Translating Brand Experiences to Trade Shows

While trade shows are a great opportunity to meet other professionals in your field, it can be daunting to think of a great way leave an impression after show-goers leave your booth. Each brand wants to capture their essence and give something memorable. Still, whether you’re doing some last minute planning for OTC, or starting to think of ideas for next year’s trade shows, we have a few solid options that will actually be useful to your booth’s visitors. The best free things are the one’s that we use often – isn’t utility a quality you’d like to be associated with your business?

 

7900-04_LOGOTote Bags

These are always a great option – and the eco-friendly varieties available eliminate some of the waste often associated with freebies.

 

 

 

 

Sunglassesraybans

It’s always impossible to find your nice pair of sunglasses when you actually need them. A pair of sunnies are both economical, relevant and convenient (as no one minds keeping a spare pair of these in their car).

 

 

 

 

ibcGetAttachment-1(Good) Pens

Stick pens are great, but no one is going to go out of their way to keep it around. Want to increase positive feelings about your brand AND generate brand recognition? Give out pens with a nice grip, in an industry-appropriate color, because we always appreciate a trusty pen.

 

 

 

1732Mints

Networking and coffee are not the best mix. Assist networkers by handing out mint tins that they can keep in their pocket or purse. They’ll appreciate the helping hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not too late to get products in time for OTC, so contact us if you need price quotes and assistance!

 

Please don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn for more updates on our business and ideas.

 


Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922.

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Marketing Research Done Right – Getting to Know Your Audience

audience

When you are thinking of conducting market research for your company, it’s important to do it the right way. You may think back to the hours you spent on research projects in college and high school. In my youth, I thought I would never use that stuff again! However, the steps you took then will help you conduct successful market research now. Luckily, if you have social media outlets, some of this can be done yourself!

Follow the steps to get to know your audience in a whole new way.
*For the purposes of this blog post, pretend I am a women’s boutique owner in a college town. This is a completely hypothetical situation.

  • Step 1 – Identify a problem. Say that I end up putting a lot of things on sale at the end of each month and losing money.
    Example problem: Everything ends up on sale.
  • Step 2 – Choose your topic. You’re not trying to solve a problem here (though market research can have that positive side effect). Pick something general you want to find out about your market that may relate to your problem.
    Example topic: College students’ spending habits
  • Step 3 – Find basic information. While basic trends and common knowledge come from some parts of the truth, don’t simply rely on stereotypes; having a general understanding of your target audience is an essential foundation that will help you move into deeper subject matter. Wikipedia can be a good place to start for finding basic information.
    Example info: College students use Facebook a lot. Some students also have a lot of discretionary income from their parents, but most live on a budget.
  • Step 4 – Refine your topic. What is unique to your market but still relates to other markets? This part is where you narrow your search to make sure you actually get relevant information. You should also decide whether you want qualitative or quantitative information.
    Example: College students’ spending habits/budgets for clothes in Texas
  • Step 5 – Conduct research. Using relevant sources (i.e. sources with more credibility than Wikipedia) find information and studies on your refined topic. You can also do customer surveys through Facebook, conduct focus groups, etc. depending on if you want qualitative data. Make sure you are consistent in your research approach in whatever you decide. Take notes on your findings.
  • Step 6 – Summarize your findings.
    Example: Female college students spend 25% of their money on clothes. The average amount of extra money college students have is $500/month.
  • Step 7 – Apply and assess implications to your business.
    Example: Since most female college students are on a budget of some sort, it might be worth it to offer a wide variety of items that vary in price points. This would accommodate the needs of smaller and larger budgets.

We also found another great article that can be a vital resource for you in this process.

Remember: we’re here for all of your marketing needs. Contact us if you have any questions.


 

Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922

Mix it Up: Creating the Best Content for Your Audience

In our recent social media posts, we referenced Bill Gates’ article from 1996 about how content would be definitive of a brand’s success on the Internet. We think he was right.

But do you know what defines quality content, or how to create it?

