The Power of Business Cards

The Power of Business Cards
By Alfred Ardis January, 2016

business-Cards

 

It may come as a surprise that, in today’s highly digitized world, business cards are still highly useful networking tools. A good card is like a good suit or even an office: it’s not necessary in the strictest sense of the word, but it signals to other professionals that you’re the genuine article. Your business cards should be an extension of your professional persona, one that reminds the holder of why they got your information in the first place. When tailored to your personal brand, they can be a gateway for professional opportunities. For such small pieces of paper, business cards carry a lot of weight. Here are some tips to help you get the right print.

 

Don’t Skimp on the Stock

One of the easiest ways a print shop can make business cards more affordable is by reducing the thickness, or stock, of the paper used. While fiscal responsibility is always an important principle in business, this is one area where you shouldn’t cut corners. It’s more than a piece of paper; it’s a lasting reminder of that first impression. A flimsy piece of paper sends the signal that the professional it represents is flimsy, too. You want to convey success with your card, even if you’re just getting started.

 

Size Matters

The standard size is 2 inches by 3.5 inches-stick with that. A lot of people these days are trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to size and shape, making pieces that are bigger, smaller, circular, etc. While these might be memorable, they’re also likely to get cut if they don’t fit neatly into a wallet or holder.

 

Include a Visual Cue

Your card should remind the holder of who you are and link back to some memory of where and why they got your info. If you or your company has a pattern or color scheme, incorporate that. If you are in a business where you trade on your personality (salesmen, attorneys, realtors, etc.), it’s a good idea to include a photo of your smiling face in order to convey the winning personality that has made you a success!

 

Keep it Simple

Even with a photo or color scheme that serves as a visual cue, don’t over-complicate things. Your business cards represent you; they don’t speak for you. You don’t want something that requires people to search for the information they need. Ultimately, the information should be quick and accessible so that the holder can contact you, not get caught up in the paper.

 

Raised Text

This one is optional and, admittedly, a bit more expensive. But it’s worth it in certain contexts. If you attend networking events where people trade their info left and right, something that stands out sensually can make a huge difference. If a potential client has 20-plus cards, the feeling of that raised text as they leaf through could make the difference between a connection and the recycling bin.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Alfred_Ardis/663300

Social Media is Key to B2B Content Marketing

31 Jul 2013 – Pam Dyer – Featured –

B2B Marketing

91% of B2B marketers now use social media as a content marketing tool.

 

Social media is key to b2b content marketing Social Media is Key to B2B Content Marketing, B2B marketers are distributing their content on social networks more than ever before.

A recent study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs confirms that content marketing remains a top priority for B2B marketers, with the vast majority leveraging the practice as part of their marketing strategy. But many are uncertain about how to successfully employ the many tactics available to them.

 

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruptive — instead of directly advertising your products or services, you are communicating with your target audience by sharing valuable, free information. The core of this content strategy is the belief that buyers will be driven to do business with you if you provide valuable information to them on an ongoing basis.

 

If you have a website, a blog, or maintain a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks, you are a publisher. You need to think like one, and build a digital content marketing strategy that leverages what you create — blog posts, website articles, images, and multimedia like videos, slideshows, and infographics — to enhance consumer engagement and conversion rates.

Here are some interesting statistics from the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America:
More B2B marketers are using content marketing to achieve organizational goals:

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Brand awareness, customer acquisition, and lead generation are the top B2B content marketing goals:

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87% of B2B marketers use social media to distribute content — it is now the most popular content marketing tactic:

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B2B marketers are using an average of 5 social distribution channels.

LinkedIn is the top social network when it comes to B2B content marketing. It’s interesting to note that Pinterest is now being used by more than 25% of B2B marketers — read 18 Tips for Optimizing Your Pinterest Images to Improve SEO to learn how to get positive results and drive traffic with the visual social network.

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63% of B2B content marketers say that producing enough content is now their biggest challenge:

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Rich Pins: The Future of Pinterest for Business

Rich Pins: The Future of Pinterest for Business

05 June 2013 – Adrienne Erin – Featured –

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Everyone has been talking about the new updates to Pinterest – the new mobile “Pin It” button that has been incorporated into ten apps so far, including apps by Etsy, ModCloth, and TED, and Rich Pins that provide more actionable information about products, recipes, and movies. These updates are going to revolutionize the way people use Pinterest by giving them more motivation to act on pins and giving them an excuse to spend longer on the site. There have even been hints that these changes will give rise to a new way for Pinterest to monetize their social creation, creating a channel for paid advertising. But as a business owner, you’re probably wondering how you can actually act on these changes and use them to promote your business. If you’re serious about your Pinterest strategy, read on!

