3 Key Services You Need for Your Digital Marketing Strategy

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Whether you’re just starting to think about digital or already have an SEO and content strategy, making sure you have certain foundational services can be key to saving you time and improving your results.

To develop your online brand and help customers find you amid all the competition, here is a quick guide on three cost-effective digital tactics you should have in place.

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Google My Business

Google is one of the most-visited sites in the world and everybody with a device uses it multiple times a day to help inform their purchasing decisions. Did you know it also has tools available to help your business grow?

Google My Business is a platform that presents your business on the right side of the search results page and includes photos of your business, reviews, listings, and, best of all, a space to create social posts!

Using Google My Business will allow you to put your best foot forward the moment prospects start searching for your business, impressing both current and prospective customers alike.

 

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Listing/Directory Services

Crafting an attractive website for your business takes plenty of time and effort, but that attractive website isn’t helpful if people don’t know where or how to find it.

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! draw their listings data from different directory services all over the internet. While many of these services provide accurate information, it is important for business owners to set up accounts on as many of these sites as possible so they can ensure the accuracy of their phone numbers, addresses, and website URLs.

 

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Review Management

Reviews are the lifeblood of a business. The very first thing customers do when someone recommends a company is to check out the general consensus of their online reviews and, most importantly, how the company responds to the comments.

Taking the time to respond to your reviews in a polite and friendly manner can show how much you value your customers and that you are also gracious and willing to fix mistakes if you receive negative feedback. It may take 30 minutes out of your day to do, but the positive effect it can have on your online reputation can’t be replicated anywhere else.

If you’re looking for proven ways to stay in your customers’ minds and consistently promote your business, give the staff at RSVP – Upscale Offers for Life & Home a call today at (888) 958-7787 or visit us online to see our customizable solutions.

The Buyer’s Journey: How Your Customers Really Find You

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How Your Customers Really Find You

Marketing today can require a comprehensive strategy that includes both online and traditional direct methods to maximize your chance of qualified prospects finding and choosing your business. In today’s digital world, what is the best way for you to stand-out during each part of the buyer’s decision-making process?

 

Awareness

It all starts with awareness. While methods like radio, newspapers and direct mail are primary sources for stimulating customer interest, they also search online using keywords and/or look at Google listings as part of their initial research.

 

Findability

Findability

The customer is searching, using Google, apps, directories, voice search and more. How easy is it for them to find you? It’s essential for you to know the findability of your own business and identify any inaccurate or missing online listings, which can easily improve your ranking on search engines.

 

Reputation

The customer has found you! Your website is well-designed, simple to navigate, and contains great information on your products and services. Do you have great reviews? A business’ online reputation directly influences whether someone decides to do business with you or not. In fact, 84% trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth from their friends.

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Conversion

All the pieces are now in place for the customer to choose you. Will they? Conversion refers to the percentage of potential customers who take a specific action, such as calling you or booking an appointment online. Some tools to increase conversion are a website featuring a clear call-to-action, a web form, an online calendar, or the ability to purchase your products via an app. Don’t be one of the 22% of businesses who aren’t satisfied with their conversion rate, when you can use one or all of these tools to make it easy for a customer to connect with you.

 

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Advocacy

The experience your customer had with you and your product or service should result in advocacy. They should want to continue doing business with you. People often share their thoughts through social posts, online reviews, or blogs. This is the best press you could ask for when it comes to promoting your business, so it’s important to know what’s being shared and harness its power effectively.

If you’re looking for proven ways to stay in your customers’ minds and consistently promote your business, give the staff at RSVP – Upscale Offers for Life & Home a call today at (888) 958-7787 or visit us online to see our customizable solutions.

Print Advertising: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In print advertising, artwork is the initial impression that consumers have of your business or product. It’s the first step in gaining the attention of the buyer you are trying to sell to. That visual typically is the difference between if the person decides to pay attention to the pieces of your advertising- the verbiage, the product or service itself, and the offer, or moves along to what captures their attention next.

Almost every day I have conversations with business owners and decision makers who ask about how their artwork should look. It’s an important question and comes up so often because many people just aren’t sure how to go about it. Most people (including me) know what they like when they see it but don’t know how to express that verbally or artistically. That’s ok though, and the reason why my company employs very talented and artistic designers. I trust them implicitly because they’ve proven their professionalism with our clients consistently through the years. And they’re not just artists, they know what works and what consumers like.

