Monthly Archives: July 2016

Tips Pokémon Go to Work for Your Small Business

By now, you’ve probably heard of the augmented-reality mobile game “Pokémon Go,” in which players move throughout the real world to hunt for and capture digital Pokémon. It might seem trivial or irrelevant to your business at first glance, but since the game is geographically based, there are a number of ways you can use it to attract local players to your location and, hopefully, convert them into paying customers.

There are two types of fixed locations in the game that are important to most of these strategies. The first are known as PokéStops, which are buildings or places of note around a city where players swing by to grab some extra Poké Balls and potions. Many of these stops are businesses, but even if yours isn’t one a PokéStop is still likely nearby.

The other type of fixture is called a “gym,” where players battle their Pokémon in a bid to gain control of the location for their team. Both of these locations regularly attract players multiple times a day and can be leveraged into generating more patronage for your business. After extensive, tireless weekend research into “Pokémon Go,” Business News Daily has worked out a few ways to capitalize on the craze.

One item that can be placed on PokéStops is called a “lure module.” Once activated, lure modules will attract wild Pokémon (and, more important, players) to that location. Consider buying a package of lure modules and advertising a night as “‘Pokémon Go’ Lure Party!” If your business is on or near a PokéStop, hosting a lure party could be a great way to bring players to your establishment. It’s a cheap and easy form of marketing; create a “Pokémon Go” account by downloading it for free from the Google Play or App stores, buy a package of lure modules with a few dollars of real-world cash, and then just set them up at your nearest PokéStop. Each lure is active for 30 minutes, so you can use them in succession to create a lure party that lasts as long as you’d like. Coupling a lure party with some special deals could be a great way to bring in some extra money.

Maybe your business is closer to a Pokémon Gym than a PokéStop. In that event, there’s another way you can incentivize players to come patronize your business. Advertise that you’ll be hosting a tournament in advance, perhaps even offering discounts to gym battle winners. Then, on game day, players who successfully become gym leaders (with proof of gamer ID) will be entitled to that discount. Not only is it a great way to harness those intense “Pokémon Go” rivalries for your business, but to hold gyms teams need multiple members to defend it. So, while you’re giving discounts to the gym leaders, their teammates will be there alongside them as well, most likely as full-paying customers.

Hosting a communitywide “Pokémon Go” hunt that starts and ends at your business’s doorstep is a strategy that’s not contingent on the proximity of gyms of PokéStops. All you have to do is advertise the date and time of your family-friendly Poké-hunt, wait for players to gather, and then depart together for a stroll around your neighborhood. Your staff might even join the hunters in branded shirts to make sure your business is visible through the entire event. Of course, as it is with any good Poké-hunt, there’s an after-party. Invite the hunters back to your establishment for some trainer talk and to compare their hauls. This is an especially effective tactic for restaurants.

You can even use “Pokémon Go” to increase your visibility on social media. Offer customers a few dollars off to take a screenshot of a Pokémon in your store or restaurant and then post it on social media with a tag to your business. While it might just be a few dollars off for them, it spreads your brand online. It also shows other nearby players how many rare and exotic Pokémon are crawling around your establishment, and it might encourage them to come visit and maybe spend a few dollars of their own.

The rumor mill is swirling with talk of future “Pokémon Go” updates that will allow trainers to trade Pokémon and items. If and when these updates come, these new features will open new doors for businesses to harness the immense appeal of this augmented-reality phenomenon. And if more AR games prove to be as popular as “Pokémon Go,” businesses might have an entirely new marketing strategy at their disposal; luckily, these strategies cost virtually nothing to employ.

 

Sales Boost Niche Products to Your Inventory

While retailers might think the most profitable sales strategy is to sell only the items that are most popular with consumers, new research finds that selling those that are not as in-demand can still pay off. The research shows that the more products a retailer offers online, the more revenue the retailer makes.

Junzhao Ma, the study’s authors and a lecturer in the marketing department at Australia’s Monash University, said overall customers end up spending more online because it’s easier to search for those items.

