Chips Ahoy, or homemade chocolate chip cookies?

I’m hoping you chose homemade. Unless, like myself, you’re an awful baker. Then I understand.

When it comes to quality, it’s hard to justify the assortment of dusty, crumbly discs that lay within the Chips Ahoy carton. On the other hand — when made properly — homemade cookies have the potential to bring you as close to a religious experience as a 12-gram pastry possibly can.

We’re here to explain some ways to help your digital marketing strategy be a little more homemade and a little less factory-formed. Here’s our breakdown of the best ways to avoid cookie-cutter digital marketing.

Know Your Brand, And Wield It

You can’t sell a product if you don’t know what it is.

The trick is, you have to know what you’re selling. Whether you’re running a high-staff company or selling homemade crafts on Etsy, you likely have a good understanding of what it is you’re selling to your customer. You probably know your product inside and out.

But in digital marketing, you aren’t just selling your product. You have to sell your business first. In all likelihood, a larger portion of the effort behind your digital marketing strategy is going to be placed on selling your business rather than your product.

Here’s why: out of all the tactics used in digital marketing — paid advertising, search engine optimization, social media, email campaigns — only a couple of them are going to have the primary job of selling your actual product to the end-customer, with the most obvious example being your website. Once a visitor stops by your website, it is then the website’s job to make the sale. But it’s the job of all those other tactics to get visitors to your site in the first place.

This is why we say you must know your brand, and wield it. Your brand is your business’ biggest unique selling proposition; it’s what sets your advertising apart from everyone else’s advertising. Your brand needs to be conveyed, integrated, and optimized across your digital marketing tactics.

It’s because of this that businesses need rock-solid brand foundations. You need to know what you stand for, why you stand for it, and how your business enacts those tenets on a daily basis. Your brand identity isn’t just for internal morale and wishful thinking. If done right, a smart and thorough brand manifests across your marketing materials — both print and digital — to create stronger marketing campaigns and more customers.

If your brand is cookie-cutter, your marketing will be too. And it is going to affect sales.

Flank Your Competition With Content

For some hyper-specific businesses, getting a foothold in the market is fairly straightforward. When you don’t have a ton of competition, simple press releases and commonplace marketing tactics might get the job sufficiently done.

It’s a lot tougher for those trying to break into more popular market niches. Businessmen and women who want to find footing in fields like health and lifestyle, self-improvement, beauty supplies, or e-commerce (just to name a few) are going to struggle — god forbid you are trying to start an app. The first few pages of Google are a cross-industry bottleneck, and there are millions of professionals trying to force their way in.

To fight back, businesses need an alternate route to attention. One of the most effective methods is through content. Whether it’s articles, videos, infographics, or presentations, content can be the supplementary digital marketing tactic you need to push your name out in front of your competition.

The key to content is to make it trustworthy and valuable to either your target customers or your industry peers. Often times, your content doesn’t even have to directly relate to what you’re trying to advertise. As long as you can present useful, honest information with authority, the content is valuable.

More than anything, content provides a way for the end-user to differentiate your business from the competition through the assertion of your humanity. Content is your opportunity to showcase some creativity and personality outside of promotional channels. You can write an article in your own voice, not the voice of your business.

With good content, an end-user can find themselves identifying with you as a person in a way that rarely happens with a brand. This is how you outflank your competition. Put your individuality on display through your content, and the customers will recognize it.

Own Your Limitations

Apart from a vague brand identity, one of the most commons errors found in digital marketing is inefficient resource allocation. AKA, people spend too much and waste too much time.

If you’re a small business owner seeking growth, the internet is an amazing platform for you to find it. Unfortunately, businessmen and women who are not digital marketing savvy attempt to combat their own inexperience by simply throwing as much time or money at their digital marketing campaigns and hoping it sticks. That doesn’t work.

When that happens, we end up with a digital advertising space flooded with unoriginal, generic advertising methods that not only overcrowd the market space but turn away customers for everybody. People shopping online are smarter and fewer patient shoppers than anywhere else. They won’t tolerate lazy marketing, and when they’re hit with yet another “6 Ways To Improve Your Kitchen” article, they flat out leave the marketplace altogether.

So, what route is there to take for businesses who can’t afford to learn the ins and outs of digital marketing? Simple: cut your budget.

Don’t allocate more money for digital marketing; work with less, and you’ll be forced to use the money wisely. Cookie-cutter digital marketing is barely effective on a large scale, so a reduced budget is going to be aggressively unhelpful to your business.

