Your Marketing and Design Reading for The Weekend

I hate to admit it but I am glad I had to write this blog post today. It's been a crazy week and the last thing I wanted to do was dive head-first into a pile of articles. But then I would feel guilty and wonder if I missed something valuable that could make waking up on Monday morning even more fun and interesting. So here we go.

7 Essential Stages of Building a Total Online PresenceWoman Reading Marketing Articles on iPad

This is another straightforward set of tips on building an online presence but I like the way it reinforces that marketing is a system and you must assemble and integrate each of the important parts into something that looks like the whole.

Another good point is that "Your online presence is your key to success no matter what your business sells--no matter if all your transactions are done face-to-face--no matter if you don't yet see a way to get a return from your Facebook page--no matter if you've never bought an online ad." Not all the finance people buy into this but we can hope!

The seven stages of a Total Online Presence are: content platform, organic SEO, email marketing, social media marketing, online advertising, mobile and location, and analytics and conversion.

As you would construct a building, you have to go floor-by-floor in a specific order or in stages. But where you are today determines where you start and you have to go back and revisit, as well as evolve over time. As the conclusion states, "Even something as overwhelming and complex as the changing face of marketing online gets just a bit more manageable when you start to view it as a system."

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Best Practices for Engaging Messaging

If you need to improve your social media marketing as part of your Total Online Presence, specifically with Facebook, this is a helpful place to start. You'll have to sign up to get the paper but it is concise and offers examples from real businesses. Overall, it suggests there are certain messaging strategies that consistently prove to increase engagement regardless of the type of content you post.

1. Tap into fan passions. focus on the unique personality of your fans to determine what type of messaging or content they'll respond to with the greatest enthusiasm.

2. Ask simple, closed questions. While open-ended questions require fans to consider and write out their answers, "yes" or "no" questions or simple requests for Likes make it very easy to respond so they get much higher engagement levels.

3. Tell fans what you want from them. Make it clear what you want them to do even if it is only to click Like. In Wildfire's own experience, this simple instruction meant double the number of"Likes" as a post without it.

4. Treat your fans like they're VIPs. Share exclusive information or content you won't be sharing anywhere else. Typically, coupons, giveaways and sweepstakes get the highest response rates.

5. Invite one-on-one interactions. Address fans by name and respond to comments one-on-one. Wildfire suggests inviting personal conversation with your fans by soliciting their opinions (Okay, but that goes against the advise to ask closed questions!).

6. Humanize your brand. When you adding depth to your personality or provide insight into your business's character, it tends to go over well with fans.

Not everything here would work for Affinity Express but I do think tapping into fan passions and humanizing the brand are worthwhile objectives for messaging.

28 Creative Pinboard Ideas from Real Brands on Pinterest

I was really trying to have a post without including content from Hubspot (despite reading several items published by this company). Unfortunately, because I've been struggling with the right kind of content for this vehicle, they had me at "Creative Pinboard."

Since Affinity Express is not a B2C or product company, one idea that appealed to me was a 6) product/services board where we could show a visual example of each type of design we do (e.g., videos, websites, rich media ads, etc.). We could also develop a 13) content/resources board, building on these weekly posts.

The suggestion to create a 15) visual industry data/statistic board sounds like a two-for-one deal when I'm delving in and trying to research and size target markets right now--I get good info and share it in a new way! I'd lump this together with the 16) industry infographics/diagrams/flowcharts board.

Something I just talked about with Ken is our social responsibility and how we have stepped up efforts significantly in the past three years, so the timing is right for a 2) philanthropy board.

Because we shot videos at our Pune and Manila facilities recently, I think we can come up with a 7)  behind the scenes board and a 4) video board. Thanks to the number of reward and recognition ceremonies, employee engagement events like basketball and soccer tournaments, and outings to local attractions we conduct, we can create a fun 9) employee board that shows more of our personality.