Quality content is content that engages users. On social media, the most measurable way to see that is through viewing the number of likes, comments, retweets, or shares generated by a post. There are ways to view the number of clicks a link receives as well. If content is resonating with the people you target, you’ll see higher numbers.

Creating content doesn’t always mean generating it – a better phrase for creating quality content is curating quality content. Your content can be articles that you like, some business-related and some that reflect the personality of your business. It can be pictures from company events. It can even be current event-related, if that’s what you suspect your target is interested in. A few guidelines though:

  1. Content plans should be unique to your business and should reflect a personality. Define what that is before you create your content.
  2. They should be a mix of different media and topics. This is where mixing it up comes in. In general, people use social media for live updates, so it’s wise to provide new information with every post; you can discuss the same topic a few times, but you should be shedding new light on it. The same old stuff gets, quite frankly, boring, so avoid reusing it (even though you would want to do that in other forms of advertising).
  3. Your target audience should reflect what you post. LJF Marketing wants to target people who need marketing expertise, so we try to provide some of that for them. A daycare would post information relevant to parents and even single parents, more specifically.

Follow these guidelines and you will be on your way to social media success.

… And while we’re at it, is there a content type you prefer to see? If you really like something, let us know by following us and commenting through one of the many media available to you: Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

PR is Presence in the Community

We may use our Facebook often, but, as we’ve established, public relations is much more than just using Facebook; social media is one small part of public relations that influences a brand’s identity, so Facebook has an even smaller scope of impact.

Think of it in terms of yourself – if you have big news, you would probably make a phone call to your friends and family first. After letting the information dissipate to your business colleagues, you would put the news out on your social media outlets. Generally, you will not put the word out on Facebook before your closest confidants know your news.

That’s where having a presence in the community comes in.

Is your company involved in giving back to the community? Do you attend events and functions for your local chamber of commerce? Have you built your network to its full potential and has your network had the opportunity to see what you’re passionate about?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your business is likely missing out on an important piece of its identity – you! Our recommendation is to get involved in some aspect of your workplace’s community because you are the face of your business.

Reasons to get involved:

  • Share your individual passion
    Becoming involved will allow you to make contacts and work as a team on projects with people who have different personalities and backgrounds. These undertakings allow you to share experiences in ways that are not possible during a regular day at the office. Your business relationships will quickly grow deeper and will likely result in long-term opportunities.
  • Brand recognition and awareness
    When you make acquaintances at events, people start recognizing your name and company; essentially, this can have the same effect as advertising but with more personal touch. When people view your business as represented by a person, rather than a faceless entity, they are more likely to do business with you.
  • Enhance brand image
    If your company sponsors an event or charitable cause, attendees will again, notice your name. In business terms, this is a win-win situation, because not only are you sponsoring something you are passionate about, but attendees will think of you as a company willing to support a good cause and be involved in the community outside of the business.
  • Put a face with a name
    It’s simply nice to be able to put a face with a name of a person whose company you’ve always heard of. Making this irreplaceable human connection is a good reminder that companies have human beings who happen to work for them. There is comfort in knowing the faces that exist beyond the Facebook page.

Once you develop contacts through community involvement, you will find yourself with individuals who support your business and WANT to hear when big things happen.

Any questions? Ask and we’ll answer below.


LJF Marketing has in-house design capabilities and printing options, so please contact us if you’re interested in tailoring any of the above sales collateral to your company’s unique vision.

The Power of Planning

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Image Source

Planning is obviously important when it comes to how your business operates – and it applies to social media. You probably know what message you want to send, but the execution is a little more complex.

Here are some quick tips to help guide you when planning out your social media. Take these into account before the day you want to post and it will make your life so much easier.