“Low-selling (niche) products are regularly pruned from the product line to reduce operational complexity and corresponding cost…but as shoppers grow more accustomed to the idea of searching for niche items online, carrying these niche products can not only yield additional revenue but also help retailers recruit and retain customers,” Ma wrote in the study.

For the study, Ma examined data from a large U.S. apparel retailer that offers both printed catalog and internet shopping. Specifically, he looked at the effect on the retailer’s main products, which are in high demand and offered in the catalogs, and the less-popular niche items that were available on the retailer’s website, but hard to find in its catalogs.

He discovered that online shoppers spent significantly more than catalog shoppers on both popular and low-demand products. Specifically, they spent 11 percent more per year on the popular items and 250 percent of the hard-to-find niche items.

“Our research suggests that the online sales of low-volume niche products can be an important source of revenue for the retailer,” Ma wrote.

The study,”Does Greater Online Assortment Pay? An Empirical Study Using Matched Online and Catalog Shoppers,” is scheduled to appear in the September issue of the Journal of Retailing.

 

Marketing on Social Media

images-5Social media makes video marketing accessible – and affordable – for every business. It’s one of the best ways to reach your customers where they already are: on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other online networks. And since social media users love video, it’s one of the best ways to raise brand awareness and engage customers and clients.

These days, you don’t need any special equipment to shoot a great video ad — a smartphone and enthusiasm for your brand will suffice. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a rundown of the top social media channels you can use to boost your brand with video.

YouTube is the biggest video-sharing platform on the planet, so it’s a great place to start marketing your business. After you sign up, you can create a customizable channel for your business, complete with colors, logos, slogans and more. Don’t be intimidated — setting up a YouTube channel is simple and takes just a few minutes.

Once your channel is ready, you can upload as many videos as you want. Viewers rate your videos and leave comments, which will raise the overall visibility of your videos among other YouTube users. Anyone can subscribe to your channel, so whenever you upload a new video, they’ll be automatically notified.

If you don’t think you have the chops to put together a high-quality video ad, check out YouTube Director, an app for the iPhone and iPad. The app walks you through the process of making a quality ad, and lets you add text overlays, music and scene transitions with a few taps.

Tips

  • Be consistent: Upload new videos regularly to encourage viewers to subscribe.
  • Include calls to action: Tell viewers directly to rate the video they’re watching, leave a comment or subscribe to your channel.
  • Interact: Respond to feedback quickly, and thank viewers who leave comments to encourage further interaction.
  • Share: Share links to your YouTube Channel, and embed your YouTube videos in posts on Facebook and Twitter to engage new viewers.

2. Facebook

Taking your video-marketing campaign to Facebook is a no-brainer, given the platform’s huge and devoted user base. Generally speaking, Facebook users love video — they’re much more likely to click and view a brief video clip than to read a text-based post.

To get started on Facebook, you’ll need to set up a page for your business, which is quick and easy. Pages can be fully customized to represent your business, with all the information that potential customers need to know. Users who “Like” your page will see your posts — including any uploaded videos — and those posts will appear automatically in their news feed. Even better, friends of those users might also see the same videos appear in their own feeds.

Tips

  • Keep it light: Facebook users log on to be entertained, so striving to keep your videos light, and even entertaining, is sure to boost engagement.
  • Get interactive: Watch for comments and questions that viewers leave under your videos, and respond to them quickly and professionally.
  • Monitor reactions: Facebook gives you the tools to see who likes and shares your videos. Watching to see which videos garner the most positive reactions will help you plan your next updates.
  • Broadcast live: Facebook lets you broadcast live video using a feature called Facebook Live. Check it out— it’s a great way to boost engagement and give clients and customers a more intimate look at your business.

Like Facebook, Twitter has a huge, diverse user base, and its regular users are extremely engaged with the platform. That’s why it should be a key part of any small business’s video-marketing strategy.Twitter isn’t just about short, text-based messages. The network also lets users embed videos directly into their tweets, which will then pop up in the feed of anyone who follows your business’s account. Videos can be up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds long — plenty of time to engage viewers with a short clip.

