hashtag. Others have one-off tweet chats centered around specific topics.

Tweet chats can create lively conversation, connect your followers with one another and help you develop a deeper understanding of your prospects and their viewpoints. You can also post links to relevant content from your website or blog.

“There’s still a lot of potential for some of the segments that have yet to really leverage online,” says Matt Hodkinson, CEO and founder of Influence Agents, which helps businesses in the professional services industry generate with social media and inbound marketing. Hodkinson has over 15 years of experience in digital marketing and the IT sector.

If you’re working in an industry that doesn’t have much of a social media presence (such as accounting or even a law practice), using tweet chats is a good way to build community and get out a message about your brand, says Hodkinson. Tweet chats can also bring together people from your industry who want to chat, creating networking opportunities.

Just be aware that tweet chats have their downside as well. If you don’t have enough participants, it can make for a very quiet event, but the opposite situation can be problematic, too. “You can become too prolific in too short an amount of time,” Hodkinson warns. “A lot of people don’t like that filling up their streams, and it also leaves you open to spammers, people who effectively take newsjacking a bit too far and try to piggyback off the popularity of a trending conversation.” Spammers have a bit more difficulty infiltrating gatherings where there’s a visual element and an attendance requirement.

Reddit

Reddit is a social news site where anonymous users submit content and vote it up or down. While gaining traction on the main page is difficult, there are very active “subreddits” in many industries, where smaller groups of users gather to discuss an area of interest.

A popular subreddit is called “IAmA,” which stands for “I Am A,” and is where users post “AMAs” (short for “Ask Me Anything,” allowing users to ask questions about any given topic. Many celebrities, public figures and entrepreneurs, such as Gary Vaynerchuk have participated, as AMAs are a great way to leverage popularity and answer questions from a wide variety of interested people all in one place. But AMAs can also be a way to give users insight into a specific industry that has received national exposure, answering questions and increasing their understanding on a topic.

“When it comes to Reddit as an online hangout, I think it really comes down to whatever’s trending at a time,” says Hodkinson, who sees the popular forum as an opportunity to bring people together on a large scale. “People who go to Reddit are really looking for trends, so they’re quite nomadic in the topics they discuss,” he adds.

Redditors, as contributor-editors are known, are opinionated and vocal, and because the platform is anonymous, the conversations can get a bit heated. “It lends itself to the most agile businesses. If you’re in software development, if you’re in apps, if you’re in something quite cutting-edge and forward-thinking then, I think, the Reddit community is going to be of most benefit to you because they tend to be up to speed on what’s going on,” Hodkinson says.

Streaming video options

With Google’s Hangouts on Air, you can schedule broadcasts which upload to Google+, YouTube and your own website. This option allows for live, interactive conversation and even lets participants see one anther, which can boost engagement dramatically.

“I talk to clients in all kinds of sectors, and there’s massive opportunity there to really push yourself as the credible thought leader, or at least someone that’s a trusted advisor,” says Hodkinson. Use Google Hangouts on Air (or other video streaming options, such as Ustream or Livestream) to field questions, interview experts in your industry, field questions from your readers, or simply build credibility by positioning yourself as an expert on your topic.

Getting the word out

Make sure to use various social media channels and your own email list to bring people together to an online hangout, even if you’re hoping to find new prospects there as well. Hodkinson points out that one of his clients, a B2B marketer in software, had a lot of traction by posting a link to a Google Hangout on Air on LinkedIn. Tweet chats, Reddit AMAs and live video streams can be promoted on whichever social media channels you think are appropriate for the audience.

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Enhance Customer Engagement with Online Hangouts appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

5 Search Engine Marketing Tips to Compete with the Big Guys

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 09:01

Many small businesses think running a paid search campaign is too expensive and don’t have a marketing budget to compete with bigger, more well known brands. We’ve gathered the 5 best search engine marketing tips to enable your small business to compete with the big guys.

1. Keyword Selection

More often than not, big brands have more marketing dollars which can enable them to outbid you in paid search auctions. An important aspect, and one of the most crucial tips, for being competitive with these brands is to be strategic about which keywords you go after. Try and focus on keywords that produce quality leads and conversions for you. Additionally, utilizing long tail keywords as part of your strategy will allow you to be more targeted and cheaper. Also keep in mind that it will be less competitive due to the fact that there will be less traffic coming from long tail keywords. After choosing a good keyword strategy, you can also save money by restricting certain keywords with matchtypes and negative keywords. This is an excellent way to reduce wasted spend.

2. Day/Geographic Parting

Another good way to stay competitive against big brands is through localization. If you’re a mom and pop shop or you’re focused in a specific area, it’s a good idea to restrict your geographic targeting. There’s no need to show up for keywords all around the country if you only serve your city or state. With the same reasoning of geographic parting, you want to also utilize day parting. With day parting, you can set your ads to only run during certain times of day. By limiting your ad to only run when you can make the most conversions, you can still be competitive.

3. Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are a great way to include additional information to your ads. If you’re only going to be able to run an ad on a limited basis, packing as much useful information about your business in your ad can make the difference. Google offers a variety of ad extensions that can be helpful, such as reviews, click-to-call links, location information, and sitelinks that bring people to additional pages of your website. By offering as much info as you can, users have more options to see something they’re interested in and therefore give you a greater chance of receiving an ad click and ultimately making a sale.

4. Engaging and Enticing Ad Copy

When outbidding your competitors for a top position is not an option, you must think of other ways to stand out. Writing alluring ad copy can be one of them. Standing out with your ad, either through a good positioning statement or an enticing promotion, can help you get the click. Do some competitive research and try to make your business seem like the logical choice.

