If being online is a part of your business strategy, you need more than a quality, user-friendly website. You need smart SEO.

When a person conducts an online search using words related to your business, SEO increases the likelihood that your website is listed at the top of the results. It allows you to reach a greater audience online — but only if it’s done correctly. Start by understanding some key strategies insiders use to ensure both humans and search engines like your website.


Use strategic website organization

Create a list of relevant keywords and use them strategically throughout the website. This is a good strategy, as long as you play by the rules.

Search engines seek to match the most useful and relevant information. To maintain integrity, search engines change algorithms frequently to outsmart “schemers” who find loopholes.

When changes occur, websites can be penalized with lower result rankings.

Incorporate relevant keywords in page titles, body copy and metadata. Titles and meta descriptions typically appear in the search results. When searches include keywords that match your page title and description, those words appear in bold, helping your page stand out.

Dedicate each Web page to one topic, product type or service. This ensures when a keyword is searched the most relevant Web page within your site pops up. It increases the likelihood users will click the link and find what they need.

It also helps decrease bounces — when a visitor immediately leaves a Web page — which search engines use to consider how long visitors stay engaged on your website.

Label images

Images should include relevant keywords in image titles, descriptions and alternative text. Proper alternate text helps with SEO and even provides sight-impaired Internet users an understanding of images, enabling them to more easily navigate your website.


Start a company blog

A company blog provides a platform to consistently post high-interest, industry-related content. This attracts audiences who search on a topic that may not otherwise be represented. It is a good practice to focus on one topic for a single post and include relevant keywords within the title, body copy and meta description.

Link your website to other sites

A well linked website shows search engines that a site is trustworthy. Claim your listings in reputable online directories, referral sites, review sites (Yelp, Google+), and reputable trade and news organizations and associations. Add a website link in company social media profiles, and include keywords in profile copy and content.


Invest in search engine marketing

If your website is new or you want to add to your SEO, consider advertising on search engines. Search engine marketing helps your website appear above or on the side of search results as an advertisement, so your company has exposure, even if your website isn’t in the organic search results.

SEM has a unique set of best practices, so use a certified associate or agency to handle an online advertising campaign.


These steps will increase relevant website traffic. Being diligent in reviewing website analytics and maintaining optimization best practices assures your website is being found.



Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer at GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S.

How to reach: (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or www.greencrest.com.

Learn more about GREENCREST at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter: @GreenCrest

Published in Columnist

Although social media has become mainstream practice for businesses, many executives are still uncertain how to put their best foot forward with social media strategy.

If done right, social media is the perfect platform to give your brand a personality, and build brand affinity and awareness. It requires clear objectives and a smart strategy in order to engage the right audience with the right messages.

As a marketing professional, I’ve witnessed the success in building online relationships, increasing social media website referrals, receiving valuable feedback from customers and generating leads. By instilling social media best practices, you, too, can reap the benefits — no matter your industry.


Create a social media-marketing plan

To begin, perform an audit and run a competitive analysis of your social media profiles and activity.

Next, develop a plan. Having a strategic social media-marketing plan is what sets great social media campaigns apart from campaigns that waste time and dollars.

Know your audience so you can post content they will find interesting, helpful or entertaining. What are your social media goals and objectives? Are you looking to increase your brand awareness or website traffic? Do you want to increase social media conversions and sales leads?


Brand your profiles

It’s important that you stay professional and on-brand — even on social media.

Take advantage of all the opportunities each platform offers businesses to brand themselves. Design an attractive and professional Facebook cover photo, Twitter background or LinkedIn banner consistent with your website and off-line marketing materials.


Develop content

When it’s time to develop content, there are a few social media best practices to remember:

1. Create a content schedule. When you create a schedule that designates when to post different types of content, you can develop content more quickly. Your audience will begin to expect certain posts on specific days. So, you might post a special offer on Mondays, a helpful tip on Tuesdays and behind-the-scenes pictures on Fridays.

2. Post daily. Many companies believe that posting once or twice a week is sufficient, but it dramatically reduces the people you’re reaching. Not everyone is online at the same time or when your post is made — a typical post has a lifespan of 30 minutes.

Some B2B businesses can get away with posting once per day, but most should post three to five times per day. Also know which hours your audience is online. Generally, business professionals are on social media before the workday, during lunchtime and after the workday.

However, LinkedIn may garner some relevant traffic during the workday, and Pinterest usually sees the best engagement late morning and mid-afternoon.

3. Don’t oversell or undersell. Apply the 80/20 rule when posting content and sales messages. Make sure 80 percent of posts focus on engaging your audience, such as asking questions and including a call-to-action. Your sales and promotional messages should make up about 20 percent of content.

