Marketing coffee when they should have been advertising routers

    Do you know why your customers buy? A coffee shop we know and love that’s been in business for over 15 years recently asked their customers that and was shocked by the response. Whereas they had always assumed that the coffee and atmosphere were the main drivers for business, a customer poll revealed that people’s #1 reason for being in there was WiFi and access to power plugs.

    WiFi and power plugs? What has the world come to? No, never mind, we’re not here to judge, but what this can teach us is that no matter how well you think you know your customer, you probably don’t. People continue to buy coffee there just as they always have, but their reasons for doing so have shifted.

    It goes to show that if you don’t keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ motives, you can get blindsided, just like this coffee shop did when the router went out and everyone mysteriously vanished. All of a sudden their time-tested value proposition of “great coffee, great people” was worthless. It’s thus far better to ask the right questions.

    Questioning will help you stay abreast of why people buy. Those reasons can vary a lot between individuals who each have their own unique demographic and psychographic profiles, but in aggregate you should be able to develop the profile for an average customer. Many marketers even choose to name them, like “Suzy shopper.”

    1. The first thing to do is ask the right questions!

    Poll your customers however you can. Try online surveys, asking people at the check-out counter, or handing out paper questionnaires. Remember to always keep it less than 10 questions and if you want to supercharge your response rate, offer a drawing or sweepstakes for participating. In that survey, ask them things like:

    Why did you make a purchase today?

    Would you buy again? Why or why not?

    What is the most important thing to you about ___ product/service?

    What made you choose us over the other options out there?

    2. Create a hypothesis for your customer value proposition 

    How many responses is enough? For the average small business, no less than 100 will do. Tally all of them up and select the top reason for buying from each category. This should allow you to craft a statement like this: “Suzy shopper purchased because ____.” This is your hypothesis value proposition, but don’t stop here because you’re not done yet!

    3. Make sure you’re working with an actual value proposition 

    You’ll want to make sure that you, unlike many business owners, steer clear of the feature/functionality trap. This is when you think your business advantage is a technological one, like a car dealer advertising more cup holders on their sports car. You see businesses of all sorts advertising this way, saying that they use ACME technology or the X1 method. But do customers really care? Heck no! They have no idea what ACME or X1 are, they only care that their dentist makes them look more attractive, their mechanic gets them to the party, and the pastry chef makes their five year old smile.

    It’s about what you do for them, not how you did it. So stop advertising technologies and get wise! Your value proposition is about the real impact to your customer’s life.

    So stop now and double check your hypothesis value proposition. Is it about how it makes them feel, or is it about your industry’s version of “more cup holders?” If it’s about how it makes them feel, you’re on to something, and you can check that it applies to at least two of the five most common reasons that people buy (from an acronym known as PIERS):

    Productivity: will they get more done?

    Image: will it make them look better?

    Efficiency: will it make their life easier?

    Revenue: will it make or save them money?

    Safety/Security: will it give them peace of mind?

    Let’s put all of the together now…

    What did you come up with? Hopefully your hypothesis is ready to be tested by the trial of marketing. Take your newly minted value proposition and try it out in a marketing campaign. With a direct mail postcard campaign, you can even A/B test its effectiveness against the old one so that you can know if you’re truly onto something.

    New value propositions really are that easy! Nobody expects you to be a mind-reader because the answers you seek are lying right in front of you with your customers! Like our friends at the coffee shop, you should be curious and ask lots of questions. So get out there, improve your value proposition, and in turn, increase your own marketing efficiency and revenue! (how did we do against PIERS?).

    Looking for a little help with that campaign? 

    Opportunity Knocks Marketing can help you develop a killer value proposition and if you’re having trouble formulating your own or simply don’t have time, give them a call at 877-222-6010 and enlist their help today!

      As easy as feeding fish in a barrel

      Are you familiar with the phrase “as easy as shooting fish in a barrel?” We’ve never quite cared for it. Even as amateur fishermen (and women) we think there are much more productive and less messy ways to bring home the catch. If we were to re-write it we might call it “feeding fish in a barrel.” By feeding them like any livestock, don’t you grow them so they can better feed you? And in such a way, this is a perfect analogy for neighborhood marketing.

      Instead of shooting fish with one-and-done marketing campaigns and then moving on, neighborhood marketing is about establishing and leveraging your local presence. It’s about developing the relationships that will grow your business so that people are out there doing your selling for you while you sleep. It’s about feeding them consistent and direct marketing so that your brand grows over time. The only problem is, how do you make sure you’re targeting only people in that neighborhood?

      Automated neighborhood postcard marketing

      There’s no better way to get started with this than by postcard marketing. With technology is these days direct mail marketing allows you to create a campaign based on a radius, zip-code, or region that sends postcards to the homes or the businesses in that area and repeats itself multiple times. Once you set it, you can basically forget it. And multiple touches is important because it takes on average 7 “touches” or marketing messages for people know who you are.

      And once you get this rolling, you’ll start to take advantage of all of the benefits of neighborhood direct mail marketing: you increase your chances of referrals, you boost your social-proof credibility, you send more personalized and effective messages, and you cut down on your overhead. Whew, that was a mouthful, so let us elaborate on each of these.

