marketing

4 Steps to Building a Successful Marketing Campaign

When building a marketing campaign, creating a solid plan can be the path to success. Naturally, the more time you have to plan, the easier it will be to execute your plan, however, in the world of marketing, time is often not a common commodity.

Planning a marketing campaign is similar to planning a road trip; first decide where you’re going, then decide how you will get there, how much you will invest on the trip, and what stops you will make along the way.

A marketing campaign can be any marketing effort to achieve a goal and the marketing plan should change and evolve as the planning goes on so each step logically leads to reaching the intended goal successfully.

1. Initial Questions

Before building a plan, there are several questions that should be answered to aid in planning:

  • What goal(s) are we looking to achieve?
  • Who is our target?
  • What is the budget (and is it realistic)?
  • What is the time frame?
  • What mediums do we want to use? (i.e. email, mail, TV, social media, newspaper, etc;)
  • What is the message?
  • What are the expectations of this campaign?

You should also consider whether you’ve done something similar in the past and review the results to determine what was done, what worked and what could have been done better. You may also want to determine if a specific theme is to be used to mesh with other marketing campaigns or current events.

2. Work Backwards

Whenever planning a campaign, I like to start by examining the end goal. What do we want to accomplish through this campaign? This provides a focus that can be looked toward any time there are questions on direction while planning. It also helps lay a solid foundation for all marketing efforts.

For example, if you have an excess amount of a particular product that you want to sell, the below questions can help you plan a successful marketing campaign:

  • What is the goal? To sell all 10,000 widgets and still make a profit.
  • Who is the target? Widget buyers who have purchased in the past 5 years, but not the past 6 months.
  • What is the budget? While it’s costing us to store these 10,000 widgets that aren’t selling, but taking up room in our warehouse, we want to earn a profit on them. If our cost is $5 each and we normally sell them for $10 each, we could normally expect to receive $50,000 in profit. If we offer them for 25% off at $7.50 each, we will still bring in $25,000 in profit. If we allow half of that to be our marketing campaign budget, that will allow for $12,500 budget and the same in profit, less any expenses incurred.
  • What is the time frame? If we’re expecting a shipment of new and improved widgets in 8 weeks, let’s set the campaign to end in 6 weeks or less to allow 2 weeks of buffer time. This allows 2 weeks in case the new widgets arrive early or if our campaign is not as successful as planned and we need to try another attempt to get rid of the rest of the widgets.
  • What mediums will be used (and will  they realistically work within the set budget)? If this business is a warehouse that sells nationwide, certain mediums such as newspaper and TV won’t effectively reach the target market. Since we’re focusing on previous customers, email and mail will probably be the most effective marketing methods, followed by salesperson follow-up calls.
  • What is the message? It’s vital to choose a solid message to keep all marketing and sales efforts consistent and you want to keep a message that is appealing to your target. “Stock up and save BIG on widgets” is a lot more appealing than “we have too many widgets so we’re hoping you buy them from us so we don’t have to throw them away.” Also be prepared to answer why: “we have more widgets coming in so we need to make room for them!” Keep the message exciting, logical and limited so your target will want to take advantage of your offer.
  • What are our expectations? Of course we want to sell 100% of the widgets and still turn a profit, so maybe we’re willing to go as low as $6 a widget to sell them.
    • What’s more important: actually selling the widgets or making money? If it’s just going to get more difficult to sell the widgets as time goes on, lowering the price can be an option.
    • Another expectation is the quantity each customer will buy. If our target is 1,000 customers and the average sale is 100 widgets, we know we need a 10% sell rate from this campaign. Is that realistic? If not, this would be a time to change the marketing plan to include a larger target.
  • Does the plan need revision? After answering and reviewing all the above questions, you’ll want to determine if the plan still makes sense or if it needs revision. You may also get partway through the campaign and realize what you’re doing isn’t going according to plans and expectations and need to make revisions at that point as well.

3. Communication

One of the most obvious, in my opinion, but also highly overlooked steps in a marketing campaign is communicating the plan to all those involved. Generally, the marketing team builds a campaign for the sales team, however, the sales team is often left out of communication until the very end, as are other maybe less obvious team members such as accounting and reception.

Don’t assume that anyone has been notified about the campaign unless you tell them, and it’s important for you to control the message they receive to ensure they understand the purpose, goals and expectations of them.

