5 Tips to Engage Your Audience

We can all agree that when it comes to marketing, 2009 was the year of social media. A recent Marketing Profs article provided statistics showing a dramatic increase in the number of business utilizing social media to increase brand awareness and sell products last year. It seems a lot of companies decided to dive into social media because it’s the “in” thing, and forgot about their bottom line. Let’s face it, you can post, tag and tweet all you want, but if your efforts don’t produce results then you are out of luck when it comes time to justify your budget to the executives.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that communication is a two way street and social media is no different. Engaging your audience is perhaps the most important aspect to any social media campaign. People interested in your product or service don’t subscribe to your list, follow you or become your fan only because you ask them to. Just as we seek a return on investment for marketing dollars, our followers seek a return on their time invested.

Success in social media can easily be achieved by engaging your audience. Take a look at the 5 tips below and incorporate them into your social media strategy to produce measurable results.

  1. Keep an eye on your public profiles- Read comments, messages and questions posted on your profile to see what your audience wants to tell you directly
  2. Use social media monitoring tools- Utilize some of the many monitoring tools available to see what your audience is telling others about your brand
  3. Respond to questions and comments- When someone asks you a question, respond… and do it quickly!  Depending on the network you are using, low retention rates are something to keep in mind. Social media adds a whole new meaning to “real-time” information and if a potential customer wants to know something they want it now.
  4. Utilize surveys or polls- Customers want to know that their opinions matter. Spice things up a bit and change your tone by asking them what they think. Running a successful survey will improve participation and lead to a positive view of your brand.
  5. Run promotions specific to your social network- What better way to add value than providing your audience with special discounts just for listening? Be sure to track sources if linking to a landing page so you can fulfill your promise.

Marketing Through This Recession

A friend asked a good question that is very pertinent in today’s economy: “How do you position your marketing in a recession?” I have some opinions, based upon real world experiences that might be helpful.

Make sure you focus on customer service and retention FIRST. To create raving fans you need to prove that you care about your customers. If you do that, when you go to them and ask for additional business, referrals and testimonials, they will be more than happy to help. I would say that far too many companies, even in this economy, assume that their customers will stick with them. Don’t assume. Actions speak volumes over words.

Do something unexpected for your best customers. Send them a card, coupon or email. Better yet, pick up the handset in the box with the buttons and call to simply say “thanks.” You’ll likely be surprised by the reaction. They will be stunned. Sell Value and Change Positioning

People are looking for deals. How you position them will have a major impact on results. You need to sell VALUE to succeed in these tough times, so do it. *With increased economic pressure comes anxiety. Understand this. Doing so means relying less on emotional creative approaches and more on logical, rational creative executions. Use more numbers, facts, data and the like to appeal to the left brain with your marketing. Watch what happens to results.

Finally, test, test and test some more. It will get you to relevancy faster than anything else. If you read this blog on a semi-regular basis you are likely sick of hearing this. But now is when you can truly gain market share, goodwill and sales. It’s no mistake that two of the companies who are doing well now test a ton: Amazon and Netflix. This should be a lesson to all who think that testing is too expensive, don’t have the time or think that their marketing is doing fine without it. My experience helping companies market through several recessions prove that these tips work. Give me a call at 1-800-710-2750 and let’s talk and see if I can help.

Grant A. Johnson

Johnson Direct LLC


Recession or Not, Here’s a True (good) Story

In the late spring/early summer of 2008 a B2B client hired my firm, Johnson Direct LLC, to undertake a comprehensive marketing audit that included primary and secondary research, customer analytics, a short and long-term marketing plan and recommended tactics to achieve strategic goals that we helped establish. The beginning of my Direct Branding process. Pretty straight-forward marketing stuff, albeit comprehensive and a bit complicated, time consuming and a decent investment.

My team went to work, got good and dirty, visited trade shows, talked to editors and reporters, interviewed experts, reviewed market segments and opportunities, did a competitive marketing audit, complete with positioning in each segment, met and talked with the sales reps, and combed the internet for materials.

This process took a good six to seven months to complete.

As the process unfolded, the economy got worse, then terrible and then horrific. I was sure the client was going to abandon the recommended tactics of the plan, which began with advertising once the new identity, re-positioning and re-branding were completed.

I was wrong.

The company president had the foresight to move forward and put his faith in my team’s comprehensive research and plan. I am sure glad he did. And, so is he? How can I be so sure?

After the first ad ran, they secured a very large sale (large enough to pay for the ENTIRE audit and advertising/marketing budget for the year). Because they tele-qualify leads, they talked to a prospect who had written the company off and was all set to purchase from a competitor. Then, he saw the new ad, did some more research, called in the sale rep and the sale commenced.

This is a true story. It’s NOT about me, my firm or our process. It’s about doing your homework and knowing that marketing, when done correctly and measured STILL works, even in this lousy economy.

Don’t dismiss this as dumb luck. Now is the perfect time to market. Afterall, your competitors are likely withdrawing. Another client just achieved a 14.3% response rate and another grew nearly 60% last year and anticipates larger growth in 2009.

Does this success come easy? Heck no. It’s a lot of work. The payoff, however, going to market with the knowledge that you understand your customers/prospects, your position in the marketplace, as well as your competitors and what differentiates you allows you to enter with a higher degree of confidence. Then there’s testing to minimize your exposure, but this post is long already.

Go for it! Market intelligently and market away. You’ll gain market share and you’ll be growing while your competition is huddled under their blankets, afraid that success will remain elusive. I know you’ll prove them wrong.

Grant A. Johnson
Johnson Direct LLC