      The true benefits of neighborhood-based postcard marketing:
      1. Increase your chance of referrals: If you’re out there trying to target the entire continental United States, odds are low that any two of your customers are going to know each other, discuss your service, and create what’s known in marketing as a “” Buzz requires an air of excitement around your product and service and it’s much easier to generate it in a more confined area amongst communities who talk frequently. In general, the smaller the better. If you target a single neighborhood, neighbors talk to neighbors and people who are happy about a service will share (or brag, if you will) and spread your name. By marketing to one neighborhood repeatedly, people will be asking each other, “Hey, haven’t you heard about Jane’s new shop?”
      1. It gives you built-in social proof. If you’ve done any reading on content marketing, you know that it’s important to advertise across many channels simultaneously. Campaigns that support each other reinforce your message and provide more “” If you complete a successful local job and can post a job site sign, you can run a postcard campaign that directs people to see your work as they drive by. They’ll intrinsically trust you because their neighbors already do, and that’s two touches. If another few people become customers as a result, you can run yet another campaign and create a virtuous cycle where people are buying from you because it appears that everyone else is.
      1. Get more specific and personalized: Broad marketing messages fail to engage people as individuals. If you use a generic postcard graphic of the typical American lawn for your landscaping service, it will probably work. But if you’ve chosen to market locally to just one neighborhood and you get permission to use the picture of an actual customer’s house, you suddenly make a deep and meaningful connection with people. Plus you can use personalized postcards with messages like, “Susie, we’re renovating 321 Main Street. Come see our work!”  They’ll recognize it, drive by it, and it will cement your business’ presence in a way that you can only achieve without neighborhood marketing.
      1. You’ll cut down your overhead. Logistics is the hidden killer of profitability. A sudden influx of new jobs can seem like a blessing until you realize that they’re scattered all over town and after paying for the supplies, gas, time, and materials, you’re just breaking even. Your business has effectively just become a non-profit for the week. However, by marketing to neighborhoods, you drastically increase the likelihood that your job sites are tightly grouped and you can take advantage of the economies of scale. What’s another job if your contractors are already in the neighborhood?
      A barrel full of well-fed fish

      And there you have it, the not-so secret benefits to neighborhood postcard marketing! They’re easy to create, quick to get out, and they’re running while you sleep so that you can focus on completing jobs and winning over more happy customers. Instead of shooting up your barrel with one-and-done marketing, you’re feeding your fish so that everyone grows together.

      Done correctly, neighborhood marketing increases your odds of earning new business, gives your marketing more credibility, and cuts down on your overhead so that additional jobs actually translate into more profit.

      What more could you ask for? Give ProspectsPlus a call today at 877-222-6010 and start marketing more effectively to your neighborhood!

      And if you’re thinking that you’d love to take advantage of this but don’t have the time, Opportunity Knocks Marketing is a full-service agency that can be your postcard marketing expert and get it all done for you. It’s all of the benefits with none of the time commitment!

        What’s in a handshake, anyways?

        Your door hanger should be like a handshake: gripping, timely, and to the point. They should leave people like, well, you’ve just shaken their hand. It’s a gesture of goodwill.  I mean, isn’t that essentially what you’re doing when you’re canvassing an area with leave-behinds and flyers? And because no business owner has the time to drop by each residence and deliver their message personally, marketing experts can help you achieve the same effect from the comfort of your office!

        So let’s jump ahead into designing that perfect door hanger. After all, how useful is a poorly designed door hanger to your business? About as useful as a hole in the head! So let’s help you design the very best ones, the ones that drive people straight to the phone to call and book an appointment.

        Designing the perfect door hanger is much easier than you think. Here are the 5 things to remember:
        1. Be eye catching. That is, have a firm handshake. Be noticeable. Selecting an image for your door hanger isn’t strikingly different from selecting an image for your postcard, except that it’s vertical. The same core rule applies: choose an image that can be seen and understood from afar. A good test, if you’re not sure, is to bring it up on your computer. Walk ten feet away, turn around three times and then look at the screen. Is it immediately clear? If not, keep searching!
        1. Be relevant. Handshakes are the start to an introduction, and your image needs to convey a thousand words about your business at a glance. Be as straightforward as possible. If you’re a realtor, it very well might be your pretty mug. But if you’re a dentist, it’s someone else’s brilliant white smile. If you’re a landscaper, it’s perfect box hedges. If you’re a plumber, more than likely, it’s a wrench. Have something that tells people what your business is even before they get close enough to read the text.
        1. Be personalized. Personalization is about shaking the right person’s hand. You want to get the correct message to the correct person and while you won’t always be able to address them by first name with a door-hanger, you can make sure that your ad is at least relevant. Don’t, for example, go putting ads for pool cleaning on people’s doors if they live in an apartment complex. Make sure you match up the message, the season, and the pictures to the type of home or office you’re flyering.
        1. Have a clear call to action. In other words, let them know why you’re shaking their hand. What exactly do you want people to do with your door hanger? If there isn’t a clear phone number, website link, or call-to-action, then all you’ve done is send them a free picture. This is the #1 area where small business owners falls short in their marketing, so don’t be one of them by making your CTA bold and obvious!
        1. Quality matters. When you’ve only got one fleeing shot at impacting the customer with a positive impression, nothing undercuts your efforts more than bad, poor quality printing. If it’s not glossy, the picture looks grainy, or there are ink smudges, they’ll assume that your business is equally careless. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by cutting corners! Choose a printer or partner that can deliver the same high quality that your business does.