When planning a marketing campaign, it’s important to consider who the targeted market will be contacting. Would they call the main phone line and speak to reception? Would they call accounting to clean up their account before participating in whatever special is being marketed to them?

It should be assumed that not all campaign recipients are going to follow whatever instructions are listed, especially if they’ve built relationships with other team members within the company.

The more informed your team is as a whole, the higher quality customer service they will all be able to provide and the more successful your marketing campaign will be.

Something that has worked well for me is to create a marketing or event overview. This should include the following:

  • Name & dates of the campaign
  • What the purpose and goals of the campaign are (make sure to exclude any information you would not want provided to customers such as profit so employees do not accidentally pass this information along to customers)
  • How it’s being marketed with samples of everything (i.e. screenshots of web banners, copies of emails and mail pieces, etc;) so all employees know exactly what was sent to customers and have a copy for their reference

After the campaign, I also add sections for results, what worked well and what could have been done differently to have made the campaign more successful for reference when planning future campaigns.

4. Analysis & Reflection

One of the most important things to do after a marketing campaign is to take a look at the campaign overall to determine how effective it was and to provide real examples for future planning.

  • Was each step taken as planned?
  • What percentage of the target market was reached? (i.e. opened emails)
  • How many responses/attendees were there?
  • What were the final costs in comparison to the budget?
  • Were the goals reached?
  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work well and how could it have been done differently to have been more successful?

While particularly successful campaigns are useful for planning future campaigns, unsuccessful campaigns are an incredible learning tool to show what to avoid in future campaigns to make them more successful. Perhaps the reason for failure has nothing to do with your campaign, but everything to do with bad weather conditions, fierce competition or other circumstances out of your control. But by noting these, you can better plan future campaigns with continued success and learning each time.

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What the Heck is a Hashtag?

When I was your age, that was called a pound sign.

“When I was your age, we called that a pound sign.”

Hashtags. There’s no escaping them, even if you’re watching TV. But what are they, why are they important and what are we supposed to do with them?

What are Hashtags?

Hashtags are keywords, created by placing the pound (or hash) sign in front of a word or words without any spaces. On social media sites, when you create a hashtag, it becomes a link to all the other mentions of that hashtag.

For example, on “throwback Thursday,” the day of the week dedicated to sharing childhood and historical photos, you’ll probably notice a ton of #TBT hashtags accompanying these photos. If you click on the hashtag, you will see all the images and posts including that hashtag.

What is the Purpose of Hashtags?

Hashtags are a way for people to quickly and easily connect based on interests rather than location, network or social circles. For companies, it’s a great way to share products with people who are interested in them, but not (yet) a fan or socially connected to the company.

One audience I market to is Ford Mustang enthusiasts. While I am also a Mustang fan, I really enjoy marketing to other Mustang fans because they are very enthusiastic and let’s face it, Mustangs are pretty sweet.

So I can post a photo of a Mustang on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, but if I use the hashtags #Mustang #FordMustang or #Pony, I can reach an audience much larger than my current fan/follower base because those who are interested in Mustangs are going to be looking for photos using those hashtags. They love sharing and they appreciate each others’ posts, so hashtags are a great way for Mustang fans to connect.

Creating Social Buzz

In addition to connecting with others through hashtags, they can also be used to create buzz. If you watch Survivor, you’ll probably notice all the hashtags they use. This is to encourage social buzz online to get fans talking about the show and connect with others to spread exposure.

Hashtags are exciting for reality shows, because the show can flash a hashtag on the screen during particular points to get fans to start posting about the show on social media. It’s a brilliant strategy and it works.

If you watch Survivor at all, you may notice at the beginning of the show, they’ll use #survivor to get fans to start posting about the show. In fact, if a fan was online and forgot the show was on, these hashtags could remind them to turn on the TV. This benefits the advertisers during the show as well. They could easily post about the show with hashtags as well to expand their exposure.

During key parts of the show, Survivor changes up their hashtags to let fans know what to tweet about. They’ll post #ImmunityChallenge or #TribalCouncil to get social conversations going.

Some shows will even show tweets online to encourage tweeting among fans. They can ask each other who they think will win, what they think about results or who the most talented contestant is this season.

The point is, hashtags can start conversations that otherwise would not be happening and turn fans into advocates, exploding exposure through simple keywords.

How Do I Write Hashtags?

Always start a hashtag with a # and remove any spaces between words you want to include in the tag.