 

Introduction to Rich Pins

Pinterest debuted Rich Pins on their blog on May 20. There are three types, for each of which they unveiled a new example board: product pins, recipe pins, and movie pins. Each type loads up pins with extra information. Recipe pins present pinners with a list of ingredients and directions, movie pins list cast members and ratings, and product pins, which are probably the most relevant to your business, give pricing, availability, and tell where to buy – information that is updated on a daily basis. Rich Pins stand out from regular pins because of icons that appear below the image.

To develop these new features, Pinterest worked with a number of retailers and sites within these three categories, including eBay, Etsy, Home Depot, Overstock, Target, and Walmart for product pins; Better Homes and Gardens, Epicurious, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, and Woman’s Day for recipe pins; and Flixster, Netflix, and Rotten Tomatoes for movie pins. For the full list under each category, see our earlier overview of the updates.

Pinterest explained that the updates are an effort to make pins more useful and easier to pin “no matter where you are.”

 

Reactions to the Upgrades and More to Come

Though products, recipes, and movies are the first categories to feel the magic wand of rich data waved over them, they won’t be the last. Pinterest invited users to request categories for improvement in the comments of their blog post. The future is certainly bright when it comes to Rich Pins. We can probably expect all kinds of improvements to travel pins, art and design pins, craft and DIY pins, books, music, and more in the future.

Some are not so happy about the new changes – in particular bloggers whose recipes are now completely available on Pinterest, giving pinners no reason to click through to their blog for the recipe. These changes do come with the potential for decreased traffic for some types of enhanced pins, but this seems unlikely to be the case for product pins.

These features are already up and running on Pinterest, but if you aren’t seeing them, you’ll have to update to the “new look” – click “Get It Now” at the top of your home feed. You may even start to notice your older pins populating with the rich data!

 

Implementing Rich Pins on Your Products

Though at the moment, Rich Pins are only in place for a limited number of advertisers, Pinterest has already built out a help section explaining the technical side to implementing Rich Pins on your own site, blog, or eCommerce store. In their overview of Rich Pins, they describe it as a three step process: “To get started, you’ll need to prep your website with meta tags, test out your Rich Pins and apply to get them on Pinterest.” If dealing with code scares you or makes you want to rip your hair out, you may want to have your developer add it instead.

Each type of pin has instructions involving tools like oEmbed or hRecipe, or semantic markup such as Open Graph or Schema.org meta data, all of which they spell out in their Rich Pins for developers documentation. Product pins have the most detailed instructions, explaining the pros and cons of the different options. Pinterest suggests oEmbed as the most flexible and simplest option, which can support getting information for more than one product on a single page. Instructions are also available for Facebook’s Open Graph format, which does not allow multiple products per page, and Schema.org markup, which is slightly more complicated but does allow for multiple products. After implementing your markup, test it with the validator and apply to get your Rich Pins approved.

Though they use several different types of formatting for Rich Pins, the principle is the same. This markup makes it easier for other websites to pull information from your site and present it in a comprehensible way on another. By standardizing the presentation of information, you can help make the internet a more interactive, compatible place. Though it may seem like magic, it’s really just a series of tags that help whatever is reading your information categorize it. Then, for the product pins, Pinterest will keep scraping your site on a daily basis in order to apply any necessary changes, such as a change in price or availability, until you mark an item discontinued. This will obviously put a little stress on your server – especially for a large and highly-pinned eCommerce site – but hopefully the incoming business will outweigh the extra server load!

These developments mark an exciting time for business owners. With Pinterest Analytics and now Rich Pins, we are beginning to see some great ways to build a following, understand it, and give them what they want. For users, these changes only make Pinterest more exciting and addictive! If you are considering making Rich Pins a part of your marketing strategy.

Social Isn’t Just About Throwing a Party 24/7

May 2012 – Kevin Tate

Social Party

Social media isn’t “one-size-fits all.” It just makes sense that different brands and retailers should leverage social media marketing and social commerce in different ways because they have different audiences, products, and business goals.