With a smaller budget, you can allocate funds to the aspect of digital marketing that will improve your business the most in the short-term. Break down what your business needs are today, and begin to build out a focused digital marketing strategy that will have an impact tomorrow.

Does your website look like it was made in 2009? GIve it a revamp. Are your social media accounts active and effective? Start reaching out. Are you trying to grow your brand’s recognition and become a thought-leader in your industry? Start creating valuable SEO blog posts for traction.

All of these tactics are valuable to a business, but simply dumping finances into them and moving on isn’t going to net you nearly as much return as a focused, deliberate, and engaged effort on a singular improvement.

Target As Specifically As Possible

You know how businesses are always told to “find their niche”? In digital marketing, you need to find your niche’s niche.

Digital marketing becomes cookie-cutter when it’s crafted and executed to appease the lowest common denominator. It’s sole, shallow focus is engagement at all costs, and in the long run, it costs your business time and money. It ends up being the vanilla ice cream of advertising — and not even Ben & Jerry’s. We’re talking store brand.

If you want scalable results, don’t market with vanilla ice cream. Localize your campaign strategies and target the audience you know will give you the most conversions.

Consider the same tactic in the direct marketing sphere. Not every business needs a billboard. If your audience is smaller, harder to reach, or only active in certain locations and destinations online, there’s no reason for you to advertise anywhere else.

Too many people advertise on a generalized, wide-breadth scale because they don’t know any better. In reality, the places you make the most out of your digital marketing aren’t going to be the largest, but the most concentrated.
Conclusion

All the tactics we’ve listed here aren’t just applicable to your digital marketing strategy. When implemented, they manifest across your business practices, from production and sales to employee interactions and culture.

Good digital marketing is the fruition of brand utilization, localized strategies, and confident execution. Know who you are, demonstrate why that’s valuable, and own the lane you carve for yourself.

Don’t allow your online presence to become just another cheaply made, mass-produced box of cookies in the aisle of online advertising. Make it custom to your needs and abilities; that’s hope you get something with homemade quality.

Mix Up Your Strategy

Looking for more help? Contact us today — we can start talking about what digital marketing approach is best for your business.

Dear fans of the NBC’s drama ‘This Is Us’: this article contains the lightest touch of spoilers that we could sprinkle in.

We will be discussing (as vaguely as we can) events that occur near the end of Season 2, and how a real-world company has handled some surprising fan reactions. These events relate to an ongoing plot that has been at play for most of the show’s run. We won’t say which plot, or which characters, but we will have to say a little about the company at the center of it all.

So if you aren’t caught up and have a zero-tolerance policy for information about how the Pearsons are doing, just go watch the show.

Seriously.

Go watch it.

DISCUSSION BEGINS HERE

When this week’s episode ended, fans were hot with emotion. In typical ‘This Is Us’ fashion, the episode’s cliffhanger left many fans flustered, sad, angry, and confused about what to do next. For many fans, they took it out on the scapegoat in their kitchen: the Crock-Pot.

The brand saw itself on the receiving end of social media’s fury last week for the small part their slow-cooker product played in the episode. Fans seeking some form of catharsis unleashed their emotions onto their own slow cookers, as the trending tab of Twitter turned into an abusive slideshow of Crock-Pot insults.

Not used to being the center of anything besides a potluck, Crock-Pot quickly took to social media to try and defend their brand. A new Twitter account was created, and the company’s social media team began making amends.

‘This Is Us’ writer Dan Fogelman took to Twitter to defend the company as well.

Their Facebook also has a lengthy response for fans of the show (WARNING: that post contains spoilers). We won’t post it here, but check it out if you’re feeling distraught.

The situation brings up an interesting conundrum. How do businesses react to uncontrollable brand damage? There was no way of Crock-Pot knowing how bad the backlash would be, and no real way for NBC to expect — and subsequently warn Crock-Pot of — that kind of a response. So what is the right approach?

Be Prepared For Anything

The most important distinction to be made in Crock-Pot’s reaction is that it is aggressively reactionary. The company created a new Twitter account to interact with fans tweeting how angry they are with the device, but the Crock-Pot brand didn’t have a Twitter account before this incident. You may not think a company like Crock-Pot needs a Twitter, but for modern companies, it is nothing less than a liability to not be in touch with your audience.

If we had asked at the beginning of the week what your opinion of the “Crock-Pot” brand was, what would you say?

For most people, the only words that would come to mind would be some variation of “good,” “useful,” and “reliable.” Now here comes a primetime, Emmy-award winning show to indirectly tarnish the company’s reputation — the primary thing still getting people to buy Crock-Pots.