        And with that, you’re there! The next step is to decide what neighborhoods you want to canvass and you’ve got what you need to order the first batch today! If you want some help getting things moving, give us a call at 877-222-6010!

        How’s your overall marketing strategy? 

        Any keen marketer who follows our blog knows what question coming next: how does this fit into your broader marketing strategy? Door hangers are most effective when supported by direct mail postcard campaigns, so contact Opportunity Knocks Marketing for help with both today!

          Social Media & Postcard Marketing
          What’s the deal with social media anyhow?

          Social media: just a passing fad? Hardly! While that question is still around, many businesses who have ignored social media are not. It’s high time that you create a strong presence and leverage it elsewhere in your marketing!

          Any good marketing strategy of course should look something like trident: one central message, but several different approaches or “channels.” This might be direct mail, blog, email, and social media.

          How does the trident approach change everything? 

          Its because you probably think social media means more work for you. But the same messages that you already use elsewhere are perfectly valid on social media! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or enlist the help of a millennial (although it never hurts!). Savvy marketers on a shoestring budget make it simple by chopping up existing ads into bite-sized morsels for social media consumption. Here’s a quick example:

          For example, here’s a full advertisement for Chip’s Landscaping Service:

          Are you settling for brown patches in your lawn? You don’t have to live this way! Turn your yard from an embarrassment into the lush and thriving envy of the neighborhood! Chip’s landscaping has been in the business for more than 20 years and has expertise in residential, commercial, and is ready for all seasons! 

          His Facebook post:

          facebookblog

          His Twitter message:

          twitterpost

          His Instagram post:

          instagramblogpost

          Congratulations, you’re already a social media whiz and you didn’t even know it!

          The next step, and this is where you’ll really start seeing an ROI, is to use social media to enhance the postcard marketing campaigns you’re already running.

          One message, many outlets: Here are the top 3 use-cases to get started: 
          1. Use your Social Media profile as a landing page for postcard campaigns: You can support the postcard campaigns you’re already running by hiding additional information on the social media site, like the discount offer code. It forces them to interact, visit, and get addicted to your brand! Just place the social media logos and your URL (or handle, for Instagram and Twitter) and direct them from the offline world to the online one.

          From here, another hidden benefit emerges. While you can track when your postcards are delivered, you can now also track when those people visit your digital profile or website. It gives you another layer of verification to measure campaign success so you can make better decisions with each campaign.

          1. Use postcards to drive social followers: once you have people on your social media site, you need to hook them for the long term. Encourage them to like, share, follow, or interact with your content to develop the relationship further. It solidifies their impression of you, and every minute they spend on there is a minute of free advertising.

          As you collect a sizable number of followers you can reach out to them with more offers! A few of our customers have gotten really creative and doubled the effectiveness of their postcard campaigns by warning people that they’re coming with a social media blast!

          1. Use Social Media to collect marketing information. In today’s digital-first world consumers are far more comfortable than you might think about sharing their information online. By “gating” content on your website or social profile and using a form to ask for their contact information, you can gather valuable marketing data.

          Gathering email addresses this way is a great start but if you go a step further and ask for their physical address, you can start spotting trends in where your customers are concentrated and target them with personalized postcard campaigns!

          Not too difficult, right? We sure don’t think so, and we’ll worth the commitment of building the profiles. By chopping up ads that you already run and employing the trident strategy you can enhance your postcard campaigns with social media.

          Don’t waste any time: you now have the tools, try it out and start your next postcard campaign powered by social media! Call 877-222-6010 today to get it going!

            Is marketing an expense or an investment?

            This is a question as old as advertising itself, and the long held wisdom from corporate board rooms to sole-proprietorships is that it is indeed just an expense. Historically the problem with marketing has been that it’s been nearly impossible to tell what’s working and what’s not. To quote John Wanamaker, a 19th century American businessman, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” So true, right?

            Only here the 21st century, marketing is changing. With advanced tools like Google Analytics or direct-response tracking for analyzing your direct mail marketing performance we have a stronger grasp than ever on exactly what your marketing will do for you. These are tools that would have been unimaginable, pure science fiction to Mr. Wanamaker, so is it maybe time to revise our age-old wisdom along with the times?

            Well, which one is it?

            To return to the original question, let’s consider the difference between an expense and an investment. An expense is a one-time cost that you pay because you have to. It’s buying more supplies, paying a ticket, or purchasing fuel. Once it’s purchased, it’s gone, and there’s no way to know if it somehow led to a sale. An investment on the other hand, is defined by Investopedia as:

            “an asset or item that is purchased with the hope that it will generate income or appreciate in the future”

            Let’s put this in marketing perspective. You wouldn’t buy flyers or door-hangars with the expectation that they’d never land you a new sale, would you? No, you buy them rightfully expecting a return that’s greater than you paid to get them. And with the ability to track which flyers or door-hangar campaigns led to which sales, and to A/B test and improve them over time, suddenly you have some data that makes your marketing very predictable. And once you can reliably calculate your return, we are most definitely talking about investing.

            So if marketing is investing, that makes you a marketing investor. And knowing that, how will you behave differently?

            Here are our 4 time-tested principles of investing that you can apply to your 21st century marketing:

            1.) Have a marketing plan

            .Just like flossing, everyone says they do it but nobody ever does. Plans are important because they protect us from short-sighted emotional decisions. Even if “going with your gut” seems to work in the short run, research shows that it fails in the long run when it comes to investing. You wouldn’t throw darts to pick the stocks in your 401k, would you? Then let’s take some of the same rigor with your marketing dollars.

