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.

Can Combining Mailers with Digital Marketing Create Greater Success?

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Marketing has been transformed by social media over the last few years and many businesses are now making digital solutions a large part of their strategy. However, digital solutions can only go so far with your potential clients. Thankfully, some traditional marketing tools, like direct mail, can still provide massive exposure.

Here are just a few ways why combining traditional marketing options with your digital strategy can make it more successful.

Print is Better for the Brain

Just because our eyes spend hours looking at a screen every day doesn’t mean it’s the ideal form of communication. Studies show that people require 21% less brainpower to read a page of print than a page of online text and can recall the name of the business 75% better when printed.

When crafting your marketing strategy and combining direct mail and digital marketing, the digital strategy can give you quantity and greater reach, but print offers quality and staying power.

You Have Your Reader’s Full Attention

The problem with digital advertising is that while you are able to reach a wide selection of potential clients with one message, you are only one message in a full inbox. Unless you have an eye-catching subject line, the odds are high that you can get lost in the system.

With real mail advertising, you’ll instantly stand out in the eyes of the recipient in a much smaller pool of daily mail. The best part? You’ll also pop back into your recipient’s minds every time they see your flyer on their coffee table or fridge, giving your marketing strategy greater longevity.

Greater Opportunity for Creativity

Whether it’s the physical presence of the ad or the way we carry it around with us, there’s something tactile about a direct mail flyer that no amount of paid online ads or SMS deals can ever compete with.

One of the best ways you can take advantage of this is to change the gloss or texture of your flyer and customize it to stand out against the rest of the envelopes in a person’s mailbox. You can even include valuable gift cards in your marketing to further entice and attract your clients!

Marketing today requires a complex strategy to merge the real and digital worlds and keep your clients hooked. If you’re looking for proven ways to stay in your clients’ minds and consistently promote your business, give the staff at RSVP Upscale Offers a call today at 888-958-7787 or visit us online to see our wide selection of direct mail marketing options.

Holiday Shopping is Coming!

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Black Friday? That sounds scary. Millions brave the crowds the Friday after Thanksgiving to start their Christmas shopping looking for big savings. It turns out it isn’t an official US holiday but if you’re not in retail you probably have the day off. If you are in retail I wish you all the serenity and coffee you need. I had wondered where such a dark name came from, it sounds so ominous to me! But in reality it just comes from accounting, losses were recorded in red ink while black ink represented a profit. Electronics, toys, clothing, home furnishing, just about anything you can think of will have big discounts on Black Friday.

More recently the day after Black Friday is getting some hype, Small Business Saturday! Starting in 2010 this day promotes supporting small and local businesses. Just a year later the day became official in 2011. By 2014 American Express had become a huge supporter of this day and do free ads for local businesses. Local businesses today are being very supported on this day and it looks like that support will only continue to grow!

With such a crazy shopping weekend after Thanksgiving my personal favorite is Cyber Monday.  That is where you’ll find me! Starting back in 2005 this seems like a great way to avoid the traffic, crowds, cold, and all the hassle for items that may be out of stock by the time you get to them, eek. A lot of Cyber Monday shopping can actually begin on Sunday so you don’t even have to miss a beat if you’re going to be shopping all three of these events next weekend!

 

Shopping Image Source: http://www.swire-mt.com/

Submitted by Syd Miles

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Lessons From My Grandfather

“Relationships are everything.” My grandfather has told me this thousands of times, ever since I first understood what it meant to be personable. When it comes to doing business, my grandfather has bestowed in me valuable lessons about how two people should conduct themselves and find success in what they are trying to achieve. Whether it is a formal meeting behind a desk, or a lunch meeting on a Friday, the way you present and handle yourself is everything. My grandfather, who is now in his 90’s spent his whole life since he was 16 doing business with others and building great relationships on top of it.

Being 22 & fresh out of college, there is nothing I appreciate more than wisdom from a man who has seen life from not only a different generation’s perspective, but also from a different world. He was born and raised in Vienna, Austria until he and his family immigrated the United States – but not before living through the Nazi invasion. While his family was not Jewish by religion, they were by blood, which prevented my grandfather from ever graduating from high school. Starting at age 15, he worked at a service station until one day the owner told him that he was taking a job elsewhere & gave my grandfather full responsibility for operating the station. Even at such a young age, my grandfather took over the service station, and managed it until he came over to the United States in 1939, when he began working at a lamp factory in Cleveland.