Seriously, what other product out there has a more stable brand identity? Elmer’s glue? Morton’s salt?

While this situation obviously can’t be anticipated, it’s important for businesses to at least have the tools and internal architecture needed to respond to something like this.

This case is a testament that every company, no matter the product, market, or brand strength, should have a dedicated social media, PR, and digital marketing team on standby.  You never know when you’ll be blindsided by the wrath of Twitter.

Pick The Right Angle

On top of having the right kind of hose to put out the PR fire, companies need to be savvy about how they put out the fire. The Crock-Pot strategy? Direct responses.

As noted above, Crock-Pot decided the best course of action was to reply directly to people who were showing unwarranted frustration with their product. They created a new account, pinned a post on Facebook, and have been effectively shouting from the rooftops that their product does not deserve the hate it is receiving.

This strategy may, in fact, be the right one for Crock-Pot; most people associate the brand’s with warm, home-cooked meals and a sense of familial togetherness. So it’s on-brand to respond with sincerity, compassion, and personalized assurances. Crock-Pot may not be the kind of brand that wants to utilize this buzz to their advantage with a spin tactic. They’ve stayed fairly vanilla in how they’ve handled things, and maybe that’s a good thing.

This isn’t the only way to go about it though. Social media has proven that any brand can have a unique voice and use it to their advantage, regardless of the situation. Take the notorious Moon Pie Twitter account. The company sells packaged pastry snacks, but their Twitter account has expanded their audience by having a fun personality.

Furthermore, Crock-Pot is in desperate need of new business guidance. Reports coming out just before the episode showed the parent company, Newell, had already seen stock prices drop 49% since their record mark last June. Since the episode aired, the Crock-Pot product’s stock prices have also plummetted, dropping 24%. While the attention from the episode has been negative, the one benefit has been the Crock-Pot brand is now in the forefront of pop culture for a brief period of time. For a company in desperate need of some magic, it doesn’t appear as though they are utilizing their moment in the spotlight as the opportunity it is.

Lessons From Dr. K

Are there other social media/marketing strategies which could have been implemented to turn this into a win for Crock-Pot and Newell? Could this have been spun to their advantage? Possibly, but it’s difficult to expect anything better from the company when they didn’t prepare themselves beforehand.

Pop culture blows such as this are often short-lived. People, businesses, brands, they’ve all come back from worse blows — blows that they themselves might have caused — and turned out fine on the other side. But it’s still disappointing to see such an opportunity being handled in the most bare-bones fashion.

For all the negativity this episode brought, what was provided was attention, something that is as critical to harness as it is difficult to obtain. When businesses get a shot like this, it’s in their best interest to do more than damage control.

Crock-Pot, so far, has been doing an OK job, all things considered. And for a company that didn’t have a Twitter account before this week, that could be considered a win. But how many executives are ever satisfied with an OK job?

There’s always a way out for a company’s PR nightmares. But if you aren’t prepared, you limit your options.

In the words of Dr. K:

“Find a way to take the sourest lemons that life has to offer, and turn it into something resembling lemonade.”

Looking For Marketing Solutions?

Contact us today to see how we can help.

First of all, what is etiquette? For the uninformed, ‘etiquette’ is not a word that means you have eaten a ‘quette,’ whatever that may be. The word is derived a bit from German but mostly from the French language, and, as many of our American English words, adapted for our use.

Some would say that proper etiquette is the same as good manners. They would be partly correct. Definitions vary, but etiquette has to do with knowing what acceptable conventions of behavior and practice should apply in particular circumstances. Good manners are general guidelines put into practice.

For instance, giving your wife or husband, child or parent a warm hug upon greeting them at a restaurant would almost always be both good manners and good etiquette. However, that same warm hug would not be good etiquette or good manners, were that warm hug given to someone not interested in meeting you at all.

“Business relationships come down to having proper etiquette,” said Edward DuCoin, CEO of Orpical Group, during an interview. “In order to have a really great rapport with someone you are working with, they need to not only feel comfortable, but also a level of mutual respect.”

In business, sometimes people fall prey to the erroneous mindset that merely functional roles are good enough. After all, the salesman works for the vice-president, doesn’t he? The receptionist is paid for her time, and that should be enough, right? Wrong!

Regardless what the functional relationships may be, employees, colleagues, prospects, customers, and competitors are still human beings. They have feelings, challenges, schedule pressures, hopes and fears, just like everyone else. Suppose you are the boss. Are your employees more likely to give extra effort to meet goals for the company when they feel as though you really care about them, or when they can’t wait to find a different job?