            They best way to begin is to define a repeatable strategy. You want to avoid “random acts of marketing” where you chaotically throw money at campaigns when it’s convenient but ignore the topic altogether when it’s not. If you haven’t set up a marketing funnel, this will help you keep things organized and show you which campaigns to run to whom and when.

            2.) Diversify your marketing investments.

            The core of modern portfolio theory is diversification, or not having all of your eggs in one basket. Some investments are inherently more risky than others, and in marketing, there are so many factors that go into the success of a campaign that you’ll want to diversify and run many different ones to cover all your bases.

            If you have a billboard campaign that’s proven extremely successful and drives most of your marketing revenue, what happens if a tree falls on it? Or if other billboards go up? Or if you depend on Google advertising and they change their algorithm, how will you adapt? Cover yourself and offset those star performer campaigns with other types so that if one were to stop working, your marketing table would still have three legs to stand on.

            Rule of thumb: Always have campaigns running in at least 3 of these 8 categories:

            • Direct mail
            • Digital advertising
            • Email marketing
            • Signage/billboards
            • Referral system
            • Tradeshows
            • Broadcast
            • Social media

            4.) Invest in businesses, not their products.

            That is to say, when buying stocks, look at the business running things and not the hot commodity that they’re selling. All too often a promising idea is destroyed by a poorly run business and they’ll take your hard-earned money down the drain with them. In marketing, this means choosing your marketing vendors carefully.

            When you spend money or “invest” in a marketing strategy like email, advertising, direct mail, or SEO, peer behind the curtain and evaluate the company that you’ll be spending money with. Make sure that they have happy customers and have been in business for a while to ensure that they will actually be able to execute your requests and turn your investment into a marketing profit.

            5.) Invest in marketing for the long term.

            When asked how long he typically likes to hold his stocks, Warren Buffet’s response is “forever.” Once he commits to buying something, it’s in his portfolio for good and he’ll keep re-investing.

            In marketing, the same is true: when you find strategies or channels that work for your business, double down. If you try some personalized email or postcard campaigns that bring in a glut of new customers, don’t celebrate! You’re not done yet. You have to keep up your marketing investments for the long term or you’ll fall into what’s known as the feast-and-famine cycle. This is when your marketing works so well that you get busy and stop marketing, and then before you know it, there are no new customers and you’re back to square one.

            Well we just killed two birds with one stone, didn’t we? An investing lesson bundled as a marketing lesson, aimed at helping you cope in a world where marketing is an investment. With all of the data available to you today, it’s no longer sufficient to sit back and lament your marketing expenses. You have the tools to control them and turn them into highly profitable investments!

            So pick up the phone and give us a call today at 877-222-6010 to add a postcard marketing campaign to you diversified portfolio of marketing investments.

            And if you’re feeling like what you could really use is some stock tips from your wealth manager, *ahem*, marketing consultant, contact us at Opportunity Knocks Marketing to ensure your business’ complete financial health.

              Choosing Postcard Marketing Images

              Your image choice when creating marketing postcards is critical. They’re your way of conveying a world of meaning in just a few seconds which can translate directly into sales. Choosing the wrong images on the other hand can have the opposite effect, and it can seriously hamper your campaign’s effectiveness.

              With postcards, you’re inherently limited to what fits in their mailbox and that’s actually a good thing because having those constraints actually inspires greater creativity. If you could include as many images as you want you’d end up bombarding the customer with too much (like so many busy websites) but by forcing you to choose just 2 or 3 photos from all of the available options, you end up having to whittle it down to the very best ones. It takes work, but the end result is far better.

              How do I choose the best images for Postcard Marketing?

              First and foremost, let’s start by getting your objectives straight. There’s a big difference between a good photo and an effective photo. A good one may be pretty, but if it’s of a tulip and you’re an insurance agent and there’s no discernible connection, it doesn’t necessarily inspire action. It’s not effective. A truly effective photo is both pretty AND gets people to realize that they need what you offer.

              How does it do that? Sometimes by showing what they’re missing, like a newer car. Sometimes it’s by helping the customer realize that what they have today just isn’t cutting it, like a broken down lawn mower. And sometimes by conveying the feeling that they’re supposed to feel once they do have your product or service, like someone smiling with a diploma. All of these can be accomplished through careful photo selection and lucky for you, we’ve sent a few postcards in our time (several million, but who’s counting?) and here are our tips.

              Here are four types of photos that you should include in an effective postcard campaign: 

              Engaging faces: All too often people search for a photo that shows a subject doing something up to the neckline. Maybe the idea is that it could be anyone, maybe even you, but that ambiguity kills the effectiveness of your image! Just as every customer needs to be greeted within the first 10 seconds of entering your place of business so that they don’t leave, every postcard recipient should be engaged with a good old fashioned smile and eye contact. Research shows that simply using a smiling subject over a non-smiling subject can increase the effectiveness of ads by as much as 50%.

              Here are two postcards. Both have similar subjects, but in the second one there is smiling and eye contact. See the difference?

