Why You Still Need Paper Marketing in a Digital World

Last week, I sent maybe 200 emails for a client, marketing his service to different localities across the US. Many replied back, interested in the service. One asked if I could send them a brochure or flyer they could put out on a display table for a local event to garner more interest for the service.

I was very excited about this offer and immediately emailed the good news to my client. He replied back, upset at the fact anyone would want paper marketing in a digital world. After saying everything is digital these days and paper marketing is archaic, he told me to email the local group back and say we could send some of the client’s business cards for her to put out.

Image via Flickr by Antonio Bonanno

Image via Flickr by Antonio Bonanno

I understand my client’s frustration. Hiring someone, like myself, to create a brochure or flyer can be pricey for startups on a tight budget. Especially when everyone has grown accustomed to being able to view the success of their digital marketing efforts with analytical software. It is difficult to see the benefit in paper marketing when there is no instant way to track the results and success of it without directly asking the consumer how they heard of the company.

Yet paper marketing is still completely relevant. Digital and social can do some truly amazing things for businesses that had a harder time of it in the past. The same reason businesses use social are the same reasons you should keep paper marketing. One of the reasons for social is because a large segment of their audience use social media to communicate and stay loyal to a business. There is still a group of every audience who prefer traditional paper.

Image via Pixabay by kruziwuten

Image via Pixabay by kruziwuten

This is part of why I was astounded at my client’s refusal to supply a paper marketing avenue – his audience directly asked for it. Whenever your audience asks for more information on your product or service, no matter what form it is, you should deliver. The audience will be pleased at the prompt fulfillment of their need and the investment can be used for future marketing opportunities.

The end point – there should always be a corner of your budget reserved for paper marketing. Even if you have no plans to launch a campaign via paper, you want some money reserved in case the need arises. Especially if you plan to go to events. You will need business cards, brochures, flyers, and even a sign for your booth. Your business should always be prepared for all marketing avenues. Which one you invest the majority of your time and resources in depends on your business. However, you should always keep a toe in every marketing platform available.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

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5 Awesome Brands on Pinterest You Can Learn From

Pinterest has been on a popular roller coaster since 2011. The photo-centric, unique layout, and quality content that Pinterest is known for has captured the hearts of over 10 million registered users. Depending on the month, Pinterest draws in more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube combined. Pinterest is a platform that cannot be ignored by brands, but you may have trouble figuring out where to get started on Pinterst from a marketing standpoint.

There are over 100 big name brands on Pinterest who are using the platform successfully, including Pillsbury, HGTV, Gap, Blockbuster, Unicef, People, Toms, Threadless, Zales, Whole Foods, Sesame Street, CBS, Zales, and more. However, there are five brands  that I consider completely expert in their Pinterest marketing strategy.

Etsy

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Etsy is my absolute favorite brand on Pinterest. There are so many things I have ordered from Etsy because I saw it on Pinterest. The best part is that individual sellers on Etsy can add products from their store on their own accounts and use the brand name of Etsy to get further traction to grow their business. Here is what makes Etsy stand out on Pinterest

  • Hundreds of Pinterest users who are individual sellers spreading and promoting the brand.
  • Those same sellers creating amazing products that are beautiful.
  • Over 90 boards categorized specifically with lots of color and high quality images.
  • A huge variety of topics so that everyone can find something they love.
  • Boards, like “Cool Spaces”, which encourage followers to get inspired by Etsy and make changes in their own lives.

Nordstrom

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Nordstrom is a power retail brand and their content on Pinterest definitely reflects that. What makes Nordstrom special is the complete understanding of their followers on the platform. They don’t just advertise their products – they inspire and give easy solutions to their followers. Other things that make Nordstrom standout on Pinterest include:

  • Over 60 boards full of designer products, DIY, fashion, decor, wedding inspiration, and more.
  • Specialized boards for special times of the year, like their Christmas board titled “Stocking Stuffers.”
  • Company personalization with a board titled, “Our Favorite Things.”

Everyday Health

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Pinterest is full of users who are looking for easy and inventive ways to improve their lives, whether it’s in their home with life hacks or with their body with detox and health recipes and easy 15 minute cardio workouts. Everyday Health understands that users seek  personal improvement and center their content around that. Their goal is to motivate, inspire, give valuable free information, and make improvement simple. Here is what makes them special on Pinterest:

  • Guest  boards with expert doctors and nutritionists pinning content and giving free advice to users.
  • Weight loss success stories based on their easy health solutions.
  • Boards with inspirational quotes and sayings.
  • Content that provides followers easy workouts and healthy recipes to get them started on their self-improvement.