Of course, your employees will be more productive, efficient, and more highly motivated when they are confident that the boss actually cares about them.

How does business etiquette relate to sales? Ask any seasoned and successful sales professional, and s/he will tell you: you’ve got to not only know your product or service. You must know your prospects, in terms of what they might want to buy at what price point. You must also know why your prospects might want to buy. How can you know those what’s and those whys?

Some practical pointers for good etiquette:

  • Show more interest in the other person than your own goals whenever possible.
    • Before the meeting, whenever possible, learn about the interests and accomplishments of the other person.
    • Ask questions of the other person regarding their interests. Treat them as an expert, and don’t try to display a superior knowledge to theirs about anything.
    • If you are asked questions, answer them accurately and with humility.
  • Use good eye contact whenever possible. If talking on the phone, imagine you are looking at the other person, and speak accordingly.
  • Smile when you first greet the other person, and reveal your genuine pleasure in the experience of having a conversation with the other person. (If that sentiment isn’t genuine, think through and adjust your own attitude before arriving. You’ll be glad you did!)
  • Don’t use flattery, which is vague and generalized praise such as ‘you are so great.’ It might feel good to the recipient of the flattery, but it might also cause them to believe your goal is to manipulate their feelings for some unscrupulous motive.
  • When appropriate (and it will be in some way if you are paying attention) pay specific compliments for behavior, achievement, awards granted, or some other genuinely valid point of congratulation. The other person will feel genuinely appreciated, instead of feeling manipulated.
  • Call the name of the other person a few times during the discussion, and do so respectfully, in a way that expresses the dignity and value you ascribe to them. This will also help you to remember their name!
  • Respect the time of the other person. Whenever possible, arrive early. If the meeting is a phone conference, be as well prepared as possible, and then make the call a just a few minutes early.

What does this all mean? First of all, great sales professional, a great leader, and a great executive have this in common: they know how to ask appropriate, interesting, timely questions and really listen to what is being said, to what is not being said, to the tone of voice and what sort of emotional language is used, and more.

“Open communication is key,” said DuCoin. “The most rewarding relationships stem from being able to give constructive criticism, along with being able to share new ideas with someone you know will be honest with their critique, as well.”

Beyond that, great managers, executives, and sales professionals pay attention to body posture and body language whenever they are physically present with those with whom they wish to have good business relationships.

This might seem like a given; when you post something on social media, it goes across the world. However, there is more to the concept of sharing without borders. For instance, what exactly constitutes as a border?

A border doesn’t have to be what separates Mexico from being America. Borders can be physical, political, national, political, religious, cultural, economic, and can be defined in many ways and as other types. Borders can, and usually do consist of more than one category from those just named, and can include other categories, as well. A physical / political boundary may be the first kind of border commonly considered, but that’s not the limit to what it means.

What Is Social Media?

Social media is the medium by which people network, such as web sites and computer applications and mobile phone apps that allow people to share communications via messages, pictures, images, files, audio, and video, or some part or combination of these. Well known social media includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, and many more such communities that allow people to share ideas, thoughts, and conduct online conversations by posting messages and other items of interest.

What Are Some Kinds of Sharing Without Borders?

Some organizations are engaging volunteers, teaching children, raising funds by various means including bake sales, cupcake auctions, blogs, and more. Chefs are teaching children how to cook, and many bloggers and local groups around the country are reaching out to help children to have enough healthy food. No Kid Hungry is one force behind this movement.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was started in France in 1971, and has provided medical care in over 60 countries. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the group in 1999. Social media such as Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook is part of how MSF communicates the needs of people in desperate situations, and gains private support for their work. Concerns and needs such as the malnutrition intervention, obstetrics, surgeries, and much more.

Collegiate Research combines the expertise and experience of professors, and sometimes students, across different campuses and in different nations to advance the search for answers, solutions, and scholarship itself. Columbia University is an example of a school taking an active role in pursuing this kind of social media sharing.

Business and tax planning across international borders is another realm through which knowledge is shared through articles and comments. One law firm with offices in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania actively pursues international business opportunities and service using social media; in their case, a blog serves to communicate on many topics.

Recruiters looking for qualified employees are increasing their use of social media to identify and reach out to potential job candidates. LinkedIn is widely considered to be the largest social media platform for professionals in the workforce, and it’s not unusual for members to be presented with job opportunities, whether or not they have actually looked for a new job. LinkedIn also has a number of ‘groups’ to allow people who share common interests to conduct interesting discussions, find new ideas, market they or their business, and much more. Other social media sites have similar groups, too.