With that being said, I have learned from many years of experience the difference between good and bad artwork:

 

Good

– Simple clear message

– Holds interest

– Stong call to action

 

Bad

– Requires the reader to work hard

– Missing attention-getting elements

– Can’t tell what you are really trying to offer

 

Ugly

– Full of clutter

– Low-quality images

– Overuse of color and fonts

(Graphic Designers nightmare)

 

Avoid the temptation to include every product or service line you offer in your ad. Don’t make the prospect have to think about or evaluate everything and the kitchen sink you threw in there. They don’t want to think and they’ll ultimately move past your ad and forget all about you. Tell your prospect we are Acme Company, we make your life better, and do it for 40% off. That’s it.

If you’re worried about leaving out something you think might be important then include your website address. If the prospect wants or needs more information they will gladly take the time to visit your website and learn more about everything you do and why it’s important to them. Your website is your encyclopedia, your print advertisement is not.

 

Contributed by Jeff Vice

What my clients taught me about advertising

There’s an abundance of articles on the internet that will discuss the top 5, 10, or 12 mistakes businesses make with their advertising.  With this article I’m going to take on some of those “mistakes” from the perspective of actual clients that I’ve worked with for many years.

No Commitment

A common attitude of small business owners about advertising is that because they don’t know ahead of time if a particular advertising vehicle will work for them, they want to “try it out”.  They want the opportunity to pull the plug on their advertising quickly and save money if they perceive it’s not working for them in a very short amount of time.  I get it, most business owners are allergic to not wasting money and can’t blame them for feeling that way.

Of all the clients I’ve had in advertising the ones that commit to a long term vision of advertising are almost always more satisfied with their advertising than those who take the short term outlook.  Clients with the long term outlook will talk about how their advertising efforts grew in a positive way and consistently over time.  Clients who “try it out” have come and gone before their prospects even knew they were there and become severely skeptical of advertising their businesses.

By the way, the same concept applies when I talk with prospects. I can always tell when they say they’ve tried everything or think advertising doesn’t work, it’s because they always just dipped their toe in and never reaped the rewards.

When the phone rings

One of the ways that advertising can be tracked is with a dedicated tracking phone number.  With this tool business owners can definitively know from which advertisement the call came from.

An interesting thing my clients taught me about the value of a tracking phone number is that it went way beyond being able to see which ad the call came from.  Neither one of us knew in the beginning a tracking number would turn out to be more than a tracking tool.

We learned that many times (more than they might like to admit) that the initial call was handled badly and likely gave a bad impression of the business as well.  Most owners have one person dedicated to answering incoming calls.  After setting up this system the business owner makes no effort at monitoring those calls or overseeing how those calls are handled.  Even I was surprised at how aloof, un-friendly, or unhelpful those who answer phones can be.  It can be a very awkward conversation at the time to point out how badly their calls are being handled, but ironically it helps solidify the value of the ad in the first place.

Get used to talking

Small business owners typically wear many hats in running their businesses.  In many cases the owners’ business is based upon a talent the owner has to offer their clients.  On the flip side owners are not always good at the business side of the business.  That means that they may not be very good at selling their product or service or may not be comfortable in working with other people.

This usually shows up in communicating with their clients after the initial sale.  Their clients have an expectation of how things should go after the sale.  Communicating with their client is essential, and keeping them in the loop will go a long way in handling expectations when the unexpected occurs.

In the owners mind the project is going good and will look fabulous when it’s finished but the client is thinking something different.  I’ve learned those that communicate well have much happier clients than those who don’t.

Keep it simple

Clients whose message is short and sweet typically express more satisfaction in their marketing.  They have trained their prospects to focus on a small number of products or services they have to offer and in turn prospects will do just that. There’s a nice side effect to this too.  Most of the time those few products or services offered allow the business owner to showcase his or her highest quality and typically have higher margins. On the other hand, it’s unnecessary to throw everything and the kitchen sink in an advertisement.  It confuses the message and leads the prospect to believe that the business is just a jack of all trades and master of none.