Tips

  • Be concise: Twitter has always been about keeping it brief. Users view their feeds sporadically, often for just a few seconds at a time, so stick to short, easily digestible clips.
  • Engage: One part of Twitter’s appeal is the ability it gives users to engage directly with the brands they care about. When users comment or share your videos, reward them with a response.
  • Be timely: Twitter users want to know what’s happening right now. Use your video clips to advertise special deals and ongoing sales, or to let followers see what’s happening with your business today.

4. Instagram

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Instagram is a social network that’s dedicated solely to sharing photos and videos. For that reason, it might seem like a network where only highly visual businesses — such as those in food or fashion — can succeed. But with a little creativity, you can probably find a way to make the platform work for just about any brand.

Using Instagram is simple. After you create an account, you can upload images, photos and videos that run for 15 seconds or less. Users who follow your page will see those updates in their feed, where they can like or comment on them — and it’s really as simple as that.

Keeping your business’s Instagram account updated is easy, but the nature of the platform might make it a poor fit for your business. The network’s user base skews relatively young, which can be limiting. And if your business isn’t particularly visual, you might put your efforts elsewhere.

Tips

  • Show off: Sharing images of your business’s products or services can help you reel in new customers.
  • Post deals: Share images with coupon codes and other information about how to redeem special deals. That will encourage users to follow your account closely so they don’t miss out.
  • Go behind the scenes: A good way to generate interest is to show people how your product is made, or perhaps give them a glimpse of your office.

It may be the fastest-growing social media platform out there, but Snapchat is still a niche platform for small businesses. If you’re not familiar with Snapchat, here’s a quick primer. The app lets you upload short video clips — as well as images — and the content is sent directly to anyone who follows your account.

The trademark feature of Snapchat is that users can usually only view each video once before it disappears from their feed, but that restriction actually only applies to videos sent directly to individuals. Content uploaded to your account’s “story” can be viewed by your followers an unlimited number of times for 24 hours.

The ephemeral nature of Snapchat posts — as well as the fact that the app’s user base skews younger than any of the others on this list — means that many small businesses would be better off investing their resources elsewhere. But businesses that cater to young people would be wise to give it a chance.

Tips

  • Keep it casual: While other platforms encourage highly curated content, Snapchat posts can be simple and casual. If a post isn’t perfect, don’t fret — it will disappear soon anyway.
  • Make it fun: Clips of employees or customers having fun with your product will keep young Snapchat users engaged and coming back for more.
  • Go behind the scenes: Snapchat is the perfect platform for taking viewers behind the scenes of your business for a glimpse of how it’s run.

Periscope — the most popular live-streaming app for mobile devices — is a great way to connect with your customers on a personal level. The Twitter-owned service makes it easy for you to start broadcasting live video with just a few taps. Customers who follow your account will automatically receive an alert on their smartphone whenever you start a new broadcast, which makes it relatively simple for you to cultivate an audience.

Live streaming has some clear perks over other kinds of video marketing. Since live streams are happening in real time, they help humanize your brand. Instead of seeing a carefully crafted advertisement, viewers feel like they’re seeing a truly authentic, behind-the-scenes representation of your business.

Tips

  • Demonstrate: If you sell a physical product, Periscope is a great way to show how it works. Customers can tune in to a live demonstration, which can feel more trustworthy than a canned ad.
  • Get creative: Periscope can be great for showcasing your company’s offerings, no matter what you sell. For example, realtors can use the app to broadcast virtual open houses.
  • Interact: Live streaming isn’t a one-way street. Periscope lets you interact with customers and clients in real time, which is a great way to hold live Q&A sessions, webinars or tutorials.
  • Reward: Giving exclusive offers for people who tune in to your Periscope stream is a good way to hook viewers and boost your sales.