Lowe’s

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Lowe’s has jumped on the Pinterest DIY trend and has become wildly successful with this strategy. As a home improvement store, they advertise how their products are affordable and easy to get that dream DIY project started. The Lowe’s Pinterest success comes from:

  • 55 boards with home improvement tips, amazing home design inspiration (like the ultimate man cave), color palettes, and more.
  • Step-by-step instructions for DIY projects with pricing for the products you will need, making budgeting DIY easy for users.
  • A board called “Build It” that has ZERO self-promotion. Instead, Lowe’s pins amazing bloggers’ DIY projects they love.

L.L. Bean

Image Credit: Hootsuite

I always consider L.L. Bean a large boutique store and their Pinterest page reflects that. L.L. Bean is the brand with the most followers on Pinterest and I think it’s because their content reflects a country store feel. They have everything the average Pinterest user will need with a homegrown feel. L.L. Bean’s Pinterest is unique because:

  • A mere 29 boards that doesn’t overwhelm users, but allow them to find everything they need.
  • Subjects that appeal to many different kinds of followers, including wedding themes, outdoor activities, and fashion.
  • Boards that solve common problems female users have, such as what to buy guys for Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries.
  • Joining the internet popularity of cute animals with their board titled “Woodland Creatures.”

To end this post, here are some fun facts about the power of Pinterest, especially for retail business:

  • 47% of US online customers have made a purchase based on Pinterest recommendations.
  • Pins generate 4x more revenue per click than Twitter and 27% more than Facebook.
  • There are 12 million monthly unique visitors.
  • Pinterest is the fastest site in history to break the 10 million monthly unique visitors mark.
  • 97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are female.
  • Daily users have grown by 145% since 2012.
  • The brands that are most successful on Pinterest are in the food, cooking, television, news, media, non-profit, travel, retail, apparel, home improvement, DIY, sports, health, beauty, or fashion industries.

Credit: HootSuite, Jeff Bullas

More Characters on Twitter?! New Retweet with Comment Feature

Twitter announced this week that they are testing out a new feature for the platform – Retweet with Comment. This new feature gives you more characters on Twitter to use at your disposal – providing you are adding commentary to a post you are retweeting.

Essentially, Retweet with Comment allows you to preserve the original Tweet in a Twitter Card. For those who don’t know, a Twitter Card is a feature that allows posts on Twitter to be media-rich. If someone uses a Twitter Card, they will link to a website in a post and Twitter will show a preview of the post or the main image below the Tweet.

Via Tech Crunch

If the feature is released to all users, you can choose to Retweet with Comment, keep the full original Tweet in a media preview (or Twitter Card) and then add your own comments with the RT. The benefit – you get a full 140 characters to express your thoughts.

The goal behind this feature is to start meaningful conversations on Twitter. Users currently can have one-on-one conversations by replying to each other. Anyone who wants to join in can view the full conversation, but rarely does this happen unless you are participating in a Twitter Chat. Likewise, many users need the full 140 character to express their thoughts or explain their link. This leaves users who want to RT their content and add their commentary very little room to do so.

Via Tech Crunch

There have been so many times where I want to add commentary to a RT only to cut down my thoughts, remove my hashtags, or alter the user’s content I am RT. I hate doing all of those things. With this new feature, I can preserve the entire original Tweet without feeling guilty about altering their voice or style and still say everything I want to say. More people can view the conversation easily and join in.

The 140 character limit is what makes Twitter special and causes people to get more creative with their posts. But often it is a limitation. With more features like this, Twitter can evolve into a more thoughtful conversational host.

Image Credit: Tech Crunch Original Article

Why You Need to Outsource Your Social Media Marketing

Back when email was on the rise and everyone was head-over-heels in love with this quick new form of communication (after you waited for AOL to log you in using dial-up for about half an hour), many businesses scoffed. “We don’t need this email. It’s a fad that will pass. Customers would rather call us on the telephone!”

Those businesses learned very quickly they do need email to reach a large portion of their customer base and those who did not perished. History repeats itself and this time social media marketing is the new “fad” businesses are reluctant to pick up.

Via Flickr by tashmahal

Via Flickr by tashmahal

Some businesses outright refuse to add social media accounts for their businesses. Others hastily create accounts and pages and often do them wrong (such as creating a Group instead of a Page on Facebook).