  • Plan to post your message to all of your social media platforms.
    Doing so will help you go up in Search Engine rankings, as well as keeping any of your followers on different platforms from missing the memo. You might not have the same followers on each platform, so if you want everyone to hear your message, say it – everywhere! But when you do, make sure you…
  • Plan to tweak your message for each platform.
    I cannot emphasize this enough – all social media platforms are NOT the same. They are very different animals. If you’re wanting to get the word out about a charity your company is volunteering for, you will need to construct the status update for Facebook different than the tweet for Twitter. For example, you might post on Facebook, “We really enjoyed helping out with this charity this week. Thanks to everyone who came out to help!” with a picture from the festivities, whereas on Twitter you would say “Had a great time with this charity today and can’t wait to help out again! #service”. Both allow people to chime in with a response, but the Twitter one is more casual.
  • Plan to schedule posts.
    First off, decide when and how often you want to post. Then, map out a schedule on a calendar for each social media platform. You can either set reminders for yourself to post at a certain time, or use a scheduling tool – like Hootsuite – to make sure the posts go out on time. Also, keep in mind that a post at 12 at night is not likely to spark much conversation – you’ll want to thoughtfully research and consider the time of day you post.

These suggestions will save you time and money in the long run. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us and we will set something up to meet with you.

In House Vs. Agency Marketing – Which one is for you?

flat lay photography of macbook pro beside paper

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So your business has grown (or you’re just now starting!) and you’re in decision mode: In-House marketing or partnering with an agency/firm?

There are many positive factors to both. In-house marketing involves people who work directly for and exclusively with your company. It may consist of one person, or even a team that your company hires. As for an agency, they have specific expert employees who each usually specialize in different areas – public relations, digital marketing, graphic design, etc.

Both have qualities that can be very beneficial to your business. Here are some criteria that will help you choose which one might work the best for you.

Let’s look at their skillsets.

In-house marketing employees are paid to work for your business only. They understand your brand through and through due to direct training and are handpicked by your company. However, it’s difficult to find an in-house marketing person who is adept at all aspects of marketing.

Agency-wise, first you research and ask for referrals. They then need to be introduced to your business and brand and make sure they are the correct fit. For agencies, there are usually a good amount of multi-skilled employees who have worked in their respective fields, allowing for more diverse skillsets.

If only one marketing aspect needs to be managed, consider an in-house marketing team for your business. But for a company who plans on expanding or growing, marketing in only one aspect is rare so an agency might be a better fit.

Next, let’s look at the two from a creative perspective.

Some consider creativity to be in-house marketing’s downfall. There tends to be less creativity in a team that solely works for you and your brand. However in-house marketers do have a great understanding of how to combat your direct competitors.

As for an agency, they work with multiple clients that could be in very diverse areas. There is a lot of change and diversity creativity-wise that they have to produce. This exposure to different ideas can help generate creative ideas for your business.

Both can be useful for your business. If you find that your in-house team is in a rut, choose an agency. If you feel that you are confident in your in-house team, keep them on the project.

Then, let’s look at cost.

In-house marketing consists of marketing management that you hire. For example, consider the cost of salary when hiring one manager, or multiple marketing specialists full time. The cost of each campaign will depend entirely on your marketing needs. Crunch your numbers before making a decision.

It may seem less expensive to hire a single, on-hand employee for your marketing strategy, but expect a long hiring process, training, and guaranteeing that a person fits properly over a set period of time. Aside from salary, you will be budgeting for office space, benefits, computers, and programs they may need as well as training for those programs.

A marketing agency has a pre-set, and negotiable price in place when it comes to your campaigns. An agency pays for its own software, tools, tech, and training, which cuts any extra costs on your end. It may seem like more up front, but it might be less expensive for your business in the long run.

So which to choose?

Break down your goals and your needs to help you figure out whether to go with in-house marketing or a marketing agency.

If you’re still unsure about which path to take or just have questions about marketing agencies in general, ask us here at LJF Marketing! We have been serving our community for 30 years and are professionals when it comes to PR, Marketing, Advertising, Design, and more.

LJF Marketing is a full-service marketing communications company that is fully equipped since 1989 to help you create and enhance your company image. Through innovative marketing strategies, graphics, web development and advertising campaigns, your company can grow to exceed your ambitions.

 

Allow LJF Marketing to conceptualize IDEAS for your campaign. It’s our business to grow your business and we love what we do!