This was only the next opportunity for my grandfather, and while working at the factory in his new land, he began to learn English – and even found love. Only two weeks later, fate led him to my grandmother. A short time after that, he enlisted in the U.S. army and became a member of a mysterious, elite team that was so secretive in its mission, it was known only as PO Box 1142. My grandfather’s team was responsible for listening in on conversations of German Prisoners of War who were stationed there. No one else knew what PO Box 1142 did – it was all highly confidential because the work was very important to the war effort.

After leaving the army, my grandfather worked for the Motch & Merryweather Machinery Company and then left to join Pesco Products, a division of Borg Warner Corporation as a Senior Buyer. Ultimately, Picker X Ray asked him to provide non-magnetic stainless steel tools for the MRI. He and a German business acquaintance went into business together and became the sole importers of such products; 2 years later, his partner developed the only titanium tool line available, and they successfully sold that product for 15 years.

My grandfather’s valuable knowledge and wisdom that he shares with me to this day helps me strive for great relationships with everyone that I do business with now and in the future. I owe much of my personal and professional demeanor to my grandparents and one day I will be able to pass that along to my own children. I personally believe you cannot do good business without showing others your own commitment to and strong belief in what you are selling. Even today my grandfather takes me with him when he meets with different people, just to prove how right his statement is. Relationships in business may start with a simple handshake but end with a partnership for years to come.

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Me & my grandfather at my recent college graduation.


Contributed by Ethan Tanney. All photos are the author’s own & may not be reproduced without permission.
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Teamwork Gets It Done!

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When I started working at RSVP at 2012, we only offered one program – our Luxury Card Pack – and only mailed in 10 zones throughout Ohio & Kentucky. At that time, I was the only graphic designer and I easily kept myself organized with just pen and paper: writing out to-do lists, sketching ideas, and making notes for myself. In 2013, RSVP quickly started growing, adding several new programs to create an entire marketing suite, as well as acquiring 2 new zones in Indianapolis – bringing our total coverage to 12 zones in 3 states. Before I knew it, I was swamped! Two things immediately became clear:

  1. I realized that we needed to hire a second designer, not only to help manage the workload these exciting changes brought about, but also to enable RSVP to continue to grow.
  2. I also realized that my-pen-and-paper method of organization & project management wasn’t going to cut it any more!

In December 2014, we hired a 2nd graphic designer, and though the workload remained demanding & hectic, I knew we could manage it if we worked together & developed a coherent strategy.

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So how do we do it?

  1. We set clear goals and tasks: Each of our programs has a set-in-stone deadline, so staying on task & on track is essential! We make this happen by using project management software to schedule and manage tasks. This helps us work as a team & take big projects in small chunks – it can be overwhelming to see something like 36 mailings due in a single month! But by breaking it down bit by bit. we find it’s much less stressful and daunting. We each excel at different aspects of design, too, so the software allows us to collaborate – and to come with the best solution for each client.Image3
  2. We expect the unexpected: It’s inevitable that something goes wrong – a computer crashes, or a client changes the artwork, or someone gets sick. No matter how much pre-planning we do, we know that something always comes up. The key is to stay calm & cope with whatever the situation may be.  We stay flexible by getting work done early & doing our best to anticipate possible speed bumps. Image4
  3. We measure our successes and celebrate our victories: When you manage a project for efficiency, accuracy, and speed, it’s not just about managing the details and flow of the project; it’s also about managing the details of the details. Every morning, we come with a clear plan of action, enumerating what needs to be done that day, how we’re going to get it done, and we make sure to check off each task along the way. At the end of the day, we evaluate what we have accomplished, and then plan accordingly for the next day. Image5

We know that RSVP’s success is our success & vice-versa, so we’re excited to continue growing & know that we will be able to manage our projects as long as we stay focused & committed to excellence. We won’t stop until we reach the top!Image6


Contributed by Caitlin Tuohy. All images are the author’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.

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Believe in Your Sell!

All throughout college I knew that I would want to be in sales, but a big question kept popping up: What do I want to sell?

I learned about sales through both my coursework and personal experiences as well, which led me to believe that sales can be easy. People are actually selling every day – even those who aren’t working in a typical “sales” position. Remember the time you went to a restaurant & couldn’t make a decision on what to order? Maybe you asked the server for a recommendation, and she gushed about a particular dish they serve, or insisted you try the chef’s special. That’s selling! They are persuading you to purchase a specific dish – and you will most likely try what she recommends because it’s clear that she believes that item is the best on the menu.

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“Aren’t you glad you listened to me? Of course you are. I’m awesome.”