5. Looking Outside of Google

New advertisers often forget that the paid search world exists outside of Google. Google is often times the most expensive search engine and rightly so because it gets the most traffic, but there our other more cost effective and less competitive search engines. For example, you may want to consider running on the Bing network. It can be just as effective and often times at a much lower cost. Additionally, there are lots of second tiered engines on the market like LookSmart, Admarketplace, etc. These tend to be really inexpensive but also lower quality in search traffic. They still merit consideration as part as your overall search strategy.

Running paid search campaigns for your business can be expensive depending on your industry. Following the tips above will help you get the most out of your budget and still be competitive with the big guys. Also check out our blog post on Maximizing Google Adwords and 5 AdWords Tips for a Small Budget for more ways to get the biggest bang for your buck.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 5 Search Engine Marketing Tips to Compete with the Big Guys appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

3 Emails Your Non-Profit Should Be Sending

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 06:00

The first thing most people do when they get up in the morning, or get to work, is check their email, right? That’s because there’s never a shortage of emails in your inbox; some you can’t wait to read, some you save for later, and others you just delete. How people interact with their emails isn’t something you can control, but making sure you’re sending the right emails to encourage engagement, is.

Every business sends (or should be sending) various types of information, from email newsletters to promotions, and non-profits are no different. Here are three types of email campaigns your non-profit organization should be sending to build rapport, educate, and hopefully gain donations:

Welcome email – If you’re not currently sending out a welcome email, you could be missing out on a stellar opportunity. A warm and friendly welcome email can make a positive first impression on new members, donors, volunteers, or your sponsors. A great time to send a welcome email is when someone subscribes to your email list. Keep the tone of your welcome email light, as you want it to be warm and approachable. Hitting someone up for a donation straight off the bat might be too much, too fast. You want your readers to feel like they’re part of your organization, your community, your world, so provide information, pictures or videos that makes them feel included and valued.

Newsletter  -  This is probably the most common type of email sent out by non-profits, but there’s a reason.: An email newsletter allows you to share what’s going on with your organization, events, volunteers, fundraising or other relevant information. It’s an easy and effective way to communicate, and you can include calls to action to donate or volunteer to help drive your fundraising efforts. Content for a newsletter is exactly what the name implies, newsworthy information. Anything that’s important to your organization and would be interesting to your readers can and should be included. Sending a newsletter does require some commitment from you and your staff, as you’ll need to mail at least once per month to be effective, stay top of mind and get good engagement. By mailing your newsletter at this frequency, you’ll have the ability to send other email types too, without annoying your readers. For more help creating a fantastic newsletter, check out our free webinar Creating a Significant Email Newsletter.

Thank you email – First and foremost, your thank you email should be sincere. Once you have a thank you email, you’ll find there are many opportunities to use it. Just be sure to update it for each situation. You can send a thank you email when someone makes a donation, registers or volunteers for an event, subscribes to your email, after an event or other interactions someone may have with your organization.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention fundraising emails, but that could be a blog post on it’s own! Here is a recent post with some tips on creating certain types of fundraising emails.

These three types of emails should give your non-profit a great start to your email marketing efforts. What other types of emails is your organization sending? Let us know in the comments!

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 3 Emails Your Non-Profit Should Be Sending appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

7 Key Steps to Facebook Growth

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 06:00

If your social media plan includes the goal of reaching more people with content marketing, maximizing your Facebook presence can be a good tactic. After all, your potential customers are likely already on Facebook, and those who ‘like’ your Facebook business page are more likely to see the content you post on there.

Lou Abramowski, CEO and founder of Unbenchable, has a knack for helping businesses and brands increase their Facebook presence: with his help Jack Link’s Beef Jerky went from 9,000 to 1.2 million ikes, and the Renaissance Festival performer Twig the Fairy, whose Facebook page was born in March 2009, has since hit 260,000 likes.

What’s the key to that kind of growth on Facebook? Here’s a primer on Abramowski’s approach, in seven steps that you can apply.

Step #1: Identify your audience.

Determining the audience you want to target on Facebook can be difficult, especially if your business is very broad. Spend some time thinking about your dream client, or two to three types of people you’d want to reach. Determining their type of work, hobbies, and even demographics (such as age and gender) will guide your plan.

Step #2: Use a lot of photos

Facebook is a visual medium even though it’s not a photo site like Pinterest: posts with images tend to do well with a broad swathe of users. You can post interesting photos on their own, or pair images with text and memes that are trending.

Step #3: Time your posts right

Facebook now lets you schedule your posts in advance—previously marketers had to rely on third-party apps to do that. For marketers who take Abramowski’s advice about images that’s a godsend, allowing them to hunt down a week’s worth of cool photos all at once. Abramowski blocks out an hour each week per page and gathers 20 to 30 images at a time.

Posting at the right time of day can be important, helping your content get seen on Facebook when people are active but competition for their eyeballs is lower.

“Make sure to post them when traffic is attentive and not competitive,” Abramowski says.

The best times to publish, says Abramowski, are early in the morning before regular users start to post to their feeds (“sometimes publishing at 6AM will get you traction all day”), right before lunch, early evening and just before bedtime.

Although Abramowski doesn’t manage Twig the Fairy’s Facebook page day-to-day, the page pages uses images extensively. Software startup Otterology, an inventory system that works with Square, also includes images relevant to small business owners on their Facebook page. Some examples from Lou’s own projects: I want to go to there, a destination page with close to 70,000 likes.