              Postcard marketing Photo 1Postcard marketing Photo 2

               

               

               

               

               

               

              Completed work: Very often, people don’t really know what they’re missing out on by paying for a service until it’s shown to them. Most often, this happens by chance. Maybe they see that their neighbor got a hot tub, their cousin is enjoying her perfect teeth after braces, or a friend of a friend was able to rebuild their house on a fantastic insurance policy. But do you have time to wait for that sort of serendipity? Of course not! It’s your marketing’s job to make them aware of what they’re missing today with a market dominator campaign and an image of their dream backyard, dental work, or financial security! Do this with a carefully selected photo of the dream item that they need.

              Here’s an example of two postcards. One shows an X-ray (not everyone’s favorite part) versus the beautiful, completed smile that they could have! Which one engages you more?

              Postcard Marketing Image 1

              Postcard Marketing Image 2

               

               

               

               

               

               

              Before and after photos: These go a step beyond the completed work photo and use the principle of contrast. A dream yard picture may look very appealing but we promise that it will look ten times as appealing next to what the yard looked like before it was fixed. There’s reason that cheap infomercials use this technique: they only get a few seconds to communicate the impact of their product and so they choose photos like these. You can do the same (only in a much less corny way), and when the customer gets your postcard, sees the yard that they want and then realizes that their current one is more accurately represented by the “before” photo, you’ve got yourself a qualified caller.

              Before and After Postcard Photo

              Here is a great before and after photo. See how clearly this spells it out for them?

              Black belt level tip: use metaphors. While the tips above are you speaking directly to your prospect’s conscious, metaphors can speak volumes to their subconscious. A visual metaphor is a way of conveying the feeling that your service will give them, not just necessarily a picture of the service. Modern billboard advertisers rely heavily on this. Below is one from Mitsubishi. Do they actually expect us to presume that there’s a real rhinoceros under the hood? Of course not. But we take the things we associate with the animal like toughness, strength, and invulnerability, and associate them with the car. That, is a metaphor done well.

              Best Postcard Marketing Photos

              Image Source

              To create your own metaphor, think of how your happiest customer feels when they buy your product. Now, take it to an almost absurd level. Will they literally be in heaven once they see their newly manicured lawn? Will they cause car accidents with their new blinding white smile? Take that image and craft you own metaphor that speaks to their subconscious!

              Now you’re off to the postcard marketing races!

              And there you have it, that’s your primer to choosing the right image for postcard marketing. To recap what we’ve gone through, your options are to engage them with a smile and earnest eye contact, show them the finished product, really drive it home with a before and after story, or go for the gusto with a metaphor that’s both funny but effectively conveys your message.

              Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the hardest part is behind you and you’re clear to create your postcard campaign today! Or, if you have a question, pick up the phone and give us a shout at 877-222-6010 because we’d love to hear from you.

              And of course, this blog post wouldn’t be complete without our own metaphor for what happens when you starting sending campaigns with ProspectsPLUS!

              Postcard Marketing Money

                Imagine you’re a fisherman on a dock. You’ve got a single hook and sinker and you’re waiting for a bite. Along comes another fisherman who walks up to a rope tied to the dock. He hauls up massive net with a boatload of fish, and then packs up and leaves. You look down at your rod and wonder what you’ve been doing wrong. This is the advantage of content marketing.

                Let’s begin with a definition from the Content Marketing Institute:

                Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

                This is more than advertisements, its helpful advice. Content marketing is about being an expert that people want to listen to and in turn, trust to handle their landscaping, food choice, home repair, and decorating. Now, if it’s so powerful, why do most businesses neglect to do it? Because it requires that you give away your best ideas for free.

                For free? If you’re like most people, you’re thinking, “but I should charge for my best ideas!” But I’ll ask you, does the fisherman worry over giving up the sardine on a hook to catch a yellow-fin tuna? Of course not! He sees that he’s investing in a much larger prize. This is how you should think of it as well.

                Your great ideas become a wide net that keep you top of mind. As a trusted thought-leader, people will think to come to you when they need your service. And when their friends share that they’re having tree and yard issues, your customers will recommend you. What makes it so successful is that customers will take your great ideas and think, “wow, I’d love my house to look like theirs” and it will lead them directly back to your services. It’s a cycle.

                You can look and see great content marketers are all around you. The local farm-to-table restaurant that posts Instagram pictures of their most mouth-watering dishes keeps diners coming back hungry. The painting service that sends postcards with home-improvement tips that inspires people to repaint their exterior. Examples abound, and it’s easy to get into because nobody is more of an expert about your business than you. Share that expertise and reap the revenue rewards!

                For you, your outreach channels can be newspaper articles, blog posts, product spec sheets, social media posts, emails, radio spots, event booths, podcasts, and more. There are unlimited venues for you to share your ideas with an audience who will eventually be led to buy.

                So now that you’re convinced that you want to get into content marketing and “fish with a net,” how do you get started? Here are 5 simple steps. 