Imagine, on the other hand, your server shrugs & says, “Well, I guess the chef’s special is pretty good,” or gives some other lukewarm non-answer devoid of excitement or fervor. You probably wouldn’t be as inclined to trust her recommendation. She doesn’t seem to think that dish is good – does she like anything the restaurant serves? Maybe you should have gone somewhere else for dinner…

I knew that I didn’t want to be like the 2nd server, who seems unsure of the menu & doesn’t appear to believe in what she is selling. I knew that I wouldn’t be happy in sales unless I could sell something I believe in – something that gets me excited to sell. Studies constantly show that happy employees are more productive employees, and productivity is everything in sales, so this requirement seemed obvious and essential. It would be the best way for me to be productive & happy while successfully serving my clients. Not to mention, confidence is a strong indicator of whether or not someone succeed in sales, and I knew I couldn’t be confident were I to settle for selling something I didn’t believe in. I couldn’t even fathom the idea morally. I wouldn’t want to sell a product or service to clients that I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying myself – they won’t be happy because I’ve ultimately wasted their time and money, not to mention betrayed the trust they placed in me. At the end of the day, I want to feel good about myself and my work.

Although I had no intentions of selling advertising, I am very fortunate to have found RSVP. Even though I am new and still learning new things, I can honestly say that RSVP gets me excited to sell, and I enjoy telling people about our company and what we do to help small businesses. I admittedly even get a little frustrated when a prospect doesn’t want to listen or learn about what RSVP can offer  – but that is just because I know that I can provide him or her with a vehicle to increase revenue and generate solid, qualified business for their company. I sincerely want to help these business owners, and I am certain that the best way for me to do so is through helping them advertise with RSVP. I am confident in our service and excited to continue my journey here – always learning & growing – and I want to pass this excitement on to prospects (and eventually, clients) as I invite them to join RSVP’s publications & take their businesses to the next level!


Contributed by Travis Haren.
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Free Your Time

Every day, I feel blessed to meet inspiring business owners through my work at RSVP. Each of them started their business with some passion, end goal or dream in mind. Each story shares that uniquely American can-do spirit & independence. I hear things like:

  • “I was tired of the corporate rat race.”
  • “Why work for someone else when I can work for myself?”
  • “I want to create a legacy.”

But their reasons run even deeper than that. At the heart of their decision to strike out on their own is the desire for a sense of control over their lives and futures. They year for independence, yet they find themselves working harder, burning the candle at both ends, no end to the workday, perpetually tethered to the business they created & nurtured. Instead of resting easy they lay awake thinking about hiring new employees or tackling the next big project, answering emails in the wee hours of the morning or at their kid’s soccer practice.

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“OK, we do monkey bars until 3:15, then the slide from 3:30-3:40, and that should give us enough time to have juice & crackers before our 4:00 meeting with Mom regarding your most recent finger-painting performance.”

That original laser-focused dream that started it all becomes a little cloudy in the weary mind of that business owner. Now she may be totally in charge of her own destiny now, but she’s somehow a little more out of control. And yet she still has the same spark of passion and energy that inspires her to get up every day and do it all again, living the madness to create her dream for herself. Despite the unique challenges and struggles that come along with being an entrepreneur, most are proud and wouldn’t trade the freedom that comes along with it for the world.

Our conversations often turn to the real reason they’re working so hard: the freedom to do what they want with their downtime. The desire to be able to take a vacation without requesting time off from someone else, relying on another person’s approval. Common escapes include foreign travels, a beach, a lake, camping. Living a life of pleasure & relaxation in a place of peace & serenity. A place to reboot & recharge. I have to smile when I hear that their escapes are often jam-packed with activity, from adventure sports, boating, or other adrenaline-pumping, white-knuckle, edge-of-the-seat activity.  It isn’t surprising that the same business owners who pour their passion into creating & sustaining a business during working hours tend to approach their downtime with the same fervor.

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For example, this is how I relax.

But it takes time, dedication, and delegation – and delegation seems to be the hardest part! For business owners whose ventures are in their infancy or growing years, these escapes must be postponed. Sometimes it may be for personal reasons – “We’re waiting until the kids are a little older before we buy a cabin on the lake.” – but often it’s for professional reasons. They have to wait until such-and-such employee is able to handle the workload – or even have to wait until their business grows enough to hire employees! Other business owners have grown their company & begun to hand the reins over to capable individuals. These owners are enjoying their time, living in the moment…and looking back, they wish they would’ve done it sooner.  They wish they would’ve spent more time with their children and escaped from the daily grind even if that grind is one they created for themselves. If you’re nervous about delegating business responsibilities to others so that you can enjoy the life you’ve created for yourself, let Entrepreneur magazine help you out with their 4-step guide!