Step #4: Vary your content

Make sure to share more than images on your Facebook page. Consider including funny or inspiring quotes, and links to relevant articles in your industry. Freshbooks is an example of a business that keeps their feed current.

Step #5: Spend a little dough on advertising

Abramowski recommends spending a dollar a day on Facebook advertising campaigns for your page, letting the social network do the hard work of acquiring more fans. “Facebook is generally going to do a pretty good job of finding people that are interested in your page,” says Abramowski. Just go to the advertising page on Facebook, which will ask you what type of results you want for your ads. One option is “get page likes to grow your audience and build your brand.” The Facebook ads manager lets you easily target demographics such as gender or age. You’ll be charged for each person who sees your ad, and Abramowski believes a dollar a day is enough to get results. Just remember, you want people following you who are interested in your products or services, buying likes doesn’t guarantee engagement. You need to have quality content and an ongoing compelling value to keep them around.

Step #6: Promote only your best posts

If you’re trying to reach a specific audience that’s not easily targeted with Facebook advertising, Abramowski recommends paying to promote posts that appeal specifically to that crowd. Promoting also known as “boosting” a post begins at an affordable $5. The more you spend, the more people you reach.

Just make sure not to spend money promoting posts or images that don’t already have some traction. “If there’s no fire, don’t pour a gallon of gasoline on it because it’s not going to go anywhere,” Abramowski explains. Promoting posts that have already shown promise will yield better results.

Step #7: Find a way to monetize

If you’re not already drawing paying clients or customers to your business but accumulating Facebook likes, consider trying to pre-sell a product or service to your Facebook audience to see if it’s interesting to them or not. “With pre-selling, if you don’t hit the target number, you don’t have to do anything,” Abramowski says, rather than go back to the drawing board.

Have any Facebook growth tips of your own? Share away in the comments.

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 7 Key Steps to Facebook Growth appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

What’s New Weekly – Q&A App Jelly and Nest Acquisition

Sat, 01/18/2014 - 06:00

In this episode of “What’s New Weekly” we share the new Q&A app from one of the co-founders of Twitter called Jelly. We also share our take on the recent $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest by Google.

 

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Facebook Friday – Is Buying a Like Worth it? [VIDEO]

Fri, 01/17/2014 - 06:00

In this episode of Facebook Friday, we discuss a recent article that explores the gray market of buying likes, comments and shares on Facebook. Is buying fans the right tactic for you and your business?

 

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Facebook Friday – Is Buying a Like Worth it? [VIDEO] appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

The Best Ways to Promote Your Small Business Event

Thu, 01/16/2014 - 06:00

From ribbon-cuttings to charity auctions, every small business wants to draw a customer-friendly crowd to its event. One undisputed benefit of hosting a live event: reaching your target audience in real-time. That’s why Cathy Mueller, executive director of Mapping Your Future, plans gatherings for soon-to-be college students to educate them about the higher education process.

“We might live in a digital world, but there is no better way to create and maintain customer relationships than a face-to-face meeting,” Mueller says.

The key, Mueller says, is to match your time and energy with your needs. “It takes time and effort to plan the event, so make sure you have the resources to devote to its planning and execution,” she says. “You’ll also want to pick a time that’s appropriate for your customers.”

For example, a new restaurant should schedule a ribbon-cutting around noon to capitalize on the lunch crowd. Once you have the basics figured out, it’s time to send out the invites. Here are a few tips and tactics to spread the word quickly and easily.

Use social media tools designed for events

Of course, social media offers a free and easy way to let your customers know about an upcoming event, but Mueller says small businesses can do more than just mention the date, time and place.

You can create a Facebook event or if you have a paper invitation you’re going to send out through the mail, take a picture of it and post it on Instagram or Pinterest. Twitter-based tools such as TweetMyEvents or TweetVite are also a great way to get the word out, Mueller says. Remember, VerticalResponse has an easy event marketing tool that includes a Facebook widget to help you promote your event.

Don’t ignore traditional media

While many small businesses gravitate towards social media now, you shouldn’t overlook the ‘old school’ newspaper or television station in your town, Mueller says.

“Keep in mind, not all of your customers use social media, so it’s important to utilize several media vehicles,” she says. “A lot of newspapers and television stations still have community calendars that you can include your event on for free.”

You can also send a press release to local journalists who might be interested in covering the event.

Partner with a non-profit

By teaming up with a non-profit, your event will attract new guests while helping the community, a win-win strategy according to Mueller.

“This collaboration provides an opportunity to draw new and existing customers to the event, and it shows your small business is interested in the success of the local community,” she adds.

Pick a charity that fits your business. For example, an athletic store might team up with Special Olympics.

Create a calendar invitation

Once your event details are set, you’ll want to send an email to invite your loyal customers and remind them to attend.

“Utilize your company email list when you’re having an event, but don’t overwhelm your customers with invite after invite,” she says. “It’s okay to remind your customers about the event as the date draws close, but keep it short and simple.”

Mueller suggests sending out a calendar invite, so the event will automatically go into your customer’s daily schedule.

“Anytime you can connect with your customers on a personal level, you win,” Mueller says.

It might not turn into massive sales on the day of the event, Mueller says, but customers will remember the experience and will turn to your company when they need products or services in the future.

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

© 2014 – 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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5 Easy Ways to Blog in Less Time

Wed, 01/15/2014 - 06:00

Do you want quality content to share on social media sites and better SEO rankings? How about increased traffic to your website? (I’m going to assume you said yes.) Then guess what? You might want to consider blogging. So let’s get down to it and face that road stop in your mind that reads, “I don’t have time.” Oh, you do! Here are 5 tips to get your blog flowing in no time.