There are also many businesses that realize they do need to have a social media presence, but try to do it in-house to save money. Here is where the majority of businesses go wrong. It may seem easy to create a business profile and update it every now and then. You do it every day on your own Twitter and Facebook accounts, why should your business be any different?

You feel confident at first, filling out some basic About Us information and sharing your first post. You might think it’s a good idea to link your Facebook and Twitter posts to save time. You might decide to update once a week or every few weeks with text updates on sales or sharing funny cat videos you find online. When you don’t have time to post, you let your employees take over. People start liking and commenting, which you love looking at. Every now and then a customer might complain in a post on your page that is promptly deleted so your business doesn’t look bad.

It seems things are running smoothly on the social media front. However, your business is not growing at all. Your time on social media seems like a waste and you don’t know how other businesses are accomplished on these platforms. This is because you don’t understand everything you did wrong like I just did.

Nicole Yeary2

Via Flickr Nicole Yeary

As a social media marketer for a huge variety of different business industries, both big and small, I can look at your profiles for five minutes and understand all the mistaken steps you took. I will start brewing ideas on how to fix them and optimize your account.

Many customers prefer to communicate through social media and get updates from their business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. When you ignore these platforms or use them incorrectly, you come across as inauthentic, inconsistent, and uncaring about customer needs. Hiring a professional social media marketer allows your business to become a likeable brand on the internet. Your customers will turn to you for their questions, concerns, and investment in your industry.

Professional social media marketers have studied the nuances of every platform extensively. They know the exact formula for posting on each platform and the language preferred by those users. They understand how each social media site is different in expanding a business’ reach, what kinds of posts get the most engagement, and how to create and time messaging. They can also analyze your account and audience to find out when your customers are online and most likely to see your messages.

Social media experts will interact with your audience as a business and customer service representative to increase your customer loyalty. Marketers will learn everything about your business to create a brand personality for your social media presence that is likeable and engaging. They will collaborate with you to get the most out of your website, blog, special offers, sales, events, and more. On top of that, social media marketers are constantly analyzing your platforms to see where improvements can be made.

Via Flickr ChrisL_AK

Via Flickr ChrisL_AK

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? For social media marketers, it is another day at the office. For you, it takes a lot of research and all of your free time, if not more.

This work is not as expensive as you might think. No matter how big or small your advertising budget is, you can find ways to afford social media marketing. At the very least, you can shell out a one-time expense to get consultation on the basics of social media marketing.

I have base prices for my services and different package options for all kinds of businesses. However, I can also take any monthly budget you set and tell you exactly what I can do for you with that amount. I also offer consultation on the basics of marketing tailored for your business needs and goals. You can view my social media marketing service options on my website. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or to email me at h.s.hobbs@gmail.com!

Originally posted on LinkedIn

 

The 4 Major Trials of Being a Freelance Writer

I live in Kansas City, MO. Our big theme park is called Worlds of Fun. The city and suburbs are buzzing about a new ride the park bought – Steel Hawk. Not because everyone is clamoring to ride it, however. Apparently the park bought the ride really cheap from another theme park because of its issues and multiple deaths associated with it. Some daredevils are willing to risk life and limb to ride it and prove how brave they are. Most are upset the park chose to buy a ride that is unpredictable and unsafe.

That is what being a freelance writer is like. You are willing to risk everything to get the benefits of freelance writing and only truly understand the danger once you are on the ride. The rest of the world doesn’t get why you would ever want to jump on that ride without any security.

I became a freelance writer for a number of reasons. I majored in English with the hopes of having more open career options and to learn the craft of writing as a skill. Employers didn’t see it that way and finding a job in my field where I live proved to be impossible. I wanted to write for a living in some capacity, but at the time no one was hiring writer straight out of college with no field work experience. So, after many different career changes, useless further education, and times of complete poverty, I started to get into freelance writing. It took a year to find a modicum of full-time success and even then work is still an insane roller coaster.

Starting Out

Via Pixabay kropekk_pl

Via Pixabay kropekk_pl

Choosing to become a freelance writer is not easy. You start off spending hours joining job search websites, building profiles, creating websites, working on blogs, pulling together some semblance of a portfolio, and more. After you have started getting jobs (ever so slowly while the bills pile around you), life as a freelance writer only gets harder and crazier.