Summary:

Using the Internet as a communication’s tool, political borders are seldom a barrier to sharing ideas, doing business, making friends, or finding talent. In recent years, social media has truly made it much easier than ever before to accomplish sharing without borders.

Too many people fail to take advantage of the opportunities to maximize their employment. Worse yet, otherwise competent employees can be heard complaining about their job, their boss, the need to occasionally work past ‘quitting time,’ bad coffee in the break room, failing to be thankful to be gainfully employed at all, or just grousing in general.

You can be ‘absotively, posilutely thoromazingly’ (translation upon request) sure that successful salespeople do not do the ‘crybaby complainer dance.’ Successful salespeople do, in fact, do a dance. It’s an elegant, exciting, delightful, and enriching experience for both dance partners, when done well.

The successful salesperson has a dance with prospects and clients. Sometimes, the salesperson leads, while other times, the salesperson invites the prospect or the client to lead the dance. Sometimes it starts as a group dance, but as the music plays on, the dance is ultimately between two partners whom each have the freedom to decide whether to dance, or to dance again.

This dance probably won’t involve holding hands, leaping in rhythm, or pressing your cheeks together. It will involve some mental and emotional exercise, and there will be give and take between the partners. The dance will definitely involve paying close attention to the steps of your dance partner.

That’s enough about the dance for now.

Habits of a Successful Sales Professional:

  • Listen to the marketplace. Get an idea what people in you marketplace may want or need.
  • Identify suspects who are people that may have an interest in hearing about your product or service.
  • Determine what sort of marketing best suits your suspects, and how that marketing should be delivered.
  • Plan and set aside regular time to identify and add suspects to your pipeline of people to approach.
  • From the suspects, determine which have become qualified prospects. This would include decision-making authority, interest in the product or service, the urgency of need as viewed by the prospect, and opportunity to meet with you.
  • Those still classified as suspects (not prospects) should be marked to the ‘suspect recycle bin’ for follow up at some future time. Rank them as a) on a slow day, b) when logistically convenient, c) after obstacles to doing business have been crossed, or d) probably never.
  • Professional salespeople will, when speaking with a prospect, endeavor to:
    • Think along the lines of what the prospect wants and needs
    • Learn what obstacles, frustrations, processes, and time-lines the prospect has on his/her plate
    • Identify whether your prospect must consult with someone else before making a buying decision, and work to include that person either directly or by inference in the discussion
    • Refuse to gloss over real concerns or objections from the prospect
    • Identify whether the prospect is uncertain and ‘hedging,’ or is waiting for you to clearly invite him/her to buy
    • Never leave a conversation with a prospect without an agreed plan with the prospect for the next step
    • If / when the prospect is determined to not actually be a qualified prospect, be pleasant, and get out of the interview. This avoids wasting the time of the non-prospect, and your own time. The non-prospect may be a qualified prospect in the future, and will remember your professional courtesy when that time comes.

Professional Salespeople will also have the following habits:

  • Punctuality. Plan to arrive early. If someone is apologizing for being late, let it be the prospect.
  • Preparedness. Have a plan for the discussion. It’s much better to have a plan from which to depart, than to not have a clue where to start.
  • Well-rested. This might be more difficult at times, but a well-rested salesperson is more efficient.
  • Knowledgeable. Know your product or service inside and out, backwards and forwards. Be familiar with realistic delivery schedules, costs, possible results, and especially how your product or service is a good fit for the need(s) or your prospect.
  • Constructive Listener. Everyone – everyone wants someone to hear them, appreciate and understand their situation, and respect their roles and contributions. The salespeople who consistently walk away ’empty-handed’ from what might have been a sale have mostly likely not listened well to the prospect. Ask thoughtful questions, then listen. Taking notes can be a great idea. After your client has told you their thoughts, then summarize to them what you think you heard them say, and ask them to confirm. This will add to your knowledge, and to the confidence your prospect will have in you.
  • Build Value. Any intelligent businessperson knows they must make a profit, and will eventually admit that you must do so in order to continue in business. So make the price as irrelevant as possible by demonstrating that your product or service will enhance their ease of doing business, their profits, their employee morale, or any combination of these and other concerns.
  • Ask for the sale. Any experienced, professional sales person can tell you that there had been times when s/he didn’t expect to get the sale, but asked for the sale – then closed the deal!

Summary:

Professional salespeople are interested in their product or service, but are even more interested in how they may improve the lot of their prospects and clients. As the legendary Zig Ziglar often said:

“If you will help enough other people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.”