1. Write about what you already know.

If you spend your days herding cattle, you probably know more about herding cattle than average Joe browsing the Internet. And, in turn, it would be much easier for you (as a cattle herder) to write about what you do everyday than to do research and write about something entirely different (such as how to dance tango). In fact, the very things that seem routine about your job are likely interesting (and valuable) to the masses looking for more information about it.

2. Interview an expert.

Maybe you need to write a blog about managing a virtual environment and you don’t know the first thing about it. In that case, you’ll need to be creative. If you’re working at a large company, odds are you have access to someone who knows considerably more about the subject than you do. So seek within your environment. Ask for a 15-minute interview with that person and take good notes (Trust me, it’s faster and more interesting then sending them an email!).  If you don’t work for a large company, look within your network. There may be a customer, a partner, a vendor, or even a friend who knows more on the subject that you can interview or learn from.

3. Read other blogs.

All good writing starts with reading. So if it’s coming up with ideas that take you the longest time, take a look at what your peers are writing. By doing so, you’ll learn what’s appealing to the general audience (just look at how many social media shares the posts are getting). Like a good brainstorming session, reading other people’s work will lend itself to new ideas and subject matter to build on. Take a few minutes a day to see what’s out there and jot down a few notes of things you want to write about when you have time. That way you’ll always have a starting point when it’s time to produce. We’ve also got a list of how our content marketing team gets some of their ideas here.

4. Don’t over-think it.

Sit down, put pencil to paper or your fingers to the keyboard and write. Just let the ideas flow without putting too much pressure on the final outcome. Try to block out other distractions and allow yourself to get “in the zone.” Once you have a good chunk of content you can worry about trimming the hedges later. In fact, it’s always a good idea to step away from what you’ve written and come back to it later with fresh eyes for editing or have a second person edit for you.

5. Hold yourself accountable.

This is the hardest part for most people. When you have a business to run, there are many other important things to do before blogging. Well, first be aware of why blogging is important (Here’s a handy infographic by Social Media Today.). Second, create a deadline and share that deadline with another person. It can be a colleague or a coworker who will be editing the blog for you or uploading it to the website. (Let’s face it — If you’re the only person who knows about it, then that deadline doesn’t really exist!).

Do you have your own tips for faster/more efficient blogging? We’d love to hear them.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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3 Simple & Effective Email Marketing Tips for the New Year

Tue, 01/14/2014 - 06:00

We’re a few weeks into a fresh new year and with that comes resolutions to do things better, more efficiently or maybe even keep up the good work you’ve been doing. To give you some inspiration, we’ve got 3 simple and effective tips to make your email marketing work better today and all through the year.

1. Win ‘Em Back

After the ball has dropped and folks get back into their post holiday routines, it’s a great time to send out a win back campaign. A win back is typically used to get folks who purchased or considered purchasing from you in the past, but haven’t in a while to come back and give your product or service another try. But, you need to be thoughtful about how you go after them. Many people may have post holiday shopping burnout or have resolved not to shop or buy for a while in the New Year. It’s up to you to anticipate the kinds of needs they have and appeal to them. For instance many folks resolve to get more organized, lose weight or be more efficient. How can your products or services serve those needs?

Or, if you’re in sales, you can reach out to folks who may have considered using your service in the past, but perhaps chose a different provider. See if their needs are being met, and remind them of any changes, improvements or upgrades that have been made that may influence their decision.

Example of a sales win back campaign

2. Remind Them of Your Value

During the holiday season and just thereafter, many people go on an unsubscribe bender in which they unsubscribe from any email lists they think aren’t providing value. This often happens because people get inundated with so much email during the holidays. In fact, according to Listrak, “Online retailers sent an average of 210 promotional emails during the holiday season, up from 177 sent in 2011, resulting in a 19% increase in email volume.” That’s a lot of email and that’s just a portion of emails that someone receives.

So what can you do to stay in your subscriber’s good graces? Remind them of the value your emails provide. What’s in it for them? Do you offer exclusive content, deals or promotions? Do you send specific content based on their preferences? Remind your subscribers why they signed up in the first place and all the good value you provide.

3. Polish up Your Lists  

To enable to best possible delivery rates and engagement, it’s a good best practice to keep your email lists clean and tidy. We recommend creating some subsets of your list (called segments) so you can create more targeted content based on your subscribers preferences or engagement. For instance, you can create a list of your most engaged subscribers by looking at everyone who opened or clicked your last 4 emails. These folks could make up a segment you call “Engaged.” You can also segment your list based on people who have made a purchase and those who haven’t to better target offers and promotions.

By using these 3 simple tips, your email marketing will be off to a shining start in the New Year and beyond. Have any email marketing tips of your own? We’d love to hear them in the comments.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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5 Easy (and Affordable) Ways to Show Customer Appreciation

Mon, 01/13/2014 - 06:00

Showing customer appreciation is more important than ever, as customers have more ways to browse and shop than ever before. In-store, online, review sites, and friend recommendations all factor into a customer’s buying decision. Customers also have more options to choose from when it comes to purchasing – whether it’s supporting a local business, shopping for the best price, or shopping online for convenience. How do you stand out from the crowd? Show customers you really appreciate their business!

Here are 5 inexpensive tips to show your customers how much you appreciate them without breaking the bank:

1. Send a Handwritten Note 

It may sound old school, but sending a handwritten note is unique in today’s digital world. It can be a thank you note, a birthday card or a postcard informing customers of an upcoming sale. You could also pick an unusual holiday to promote. Did you know that January 27th is “Chocolate Cake Day”? February 20th is “Love Your Pet Day”? Pick one of these unusual holidays and write a note to your special customers. You’ll certainly be remembered.

