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!

 

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Message Crafting in the Midst of March

In the craziness of work, life, numerous tasks and even Spring Break, we often forget the main reason we do everything we do. The same is true of companies – it’s easy to neglect the purpose behind all of your business transactions when a lot more work is coming in than usual.

It’s crucial, however, to remember your purpose in times like these, and make sure it’s transferring to the way you promote and market your business. After all, doesn’t a sense of purpose get us through the busy times? When we forget it, our tasks seem to be more difficult and executed less intentionally.

The point: your company’s message should be an expression of your company’s purpose.

Here are a few facets where your company’s message should be present in any marketing campaign:

  • Graphics – did you know that even the color scheme you use is important in conveying your message? In certain industries, some colors are seen as negative, so you will want to avoid those colors in your marketing strategy and advertising campaigns.
  • Tagline – a tagline is a short phrase or statement that describes either what the particular campaign’s message is or what your company’s message is (in general). It’s necessary to have a snappy tagline so people know what your firm is all about.
  • Body (if needed) – Think back to when you wrote papers in college: you needed a thesis and the rest of the paper was supposed to back it up, right? The same is true if you’re doing a brochure, website, or anything other than an ad (you don’t need a body for an ad because too much text detracts from the core message); everything in paragraph form should back up your company’s message.

LJF_BT_MarAdvertising will turn into action with the right target, message and frequency. The message is crucial, but it’s just one part of the big picture.

If you need assistance with the right message or your advertising in general, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help!

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Putting “Public” Back in Public Relations

LJF_FebBT.indd

When your public relations plan is considered, it’s important to recognize different facets of public relations – public speaking, press releases, social media and crisis management, to name a few. However, it is even more crucial to define your “public” before your company tries to relate to them. With your public in mind, your public relations strategy will yield greater results, because they will find the information you provide useful.

To have a complete profile of your public, you simply need to understand the following questions about your target market:

  • Who?:
    Who do you need to be targeting? Decide which demographics your ideal client falls within; if you already have your ideal clients, define their similarities, so you can gain more like them. Below is a list of several qualities to consider (don’t limit yourselves to only these, though):
    –  Age
    –  Gender
    –  Education level
    –  Field/business practice
    –  Cultural/ethnic background
  • What?:
    What are they interested in? What is their story? Given that you now have an idea of what type of business they own and what their background is, brainstorm what items of news likely appeal to them. If I target potential male clients with some form of post-graduate education that own B2B-focused businesses, the following news pieces would likely get their attention:
    –  A LinkedIn post for a business-related skill that can better them
    –  An article in their trade publication about what problem is solved by my company’s new product
    –  A presentation at a Chamber of Commerce on your personal insight into issues that affect the local market
  • When?:
    When do they read the media you are considering (if they read it at all)? Take our client from the previous example – do you think that client would be on Pinterest? Do you also think they will be likely to read something that is posted at midnight, or attend an event later in the evening? Probably not, so tailor when you send the info accordingly.
  • Where?:
    Where are they concentrated in? Suburbia? The big city? If you want to target the well-educated businessman, they could be concentrated in both geographic areas, which means you will need to tailor your message to specific issues affecting them.
  • Why?:
    Why do the do what they do/why are they motivated? Your messages need to tap into these factors. If you’re not apparently trying to help them fulfill their goals more effectively, the value in your PR efforts will be missed. Some  very common motivators are:
    –  Making more money
    –  Helping other people achieve success

Take the time to figure out who your public is and what makes them tick. Pick your media and your messages accordingly to leverage your public relations potential. Contact us if you would like some guidance through the process, or just need someone to implement the message.

 

You can get in touch through whichever means is best for you – like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn.

 

Set Clear Goals for Success in 2014

The New Year is often heralded as the perfect time for change. Businesses often need the wake up call to refocus and reconnect on why they do what they do.

 If you’re in that state, it is wise to set goals to ensure you’ll have something to focus on. Goal-setting is an often overlooked step, but it’s very important that you keep your eye on the prize and end the year in a better position – you must strategize for success. Here are our key steps to setting measurable goals for 2014:

Start with feedback – from clients and employees alike

  • Take time to ask about what can be improved. You can send out a survey after completion of each job, or just ask your trusted colleagues. Either way, make sure your clients know their voice is being heard.

Brainstorm ways you can improve based on the feedback

  • Are negatives about your company culture coming up in conversation very often? What about timeliness of service? If there is a recurring theme, focus on it and list ideas for improvement with your team.
  • Make sure you conduct brainstorming with multiple team members. The best ideas come when several perspectives are heard.