 

Essentials For A Well Stocked Sales Kit

Whether your ideal clients are large or small, consumers or businesses, a lasting impression is required to seal the deal. While you may think a Word doc printed on the company copier is a great tool for your sales team to use – think again. An equipped salesperson needs the added credibility of a professional looking company; quite frankly, a Word document won’t give them an edge.

 

Let’s look at it from another angle. How likely would you be to hire a candidate who didn’t wear a pressed suit or outfit to an interview, and then handed you a wrinkled resume to review? Of course, it’s highly unlikely they’d get the job.

 

A well-stocked sales kit is your company’s interview attire. It allows your salesperson to put their best foot forward.

 

Here’s what you need to button up your sales team before you even send them out.

 

Business Card – This is most essential component. It’s your salesperson’s best asset. Get business cards before you do anything else. Make sure to include all forms of contact – including all social media information.

Pocket Folder – Busy people often lose things. Make it easy for your clients to find all the information they need to know about you with a pocket folder.

Brochure – Repeat after me: I will not use Microsoft Word to create my brochure. A graphic designer will create a custom and unique brochure with room for a bio, list of products/services offered, contact info and anything else that’s important to you. Have it professionally printed. You’ll likely get more results if you take time to present your customers an informative and visually appealing representation of your company.

Case Studies – These go in your pocket folder, with your brochure. They are the evidence behind everything the salesperson is saying and are a useful reference during a meeting if there are specific questions. A client list may also be included.

Product Sell Sheets – Perfect to shed more light on your specific product offerings, inserts can be, well, inserted based on which products your client might be interested in. That is, they make it easy to give them the necessary information, but give you the flexibility to choose which products to spend time discussing. This way, there’s less of an overwhelming amount of information and more discussion.

Your Story – Connecting to your client is key to effective communication. Include the history behind your business, where the idea came from, or interesting details that make your story personal, relatable, and honest. This will help with helping your client feel more connected to you and your company.

 


 

LJF Marketing has in-house design capabilities and printing options, so please contact us if you’re interested in tailoring any of the above sales collateral to your company’s unique vision.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Meeting with LJF Marketing

LJF Marketing wants to get to know you and your company, and as an experienced full-service marketing company, understanding your company’s objective and branding from your perspective is key to success!

Before meeting with us one-on-one, review these questions and answer them to help you convey your thoughts to us so that we can help you as efficiently as possible.

  1. Why are you interested in advertising/marketing? Is it to:
    1. Generate sales
    2. Introduce new products/services
    3. Outreach to existing customers
    4. Learning/teaching
    5. Increase awareness of your company/product
  2. What is your message? What message do you want to communicate in the first 3 seconds a visitor sees your website/ad/brand?
  3. What will attract an audience to your company/products?
    1. Public relations in news/publicity
    2. Place-based promotion – events, displays, sponsor booths, other live presentations
    3. Giveaway item/offer that will draw attention to your company/brand/products
    4. Brand recognition of product/service
    5. Design and graphics
  4. What is the brand image you wish to project?
    1. Examples – Conservative, Leading Edge, Contemporary, High-tech, Progressive, High-style, Established Values, etc.
  5. Will you need one time only marketing or use it long term? If so, what intervals?
  6. What are your competitive advantages?
  7. What kind of venues for placement? Where specifically for each?
    1. Online?
    2. Newspaper?
    3. Magazine?
    4. TV/Radio?
    5. Outdoor?
    6. Email/Blog/Newsletter?
    7. Press release?
    8. Direct Mail?
    9. Social media

Answering these questions will help us to help your business grow and prosper!

We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with you.

 

 

Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922.

Brand Makeover

grey-eye-makeover-for-green-eyes

You can Google or ask Siri anything these days.  Siri, how can I make my green eyes stand out?  What is the latest way to improve my golf swing? How can I enhance my company brand?

Often, many of those thoughts go on in the minds of business people. We worry about our own image as we get older, or how can we stay competitive on the links but most importantly, how can we continue to grow our businesses?