2. Give Free Stuff

Everyone loves something for nothing. Provide an upgrade for free, a discount on a bill, and all just because, or send them a gift card  encouraging customers to come back to your shop. Other free giveaways could be things that promote your business at the same time. T-shirts, koozies or pens emblazoned with your logo are great and inexpensive giveaways to loyal customers.

3.  Knowledge is Power – Share it!

Communicating with customers and showing your expertise can get you noticed. Whether it’s through an email newsletter, a blog, via Facebook or Twitter, or in person, customers love to learn useful information about what they’re buying. You’re the expert on your product and service, so show it off a bit to provide useful information to educate your customers. Don’t just promote, but really add that extra bit of knowledge that makes customers feel like they’re getting a lot more than just what they purchased.

4.  Profile a Customer

If you have customers who are also running a business, why not include a profile of them in your newsletter or on your website or Facebook page? This not only helps you highlight the profiled customer, but it also shows your other customers how your product or service is helping another business succeed.

5.  Make Them Feel Like a VIP

Make your frequent, loyal customers feel even more special by giving them the VIP treatment. Try hosting an invitation only event. If you have a physical store, provide early VIP-only access to your latest product. Entertain customers with live music or provide complimentary drinks or other treats. If you’re online only, give them access to an exclusive online sale or surprise them with a gift card to a local coffee shop.

Try out some of these tips and start earning more customer loyalty. Looking for specific examples of what other companies have done? Check out our article: Inspiring Customer Appreciation Ideas.

What other ways have you tried to show customer appreciation? Leave a comment and let us know!

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What’s New Weekly – Egg and Garmin’s Vivofit [VIDEO]

Sat, 01/11/2014 - 06:00

We’re back with our first episode of “What’s New Weekly” for 2014. In this newest edition, we share the cool new cat companion called Egg and review a cutting-edge fitness tracker from Garmin called vívofit.

 

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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How to Handle a Crisis on Social Media

Fri, 01/10/2014 - 06:00

At some point, every small business may have to deal with a public relations crisis. Social media has the power to fan the flames of crisis or douse them on the spot, social media strategist Whitney Zatzkin says.

“No matter what the crisis, social media should play a role in your communication strategy,” she says. “When used correctly, social media can offer information to the public and give a positive voice to a company.”

Zatzkin acts as a consultant for small businesses in need of social media assistance, including in times of crisis. Through the years, she’s learned a few social media tactics to handle adversity. Here’s a look at a few universal crisis management tips that Zatzkin says can work for every small business.

Have a plan in place

Long before a disaster strikes, you need to have a plan in place, Zatzkin says. “Remember doing fire drills in school? A crisis communication plan is the same thing,” she says.  ”You need a plan in place to get out of a disaster area safely and you need to practice it.”

You can’t predict what kind of crisis will strike, but if your reputation or brand is damaged, you need to have a plan to handle the fallout and repair the damage, Zatzkin says.

Respond quickly

You can’t remain silent and hope a problem goes away, Zatzkin says. The best public relations move you can make during a PR crisis is to act quickly and responsibly. “The first 24 hours are crucial,” she says. “People expect an immediate response and the longer you wait to take a stance, the worse it looks for your company.”

Domino’s Pizza found that out the hard way. A few years ago, an employee posted a video on YouTube of a fellow coworker violating all kinds of health codes while making pizza. The “Dirty Domino’s” video had a million hits and was picked up by news outlets across the country. The CEO appeared in a video to apologize to customers, but not until 48 hours later, which some analysts said was too late.

Be honest and take responsibility when necessary

If your company is at fault, say so, Zatzkin says. “Everyone makes mistakes and that includes people running small businesses,” she says. “Your customers are capable of forgiveness, if you own up to your mistakes.”

DKNY was praised for its honesty when a photographer called the fashion company out on Facebook for using some of his photos without paying. DKNY took responsibility, explaining that an internal mockup was accidentally used in displays at its Bangkok store. The company made a donation to the YMCA in the photographer’s name.

Don’t argue or delete comments

During a crisis, people will get riled up. It’s inevitable. But if you handle negative comments poorly, you’ll do further damage to your already vulnerable brand, Zatzkin says.

Applebee’s was in the hot seat recently for arguing with customers and blocking people from its Facebook page. The digital scuffle all started when a pastor wrote, “I give God 10 percent, why should you get 18 percent?” on his receipt.  A waitress posted a picture of it on Facebook.

The company fired the waitress for posting a customer’s private information online and issued a statement on its Facebook page.

People were outraged. Instead of keeping calm, the company started arguing with customers, deleting comments and blocking users. A blogger chronicled the whole thing.

“Always stay calm. Don’t fuel the fire, just respond to comments appropriately,” Zatzkin says. In time, a crisis will blow over, Zatzkin says, but your company will be judged by its reactions.

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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The 30 Magic Marketing Words You Should Be Using

Thu, 01/09/2014 - 06:00

Savvy business owners, copywriters, and designers know how language influences emotions and persuades action. Certain words and phrases are time-tested to boost response and conversion rates almost across the board. Of course, different motivating words and phrases work better in different situations, and it’s up to you to figure out which work best for your business. It isn’t all that difficult to figure out, though: If your intuition doesn’t tell you, your customers will. Test the following 30 “magic marketing words” in your next email, social media or blog post, on a direct-mail postcard or website to see which yields the best response.