                1. Know where to cast your net. Begin with defining your audience. What are you an expert in? And who wants to hear about it? If you’re a general repairman, new home owners would love to hear about maintenance tips. If you’re an interior designer, people would love get inspired by photos of your great work. If you’re an insurance agent, people would love to hear financial advice and tips on the sort of long-term planning that we all love to put off. Whatever your business, there’s a niche market of customers that would deeply value your expertise and this is the audience you should create content for.
                2. Cast a wide net. No fisherman would drop their net straight down and hope that the right fish were under the boat, would they? Good fisherman recognize that there’s some uncertainty around where the right “fish” are, so they cast a wide net. For you, this means not limiting yourself to a blog but sending direct mail campaigns, posting on social media, “flyering” the neighborhood, and encouraging word-of-mouth. Different people have different preferences for consuming content. Your young professionals probably commute in the car and thus listen to podcasts. Your homeowners can best be reached where they live. Be in lots of places at once, and be consistent in your message across them.
                3. Weave a strong net. If you cast a poorly made net that’s loose, it doesn’t matter how many fish it reaches, they’ll all pass right on through. You need to craft a strong net and in content marketing, this means writing truly useful content. If it’s uninteresting, people will ignore it. Invest some time in learning to craft good headlines and having a hook. Beta-test your content on friends and family and be completely open to feedback. Strong, truly valuable content will keep people coming back for more.
                4. Remember to draw the net in. Now that you’ve cast your net around an audience and they’re interested, remember to pull it up! In marketing, this means having clear calls to action that direct your prospects to buy. It can be a phone number, landing page, an address, or an e-commerce site. Let them know how to move forward if they’re interested.
                5. Repair the net frequently. One of the great things about the net is its reusable! That excellent article that you wrote for your blog can be chopped up into several great tweets and maybe a postcard or two. But it can only be reused up until a point and when it starts to feel stale, it starts to work against you. People need fresh content and so you should be doing something new at least every week, whatever that means for your business.

                Are you feeling the call of the sea yet? We’ve covered how to identify your audience, reach out across many channels, write truly useful content, include a call-to-action, and to repeat the process weekly. The fish are out there in great schools and it takes content-marketing strategy to go out there and catch more than you hoped for.

                If you’re ready to cast your first net, hop aboard and dial us at 877-222-6010 or jump straight into postcard marketing using our simple campaign builder!

                  What are psychographics?

                  Let’s say that you run a smoothie shop, and you’ve just run several Google Adwords campaigns for your nutritional weight loss smoothies. You’ve spent a healthy amount of money on it and you’re getting some clicks, but nobody is actually coming into the store to buy anything. What gives?

                  The simple answer is that you may be targeting your customers in the wrong way. How could that happen? Because you might not know them as well as you think just yet. You may have some really good demographic data on them like gender, age, and income, but you’re going to need psychographic data as well.

                  Psychographics are details about what people think or who they aspire to be. Often, this is a better predictor of why they will buy. Why? Because it reveals their detailed preferences. Two middle-aged and married homeowners who are demographically identical could have vastly different psychographic data and require different marketing. Don’t abandon demographics however, because you’ll need both to form what is called a complete buyer persona

                  Demographics

                  • Gender
                  • Age
                  • Marriage Status
                  • Income

                  Psychographics

                  • Concerns
                  • Lifestyle
                  • Habits
                  • Opinions
                  • Values

                   

                  Getting to the buyer persona

                  When you can combine factual data like where people live, their income, and their age with subjective data like their beliefs, values, habits, and lifestyle, you create a buyer persona that can come to life.

                  It’s the difference between marketing to Suzy, Female, aged 31 who makes $75k/year and marketing to Suzy the advertising manager who’s interesting in digital marketing, is in a long-term committed relationship, volunteers at the Red Cross, and whose guilty pleasure is binge-watching crime dramas on Netflix. One of those Suzies seems like a statistic while the other feels like a living, breathing person who we could market to.

                  What products of yours do you think Suzy would be interested in? That’s the level of detail that we’re trying to get to.

                   

                  I want psychographics. How do I go about gathering them? 

                  To gather psychographics, the best place to start is with your best customers! Ask them for a brief interview and find out why they bought, why they’re happy (or aren’t), where else they shop, and what their top day to day concerns are. Get to know them a little better as people and take notes. Ask how their weekend was, how their kids are doing, and what movies they watch. Take note of everything because it’s often surprising what’s useful later on.

                  Next, interview your customer service associates or anyone who deals with customers on a daily basis. Ask them to theorize on who their typical customers are, who the best ones are, and what they all care about.

                  Have you discovered anything surprising? Take the questions you’ve now raised and craft a brief multiple-choice survey (6-10 questions is ideal) for the rest of your customer base. Surveys work well in-person but even better online with tools like SurveyMonkey. If you want to guarantee good results, offer a gift card drawing. Here are some sample questions:

                  • What are your interests?
                  • What do you like to do on your days off? 
                  • What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last month? 
                  • What books have you read recently? 
                  • When you purchase your product, what problem did it help you solve? 

                  As answers start flowing in, you now have a database of psychographic information that you can start incorporating this in your marketing. Take some time reviewing the data and writing out several customer personas like the one above for Suzy. They don’t need to be more than a few sentences, but they’ll help guide your decision making for the next step.

                   

                  Where do I best reach my customers?

                  Returning to our example of Suzy, we now know that Suzy is 31 and a millennial, so she’s probably savvy with technology. She’s also interested in digital marketing, which means that she probably knows a lot about how Google Adwords works. Why isn’t AdWords capturing her attention? It’s because she knows she can avoid them with a service like AdBlocker and doesn’t ever see them! 

                  Now is when we need to re-evaluate the Adwords campaign. Maybe, a direct mail marketing campaign will be much more effective at reaching her because it will actually get through and stand out. Make this one change and voila! Psychographics have saved the day, and “Suzy” and people like her are walking in your smoothie shop doors asking about the two-for-one discount.