Our goal at LJF Marketing is to help small to medium size businesses make over their image or brand in order to achieve their goals. Most business goals include:  increasing profits, carving out a niche in market share, or retaining customer loyalty.

But what happens with a downturn, or a competitor seizes a bigger portion of the market place, or your customers are leaving because of past bad publicity?  In these cases, it could be time for a Brand Makeover.

Blog Author Bethany Howell, of Insight 180, discusses the benefits of creating a brand makeover or renovation:

  • Preserves the brand’s existing integrity
  • Infuses new energy
  • Ensures the company image keeps current in a changing marketplace
  • Expands a company’s reach to new customers

LJF Marketing recently created a brand makeover for TIEC, an industry standards (#API Spec 1 and 2) project management and training firm that needed to update their brand.  LJF designed a new website, freshened their color pallet for their graphic elements and designed new sales collateral to jump start their goal to capture new market share in a downturn oil and gas economy.

An article by Emma Johnson, Brand Makeover: 3 Lessons in Reinvention from Entrepreneur Magazine delves into how even big brands sometimes need to either get back to their original identity or forge ahead into a new and improved one.  She recommends 3 focused make overs to broadening appeal, differentiate the brand or create damage control.

Marketing agencies can build brand components, a system of keeping brand identity and guidelines, staff training and presentation; a campaign introduction including advertising, literature or sales collateral reinvention, and new product branding and introduction, annual reports, event support and more.

Do you need a brand makeover?  Have your customers become confused as to what you do or offer?  Have you lost out on price points to competitors?  When you explain your company, do heads shake up and down in understanding?  If any of the answers to these questions leave a doubt, even a nugget of a doubt, it might be time for you to seek help from a marketing and branding professional.

Keep checking in for the next article in our LJF Marketing Eye2Eye series.

We like seeing you!

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LJF Marketing Eye2Eye Online

Online is essential in today’s business climate. According to Adweek, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying.

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic/208527

As we end 2015, we look back to remember our marketing projects. For LJF Marketing, we developed or redeveloped several new websites for our clients. Here’s our updated LJF Web Gallery for 2015.

http://ljfmarketing.com/web.htm#

For businesses beginning their journeys into selling their products or services, a website is a “must have”, almost like an extension of their business card and brochure. Potential customers look for a website so they can justify a purchase from that business.

Businesses who have been open for many years often find themselves in a retooling position needing to revise their look, add current content and offer tools online to ramp up customer service.

When designing or programming a website, consider these four topics:

Design

LJF Marketing is especially excited about website design. We always want our customer’s brands to stand out in the market place and be unique. Quertime.com tells us to make sure our brands are relevant. If your competitors have updated their website, you should look at yours and compare. Is your site still relevant to your potential and current customers?

http://www.quertime.com/article/8-website-design-trends-to-follow-in-2015-2016/

Function

A good design is important for customers to visually connect with your brand but the function of your site is vital if you are building a path that leads to a sale. Hubspot shares these statistics that emphasize why download time, navigation ease and other functions are important.

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/compelling-stats-website-design-optimization-list

Content

Content is King! As you go to marketing seminars, you are continuing to hear a lot about content. Not only the content that is included on your home page to get someone to delve into other pages but the content you can provide to get your prospective customer to view you as an expert.

@MichelleMannafy wrote an article in Inc that reminds us that “content marketing is the way businesses get noticed.”

http://www.inc.com/michelle-manafy/3-reasons-you-should-be-in-the-content-business.html

 

SEO

If your customers don’t know to visit your website, all the informative content, creative design, and amazing functionality won’t make a difference in your marketing efforts. Wordstream gives us “25 Ways to Increase Traffic” including:

  • Advertising
  • Become Social
  • Blogging
  • Post Content on LinkedIn
  • Don’t Neglect Email Marketing

Subscribe to our newsletter that will delve more into Marketing Eye2Eye Online in January including an enlightening article on Email Marketing.

For now, thanks for reading our blogs and “Happy Holidays” from all of us LJF Marketing