However, as social marketing practices and technologies evolve, we’re starting to see the same ingredients appear in successful social media campaigns across customer and product segments. A three-step recipe, which I’ll share with you here, consistently works.

1. Make It Memorable. Captivate Your Audience

Brand marketers and social media consultants often compare social efforts to “hosting a party.” It’s a useful metaphor for how brands should think about creating shared space for conversation at the “party” and how they should interact with their “guests.”

But here’s the thing about good parties. They’re not always on.

Would Cirque du Soleil be as exciting if it was always in town, running the same show?

Would the Coachella music festival be a cultural event if it happened 365 days a year?

Successful, recurring parties are captivating and memorable. They:

Build anticipation, especially among influential people.
Create excitement and foster fun.
Rely on attendees to spread the word, and bring more people to the next one.

This formula works because the event is both enjoyable and time-bound. It’s scarce. It creates an air of exclusivity and status – two powerful factors for social media marketing.

2. What Happens in Vegas…Probably Shouldn’t Happen on Your Website

To be fair, there is one place where Cirque du Soleil is always running – Las Vegas. Vegas is the destination for the always-on party (and Motley Crue, apparently).

Sites like Gilt Groupe, Groupon, and Woot are the Las Vegas of social media marketing. Consumers have been trained to visit these sites for the always-on daily deal party, and like Woot, the best of them succeed by managing to make it fun and memorable – every single day.

But that’s not the correct social media model for most companies. When brands and retailers leverage social to drive product discovery, share, and purchase most effectively, it’s often around a particular event, such as a new product launch, a celebrity collection, or a VIP member sale.

And like good parties, these social marketing events come and go. Some may happen every week for only an hour (think flash sale) and some may happen one week every quarter (e.g., seasonal launch). But they’re time-bound, exclusive, and not-to-be-missed. They are special. To be effective, these social marketing events need to be designed, executed, and measured like campaigns.

3. It’s About Conversation and Campaigns

When brands were first establishing their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, social media advocates rightfully juxtaposed “establishing authentic brand conversation” with traditional, in-your-face marketing and advertising. This is the right approach, and still serves brands well as they manage their presence across today’s many social channels.

However, as the pendulum swung away from direct marketing, “conversation” was placed in direct opposition to “campaigns.” Not so. For all the excitement and momentum-building reasons outlined above, these two go hand-in-hand.

Many brands and retailers are figuring this out and are increasingly running time-based social campaigns that combine product and content elements to create excitement; they use social actions to drive momentum and amplification. The most effective campaigns tie product promotions to key brand inflection points such as a new designer collection, the opening of a new store, or an end-of-season sale.

A campaign-based approach has additional advantages, such as the ability to execute social promotions in a more familiar and repeatable way. Marketers already know how to create, manage, and measure campaigns. They just need a few new tools to apply their models to social media channels in an authentic and engaging way.

Because campaigns are typically set up with clear goals and metrics over a defined period of time, it’s much easier to gauge their success (ROI) than that of an “always-on” conversation. And it’s also much easier to identify your most important and influential “guests.” (Who came to the party this week? Had they come before? Did they bring a friend?)

Event-based campaigns and ongoing social conversation have a symbiosis that results in real business value, especially for promotion and purchase. Nike, for example, launched a time-based program designed to engage a specific audience (loyal Nike golfers) for the launch of a new product, the 20XI golf ball. By marrying conversation and campaign to create a sense of exclusivity and status, Nike was able to actively engage its target audience for a measurable business impact of six-times ROI based on actual revenue.

Brands running great social promotions create excitement and exclusivity around their events using ongoing social conversations as the catalyst. And, they do it in a way tailored to meet their audience, product, and business goals.

These brands know that everyone likes to go to a good party…just not every day.

Social Media Marketing and the Brand Embrace

19 June 2012- Harry Gold –

At my agency we’ve developed a philosophy and approach we call the “Brand Embrace.” The term describes the sum total of all the digital relationships that organizations can create with their prospects and customers. In a brand embrace, a company uses all its marketing efforts to truly connect with their target audience in a lasting way to leverage the multiple points of contact consumers access in their daily lives. It identifies and capitalizes on every potential point of connection companies can create with their target consumers and customers and leverages those connections with timely and valuable engagement. It brings together all forms of digital (search, display, social, email, marketing automation, CRM, tracking, and reporting) into a single synergistic platform. A well-executed brand embrace strategy turns prospects into customers, customers into brand loyalists, and loyalists into advocates.