Once the business has the attention of the prospect and has generated the initial call, that’s when the business owner will have the opportunity discuss additional options or services.  It turns out talking about other options or services you have to offer at that time usually goes really well.  I’ve even had clients tell me that their clients will add on services after the job has started because of the open communication, which not only led to more revenue but better client relationships.

Know your limits

One last thing my clients taught me about advertising.  Leave the artwork and design up to the professional designers.  I learned that one the hard way.  I am not good at the layout and design aspect and that is the case for many business owners as well.

Submitted by Jeff Vice

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This Week in Advertising: Mar. 8 – Mar. 14

Welcome back to RSVP’s This Week in Advertising feature! This regular series includes the news tidbits from the advertising world that interested, excited, or amused us this week. We’re glad you’ve joined us – let’s see what happened This Week in Advertising:


  • You may remember that we highlighted McDonald’s response to recent trials and tribulations in this very feature just last month, but in case you’ve forgotten: Ronald & Co. launched an ad campaign that touted their food’s dedication to being absolutely terrible for your health in response to the (frankly, legitimate) concerns consumers & experts alike have about eating french fries with 19 ingredients in them. In what seems to be a bewildering about-face, McDonald’s recently announced its plans to add kale to its menu via some to-be-announced item(s) in select markets this year. This development also seems to fly in the face of the chain’s promise to cut back on its sprawling menu offerings, and only serves to confirm what the rest of us have suspected for years & what The New York Times put into words earlier this week: McDonald’s is suffering a crisis of identity (is it too late for a mid-life crisis? After all, the brand is making its first appearance at the über-hip SXSW festival, where it will likely stick out like dads at a One Direction concert).
  • Speaking of dads, remember how horrified you were when your parents found your diary? Remember the epic speech you made about privacy and how you’re “twelve years old now and can like boys and stuff!”? No? Just me? Well, anyway, Facebook wants to continue the creeping tradition parents everywhere started all those years ago, and will soon launch a feature called “Topic Data” that enables advertisers to see what users are saying about brands, products, and events on their personal pages. There is no word yet on whether it will also track mentions of how dreamy Seth in 4th period chem looks when he smiles.
  • Even though parents can be, like, totally annoying and stuff, we absolutely love and appreciate them…granted, we may not realize it until we’re 20 and living in our own apartment for the first time ever and finally realizing how much work it is keeping ourselves fed, housed and clothed. It is in the spirit of parental appreciation that American Greetings unveiled their #worldstoughestjob ad last year, in which the company posted a fake ad & interviewed applicants for what sounded like indentured servitude, but actually turned out to be mothering. While American Greetings put the salary for being a mom at $0, British florist Interflora has released a “Mum Salary Calculator” that allows parents to put in the amount of time they spend acting as their child’s/children’s teacher, caregiver, chef, etc., and calculates what their salary should be, if parents were, you know, compensated in money instead of love.  The calculator operates in pounds, but you can convert your salary to dollars here.
  • Let’s end things on a feel-good note! Microsoft is famous for its support of charities & innovative thinkers, and launched the #CollectiveProject to highlight innovative thinkers whose ideas could make the world a better place. One #CollectiveProject student, Albert Manero, founded Limbitless, which focuses on creating bionic limbs for children in need. This week, Manero joined forces with Tony Stark himself (actor Robert Downey Jr.) to present a young boy with his very own Iron Man-esque bionic arm. Watch it here, and have a great weekend!

    Contributed by RSVP Staff.
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This Week in Advertising: Mar. 1 – 7

Welcome back to RSVP’s This Week in Advertising feature! Apologies for last week’s hiatus; a nasty flu bug made its way around the office, but now we’re back & better than ever! This regular series includes the news tidbits from the advertising world that interested, excited, or amused us this week. We’re glad you’ve joined us – let’s see what happened This Week in Advertising:


  •  The millennial generation has proven a difficult audience for advertisers to capture, as these post-Gen X-ers are less inclined to watch television shows traditionally, subscribe to print magazines and newspapers, and listen to radio. The key to reaching this up & coming (and highly idealistic) demographic may be in the message, not the medium: brands like Coke, Dove, and McDonald’s are targeting Millennials with positive, uplifting messages, in hopes of generating new business & continued loyalty. Could your business benefit from a similar approach?
  • March is Women’s History Month, and many companies are focusing their attention on common issues facing women in our world today. A striking example comes from across the pond, where British charity Women’s Aid created an interactive billboard featuring a battered woman’s face (WARNING: the link includes an auto-play video, so proceed with caution in quiet spaces). As more people look at the billboard, her cuts, bruises and other injuries disappear and heal; this is achieved using facial recognition software to register the number of people who have looked at the ad. The message is clear and powerful:the best way to combat domestic violence is to pay attention to those abused.
  • Oreos may be the most fun cookie to eat: you can dunk them, twist them, pull them apart, and if you’re my younger sister, you can eat the creme from the middle & stick the bald cookies back in the package to be discovered later by someone else who just wanted a snack before bed (…not that I’m bitter about that, all these years later). ANYWAY. Oreo is embracing their cookie’s playful history by inviting several artists to illustrate words commonly associated with the iconic snack, including “dunk,” “twist,” and “dream.” The colorful, creative ads are part of the brand’s “Play With Oreo” campaign.
  • Remember when travelling by plane was a delightful, luxurious experience? Well, OK, neither do we, but ask your grandparents about it! Before airlines were faced with the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978, they competed not on price, but on service, food, and passenger experience – and they sold the heck out of it, with colorful ads depicting exotic locations in whimsical & lush detail. You may be stuck in coach (don’t worry – most of us are), but you can get a look at the good ol’ days with German artist Matthias C. Hühne’s upcoming book, Airline Visual Identity: 1945-1975. The massive book, which includes full-color depictions of ads from the golden days of air travel, isn’t due out until April (and costs a whopping $300+), but you can whet your appetite with some classic airline ads courtesy of AdWeek.
  • Finally, Business Insider set the record straight this week when the popular publication shared a video on Facebook, correcting common mispronunciations of 15 popular brands. Think you know how to say “Adidas” properly? Watch the video to find out!

    Contributed by RSVP Staff.
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This Week in Advertising: Feb. 15 – Feb. 21

Welcome back to RSVP’s This Week in Advertising feature! This regular series includes the news tidbits from the advertising world that interested, excited, or amused us this week. We’re glad you’ve joined us – let’s see what happened This Week in Advertising:


  • Let’s kick off with a quick lesson in what NOT to do when your company is on the receiving end of some backlash: Seasalt & Co., a company specializing in Photoshop tools, posted a bizarre ad featuring an ominous-looking tree with an even more sinister noose dangling from one of the branches, ostensibly to promote their latest line of graphic design tools…somehow. When the responses they received were less than flattering, the company began threatening legal action against those who complained, then eventually deleted their social media accounts, only to resurface later, with their Facebook page scrubbed clean of the ad, the responses to the ad, and any reference to the ad. A halfhearted and confusing apology (predictably) soon followed, and we suspect the clean-up will continue in coming months. The moral of the story? Think before you advertise, and take criticisms to heart – preferably without unnecessary legal threats.
  • At the other end of the tact spectrum, online retailer ModCloth is known not only for selling high-quality clothes in kitschy cuts & prints at affordable prices, but also for promoting realism & body diversity in their advertising – they were the first company to join a pledge against using Photoshop on their advertisements to create “unattainable body images,” and the company frequently uses images of everyday customers wearing their clothes in catalogs. They continue this tradition with their 2015 swimwear campaign, which features actual ModCloth employees instead of models. The ads include women of various heights & shapes, and have generated quite the social media buzz on Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr.
  • ModCloth may not care much for Photoshop, but millions of graphic designers the world over do, and use the program to design & create the eye-catching ads we see in our daily lives. Adobe is celebrating its iconic design program’s 25th anniversary with a vibrant 60-second ad set to Aerosmith’s “Dream On”, which will air during the Oscar Awards this Sunday evening.
  • Oh, did we mention the Oscars are on this Sunday? You can prepare for the big night by watching the stirring, emotional ads the Academy developed to promote Sunday’s show – just have some tissues ready.
  • Oscar-night ad spots are as coveted as those nestled in between plays on the Super Bowl, and American Express alone will be airing four ads, each costing the credit card company around $2 million dollars. These commercials will feature various celebrities – who are also AmEx clients – talking about their rises to fame & overcoming the obstacles that stood in the way of their dreams…dreams that are now worth $2 million dollars.
  • We know this isn’t *technically* advertising-related, but we can’t help but be fans of Mad Men, the hit AMC show that has transfixed millions over its seven-season run. The show, set in the dog-eat-dog world of 1960s advertising firms, begins its final season on April 5th, and the first trailer indicates that the swinging-sixties have given away to a very sideburn-ed & plaid seventies. Catch the spot here, and be sure to tune in to AMC on April 5th – it’s certain to be memorable.