You may notice I capitalize each word in my hashtag. That may not be standard practice, however I do it as a courtesy and to ensure anyone reading my post knows exactly what I’m trying to convey. You can imagine the disasters that could arise if your hashtag was misread, giving it unintended meanings.

When Should I Use Hashtags?

Hashtags should be used whenever relevant. if you post a photo of a car, hashtag it with the model and fan lingo. If you post a photo of a local landmark, hashtag the name of it along with the city or general location. If you’re posting about how great it is that it’s Friday, use #TGIF. You get the idea.

Where Should I Use Hashtags?

Hashtags should almost always be used on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and popularity is growing on Facebook as well. You can also use them in advertising to create a social buzz about your brand or company by encouraging fans to use them on social media. Try to limit hashtags to 3-4 relevant tags for each post so you’re not bombarding your fans with too many or irrelevant hashtags.

Should I Use Trending Hashtags?

Use as relevant to expand your audience.

Use as relevant to expand your audience.

Trending hashtags are a great way to expand your audience and join in on local and global trending topics. Here’s a screenshot of what’s trending right now on Twitter  in the U.S. so if any of those topics were relevant to my business, I could use them to join in the conversation. I could also tailor it more locally.

For example, it appears people are having problems with Instagram right now. This could be a prime opportunity for a competitor to post something like “Instagram not working? Try NotInstagram instead: http://www.notinstagram.com #InstagramNotWorking” [fictional example]

So anyone looking at that would see this alternative option and the competitor could potentially get a lot of business because of a trending hashtag.

Keep in mind, however that tactics like this can backfire. In this example, tweeters could respond to that post with “NotInstagram sucks, I’d rather stare at my non-functioning Instagram. #instagramnotworking #NotInstagramIsLame”

Taking risks can lead to some of the most brilliant marketing successes, but can also lead to major PR disasters. Be cautious.

Best Practices:

  • Use hashtags when relevant
  • Limit hashtags to up to 3-4 per post
  • Capitalize each word of the hashtag to remove any confusion of what it’s meant to say
  • Think outside the box to get creative with hashtags
  • When in doubt, look up a hashtag online before using it to confirm its usage or don’t use it if you’re unsure
  • Encourage fans to use your hashtags to spread brand awareness and create social buzz

2014 Study Reveals Instagram, Twitter Most Important to Teens

Are you marketing to teens only through Facebook? If so, you could be missing out on reaching the majority of them.

TopSocialMediaSites

Teen Social Media Importance Study

A recent Piper Jaffray & Co study of 7,500 teens in 48 U.S. states  revealed the top social media site for teens is Instagram at 30%, followed closely by Twitter at 27%. Facebook follows at 23% and 5% of teens reported not using social media networks.

The biggest surprise of this report is the rapid decline in teen use of Facebook. As recently as Fall of 2012, Facebook was reported as the most important social networking site for teens at 42%. Now, just a year and a half later, Facebook’s popularity among teens has declined by almost half, while Instagram has nearly tripled. Twitter has remained fairly steady in the mid to high 20% range.

This chart shows the rapid change in social media site use by teens since Fall of 2012, Source: Huffington Post

This chart shows the rapid change in social media site use by teens since Fall of 2012, Source: Huffington Post, Piper Jaffray

What Does This Mean?

With all the stimulation we are exposed to on a daily basis, our attention spans have been decreasing significantly over the past several years. We have so many more things to pay attention to, many simultaneously, so messages consisting of images and short text blurbs are easier for us to process versus lengthy text. So it’s no wonder teens are more attracted to Instagram, which is made up of images and Twitter which has a 140-character tweet limit, keeping communication very brief.

Targeting the teen demographic now requires more images and minimal text. Messages will need to be designed to attract through imagery, catchy phrases and relevant hashtags.

What About Facebook?

Facebook is still the most popular social networking site, so it’s important to maintain a healthy presence there. However, it would be wise to take tips from Instagram and Twitter to keep Facebook posts high in imagery and low in text characters to appeal to a more visual audience. Also, to reach a larger audience, it would be wise to set up your Facebook page to share content to your Twitter account.

Best Practices

This report goes to show how quickly social media usage can change among a demographic. While it’s important to continually adjust  your social media strategy to hit your target market effectively, it’s also wise to maintain a consistent presence on multiple networks.

Most social media sites allow and encourage sharing content to other social media sites. This is a great way to easily maintain a presence among multiple sites without a ton of effort. For example, it’s a good practice (if relevant) to share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare when uploading to Instagram. One photo, six social media sites, all at once.