Global Mobile Yellow Pages Market to Reach US$28.8 Billion by 2018

Speaking of industry data and statistics, I came across this article earlier today. The current generation may have no idea what printed yellow pages are but Global Industry Analysts predicts the market for Mobile Yellow Pages is projected to reach US$28.8 billion by 2018. This is due to the growing usage of mobile phones, particularly smartphones, for local business searches. In fact, local searches through mobile devices are expected to surpass desktop PCs in the near future.

Directory publishers have been focusing on reinventing themselves to diversify and are renaming themselves "marketing services providers." They are trying to offer a wide array of innovative solutions souch as video, search engine optimization/marketing, social mobile and reputation management, among others. Yellow pages publishers are also making intensive efforts to develop and launch apps for various mobile platforms.

This is interesting to marketers who may be looking for alternatives to increase their visibility in local markets. It's also compelling for Affinity Express, because we provide the production services needed for companies to offer video, social, mobile and other marketing to advertisers. Most of all, it is pretty amazing that that giant book we all used to boost up kids who were too small to reach the dinner table is still alive and kicking in a new format.

5 Marketing Tips That We Could Learn from Celebrities

Great title, Marketo. I was drawn in.

1) Love what you do. I was speaking to an outside contact this week to get a proposal for some consulting and it was incredible how enthusiastic I got describing both our accomplishments and challenges. I had a similar experience when talking with a potential client--every new question posed gave me an opportunity to think about how far Affinity Express has come and how proud I am of where we are today. We all don't necessarily get a chance to reflect on this constantly, but I think we should all stoke the fire and remember why we work so hard at what we do--whether we're in marketing, IT, finance or any other function.

2) Build your tribe. Word-of-mouth is what we all work toward. The ability to use client comments, notes and case studies is why I'm pushing so hard right now to build solid lists of contacts that I can tap regularly for the website, blog posts, employee communications and more.

3) Communicate in the language of your audience. I have said it before and will probably put it on my tombstone (if I have anything to say about that): use easy-to-understand language. The purpose of words is to communicate not to isolate. If there's any doubt, simplify. On the flip side, you can use jargon to bond with others in specific industries but you have to know what and who you are talking about.

4) Listen to your audience. How perfect to read this advice when we are planning client satisfaction surveys and measurement tactics for 2012. We also factor in what we hear during meetings with prospects and at industry events. These gatherings are great opportunities to test your new messaging too. Your messaging can't be developed in a vacuum.

5) No two snowflakes are alike. Marketo suggests we ask the question, "Does your messaging and brand point out what sets you apart from your competition?" This topic just came up when a competitor decided to create a video similar to one we did several years ago. Ken asked my opinion and after we agreed they probably dusted off our script and just changed a few paragraphs. But I went on to point out that I don't like their messaging. They use a word that feels cumbersome and is not instantly understandable (see number 3).

Hmm, perhaps I should get some big sunglasses and a bodyguard if we are following in the footsteps of Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Jobs and others!

10 Marketing Jingles That Make Your Ears Bleed

I just had to include this one because I am constantly getting jingles I hear on the morning news stuck in my head and don't even get me started about that Xfinity Voice commercial that ran incessantly for months so that I would recite it along with the TV ("Bozo the boss will never know the difference"--AAAAGGGHH!).

Unfortunately, it is this irritating stickiness that makes marketers keep producing these jingles because we remember them. I have to agree with Hubspot about Dixie Ultra, Hefty Hefty Hefty, Arby's Good Mood Food, and the FreeCreditReport.com Band. I would add "Call 1-800 Steamer. Stanley Steamer makes your home cleaner" (I would hope so; isn't that the point?).  "773-202-LUNA" is up their with the ones that make my shoulders tense up. And as much as I love cats, Meow Mix is particularly annoying because you don't even have to learn the words!

Sorry to have done that to you on a Friday but I've been these ditties have been bouncing around in my brain since I read the post a week ago. Hope it doesn't ruin your weekend and you got something out of this week's collection. Feel free to offer your favorite sources, feedback or any other comments (I'll take both  "yes" or "no" answers or one-to-one interactions!).


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