    Contributed by the RSVP Staff
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This Week in Advertising: Feb. 8 – Feb. 14

Welcome back to RSVP’s This Week in Advertising feature! This regular series includes the news tidbits from the advertising world that interested, excited, or amused us this week. We’re glad you’ve joined us – let’s see what happened This Week in Advertising:


  • Fast food behemoth McDonald’s has had some recent advertising struggles. From the ire over their “Signs” commercial (which led to a very NSFW parody on YouTube), to their on-going “Pay With Lovin'” promotion that gives the socially awkward among us heart palpitations, the burger giant just can’t seem to catch a break. Not to mention, McDonald’s continues to face scrutiny over the ingredients & healthfulness of their food – concerns they attempted to address in their “Our Food, Your Questions” series. That move only led to more headaches for the company, as people began to worry about eating a french fry made with 19 ingredients. Despite being at the top of the fast food chain, McDonald’s faces falling profits & and a tarnished image – what to do? Embrace it – McDonald’s most recent ad campaign features its signature Big Mac sandwich, and boasts that it is not a healthy food, with one ad proudly proclaiming “NOT GREEK YOGURT” over a juicy image of the legendary burger. Will this once again bring customers back to the Golden Arches? Or is America no longer lovin’ it?
  • One Kansas ad agency was on fire this week after unveiling a creative & all too realistic billboard in which Kansas City Royals’ outfielder Jarrod Dyson’s feet appear to be burning a path as he runs between bases. The ad included rope lighting along the “fiery” path that caused it to look a little too real, and the billboard sparked (pun intended) multiple phone calls from concerned citizens to the local fire department.
  • A company’s logo is arguably the most important part of its brand & image, and a successful logo transcends cultures & language barriers, as Turkish artist Mehmet Gozetlik demonstrates in his “Chinatown” series. This collection takes famous & recognizable logos, from Pepsi-Cola to NASA, and translates their English names to Chinese. See the full series on his website here – and find out how many famous logos do you can recognize.
  • Finally (and sadly), longtime Fortune 500 graphic designer, Stu Samuels, lost his battle with cancer in August of last year at the age of 82. Friends, family and colleagues will remember the graphic design great in a memorial service next week in Delray Beach, Fla.

    Contributed by the RSVP Staff
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This Week in Advertising: Feb. 2 – Feb. 6

Welcome to what we hope is the first installment in our new series, “This Week in Advertising”! This is where we will recap notable advertising moments & news from the past week, and occasionally offer our own insights into what these stories mean for local business owners in our area.

This past week, all eyes were on the Super Bowl, where commercials have become as important as the game & halftime show themselves. The offerings ranged from inspiring & heartwarming:

to absurd:

and of course, to celebrity cameo-stuffed pop culture send-ups:

Not every commercial was a touchdown – see Nationwide’s Debbie Downer of an ad below, if you feel like starting your weekend off on a depressing note:

 

What does this teach us? Well, the most successful ads this year were either clever (like the Loctite, Snickers & BMW ads), or uplifting (like Always & Dove’s offerings), and the ads most likely to hit a sour note were depressing (Nationwide), or gross (the toe fungus commercial that we, frankly, refuse to link to because, ick). When working on your advertising, you need to not only know your target audience, but also the general atmosphere – what mood do you want to evoke in your ad’s audience, and what environment will your ad be presented in? Nationwide flubbed by inserting a grim commercial in the middle of what is essentially an enormous nationally-televised party, while Always & Dove gave us hope & warm-fuzzies during a broadcast in which many gather with friends and family to watch the game and celebrate. And never underestimate the power of clever, well-executed humor – it will make your company seem hip, laid-back, and friendly.

Thank you again for joining us in our first edition of This Week in Advertising, and join us next time  – who knows what the coming week will bring!


Contributed by the RSVP Staff
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