                   

                  Psychographics are often what’s missing

                  The most successful marketing happens with good data. As you can see, psychographics are some of the most valuable data that you can gather from your customers. Going forward, collect it on a more regular basis. Teach your customer service team what it is, why it’s important, and how to report interesting facts about patrons. You can incorporate surveys into your online shopping experience. And you can go the extra mile and go through an agency to conduct focus groups.

                  All of this should lead you to one question: what don’t I know about my customers right now? You have the tools, you just need to go and collect it.

                  If you’re interested but too busy, Opportunity Knocks Marketing can give you direct access to psychographic data on millions of consumers in your area, and help you run marketing to them. Give them a call at 877-222-6010 and get started right now!

                    You don’t have to be a graphic artist to do marketing

                    Don’t consider yourself an artist? Few people do, but don’t let that hold you back from marketing! Your fear of not being “creative” enough for marketing is completely unfounded and we’ll tell you why: all we do is marketing, and we’re not very good artists either.

                    Sure, our design team is world-class, but that’s not what drives sales. We like to rely on data to make our marketing decisions. We’re always testing testing testing, and have done so over millions of postcard sends (some of them, yes, by real artists) for the past twenty years.

                    Good SMB marketers are a jack-of all trades

                    Over that time what has become clear is that to be a good small-business marketer and to make more sales with a direct mail marketing campaign, you just need to be a really good generalist.

                    A generalist? Sure. We’ve found that the biggest winners are the generalists. At very large Fortune 1000 companies specialists can afford to get tunnel vision around a project and spend weeks designing a single flyer. Not so here, where small and medium business owners are juggling a host of competing responsibilities. Your business would suffer terribly if you swept everything aside to compose the perfect photo series. A generalist however can get in, get it done, and move on, and they tend to see the highest response rates and sales. In short, you don’t have to be an artist to be good at marketing.

                    Here’s how you know you’re a highly effective generalist:
                    1. Business – do you know the value of your business to the customer?
                    2. Marketing – can you give prospects social proof by letting your customers speak for you?
                    3. Design – when the time comes, can you choose an effective image over a pretty one?
                    4. Timing – can you lay down the law with a deadline?

                    If you’re sitting there nodding your head thinking, “duh,” this is what I do all day, then great! Click here and get started with a direct mail campaign, and don’t even bother with the rest of this. But if you’re curious and want to see how the pros do it, read on.

                    Designing your own unique and powerful postcard really is as shockingly simple as touching on these four points: 
                    1. Create your value proposition. Why should the customer buy from you? There’s plenty of other competing businesses out there, you need to select the single thing that sets you apart and make it the headline of your postcard. I know what you’re thinking, “but there are hundreds of reasons!” which may be true, but remember, when someone opens the mailbox you’ve got one big first impression to make. Avoid blowing it with a “busy” design that tries to tell them everything you do.

                    The famous line is, “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter,” which is to say, it’s tough editing it all down to one thing! But based on how postcard campaigns with just one big value proposition perform, it’s entirely worth the work. Cut it down to just one and go with it!

                    1. Social Proof. If you haven’t seen our primer on using psychology in postcard marketing, it’s worth a glance. Social proof puts your potential customers at ease because it shows that others have tried your services and been delighted.

                    Just think, you wouldn’t trust a new babysitter who walked in off the street and was a complete stranger, would you? Of course not. You choose one who you know, probably the son or daughter of a friend, and whom has successfully babysat before. What you’re trying to establish is his or her credentials. The same is true in direct mail marketing, where you have to show the customer very quickly that you’re trustworthy. So let your happy customers do the talking and pepper the card with testimonials and statistics about customer satisfaction!

                    1. Get flashy – its finally time to create some visual drama! Because your postcard is only so big and you can only write so much, don’t skimp on the pictures, as they speak volumes. Where do you get those photos? Use stock ones! This is the great inside secret of the industry, and who wouldn’t want to draw from the work of professional photographers? Any good direct-mail vendor will help you choose from an array of photos and give you templates so that you know where to place them. But which photos do you choose? That’s where the generalists excel.

                    Oddly enough, people who don’t know a lot about photography actually do better with this. This seems counter intuitive, whereas real artists will focus on picture composition and light quality, which are great to have, generalists will focus on the big picture (no pun intended) and use images that tell a story about their value proposition.

                    Do you guarantee that you’ll remove stains? Show the couch! Do you restore old cars? Show your favorites! Generalists are pros at boiling it all down to one or two photos, say a before-and-after picture of someone with new flooring, a new yard, or a new vehicle. Once you’ve got those images, you’re done. On to the next step!

                    1. Create Deadlines. Great generalists know that sometimes it’s time to stop playing around and get tough. You’ve made the customer a great offer, but are you hard enough to hold them to it? Deadlines are a great selling tool because people really are driven by them: taxes, invoices, school registration, etc.

                    Just think back to your time in school (I know it’s been a while, it has for us as well). Did you ever do complete an assignment the day you received it? Heck no! You waited until the last hour of the last day. Your customers will as well, and if there’s no deadline, that postcard is going to get saved and lost. Compel them to act now and make them an offer they can’t refuse!

                    And there you have it. Feeling pretty good about your generalist skills? You should. Marketing is best done by those can get in, get the job done, and get out. They can hammer out a value proposition, gather testimonials, tell a story with two photos, stamp a deadline on it, and get back to their day.