4. Make it fun. After all, you’re on a “social” network. People are looking for content that is entertaining, informative or interesting. And most importantly, they’re looking for content that’s relevant to your business!


Adhering to these best practices will lay a good foundation for your social networking and engagement efforts — and lead to the results you want.


Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

 

Learn more about GREENCREST at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter: @GreenCrest

Published in Columnist

As anyone in business or sales will tell you, first impressions are everything. Initial judgments are made within four seconds, and finalized within 30.

As business owners, we’re concerned with the image we’re sending our target markets, how employees represent our companies and how potential customers perceive our offices or stores. Studies have shown that first impressions are hard to shake — even if a person’s later experiences with a company contradict it.

Have you thought of your website as a first impression of your business? It’s increasingly becoming the first interaction potential customers have with your business. In fact, 75 percent of Web users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on website design alone.

There are many ways to improve your company’s website and deliver a credible first impression online:


Create visually appealing design

Design matters. The visual appeal of a website has a major influence on a company’s credibility and a person’s first impression. Ensure that the design is consistent with off-line branded materials. Use your brand’s color pallet and typography.

Be sure that the font is appealing and easy to read, and support your message with photos and images. Your website should have a recognizable, organized layout that remains consistent.

Utilize user-friendly navigation

A user needs to be able to easily understand where to find the specific information he or she is looking for. Your website’s navigation should be clear, visible and consistent throughout. You also should incorporate a visual cue that tells users what page they are on.

But, don’t offer too many choices in the navigation bar — this overwhelms users, who will quickly leave. Try to keep it under 10 choices.

Develop quality content

The information on your website should make both search engines and your target audience happy. You have about 20 to 30 seconds to capture users’ attention before they leave the page. Your content should be thorough, concise, current and organized efficiently. It also should be grammatically correct.

To drive more traffic through search engines, use your company’s keywords when they make sense and properly label all images. Remember that search engines typically can’t read text in images or dynamic programming like JavaScript, so avoid placing critical information in those items.

Improve design functionality

About 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. A slow loading time is often because of oversized images. Reducing the file size and compressing the images can fix this.

You also should ensure the website experience is virtually the same on any browser. Today, it’s necessary to have a mobile website compatible on phones and tablets. Mobile searches increased 400 percent over last year, and mobile Web usage is expected to exceed desktop by the end of this year.

Responsive design will arrange your content so it displays nicely — no matter the size of the screen.

Your website establishes a strong and lasting first impression on potential customers. When you incorporate appealing aesthetics, user-friendly navigation, quality content and design functionality, you create a better first impression.

Having a well-designed and well-built website can grow your business. So, make a great first impression and enjoy increased traffic and potential customer leads.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/SBN_KellyBorth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter (company): @GreenCrest
LinkedIn (company): http://www.linkedin.com/company/68562?trk=pro_other_cmpy
Blog: http://www.brandproblog.com/

Published in Columnist

In nearly every marketing conversation, I am asked how to measure return on investment. It is a fair question, but the answer is not always simple to address. 

ROI, and equally important return on opportunity, are measured differently for most companies and are calculated on factors that are specific to each organization.

Here are some considerations for formulating ROI and ROO:

Establishing marketing goals — Know the marketing outcomes you desire. Are you trying to generate leads, build exposure, get the phone to ring, grow market share or retain customers?

Also keep in mind that marketing goals and sales goals are different. If direct human interaction is not a factor in the sale, they could be the same. For most, this is not the case. Marketing creates the opportunity and sales books the order. They are different disciplines.

Make your marketing goals measurable — in other words, be specific by stating percentage of growth, number of leads, degree of increase in market recognition, increase in market share and percentage of retention.

Understanding tracking — Determine tracking methods for what you want to measure. If you want a hard measurement of increase in market recognition, you can establish a benchmark by implementing before and after research surveys of how well-known your company, product or brand is in the marketplace.

Sometimes tracking can be easy, such as the number of leads generated from Internet advertising or an email campaign. Other times, unless we train customer service and sales representatives to ask how that prospect heard of us, we may never know where that opportunity came from.

Tracking percentage of growth and increase of market share require that we understand current measures as well as the sales team’s impact on the overall result. We need to understand what result we are looking for so the marketing campaign can direct prospects to do what we want to measure.

Calculating investment costs — Determining the cost of advertising, creative development, printing, postage and so on is easy. The more difficult factors are what else you are including in that calculation such as technology costs, staff cost and sales cost including sales tools such as brochures and websites.

Understanding all that you want a return on is a big factor in measuring and managing the expectation for return. Typically the more you factor in, the longer it takes to anticipate a return.