In his book The 4-Hour Workweek, author Tim Ferriss recommends to readers to not to work until retirement, but rather to live your retirement a little each week. Build those little escapes into your life so you can enjoy them now, rather than waiting for some undetermined future date – when you hire more people, open another location, add another service. I know it’s hard to believe, but work can wait.  What may seems like an urgent problem requiring your attention RIGHT NOW, TODAY may simply work itself out in the hands of capable & trusted employees if only you would make like Elsa & let it go.

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And now the song is in your head. No need to thank us.

So as my family & I pack up and head to the lake this Fourth of July season, I’ll be counting my blessings: not just my own personal or professional success, but also our nation’s independence, and our country’s long history of encouraging men & women to make their own way by doing things their own way, freeing us to create the life of our dreams. I like to think that the fantastic fireworks displays with all their awe-inspiring moments of “Ooh!”s and “Ahh!”s are symbolic of these blessings, and a reminder to keep your head up, dream big, be grateful, and be present.

I hope these business owners see it the same way, and that they continue to work to fulfill their dreams, but remember to get away and savor the here & now.


Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.
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Image sources: 1, 2 and 3. Frozen copyright Disney 2013.

 

 

Social Self-Destruction

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Don’t let this happen to your business!

For the last week, I have been watching a small business self-destruct via Facebook. It hasn’t been pretty and it was totally preventable if the business owner truly understood the power of social media.

I am part of a Facebook group for a vendor I use for my own sewing hobby/ business. The people in the group are not only very active in that particular group, but also in many other related groups. Over the last month, customers have noticed a sudden drop in overall quality of the vendor’s product. Naturally, these customers have reached out to the company’s customer service – but unfortunately, they have gotten less than satisfactory responses. Some customers have even been on the receiving end of responses that are accusatory in nature, with the company blaming their customers!

Customers are understandably upset & are now taking their concerns to the business’ Facebook page, which is common in the “social age.” This is where things are getting ugly. Instead of addressing negative comments & customer complaints, the company deletes them. The company owner has started sending rude Facebook messages to complaining customers, telling them not to post concerns or negative comments to the Facebook page, and going so far as to bring up comments the customers made in other groups.

Yes. The owner is “e-stalking” the customers & monitoring their activity on pages that are NOT the owner’s business page!

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DANGER! DANGER! BAD IDEA!

Further, customers are being banned from the group for “bullying” because they dare to post dissenting opinions. While all of this is playing out, these customers are talking in other groups and even posting screen shots of the messages they received from the business owner. The negativity is getting around and lots of people are talking…which also means that lots of customers are choosing not to shop there anymore. This includes people who have been customers for years and who have spent thousands of dollars with this company – and all of them are now taking their business elsewhere.

This sort of negative attention and resulting customer exodus will certainly have a long-term impact on this vendor’s business. As Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – and you can probably imagine that being insulted by the owner of a company that your dollars helped succeed makes someone feel pretty terrible for a long, long time. In fact, research shows that 39% of consumers will continue to avoid vendors two or more years after a bad experience.

What’s more, a handful of bad customer service experiences can have far-reaching effects – 54% of consumers have shared bad experiences with more than five people. Websites like Yelp! have not only made sharing poor experiences easier, but they’ve also broadened the audience for these tales. This means that even consumers who have not personally been affected by a company’s bad business manners may steer clear of it anyway – as much as 88% of consumers have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.

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And this doesn’t even include all of the review sites where your business may be listed!

The owner of the company I’ve been watching implode on Facebook could have handled it so much better simply by being transparent over social media. Addressing customer concerns in real time and in a public space makes them feel appreciated & important, and other customers who witness the exchange can rest assured that they will also be heard if they have a problem. Peter Roesler at Inc. offers some good advice:

“A key tenet of good PR is that whenever a company makes a mistake, they need to make an honest effort to acknowledge the problem, apologize and ameliorate the situation. Trying to hide or ignore a problem will only make the effects worse in the long run. This is especially true with complaints on social media networks. Ignoring, deleting comments from, or banning consumers with a legitimate complaint only makes them angrier and they are likely to attack the social media page, or the brand itself, in other ways. For example, they may use a friend’s profile to continue posting negative comments, ad infinitum. They may also take their angry comments to a review site or list the business with a scam site.”

The message here is clear: if a business doesn’t properly manage its social media and proceeds to ignore the concerns of customers, then it is just digging its own grave.

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Contributed by Jodie Hook
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Image sources: 1, 2, 3 & 4

 

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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