Set small, measurable goals to reach the desired outcome

  • Fast Company cites small actions, made repeatedly, as a way to implement long-term change in regards to productivity. Once you have a few objectives, make a list of how to achieve the objective and what time frame each step/task should take to adopt.

Keep yourself – and each other – accountable

  • If you don’t already, hold status meetings. Open a job, if applicable, for each task, so it’s taken seriously by yourself and your employees. If you have an informal management style, check in every so often on your employees (if you don’t hear the status from them first, that is).

Goal setting is the necessary foundation for marketing success (even if the goals are not directly related to your marketing strategy). If you have no idea what you want to see change, how can you appropriately assess what is beneficial to your company and what is not? If your company’s current marketing strategy is not bringing you success, it’s time for a change! Contact us for a consultation on what angle you should take.

 

Don’t’ forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date on marketing tips, tricks and trends.

 

Think Brand Consistency for 2014

It’s December, which means a new year will begin soon. As your company begins planning, take the time to discuss where your brand is (not just your company’s billings). Your brand affects all aspects of what marketers call the marketing mix – product/service, price, placement and promotion.  Here are some talking points and examples to help you stay on track and think brand consistency in 2014!

four_principles_of_the_markProduct/Service:

What are you selling to your clients? Does this line up with your firm’s values?

  • Make sure your company is clear on the product and which values it reflects back on your company. If they don’t line up, there is a problem.
  • For example: Volvo doesn’t JUST sell a transportation vehicle to its customers, it sells safety and reliability, which are values reflected in their marketing efforts.

Price:

What does the price of your product say about your business? What kind of customers are you looking to attract, and how does the price play into that?

  • Generally, a product can be two of three things: fast, inexpensive or high quality. If your values are efficiency, make sure your price reflects that… you’ll get it done fast and effectively, but you’ll be more expensive (or you’ll produce a less expensive item that requires less expensive materials).
  • For example: Walmart prices items very low to gain many customers and make more money. The value for Walmart customers is not in the experience; it’s in the low prices. Target, in contrast, prices their items a little higher, but includes fashion-forward and more associates around the store that can assist customers, placing more emphasis on efficiency and the quality. While this example may focus on B2C firms, the concept applies to all industries.

Placement:

Where do you want to place your physical product? Do you want to use a sales force? What will your distribution channels be?

  • This is where promotional items and brochures come in. If you don’t offer a physical product, make sure information is readily available and place it accordingly.

Promotion:

Where do you want potential customers to see the services you offer? Do you want potential customers to hear about you from editorial pieces, or from traditional advertisements?

  • The editorial route will focus more on PR and is an approach that takes advantage of word-of-mouth; advertising allows firms to seamlessly integrate a brand’s look with their message. There are pros and cons to each.
  • For example: Run Thru The Woods advertises in the local newspapers and running publications because the executives want to target the public in our area that is active and therefore more likely to participate in physical activity on a holiday.

As you can see, brand consistency is more complex than simply slapping your logo on everything, so talk to us if you need help figuring out how to execute the values of your brand. Our goal is to make sure you’re concentrating all aspects of your brand’s marketing efforts effectively and consistently in 2014.

While you’re at it, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn to be a part of the conversation.

Special Holiday Sponsorship Ideas

A few months ago, we discussed what LJF Marketing calls the “eat more ice cream” concept. Today, we want to encourage you to eat more ice cream – with sprinkles – this holiday season! The sprinkles on top of your ice cream (or cherry, depending on preference) refers to giving back to the community as a company.

One of the best parts of the holiday season is that people and businesses with different outlooks and objectives are able to come together and give back. Consequently, there are many opportunities to do so. Make sure you pick one or two opportunities that are right for your business to have the greatest impact. Ideas to get you started are listed below.

Become a fun run sponsor

  • Get a team together and train for a run within your office
  • Donate funds to help cover costs of the run
  • Donate services to fill needs for the run

These options encourage your employees to be active. You can also tailor them easily to fit your budgetary constraints.

Sponsor a child

  • Buy a local child’s (or multiple children) holiday wish list
  • Pledge to sponsor or feed a child in another country

You will have a direct impact on youth by going this route and they will be thankful for your generosity.

Donate directly to a local charity or hold a donation drive

  • Contribute funds to a local charity in lieu of office gifts
  • Hold a monetary donation drive
  • Collect donations of canned goods and toys at your holiday party

Whether you are drawn to the mission of Montgomery County Youth Services or the Houston Food Bank, the opportunities are endless to support a philanthropy monetarily or by providing for their physical needs directly.