Determining profitability — Cost of goods sold is the typical calculation for understanding what it costs you to produce a product or deliver a service to a customer. How quickly a company will see a return is based on how much gross profit is derived from the sale.

Another consideration is the lifetime value of new customer. If the sale of your product has the potential to generate future maintenance or service work, add-on components, replacement parts, reoccurring revenue and the like, then your return can more readily be met by factoring the lifetime profit your company realizes from acquiring a new customer.

Factoring the sales cycle — What is the typical time frame from when a lead is generated to when a sale is booked (signed, sealed and delivered)?

How quickly you will get a return on investment is largely based on how quickly you can book the new business. If it is a long sales cycle, you may want to engage interim measurements or milestones to ensure your return is on track.

So, what should you be measuring? There are numerous ROI and ROO measurements — I could easily name 25 off the top of my head. You need to determine which are most important to your organization. Choose no more than a handful so that your team can easily manage the tracking and measurement.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. She has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or for more information www.greencrest.com.

 

 

 

Published in Columnist

A merger or acquisition is a sensitive process for all parties involved. Misinformation can abound, egos can be bruised, and business relationships can be damaged. One major cause of problems for companies entering a merger or acquisition is rumors and misconceptions that are allowed to run rampant through all levels of employees and stakeholders, as well as communities surrounding the businesses.

Employees, customers, vendors, community members and other key audiences hold specific interests in every company. To facilitate a smooth transition, companies must provide clear and concise information about the merger or acquisition to all stakeholders.

Implementing a transparent communications program ensures that all interested parties understand exactly how the deal will affect them. Without transparency, stakeholders begin to lose confidence. Flawless response time and a defined communication strategy are crucial to effectively ease any concerns.

Precise planning and messaging

Companies must prepare to beat fast-paced rumors months ahead of a merger or acquisition becoming imminent — especially with the speed information travels in today’s tech-savvy world.

Nothing is worse than having your employees find out about a major change in their company from an outside acquaintance. Why didn’t anyone at work inform them? Will they lose their jobs? These concerns should be addressed long before the rumor mill kicks into action. This takes proactive planning.

Initiating a proactive strategy will uncover communication considerations impacted by a merger or acquisition such as employee, key customer, investor, vendor and media announcement strategies, the company name, updating or merging of websites, and a host of other things.

“Key messages” that contain useful and comprehensive information should be prepared well ahead of time, with planned face-to-face meetings with those most affected by the deal, a detailed implementation timeline, and a plan for 11th-hour changes are essential to create a smooth transition process.

Internal communications

When announcing a merger or acquisition, it is imperative to provide accurate information and to avoid making promises that cannot be kept. If management takes the time to discuss the deal’s benefits and drawbacks, employees are more likely to respond positively instead of resisting change.

Employees expect straightforward and honest information about what the deal means for them. Anticipate questions that may arise and have a solid answer for each. Regular updates should be communicated through management, question-and-answer sessions, staff meetings and company news vehicles. The announcement to your staff must be a top priority — even ahead of key clients. But if planned properly, the announcement can hit all stakeholders within a matter of moments.

External communications

You may want to meet with key clients in person. A global announcement can be distributed via email within minutes of a staff announcement to not only clients but also other interested parties. A personal letter can always follow. But don’t stop there. Be sure to reinforce the benefits of the merger in all communication going forward.

Vendors will also be concerned about how the transaction will affect contracts, tax and credit information. A post-announcement letter can address these concerns and include any changes to important information.

Print and electronic media outlets are powerful tools and should be used accordingly. One designated spokesperson should be available at all times to speak to reporters. Communicating with key media outlets during a merger or acquisition offers a means for publicizing a company’s name change and launching new market and/or services announcements.

The perfect mix for internal and external communication plans involves implementing communications quickly, utilizing all available communication routes and delivering consistent, clear and accurate messages. Companies that make communications plans a priority during a merger or acquisition will emerge from the process as an organization that stakeholders, employees and the media can trust. ?

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Published in Columnist

Maintaining a culture aligned with brand requires constant effort to keep it in sync. So if this is what you are hoping to achieve, remember it is not a road trip you can cross off your bucket list — it’s a journey for the life of your organization.

So how do you get started? Let’s begin by reviewing some travel tips. As CEO, you don’t need to do all of the driving, but you do need to lead the charge and keep the journey on track.

It will take you longer to get there than you think. It will require ongoing resources: time, training, communication and celebration, even at the expense of short-term profit.

Define your brand

What is your brand? You need to know what “living the brand” means for your organization. If you are not sure if you have a clear brand position, start with a brand discovery. It will be well worth it. Your brand is already alive within your organization — it is a part of its core. You just need to uncover it. Defining the brand and making it the company’s primary focus helps clarify for employees what is brand behavior and what is not.