                    I guess you didn’t realize it but by running your business, you’ve already prepared yourself with the skills you need to craft a powerful marketing campaign! Now the only thing left is to pick up the phone and dial 877-222-6010 to get that campaign out the door and watch the sales flow in! Remember, get in, get it done, and get on with your day.

                      Ahh, spring is in the air and the birds are chirping again. Or is it fall, and the leaves are changing colors? Or have the first flakes of snow now fallen and as you scrape across the icy sidewalk in your winter galoshes? (Or if you’re a Californian, you’re asking ‘what are seasons?’)

                      My point is that everyone notices when the seasons change. It’s universal, and it’s part of our biological clock.

                      Why am I going on about this? Am I merely waxing poetic about the changing of the seasons? Of course not! If you know Opportunity Knocks Marketing and this blog by now, it’s all about the marketing tips that can be gleaned from this insight. In this case, you can leverage the seasonality of your customer’s needs to better target them with postcard campaigns!

                      Why do seasons give us reasons?

                      The seasons can tell you a great deal about what people are going through, or about to go through, and you can thus appear to be downright prophetic in your recommendations to them. And as well all know, the more targeted you can be, the more effective you’ll be. In many cases, you can double your ROI on a campaign. According to Forbes, personalization can increase sales by as much as 10%. What would you do with that extra money?

                      Here is how our most successful customers align their marketing with the seasons:
                      1. Spring cleaning: Once its springtime and the grasses are growing green, people are coming out of their proverbial winter caves and thinking about being outdoors again! This means that they’re pulling out last season’s clothes, trimming their yards, planning neighborhood gatherings, and anticipating full-blown summer. How can you best advertise to them?
                      • Spring trips: For many, Spring Break is time to get out. Advertise trips, travel destinations, home alarm systems, and doggie day-care for while they’re gone!
                      • Wardrobe changes: People want sun and it’s sure to leave it’s mark. They’ll need protection with hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, and flip-flops. And on the flip-side, they no longer need their coats and skis, so it’s time to talk about storage units, consignment, and house-cleaning.
                      • Festivals: Millennials are really feeling the summer love and festivals have become big business. Cater to this market with far-out clothing, camping gear, and RV rentals.
                      • Tax season: Not a fun time, but a trigger event nonetheless! People will be interested in accounting, legal, banking, and document storage services.

                       

                      1. Summer fixing: Summer has hit and the sun is sweltering. People are thinking about how best to enjoy themselves and stay cool. They’re likely taking a few out of town trips, and they’re definitely investing more in their yard to make it a great, shady gathering place.
                      • Vacations: With the kids out of school, it’s time to haul everyone off on a road trip to the Grand Canyon or hop on a plane to Fiji. Advertise road-trip car inspections, electronics, play devices for the kids, insurance, and travel services.
                      • The outdoors: People will spend more time outside, both in their yards and in the national parks. It’s time to help them break out cooler clothes, hiking boots, and anything they need for a BBQ like better lawn chairs, a fire pit, solar panels, and pool cleaning services.
                      • That one backyard project: Every family has that one project, that gazebo started last season that hasn’t been worked on. They’ll never be more interested in your help with it than right now!

                       

                      1. Autumn squirreling: People are trying to get the most of everything in Autumn. This is the time that the sun has sunk lower in the sky, the days are growing shorter and people are anticipating the trials that winter (or school or the holidays) will bring.
                      • Back to school: Students dread it, retailers love it! Cash in on the must-have clothing, books, writing supplies, sports equipment, tutoring, and transportation arrangements.
                      • Holidays: They’re coming up quickly and decorations are in order; everything from pumpkins to fir trees. Catch people early with services to make decorating and un-decorating totally hands-free and they’ll love you for it.
                      • Sports frenzy: NFL season begins and across the USA and millions of folks are suddenly going to be glued in groups to the TV. It’s a social event, so now is the time to strike with offers for a more spacious couch, snacks, new TV and phone packages, and of course taxi services.

                       

                      1. Winter heating: The real chill has set in and people are bundling up at home with family. They’re prepping for the holidays and thinking about being thankful for the people in their lives, and are looking for great bargains on gifts.
                      • Home remodeling: With all that time indoors, people invariably get to thinking about that old floral wallpaper that they never quite loved. Advertise remodeling or decoration services! They’re also very aware of how much they’re paying for heating, so advertise energy-saving appliances and weather-proofing!
                      • Gift season: They say to always sell value, not price, but this is time to appeal to both people’s values and their wallets! Nothing strains a budget like buying gifts for the whole family and nothing helps a buyer be generous like a really good deal. Advertise those holiday deals!
                      • Trip planning: People are moving about the country and stress levels are about to hit their zenith as everyone takes to the skies to visit home! Think about how you can make their lives easier, from more comfortable flights to shipping services to games and meal ideas for the family.

                       

                      The circle begins again: no, there’s no fifth season here, unless you count the beginning of the next year. Seasons are a cycle! If you’ve done it correctly and you’re consistent, customers will actually start to associate those powerful seasons with your services, and that’s a great place to be.

                      Tips

                      If it’s working, make it a habit. Pin this season’s successful marketing campaign cards on the calendar for the next few years and keep track of the ones that worked best!

                      Hopefully you’re chock-full of seasonal ideas and have noticed that Spring officially begins on March 20th! Plant your springtime seeds for success and get started on a mailing or call 877-222-6010 to talk to a helpful “flowers and may showers” marketing expert and get your marketing rolling!