Striving for Security

Via Pixabay PublicDomainPictures

Via Pixabay PublicDomainPictures

It is very difficult to find clients that stick with you, no matter how great your writing is or how much they love your work. Many of my past clients have posted they need blogs every week only to slowly reduce that number to zero in favor of cheaper writers or different business goals. The only clients I have kept long term are not even related to article or blog writing. I work as a Content Manager, Social Media Manager, and Marketing Strategist for my long term clients and rarely get the opportunity to write anymore. Finding clients that will guarantee payment is extraordinarily difficult, which I outline in my next point.

Working with Unpredictable and Unclear Clients

Via Flickr db Photography  |Demi-Brooke

Via Flickr db Photography |Demi-Brooke

I cannot even tell you how many clients I have gained in the past that fell in love with me and said they wanted more more more of my time. Inevitably, I get excited about their projects and their enthusiasm, put prospects on the back burner, and commit all of my time to them only to be disappointed. I have reserved my time to receive much less work than promised and also have clocked many hours only to never receive payment. This is one of the terrors of being a freelance writer and sadly all too common.

Unclear clients are another huge peril in this career choice. I recently lost a huge client who taught me so much and I really loved working with due to communication barriers. I would give my available times to work only to not receive work or receive panicked messages hours before I was available about why I wasn’t around. I was thrown into an extremely complicated process with zero training and then constantly drawn into angry conference calls about things I did wrong according to the company’s policies. I was also given 4-8 hour tasks without ever being given a due date, only to be messaged angrily an hour after receiving the assignment why it was not complete yet and how I could never accomplish a due date.

The point – even when some opportunities seem spectacular, a huge growth opportunity, and a blessing for your finances, most opportunities are not what they seem. I am trying to come up with a better screening process, but have yet to find something that works. In this field, however, it is impossible to be both cautious and an entrepreneur.

Battling the Worst Timing

Via Pixabay Collage Arts

Via Pixabay Collage Arts

It seems no matter what, I can never get my timing right. And I don’t mean I can’t organize and get all my work done, that part is easy. I mean there are weeks where I have a packed due date list and then I have people headhunting me and reaching out for my services. I often say, “I don’t have time,” and don’t spend as much time with these prospective clients so I gain their business. Then, a week or two later, my clients hold their work or are done with my services and suddenly I have no income and no prospective clients. This causes me to go back to square one and the deadly cycle repeats itself.

This job is not for the faint of heart or those who need financial security. There are so many hurdles and danger to this career choice. But what keeps us freelance writers going is passion for the job. We miss out on having coworkers, grabbing drinks after work, dressing up cute everyday (for my female writers!), financial security, healthcare, a great retirement plan, and even more. But we get to do something we love every single day and that is what is important.

Welcome to the Rebranded, Revamped HS Writing Blog!

Hello followers!

Pink Sherbert Photography 7

Via Flickr Pink Sherbert Photography

I am so sorry for my long, long absence. I gained a client that took up my entire time, which caused me to abandon the blog in the first place, then budget cuts left me with scrambling to find new clients. Currently, I am playing the waiting game for multiple clients and projects to see where I land – a very exciting (and nervewracking!) time for me!

This afternoon, I made time for my blog and came up with this! The rebrand, as you can see, is much simpler than the previous design and name. The main focus of the blog will still be social media marketing (hence the presence of my Twitter banner I am very proud of creating), but I am also branching out to talk about the tips, tricks, and trials of being a freelance writer. Expect a post tomorrow about the world of freelance. I am excited to include this topic since I have never written about it before!

I want to hear what you think of the new blog and want your suggestions on post topics. Now my blog is more accessible for a variety of topics. I am no longer restricted to certain topics to post on certain days, so anything you want to know about I will write for you!

Don’t forget to check out my Contribution Page on my blog! If you want to write a post for the blog, I will include your name and give you full rights to show it off to clients, friends, family, your dog, whoever! I also offer sponsored posts if you want to promote a product, app, software, website, etc.

Under Construction

Sorry everyone! The blog is under construction until further notice. With my busier schedule and great suggestions from fellow bloggers, I am revamping the website. Stay tuned for details (and don’t worry, there will still be TONS of social media marketing advice when I am back online!).

In the meantime, talk to me about social media on Twitter! I can answer questions or discuss developments with you in real time!

Via Flickr by aurélien

Via Flickr by aurélien

In Need of Advice from Twitter Followers

Okay, not a Twitter Tuesday marketing advice post for my readers. Instead, this is a post where I need advice from my Twitter friends and lovely readers.