Report Source: Piper Jaffray & Co., company reports

My New Book: Everything I’ve Learned About Facebook

I’m very excited to announce my newest book:

Everything I’ve Learned About Facebook: A complete guide on how to create, strategize, manage and promote your Facebook page to increase customer base and brand awareness for any size business

I’ve compiled everything I’ve learned about Facebook and put it into a complete guide on learning the bare-bones basics of  what social media is to creating marketing strategies for your page. Some of the content is similar to what I’ve written in my blog posts, but I go far more in-depth and have combined my knowledge into one resource.

Here’s what I cover in my book:

  1. What is Facebook?
    1. The Basics
    2. How Does Facebook Work?
    3. Why do People Share so Much Information?
    4. How do Businesses Fit into Social Media?
  2. Why Does Facebook Matter?
    1. Statistics
  3. How to Create a Business Facebook Page
    1. Pages vs Profiles
    2. Getting Started
    3. Basic Setup Instructions
  4. Making Your Page Look Great with Profile & Cover Images
    1. Profile Images
    2. Cover Images
    3. Tab Images
    4. Image Dimensions
  5. What to Post on Your Business Facebook Page
    1. How Often Should I Post on my Facebook Page?
    2. What Should I Post on my Facebook Page?
    3. So what’s the Most Engaging Stuff to Post on my Facebook Page?
    4. Where Can I Find Content for my Facebook Page?
    5. What About Posting Business/Promotional Content?
    6. Setting up a Posting Schedule
  6. Engaging with Fans
    1. Negative Comments & Reviews
  7. Facebook Contests & Sweepstakes
    1. Things to Keep in Mind
    2. Contest/Sweepstakes Services
  8. How to Schedule Facebook Posts
    1. Manage Your Facebook Page in Minutes a Week Using the Scheduling Tool
  9. Growing Your Fan Base Organically
    1. Ideas to Organically Grow Your Fan Base
  10. Growing Your Fan Base with Facebook Ads
    1. Types of Facebook Ad Results
    2. The Planning Phase
    3. Creating Facebook Ads
    4. Managing Ad Campaigns
    5. Keeping Ads Fresh
  11. 4 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy Likes for Your Facebook Page
  12. Measuring Your Success
    1. What Should I Include In My Social Media Report?

If you enjoy my blog, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel. Many of my videos correspond to my blog posts and it’s a great resource for easy video tutorials on social media, Adobe and Microsoft programs.

Thank you for all your support along my journey—if it weren’t for readers like you, I wouldn’t have a reason to write.

4 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy Likes for Your Facebook Page

Managing a Facebook page is very challenging.  The rules change frequently and keeping your fans engaged is a continually evolving process.  Just getting fans is challenging.  So some Facebook page administers resort to buying likes.

But there’s more to a Facebook page than just the number of its fans.  Facebook pages are about building relationships as an extension of your business so when your fans want or need your product or service, you’re fresh in their mind.  Fake fans won’t buy into your real business.

Here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t buy Facebook likes:

  1. Buying likes violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.  If you get too many likes too quickly without organic methods such as Facebook ads or links from a website, Facebook has spam detection methods of detecting this and can disable your like button or even unpublish your page.
  2. Purchased fans won’t be your customers.  They are for numbers only and many are in different countries or are fake accounts without a real person behind them.  Since the main purpose of having a Facebook page for your business is to build and maintain relationships with customers or potential customers, you are defeating your own primary goal.
  3. Purchased fans will decrease the percentage of real fans who actually see your posts.  Since only a small percentage of your fans see your posts, Facebook decides the percentage based on how many are interacting with your posts (EdgeRank).  Increased interaction increases this percentage and vice versa.  So if your fans aren’t engaged in your posts, Facebook will show fewer fans your posts and chances are many of the fans who do see your posts will be fake.
  4. You can easily get real fans using inexpensive Facebook ads.  Why should you pay to advertise on Facebook?  Because it’s extremely effective.  Facebook offers amazing targeting capabilities to ensure you’re getting the most out of your advertising budget.  And since you set your daily or campaign budget, you can get a lot of likes for a very low amount.  (I got 51 likes for just $25 on one page.)

So while it may be tempting to purchase likes on your Facebook page, in the long run it’s only going to hurt the effectiveness of your page.  Instead, stick with legitimate methods to get real fans so you can build real relationships with them and eventually turn them into real customers.

Recommended Books About Facebook

Don’t forget to check out my book!