Effective, knowledgeable, timely, compassionate conversation will lead to the crafting of appropriate solutions, and the professional salesperson continues to develop the study of the prospect so as to offer the best available solutions to the prospect. The client and the salesperson both win.

What JCPenney’s Super Bowl Tweets Might Mean for Super Bowl Advertisements

by Lauren Wainwright

Even as a Seattle fan, it got a little boring watching the Broncos continually hand the ball over. After feeling pretty confident the Seahawks were bringing it home, I wound up perusing through Twitter.

It seemed like JCPenney was having as rough a first half of the game as the Broncos.

JCPenney  jcpenney  on Twitter

The company sent out two tweets that appeared to be written under the influence of a few too many super bowl cocktails. However, afterwards, they send out a tweet with a picture of their new mittens, apologizing for the typos. 

Was this a planned publicity stunt or a well-handled blunder?

JCPenney  jcpenney  on Twitter2

 

 

Judging by the prepared image that was sent out after the fact, I would have to guess that this was fully planned. However, the huge response couldn’t have been planned. Twitter users across the board were re-tweeting the messages, making jokes about the brand being too inebriated to have a Twitter account.

However, possibly even better handled was Snickers. Whoever is in charge of their Twitter account made a perfectly executed reply, shown in the image below.

snickers reply

Snickers wasn’t the only one who jumped on board and offered J.C. Penney help with their tweeting problem.

responses

The interesting part? None of the brands that were part of the Twitter conversation were advertisers in the Super Bowl.

With a 30 second commercial costing $4 million, it’s no surprise a lot of brands decided against the splurge in advertising this year, but it seems a lot of them have taken to social media. Rather than spending millions on short, highly competitive air space, there seemed to be more happening on social media.

It also felt like every commercial was trying to start its own hashtag.

hashtag

It makes me wonder what the future of Super Bowl advertisements will look like, and whether or not companies that do decide to spend the money on these advertisements are getting their money’s worth.

While on Twitter, I didn’t see any #StayRestless conversations, or #VW for the Volkswagen commercial, yet there were thousands of shares for the brands that stuck to the Twitterverse. While Jeep’s tweet with the hashtag they paid millions of dollars for with their commercial got 15 retweets and 23 favorites, the reply Snickers sent out about JCPenney’s tweet alone got 3,193 retweets and 1,489 favorites.

It will be interesting to see in the next few years whether the classic Super Bowl commercials will stay the course or if Twitter or Facebook stunts like J.C. Penney’s will take over the main stage.

Consider The Burma-Vita Company, a company Pre-Facebook, owned by Clinton Odell. Sales of their liniment were ‘sparse,’ so in 1925 the company introduced a product with wider appeal. The result was Burma-Shave, a new, ‘brush-less’ shaving cream.

American culture at that time included the assumption that most employees and most drivers were males, during a time that full face beards weren’t common in most parts. Many towns then and now have restrictions on the number and size of commercial signs on the roadside.

With almost no limited-access high speed highways, most people were thrilled to drive speeds once described as “a mile a minute.” So, we have men (who for the most part shaved daily) on well-traveled highways, moving at comparatively slow speeds over long distances, with little to do, but drive.

Did we mention there were no cell phones (the first real world cell phone call was in 1973), and CB (Citizen’s Band) radio, although an earlier technology was invented in 1940, didn’t become truly widespread outside of license-holder groups until 1975; prior to the late 1970s a license was required. “HAM” radio was expensive and required the passing of tests showing considerable technical acumen. Distractions or entertainment? No Sirius satellite radio. FM radio wasn’t invented yet. 8-track tapes, cassettes, Compact discs? Future, science fiction stuff in 1925.

I know.  I know. How did people survive! Today, anyone without an iPhone seems like  a caveman.

But modern reality in 1925, and for about 40 years was boredom on the road. The company had the new Burma-Shave product, and the son of the owner, Allan Odell, had an idea: pay attention to the cost-effective, result-generating possibilities of focused target marketing and advertisements that potential customers loved to see. In modern parlance, RTM (routes-to-market).

Burma-Shave Signs: Marketing Genius

Then came the Burma-Shave signs with their witty, funny, and effective ad slogans spaced out over some distance on the highway driven by men who looked forward to reading the next sign.

This was marketing genius. With a 1925 marketing budget of $250, sales increased dramatically. Imagine: advertisements that prospects loved to read.