 

Local Marketing Tactics to Gain and Keep Customers

As a business owner, you want your company to succeed. Investing in marketing is vital to that success, but many small businesses can’t splurge on — or spare the time for — high-priced advertising campaigns.

A report by Brandmuscle, local marketing software company, found that nearly half of the 860 small businesses surveyed spend $5,000 or less on marketing each year, and one-third spend less than 10 percent of their time on marketing activities.

To make the most of your time and money, here are five effective local marketing tactics that are easy and affordable for your small business.

Business owners know that customers are searching for companies online, and yet many local businesses are reluctant to adopt digital methods, like social media, SEO and even a basic business website. The Brandmuscle survey found that business owners still find digital media to be complicated: While Facebook may be a successful platform, with an increased usage by businesses of 21 percent over the past few years, LinkedIn is primarily employed for personal, not business accounts, and Twitter is too confusing for business owners, survey results showed.

“Many small businesses are so overwhelmed by the number of choices and the level of effort required to maintain [digital marketing] programs that they do nothing,” said Clarke Smith, chief strategy officer of Brandmuscle. “We advise starting small. Talk to customers [and ask] how do they find you today? What types of information would be helpful to them? Are they price-driven? What social channels do they use?”

Aaron Boggs, president of RevLocal, a digital marketing agency, called for the use of search marketing, a type of online marketing that expands a company’s digital presence in search engines.

“Local businesses need to do more with less, and search marketing is no exception,” he said.

For businesses that are looking to generate new leads, offering potential customers a free product or service for their first visit is a surefire way to bring people into the store. Brian Mattingly, founder and CEO of marketing services and technology franchise Welcomemat Services, said that a no-strings-attached gift to kick off a customer relationship will create a sense of loyalty, but only when it’s with the right audience.

“Loyalty starts with targeting a consumer group that is not just looking for a deal but has a need for your business or service, and of course, they must live near the business,” Mattingly said. “The perfect example of the ‘right’ customer includes someone who recently moved into a new neighborhood or a couple that just became parents.”

Brick-and-mortar businesses have a unique opportunity to host special promotional events for their local communities. Chris Elliott, CEO of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s sports pub franchise, said that on the 20th of each month, his restaurants host a “customer appreciation day,” when guests can come in and redeem a scratch-off card for a chance to win free food.

Elliot said foot traffic increases 11 percent during customer appreciation days. He said he believes customers keep coming back because the owner of each restaurant personally hands them their scratch-off cards and thanks them for their patronage, thereby establishing a personal connection.

“The emotional engagement is the key,” Elliot said. “If you know the customers — if you know their families and their kids’ names, and engage with them on a personal level — you’re going to form a connection that is going to give you an edge and lead to a lifelong customer. That makes a huge difference. You have to have the same loyalty to your customers as you expect from them when you put a customer loyalty program in place. It has to work both ways, or else you’re going to miss the mark and won’t see the same level of return on the investment.”

Like the promotions described above, local events and sponsorships allow companies to give back while building personal relationships with their communities and customers. Of the integrated marketing campaigns that Brandmuscle looked at, 46 percent included community sponsorship and 44 percent included a local event. According to the survey, these sponsorships and events were among the most frequently used marketing tactics, with three of four respondents using these methods for their businesses.

The survey suggested that companies invest more of their marketing dollars in sponsorships and events to build up their brand presence.

When most people think of rebranding, they think of a big, time-consuming overhaul that requires a huge investment. But rebranding can be as simple as modernizing your logo, switching your slogan or even just updating your company website. Doing something just slightly different from your status quo will pique customers’ interest and make them want to learn more.

“The effects of a comprehensive, well-executed rebranding have shown tremendous benefit across the board,” said Dan Antonelli, CEO and creative director of advertising agency Graphic D-Signs. “Whether it’s creating a great experience with an intuitive and responsive website design or crafting a logo that makes customers crack a smile each time they see it, marketing needs to have emotion.”

Regardless of the tactics you choose, you should schedule a set time devoted to marketing activities, even if it’s only an hour a week, said Brandmuscle’s Smith.