Everything I’ve Learned About Facebook: A complete guide on how to create, strategize, manage and promote your Facebook page to increase customer base and brand awareness for any size business

Manage Your Facebook Page in Minutes a Week Using the Scheduling Tool [with VIDEO]

One mistake a lot of business make on their Facebook pages is the obvious “Oops, I haven’t posted for a while so I’m going to make up for it right now” posting snowstorm.  Considering only a small percentage of your fans generally see your posts, this may not be a terrible idea, but for those who do see them, it can get annoying and ultimately, you will lose fans.

As a solution, Facebook has provided tools so you can post what you want when you want to best target your audience.

In the past, I’ve mentioned using Buffer to schedule posts to Twitter.  However, I don’t use it for Facebook because Buffer inserts a tag that the post has been scheduled via the Buffer App.  The whole goal here is to appear that you have someone actively updating the page, so the Buffer tagline shows that you are not and defeats the whole purpose.

The Facebook schedule tool is super easy to use:

After entering a post, click on the clock icon below the status box. Select the date & time you would like your post published.

After entering a post, click on the clock icon below the status box. Select the date & time you would like your post published.

So here are four easy steps to managing your Facebook page in minutes a week:

  1. Find content. On one of the pages I administer, I post a daily trivia question. I don’t actually post these every day; instead, I compile the questions and answers in an Excel spreadsheet and spend maybe 15 minutes every few weeks posting and scheduling. That way, my posts are consistent and I don’t have to interrupt my day to post on a regular basis.  If you have trouble finding content, here’s a handy post about how to generate content easily.
  2. Determine the best posting times. Facebook now offers even more in-depth  so you can determine when your fans are online and post accordingly.  Just click on “Insights” and choose “Posts” then “When Fans are Online” to determine the best posting times.

    Click on Insights > Posts > When Your Fans Are Online to determine the best times to post

    Click on Insights > Posts > When Your Fans Are Online to determine the best times to post

  3. Schedule engaging posts at peak fan time.  Maybe your fans are online outside of business hours.  Schedule your posts when they are most likely to see them.  Obviously if you’re posting for them to contact your business, you’ll want to schedule that post for business hours.  However, for general content, schedule it when your fans are most likely to see it to get the best results.
  4. Set aside 10-20 minutes one day a week to schedule posts.  Maybe Thursdays are a little slower for you. Set aside a few minutes each Thursday to find content and get it scheduled so all you have to do is periodically check on the page throughout the week.

Remember, posting when your fans are online is useless if your posts aren’t engaging.  Continue to check the success of your posts and review your best types of posts using the Facebook Insights tool to ensure you are posting what your fans are interested in seeing.  Also remember that what works today may not work 3 months from now, so continue to monitor your insights and adjust your types of posts for best results.

Recommended Books About Facebook

Need Content? Create Your Own Custom Newsroom with Paper.li!

A constant challenge for social media marketers is to find quality content to keep your audience engaged. Although having a quality Twitter feed is a great way to find content, it’s time consuming to sort through all the data.

Allow me to introduce you to a content solution: Paper.li

Paper.li is a content curation service that allows users to create custom online “newspapers” containing content the users select. In addition, Paper.li can send out automatic tweets to publish fresh content to your Twitter feed to increase engagement.

Once you sign up for Paper.li (which is simple—just use your Twitter account to log in!) click the link to create a paper. You have two options: to create a paper based off your Twitter account or to create a custom paper. Both options allow customization, so if you’re hesitant to create a paper from your Twitter account because it may not be as relevant as you want, be aware that you can tailor it to your needs.

Once your paper is created, you can find and select additional sources or create filters for your current sources. While I am interested in local news, that’s not a topic I want included in my content, so in my timeline links source, I created a filter that will pull only specific keywords I want in my paper.

To set up automatic tweets, click on Promotion & Emails and check the Twitter box. You will also want to go into Settings to set the update frequency to daily, morning & evening or weekly editions. The more often it updates, the more tweets will be sent out.

Once you have reviewed your settings, click on the Update Paper button, then click on View Paper to review the content. Adjust your sources to increase or decrease the content as well as relevancy.

Paper.li also has a bookmarklet you can simply drag and drop onto your bookmark bar to add content from anywhere on the web to your paper.

So now, every time you need content, simply bring up your Paper.li page and share away!

For business and marketing content, check out my paper: http://paper.li/sallyulianich/1371488938