Burma-Shave signs, starting in Minnesota, were in 45 States, including along Route 66; which was the name of a popular TV show aired from 1960 – 1964. It was ironically the same time that the new Interstate highways were being developed. Route 66 still carries an air of legend and was even featured in the 2006 Disney / Pixar movie, “Cars.” Burma-Shave ads were well loved part of the American way of life.

A Change of Culture

The demise of the Burma-Shave signs, and also the loss of the incredibly increased sales that came (and went) with the three-foot signs was caused mostly by the increased speeds allowed by the new Interstate Highways authorized by legislation passed June 29, 1956. The creation of the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” mostly bypassed the highways of the 1920s that involved slower driving speeds. The roads with Burma-shave signs were becoming less traveled.

Huge billboards replaced the three foot painted signs, along with the ability to actually see, and want to see, the Burma- shave roadside ad campaigns. The signs are mostly now in museums, and the once-wonderful sales revenues went out with a whimper. So did the company, which was sold in 1963. Online discussion groups have men relating that they were fortunate enough to have actually found Burma-Shave products sometime in the past several years. The Burma-Shave brush-less shaving cream was discontinued, with the company itself in 1966. 1997 saw the re-introduction of the Burma-Shave company, but no actual Burma-Shave brush-less shaving cream.

How could this have happened?

Yesterday’s Genius Can Be Tomorrow’s Old News

The genius of low cost, high return and great RTM principles and strategies used by Burma-Shave was a force that changed the practice and science of effective advertising. However, as Burma-Shave discovered, irrelevance will cost you. When the climate of your prospects change, as with the introduction of Interstate highways, failure to adjust to current realities will cost you time and money.

Burma-Shave failed to adapt their marketing strategies to current realities, and the result was a catastrophic loss of sales revenue leading to the sale of the business, and its ultimate shut-down.

The Times, They Are Always Changing

The list of social media platforms goes on and on.  The most appropriate social networking sites that will yield the most favorable audience for your business could be completely different days, months or years from right now. Remember Burma-Shave. Emulate their smart, out-of-the-box moves, but don’t make the mistake of failing to realize that the cultural environment is subject to change.

3rd Party Info: 6 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2014

Plain and simple, your social media strategy should resemble a gymnast.  Strong, agile, balanced, able to take direction—and of course, flexible.  With these qualities, your social media practices are poised to bring home the gold on a consistent basis.

Calculated risks are a bold, but crucial part of growing as a person and a business. They can be scary at first, as it can be human nature to overestimate the possibility of failure, but by evaluating the risk level for each opportunity that presents itself, you are more equipped to weigh the pros and cons of each situation.

A calculated risk is the key to good decision making, especially in a small business or organization that has big plans to grow. Overall, it is a chance of exposure to gain or loss for your business that might be undertaken after the advantages and disadvantages are carefully considered.

If you have been playing it safe with your business, it might be time to take a risk that will change how you look at decision making. Here are 7 ways to minimize the risk for your company:

1. Analyze Which Risks Make Sense for You

Risks are different levels of extremes for everyone, depending on their comfort level with change. For your business, you may want to become more efficient with your processes. For another, the concentration might be on growing their customer base. These two businesses would need completely different and specialized plans for what they wanted to achieve.

2. Set Your Goals and Brainstorm

By knowing your goal and working backwards to see how much time it will take to make the change, you prepare yourself for the process of the change. This step in the process also makes you aware of how many people will need to be involved and when.

3. Evaluate the Risk Level of Each Opportunity

When researching and preparing for the possibility of taking a risk, it is important to be unbiased to judge – such as an accountant, insurance agent, or marketing insight – to tell you when it will not be a good opportunity for the growth of the business. By getting an outsiders insight on your business, you get a more solid foundation of where your business is and where it could end up.

4. Create a Detailed Plan of Execution

With a calculated risk, you have to figure out what your goals are and fill in a roadmap of what will need to be done to make it happen. For example, coming up with a training program to roll out new procedures in your business works best when there is a set plan of exactly what each employee will learn and when.

By thoroughly researching the change you are planning to make, you know the consequences and benefits of what you are about to do. Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on new opportunities presents your business as a leader in the market, and a carefully calculated plan can open you up to a world of possibilities that you hadn’t even considered in the past.

5. Edit and Change the Process As You Go

If you get halfway through a process and realize it is not going as planned, don’t be afraid to change it! Every business is different, and plans sometimes need to be tweaked to best fit what will work for your specific goal.