The Social Media Brand Embrace

Clearly social media marketing is, and will increasingly be, central to companies creating a comprehensive brand embrace platform. In most ways, it already is; it hasn’t just been defined as the brand embrace. Why are companies who are engaged in social media marketing zealously working to acquire friends, fans, and followers? Because they’re trying to make lasting connections – they’re trying to create a brand embrace. The key, though, is to look at social connections as a gateway to more intimate and solid connections. Now, you may say this is obvious – but how often is it done? How often do you weave calls to action into your social and digital communications that cross-sell brand embrace connections? Fans to email subscribers, site visitors to fans, Twitter followers to LinkedIn followers, email subscribers to Facebook fans, etc.

Adopting the Brand Embrace Philosophy

To create and sustain a true brand embrace requires a shift in the focus of an organization’s offline and online marketing efforts. It’s not just about branding and impressions anymore – it’s about connecting and engaging, or embracing. It means changing the goals of marketing from “reaching and communicating with our target audience” to “reaching and embracing our target audience.” In other words, it constantly asks, “How do we create a brand embrace?” Then, with a brand embrace we create stronger consumer connections via the first engagement when the bond was created – it provides for sustained communications and engagement. It complements reach and frequency.

Brand Embrace Tactics

How do you engage prospects and customers in a brand embrace? Here are a few tips and tactics:

  • Setting cookies for insightful tracking and reporting to reveal true insight into what your target consumers and customers care about.
  • Setting retargeting cookies that, when combined with search and other forms of advertising, access the critical moment when a consumer is interested in what you’re selling and enables you to stay with them during their purchase consideration phase.
  • Utilizing retargeting to increase contact frequency with your current customers to keep your brand top-of-mind during their purchase consideration phase and deepen the relationship you have with your customers to escalate them to repeat buyers and brand advocates.
  • Encouraging all forms of social connections including converting your prospects and customers into Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Pinterest followers, LinkedIn followers, and more.
  • Making sure you have strong incentives that make prospects and consumers want to connect with you.
  • Creating and publishing valuable and engaging social content that educates, enthralls, delights, and encourages high-value and high-ROI behavior.
  • Escalating social connections to email subscribers and connecting them to marketing automation and CRM cookie data and vice versa – getting your email list to connect with you socially.
  • Collecting real-world data and information including survey data and physical snail mail addresses.
  • Implementing marketing automation programs and technologies (Eloqua, Aprimo, Marketo, etc.) that utilize cookies, tracking data, email databases, and CRM data to drive truly personalized, timely, and relevant email and direct mail communications.
  • Realizing that creating a sizable platform of consumer/prospect connections takes time but once developed and integrated can be one of the most valuable assets an organization has!

Is the Brand Embrace Annoying? No, It’s Mostly Opt-In

If done correctly (or politely), the brand embrace isn’t annoying. In fact, the idea is to make the ongoing engagement that the full brand embrace facilitates valuable.

The key is to remember these facts:

  • Most connections in the brand embrace (besides retargeting via online media) are opt-in. You must voluntarily connect with various social properties (likes, follows, etc.) and opt in to an email list. The trick is to tell people why they should opt in and what they will get out of the deal.
  • Make sure the ongoing communications pushed through the brand embrace are valuable, useful, entertaining, and engaging. These are people who may already know you or use your products – think, “How can I help or entertain the people who I am connected with?” Remember – most consumers utilize social because it’s fun or they’re networking professionally in some way – so entertain and help them!
  • Chances are you won’t overwhelm the people you’re connected with since they won’t see all your Facebook updates, tweets, and other social posts as they happen, nor will they see all your emails. But don’t overdo it either – be polite, be valuable, and chances are your multi-pronged approach will hit consumers just enough for you to rise above the clutter to maintain a relationship.

The Result of the Brand Embrace

The end result of the brand embrace is a powerful platform that ties all your marketing and advertising efforts together. It creates a mass marketing asset that bypasses media gatekeepers (the media and vendor organizations that charge you to reach your target audience) to build your brand, drive leads, drive retail traffic, and, of course, drive sales.