Serve as an office in a philanthropic activity

  • Serve as a team at a soup kitchen or shelter

As another, more direct option, serving together gives your company the opportunity to share on a personal level. Sometimes a random act of kindness or a warm smile can be just as meaningful as a monetary gift; this personal connection is what eating more ice cream is all about.

No matter what your budget is, there are plenty of chances for your business to help the community. Let us know how you’ll be celebrating the holiday spirit with your business below.

Don’t forget to get in contact with us for all your marketing needs through one of these avenues: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or our website.

Target Your Market: Making the Most out of Promotional Products

As the holiday season approaches each year, many clients ask us for ideas to get in the spirit of giving. Promotional products, when done correctly, are a sincere way to get your company name in front of the right people and put a smile on their face. If you take the time to give your contacts something useful and thoughtful, they are an effective way to target your market.

We’ve provided options in several categories of items with ideas to help you delight colleagues this holiday season:

Staff staples: Form meets function with these options. Choose to either give these to your employees, who have worked hard to do a great job this year, or present these to your clients and potential customers. Whether given together or separately, these items are sure to help your customers’ and employees alike do their jobs more effectively and will leave a lasting impression.

Who doesn't love a good journal?

Journals

… because we all love a good journal.

 Lunch Cooler

Lunch coolers

Fill them with goodies such as bakery items or office supplies and hand them out.

 Padfolio

Portfolios

A good portfolio is hard to find, but whenever they are used, they display the professionalism the company whose name is on it. Some even have room for tablets.

 Flag/Sticky Note Dispenser

Desktop flag dispensers

Every time a colleague reaches for a flag or sticky note, they’ll remember who gave it to them. These are also a great item for trade shows.

Technology treats: Your colleagues will thank you for these tech-savvy gifts. Since so many people are embracing tablet technology in the business world, these are useful, modern gifts that will keep the receiver looking sharp. Plus, your company will demonstrate that it has an understanding of current innovations.

iPad Case

iPad and tablet cases

Stay top of mind by helping clients keep their tools looking polished.

 Stylus Pens

Stylus pens

No one likes fingerprints on their screen. Bonus: put your website URL on here to make it easy for clients to find your website on their tablet.

Golfer goodies: These items make gifts if you regularly go golfing with your clients, or if you are planning to sponsor a local golf tournament (like The 25th Annual Woodlands Celebrity Golf Classic and Gala).

 Pro V1 Golf Balls

Pro V1 golf balls

Generally, golfers don’t use the least expensive balls. Give them a ball they’ll use every time they tee off!

 Golf Cap

Golf caps

Shield them from the sun’s rays when they’re on the course all day.

 Moisture Wicking Golf Shirt

Polo shirts

Moisture-wicking fabric is a welcome surprise if you feel obliged.

If you’re wondering how to get them in time for the holidays, contact us here; don’t delay though – your order will need to be in soon!

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 like what we’re posting, subscribe to our newsletter here. If you really like something, let us know by following us and commenting through one of the many media available to you: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or right here.

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.

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Reassessing Your Social Media Plan

Social media trends are constantly changing, so it is a wise idea to look at your social media plan every so often to see if you are keeping up with the trends. If you don’t try to capitalize on current trends, your reach may not be as vast as it could be. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re reassessing your social media plan:

Q: Are there any new forms of social media that have popped up in the last 6 months?

A: Probably, but it would seem the real question is: “are they useful?” MySpace, for example, recently tried to reinvent itself. We’ll see if that helps them long term, but it’s an example of a new social media platform in the market. If it looks like your business could benefit from being active on a new platform, you might want to add coverage for that platform into your current social media plan.

Q: Is your current activity generating anything (i.e. comments, likes, retweets, etc.)?

A: If it’s not, you need to focus more energy into the activity that is. If so, try increasing the amount of content you post a little bit, and see if you have the same results. If I’m posting links 5 times a week to Facebook with no feedback, then I should spend more time on Twitter (if that’s getting more of a response).

Q: Is there any research on the social media industry right now that I could look at to tailor to my needs?

A: The answer, is of course, yes. Look at different blogs and see what you find. Social Media, as a discipline, is always changing. Look at the information you can find and make sure you tailor your plan to work with it. For example, there are some times where it’s better to post on Facebook than others; however, when Facebook grew a lot, they changed because companies started blocking Facebook at work.

Any questions? Ask and we’ll answer in the comments below.

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