6. Review the Results

Whatever the outcome of your plan, use the results to help you adjust future decisions. Maybe you needed more funding or more time to complete the goal – now you are more aware of what to expect in your next endeavor.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

Not all risks go as planned, but it is crucial that you learn from your mistakes. Here at Orpical, we want to teach you how to make positive, calculated risks that will increase your profitability, open up new opportunities, and start a new way of thinking. While there is always a chance of failing, we feel as though risks can be very beneficial to everyone involved when they are well thought out and executed properly. Risk is unavoidable, so controlling it with an informed decision is the best approach you can take for your business.

It seems the inevitable is upon us—the big bad scary mobile apocalypse!  Okay—so we’re already in the midst of the revolution.  Big whoop.  Why does it matter to your small business and your clients?

It matters to your small business and clients because for 2014, many experts are projecting that more users will access the web from their phone than from any other device.

Skeptical? Below is the various operating software list for the Orpical website November 18 through November 25 of 2013.

operating software chart

Based on the quick data pull shown above, we know that we’re not fully mobile dominant just yet.  However, over 1/3 of our traffic is accessing our content through their phones.  Luckily, we already have a mobile strategy in place, but what about a small business that has yet to tackle mobile?  What kind of negative impact results from a lack of a mobile presence?

Out of curiosity, we studied a small business that sells energy solutions for the same period during November 2013.  The variable being that the business has a website without a mobile presence.

average-user-timeThe results were as expected.  Their total percent of mobile traffic (19.42%) was less than Orpical, however, due to a lack of a mobile presence, we immediately saw the impact of not having a mobile presence: average site visit.

The intention, or goal of the energy solutions site is to deliver content to both prospective and existing clients to ultimately drive sales.  The problem is that close to 20% of the traffic abandons ship before they even set sail.  iOS users, for example, average less than a minute on the energy solutions website.  Did they really learn everything about the company and the energy solutions they sell?  Probably not.  Will they put up with the frustration to find the support page and reach out over the phone to learn more?  Maybe, maybe not.

People want information at their fingertips.  When there is an unknown factor, or obstacle preventing access to the information sought after, a sour taste is left in the user’s mouth.  And as result, they backtrack—to Google, Bing, LinkedIn or wherever they were referred from—to resume their search for the information you were unable to provide them.

Let’s think about it in dollars.  Say the energy solutions company netted $100,000.00 for the month of November.  Not too shabby.  But what if they had implemented a mobile strategy, which improved their average site visit, leading to better relationships, and ultimately more sales?  Even if they converted only 50% of mobile traffic, they would have net an extra $10,000.00 for their mobile efforts.

So, what does all of this mean to you and your business?  Is your jazzy, jQuery website on it’s way to being the next business fossil?  Is it really preventing you from grabbing that extra cash, which could pay for bonuses, improve budgeting positions, and lead to other essential expenditures?

Not necessarily. However, without some form of mobile presence, you’ll surely have a more difficult time in retaining potential and existing clients out on the web.

So, how do you respond?

The first thing you need to consider are the needs of your clients and of your business to decide which course of action is best for you.  You may evaluate your clients and determine that mobile isn’t for your business in the future.  But most likely you’ll determine that there is a tremendous opportunity open to you and your business.

A responsive web design is going to be the most flexible and give you the ability to meet the needs of a much wider audience.  Responsive web designs use “media queries” to determine what resolution of device it’s being served on. Images and fluid grids then respond, or size correctly fitting to the screen.

Essentially, a responsive design removes the need for a different design and development phase for each new device that comes on the market.  You build a website once, and it works seamlessly across thousands of different screens.

Persistent Responses

All businesses are to be viewed, shared, and built through a variety of experiences. And unquestionably, responsive web design offers businesses a cost-effective way forward.

Key word: cost-effective.

What it comes down to: responsive web design is a tactic.  For small businesses looking for a quick fix, responsive design is a slam-dunk.  It’s a quick band-aid that addresses multiple channels.

But for businesses looking to truly understand how their users and clients interact, and to ultimately grow their business, it’s important to take into consideration analytics and combine their tactical efforts with distinctive content strategies, or persistent responses.

Orpical envisions and incorporates content strategies, or persistent responses, so you can deliver the right message to the right users in a shifting age where trends are short-lived, and constantly evolving.  We analyze and identify your target audiences, capture their attention, and deliver your product, service, or idea based on the appropriate needs.

The trend of responsive web design for small businesses is growing.  And Orpical Group will implement a responsive web design for our clients and businesses where it makes good business sense.  But in all cases, we are realistic in its capabilities when a sound content strategy is not in place and will offer proven insight, and innovative ideas to ensure and sustain your success.