  1. You – Write as though you’re speaking to the customer and about the customer, not about yourself.
  2. Because – Give customers a reason why they need to take action.
  3. Free – “Because” we all like free things, right?
  4. Value – This implies customers are getting something versus losing something (i.e. money when you say “cost” or “price”).
  5. Guaranteed – Give customers a guarantee to minimize risk perception, so they feel they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
  6. Amazing – Customers will respond to something that is incredible.
  7. Easy – Make it simple for customers to take the next step in the purchasing process, and let them know how much easier life will be with your product or service.
  8. Discover – This implies there is something new and unknown to the customer, something that has supreme benefits and gives them an edge.
  9. Act now – Motivate an immediate response with a limited-time offer.
  10. Everything included/everything you need – This establishes that your product or service is all your customers will have to buy in order to achieve their goal.
  11. Never – Point out a “negative benefit,” such as “never worry again” or “never overpay again.”
  12. New – Your product or service is the cutting edge in your industry.
  13. Save – The most powerful word to showcase monetary savings, or even time savings.
  14. Proven – Remind customers that your product, service or business is tried-and-true.
  15. Safe and effective – “Proven” to minimize risk perception for health and monetary loss.
  16. Powerful – Let customers know that your business, product or service is robust.
  17. Real results/guaranteed results – Your customers want results, after all.
  18. Secret – Not everyone succeeds, and there are secrets to success. Let customers know you can reveal those secrets.
  19. The – This implies your solution is the “end-all-be-all.” Consider the difference: “3 Solutions for Marketing Success”/”The 3 Solutions for Marketing Success.”
  20. Instant –Instant access or downloads are more appealing than waiting.
  21. How to – Start off with a solution so customers read the rest of your copy.
  22. Elite –Your customers are among the best in the world. Invite newbies to join a highly desirable club.
  23. Premium – Premium helps denote high quality.
  24. Caused by – If your marketing literature builds a case for your product, transitional phrases such as “caused by,” “therefore,” and “thus” can help reinforce the logic of a purchase.
  25. More – Do you offer more than your competitors? Let your customers know, because they want the best deal, after all.
  26. Bargain – Because customers want a great deal, remember?
  27. No obligation – Create a win-win situation for your customers.
  28. 100% money-back guarantee – Again, no risk.
  29. Huge – A large discount or outstanding offer is difficult to resist.
  30. Wealth – If you’re selling products and services related to money, wealth is a desirable word for customers.

They key to success is to combine these words into phrases that trigger buying behavior. For example: “Get real results instantly – 100% money-back guarantee – act now!” Keep your copy short and sweet, play on emotional triggers with these words and phrases, and you’ll increase your conversion and response rates.

[Sources: Forbes60 Second MarketerVocus]

This post was contributed by Brian Morris, a writer for PsPrint Blog. PsPrint is an online printing company, providing an array of vibrant full-color products, including business cards, brochures, stickers, holiday cards and postcards, as well as time-saving services such as direct-mailing services.

© 2014 – 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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The 3 Best Viral Video Campaigns of 2013

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 06:00

Happy New Year! 2014 has begun, but before we dive into a new year, let’s take a look back at the best viral video campaigns of 2013. How can these videos help with your 2014 marketing efforts? Excellent question! The answer is simple. While you don’t have to create viral videos yourself, they’re still excellent pieces of content you can learn from and leverage for your own business. Riding the popularity wave (when and if appropriate) also proves you’re still tuned into the zeitgeist. So let’s take a look at the best viral videos from 2013 and what we can learn from them:

The Harlem Shake: 

In 2012, a song called “Harlem Shake” was released by music producer Baauer. In February of 2013, videos set to the song “Harlem Shake,” began emerging. Each video included “a masked individual dancing alone in a group before suddenly cutting to a wild dance party featuring the entire group,” (knowyourmeme.com). According to YouTube’s official trend report, in the second week of February 2013, over 4,000 “Harlem Shake” videos were uploaded to YouTube each day! The videos had a simple setup, yet each one was different and brief, appealing to modern Internet users’ attention spans. A multitude of people (Jimmy Fallon), groups (the Norwegian Army), companies (Google, Facebook), schools etc. joined in on the Harlem Shake video craze. They were performed anywhere from underwater to airplanes, and even space. The videos served as a quick and funny way to contribute to the virality, all while subtly promoting particular companies, sports teams (The Miami Heat have one) or products. We even did one at VerticalResponse, too.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches:

The award for most popular video of 2013 goes to: Dove Real Beauty Sketches. This video has over 61 million views to date on YouTube and even more on hosted sites around the web. According to audience measurement service Visible Measures, the Dove Real Beauty Sketch was the most watched Internet video of 2013. The brilliance of this simple campaign is that it has nothing to do with Dove’s products, but instead focuses on changing the way we see ourselves and by association the way we view Dove as a company. The campaign sets out to prove that we see ourselves differently than others see us, pointing out that we are in fact overly-critical of ourselves – a revelation that makes most of us feel better about our own appearance.

While the Dove Real Beauty video isn’t necessarily a video you can mimic for your product or company, its success proves a valuable lesson. Marketing your company isn’t always about focusing on your products or services directly. Instead, potential users and customers are more likely to look at and be enticed by campaigns that reference your industry and your culture. Consumers are constantly bombarded with ads to buy various products, hence an original video that doesn’t appear to be selling anything other than a concept or message, becomes riveting. Dove succeeds in showing that their company culture isn’t about making you beautiful, but rather, bringing beauty that’s already there to the forefront.