The title of this blog is Everyday Social Media Marketing. The goal was to post one blog post a day with certain days about specific platforms. I wanted to give entrepreneurs and small businesses a great source for well rounded social media marketing advice. I wanted to be like Social Media Today, but with a real person who has direct experience marketing giving advice.

So far I have been very successful at my goal and post content. This weekend I did miss Saturday and Sunday because things got crazy. I recently signed with a huge new client and then was headhunted by Elance to be apart of a huge project with nearly full time work. These opportunities are very exciting for me, but it means I have little to no time to give marketing advice.

I love helping out businesses and speaking with fellow social media experts about trends and use of platforms. However, I don’t think I will have time to write a post for every day. So I turn to you! Everyday Social Media Marketing can also mean every day advice, so I ask these questions:

  1. Should I rename Everyday Social Media Marketing? If so, what should I name it?
  2. How often should I post?
  3. What kinds of posts do you most want to see?

I feel like I have to change the entire point of the blog and it makes me sad. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

Benefits of Paid Advertising for B2B on LinkedIn

Yes, I am writing a post about paying for advertising. I believe that you can go very far organically if you know what you are doing on platforms and have great content. However, I struggle with LinkedIn. I have a client that is B2B and I need to be on LinkedIn for them. But, since working for them is not my only job, my profile is not optimized to promote them. So I have to look for alternative methods, and that means paid advertising.

Via Flickr koka_sexton

Via Flickr koka_sexton

LinkedIn probably has the most benefit for PPC advertising than any other social media platform. You will see a lot of benefit even from minimal ad investment. While it is difficult to understand their ad creation station overall, once you know your way around you can get a lot of bang for your buck.

There are two kinds of advertising on LinkedIn – Cost per Click and impressions per one thousand users. It costs around $2 per unit of measurement on each option. No matter what you option you choose, you are bound to get thousands of impressions in just a few hours.

Via Flickr koka_sexton

Via Flickr koka_sexton

The downfall of paid advertising on LinkedIn is the poor click through rate. Many companies complain that they may get a ton of impressions, but very few clicks when they pay for advertising. There are many studies and analysis online that explains why this is, but personally I believe it is the audience.

Users on LinkedIn are strictly professional. They will only click on links that are worth their time. They are too busy to investigate any link they come across, like on the Twitter and Facebook platforms. This means what you are advertising has to have a lot of worth for your target audience. Advertising can help you get their attention, but your content needs to be outstanding.

Why Facebook Organic Reach is Extremely Difficult

With the many other social media platforms out there, businesses are giving up on Facebook and moving on to what they think are bigger and better opportunities. While I believe ditching Facebook is a really bad decision and there are ways to grow organically still, there is a reason why businesses are jumping ship. Facebook’s algorithms are making it extremely difficult for businesses to grow organically.

Facebook isn’t trying to be mean to businesses and force them to pay for advertising, although that is a big perk since many businesses who choose to stick with Facebook pay to grow. There are so many Facebook users and brands on Facebook that it takes a lot of management and algorithm updates to ensure the news feed does not become overcrowded and too messy to deal with. Especially since there are more than 18 million business pages on Facebook that are all trying different methods to get their content more exposure.

Image from BufferApp

Image from BufferApp

The algorithms have hundreds of thousands of ways to determine what shows up on users’ feeds. This is why it has become too difficult for businesses to figure out an exact method to get their content and brand noticed by thousands of users. There are four things that affect the content that is seen:

  • What kinds of posts receive more interaction from users
  • Device the user is accessing Facebook with
  • The speed of internet the user has
  • How the user interacts with Facebook ads
  • What posts a user chooses to hide or report as spam

Here is the good news! A small reach does not necessarily mean that you are not doing well on Facebook. Instead, when you look at metrics, you should measure traffic to your website, leads, and buys from customers as a result of Facebook. If these are contributing at all to your business’ growth, then you should stay on Facebook and ignore how big your reach is.

For a better chance of exposure on Facebook, you can look at my previous Facebook posts and try this odd tactic – do not post at peak times. There are many guides about the best time to post on Facebook and other social network sites. I even have articles about this! However, many businesses are saying they are having more success by posting at non peak times. The thought is since there is little sharing from other users at these times, your content will get noticed more by people who are on Facebook. This is further proof that sometimes a small reach is not detrimental to your Facebook marketing time.