Prankverts:

In 2013, a relatively new style of viral video sprung onto the Internet: “Prankverts” or “Prankvertising.” These videos involve advertising your product by using hidden-cameras and pranking unsuspecting bystanders. It’s a modern version of the 1983 “Folgers Coffee Commercials,” but rather than mildly pranking restaurant goers by changing out their coffee, these Prankverts aimed to shock unwitting participants and entertain online ones. Prankverts appeal to a wide audience and can be used in almost any setting and for any product. Take a look at this one from Mundo LG titled, “Ultra Reality: LG Meteor Prank.”

One of the most popular examples comes from Pepsi MAX and their “Jeff Gordon Test Drive” video. In the video, professional stock car racing driver, Jeff Gordon (in disguise) takes an unsuspecting car salesman on the scariest ride of his life and records the ‘experience’ via a hidden camera inside a Pepsi Can. The video, which received over 40 million views, appeals to everyone who has ever wanted to test drive a sports car and just let ‘er rip. While this isn’t about getting us to purchase Pepsi, the company knows the success of the viral video will bring users to their online websites and pages.

My personal favorite Prakvert of the last year was the viral marketing video created for the October 2013 release of the film, Carrie. The video, titled “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” set up a prank in a coffee shop with several actors and lots of stunts to scare customers into thinking that something supernatural was occurring in the middle of their ordinary day. The video ends with the smallest amount of footage from the upcoming film, the title and the release date. Rather than simply trying to hook viewers with a standard film trailer, the marketers took Carrie out of the world of fiction and placed her in an actual coffee shop. Though we know it’s not real, the reactions of the customers are real.

The lesson to take away from these creative ads is the appeal and success of using the suspense, surprise or shock factor. Though we don’t necessarily condone you to prank or scare away potential customers, you can test the surprise factor in your email subject lines, blog posts and social marketing campaigns. The company/website Upworthy does an excellent job of hooking readers in with their suspenseful headlines, particularly on Facebook.

Learning from and leveraging viral videos is a fun and creative way to move the focus of your marketing from simply trying to sell products to building a brand image and exposing a fun company culture. In the end, the main goal of these viral marketing techniques should be to bring a brief bit of enjoyment to your audience.

Have any favorite viral videos of your own? Did you leverage any for your own business? Share with us!

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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More Accurate Updates to Google Webmaster Tools

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 16:48

Are you tired of being tripped up by the Google SEO dance? Us too. Nothing’s worse than watching your rankings drop and you’re left without the slightest clue as to why. Well, you’re in luck because Google Webmaster Tools just released a great new update that provides more detailed information about search queries. This information is happily accepted by eager SEO and web masters who have had their keyword data taken away from them in Google Analytics. Here’s the short, but valuable, list of changes/updates within Google Webmaster Tools.

What’s Changed:

More Detailed Impressions Data

Google used to round out data, then display it. For example, you might have had 14,587 impressions, but you’d see 14k. Google’s John Mueller said, “The search queries feature gives insights into the searches that have at least one page from your website shown in the search results. It collects these ‘impressions’ together with the times when users visited your site – the ‘clicks’ – and displays these for the last 90 days.”

Here’s a before and after shot from Google:

Before:

 

After:

Update Notifications:

We also noticed that Google is now showing some of their updates overlaid with traffic data. This makes is easier to if a drop in traffic is a result of an algorithm. Don’t forget that a few months ago, Google added the “Manual Actions” area, so you can tell if you’ve been hit by a penalty.

 

If you haven’t already, now is the time to get your Google Webmaster Tools account set up! Track all your data, keywords and stay on top of penalties, all in one place.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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How to Market Your Crowdfunded Product Launch

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 06:00

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have risen so much in popularity that even established businesses and entrepreneurs see them as legitimate ways to launch products, services or campaigns. Witness the recent launch of the Pebble smartwatch, a project that raised over $10 million by close to 70,000 people, providing not just funding for a new product, but a huge buzz-building PR boost and instant community of fans who have “invested” in the product.

With popularity comes competition, though: getting a crowdfunded product or service noticed on these sites is becoming more difficult and savvy marketing of your project is now essential. Pebble community manager Joseph Kristoffer shares some tips from their launch that can help you position your crowdfunding marketing campaign for success.

Be clear, concise and state the value of your product

“[Pebble founder] Eric [Migicovsky] was very good and very specific in concisely and very directly outlining very specific use cases for our project, the pain point we were solving and the benefits we were bringing to the table,” Kristoffer explains.

The best crowdfunded projects are those where the product solves a specific problem that a particular group has.“Pebble was very much the watch that we wanted to have ourselves, so it was easy for us to speak concisely, directly and honestly about the benefits and what we thought was going to be cool about our project,” he adds.

Make a crisp, short video

“It’s important to have a really great video that is brief and to the point,” Kristoffer says. In fact, he recommends the product or service be explained within the first 30 to 60 seconds of the video. Although it’s tempting to expand or get creative, it can be self-defeating. “I’ve seen a few crowdfunding videos that get a little too heavy on being funny or entertaining, and I sit there and realize it’s already been a minute and a half and I don’t even know what the project is for yet,” he says. Attention spans are at a premium on Kickstarter and others, so getting to the point quickly is crucial.

The rewards being offered to backers should be clear and concise as well, so people know exactly what they’re getting if they support the project at different funding levels.

Build buzz ahead of time

Crowdfunding shouldn’t be used to validate a business idea, Kristoffer says. It’s best to have a soft launch, first. Create a beta list of people who have shown interest in the project, so that when launch day comes, you can contact people who have made soft commitments to see if they’d be interested in supporting the project.

Drum up good press

Pebble’s Kickstarter launch received massive media exposure, and that wasn’t a coincidence. “What we did before launching was reach out to press outlets we read ourselves that we thought were a good fit, and we also reached out to writers at those outlets who’d been writing about things similar to our projects,” Kristoffer said.

“It’s important to reach out to press in a way that shows you’ve read what they’ve been writing about and that you can concisely—in an email that fits into someone’s preview window—show that you’ve read some of the things they’ve written before, how your project connects with some of what they’ve been writing about, why your own project is cool and why it should be written about,” Krisotffer says. Again, being concise is key. “Every single thing you say in that message to press should be free of fluff. Just get to the point, [explaining] how it fits in with the person you’re pitching and what they’ve been writing about and what it is you bring to the table,” he says.

Another key aspect of media relations is keeping track of any coverage you do get. This could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet of headlines, dates, authors and contact information. Although Pebble didn’t have a full-scale PR team, they were cognizant of being organized in relationship management and being able to pull a contact from a list when necessary.

Pick a platform—or make your own

Kickstarter and Indiegogo aren’t the only game in town. A dizzying array of crowdfunding options is available, and each platform has its own unique benefits.

How to choose? “Look at projects that you would’ve supported yourself that are similar, and try to get in similar platforms,” Kristoffer recommends. Crowdtilt is a good option for nonprofit organizations, or anyone who wants to pool together even small amounts of money for a project or event.

“There’s also some really great platforms now that are roll-your-own platforms,” Kristoffer explains. And if none of them fit the bill, there’s the do-it-yourself approach as well. “Look at Lockitron. They were actually rejected from Kickstarter, so instead of throwing in the towel they built their own self-hosted roll-your-own crowdfunding campaign tool called Selfstarter.” The platform is online and open source though it does require some coding to process payments. Lockitron has raised $2,278,891 through the platform.

Let your passion shine

Beyond the strategies and tips that have worked for Pebble and other successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns, Kristoffer thinks having a passion for the project is crucial. “In the successful projects I’ve seen, the project leaders have done something that they wanted for themselves; either they solved a problem for themselves, or [worked on something that] was important for them. “

If you’re just looking for money but aren’t invested in the project yourself on a deep level, core level, close to your own heart, you’re going to have a much harder time,” he adds.

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post How to Market Your Crowdfunded Product Launch appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

5 Tips to Get Your Video Marketing Efforts off the Ground in 2014

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 06:00

We’ve been hearing about the benefits of integrating video into your marketing mix for a while now. However, unfortunately only a small percentage of companies, especially small businesses, are taking advantage of this powerful marketing tool. Most people psych themselves out on the difficulties of creating video content. But it’s easier than it appears.

With the 5 tips below you can focus on the important factors that will get your video production headed in the right direction this year.

1. Provide Valuable Content

Valuable content can come in many shapes and sizes. Some companies focus on their products or services in a very theatrical way. One of the best examples of this type of approach comes from Apple with the introduction of the iPad Air.

Other companies bring humor to the mix while still showing off the benefits of their product. One of my favorite examples of this tactic comes from the good folks at Blendtec.

Another content approach is to focus on factors that could benefit your clients. At VerticalResponse, we’ve done this with our Facebook Friday video series that shares the ins and outs of the world’s largest social network. The content doesn’t deal directly with our product, but it provides value to the customers that use our products.

2. Be Consistent

This is where most people stumble. You have the best intentions to produce engaging video content, but after a couple of weeks those intentions may make their way to the back burner and never leave. I’ve been down this road before with different video projects I’ve developed over the years. I’ll do 6 or 7 videos, then other duties distract me and all that effort is wasted.

Consistency is key to any marketing effort, but especially when it comes to video. Not only are you up against other video content but you’re also competing with all the other material that makes up the Internet. One of the most important ways to rise above the content noise is to stay consistent. At VerticalResponse, we’ve learned that with our blog, and our video efforts are no different.

We’ve been producing our What’s New Weekly video series since May of 2013. Has it been challenging to keep it going? Of course it has, but 8 months later we’re seeing the fruits of our labor. Our video views are up, we’ve increased the subscribers of our YouTube channel and the comments for our individual videos are on the rise. The key is to keep going and you’ll see results over time. Make sure you read the complete guide to using YouTube for your business as well!

3. Sound

Even though people are watching your video, the most important aspect is what they hear. A lot of people spend so much time and effort with the visual side of the video, they forget people are listening too. Bad sound in your video is the quickest way to get people to click away. Spend a little money on a decent microphone and make sure your video can be clearly heard, as well as seen.

4. Don’t Get Caught up in Perfection

Paralysis by analysis comes to mind with this tip. Sometimes we get so caught up in analyzing our product, we never get it out the door for people to consume. We’re not advocating you put out poor quality content, or that you don’t fix glaring mistakes, but we are saying you don’t need to be Steven Spielberg when it comes to producing videos.

Almost all of our videos are done in one take. There are some flubs or hiccups in the final product, but that’s what makes it real – Humans being human. It’s makes us more relatable and connects us with our audience because we’re not over-produced robots. It also proves that creating a video doesn’t have to be a major time investment.

5. Have Fun

This tip is left for last because it’s the most important. You have to enjoy what you’re doing in anything, and producing video content isn’t any different. If you’re not having fun, it’s easy for people to pick up on it and can have a negative impact on your final product. If you’ve ever watched any of our What’s New Weekly or Facebook Friday videos, you can see we really enjoy what we’re doing and that allows our audience to enjoy it, too.

So there you have it… 5 tips that can get your video marketing efforts headed in the right direction in 2014. Have any tips to add to our list? Leave a comment and share.

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