Conduct an employee survey to determine what beliefs exist within the organization that will either help or hinder you in achieving the brand culture you are seeking. What will emerge from this survey are alignment gaps that will need to be addressed.

Employees want to believe their company has a meaningful purpose. They want to know their job is important. They want to make a difference. Employees need to feel a sense of pride and ownership in what they do and they want to understand their personal connection with the company’s brand and its customers. When this exists, there is a natural excitement and passion for their work because it has purpose.

Conduct an organizational assessment to determine how brand is being conveyed at every touch point within the company. Again, what will emerge from this assessment are brand delivery gaps that will need to be addressed.

Employees who interact with customers on a regular basis will play a lead role in delivering the brand, but it will require all employees to adopt brand behavior in order to truly deliver the brand effectively. It has to become a part of the company culture to succeed.

What long-term delivery requires

Delivering on the brand for the long term requires priority, organizational structure, and ongoing communication and monitoring. The importance of brand focus needs to remain top-of-mind. It must constantly be reinforced by the CEO.

To become a part of company culture, brand delivery needs to be woven into the company’s operating procedures — including hiring for the beliefs and core values that drive the desired brand behaviors.

Senior leadership needs to have the authority to make changes or remove any barriers that prevent employees from delivering the brand promise to customers. Financial as well as strategic decisions will need to be made to continue to deliver a high impact brand experience as technology and social patterns change.

It will take an internal team to monitor brand delivery, manage associate training and plan the celebration of successes.

When culture aligns with brand, customers notice and become more likely to interact with your company and recommend it to others. The best time to start the journey is now. ?

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

 

Published in Columbus

 

As the economy slowly recovers, you need to adapt to the times when marketing your products and services. What worked in 2008 no longer applies in 2013. It’s a new game, and the few businesses doing it right are driving conversation, engagement and loyalty — and winning new business. It is not about abandoning what worked in the past but recognizing that the rules of engagement have changed and developing new strategy.

It is no different than adapting to the marketing challenges and changes that Internet technology brought in the 1990s.

The new social movement is a force to be reckoned with, and in 2013, you need to be ready to tackle this new communication trend. To ignore it will impair survival. It is not too late to get on board, but to do so will take a companywide commitment.

The new marketing paradigm

Sure, businesses are on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, and have blogs. But most businesses lack social strategy and an understanding of why they need those things. It’s time to understand how to become a social business, and shift the thinking of leadership and marketing to social conversation instead of the traditional push marketing.

The biggest shift is in pushing away from unwanted messaging filled with sales-centered value propositions to engaging in a way that mimics publishers — creating content that answers questions, adds value toward reaching objectives and encourages referral of your company as a credible reference. We need to feed the intense appetite for information by providing something great to talk about and share.

Creating a foundation

Being a social business takes a village. Engaging the entire organization is a cultural shift, and the directive for this level of change must come from the top. The CEO must lay the foundation for a social culture that encourages transparency and empowerment.

Communication used to be channeled through sales and marketing. Now we need everyone from the CEO to engineers and human resource teams contributing to the social conversation, each creating their personal brands and centers of influence.

The new game is peer-influenced community marketing. The challenge of marketing is to develop a social strategy, identifying social ambassadors within the organization at all levels, orchestrating the creation of great content companywide, educating ambassadors on the importance of their role and monitoring the conversation and results.

Mobility is a factor

According to business2community.com, 2013 will mark the first time online access is greater from mobile devices than desktop or laptop computers. An estimated 90 million consumers in the U.S. will own a tablet by 2014.

Mobility is changing the way we need to market. Communication needs to be mobile-friendly content. Companies need to shift to mobile sites and mobile advertising. Smartphone users expect to be able to do it all from their mobile device. If we cannot provide this experience, they become frustrated and disengaged.

 

It’s time to move forward

A 2012 Forrester survey of executives and IT decision makers indicated 49 percent expected to make investments in social networking solutions in 2012, and of those, 19 percent described their investment as “implemented, not expanding.”

The early adopters are in the game. The rest are asking, “How far behind are we?” That is the question you should be asking yourself.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or visit www.greencrest.com.

 

Published in Columbus

Kelly BorthBuilding a strategy to earn name recognition in the marketplace is more complex today than ever, and increased competition breeds more choices.

The Internet feeds prospects’ desire for 24/7 access to information and, at the same time, has changed the face of publishing. Email provides messaging directly to someone’s personal mailbox. Smartphones connect us around the clock and around the globe. And social media has revolutionized communication by providing a vehicle that gives a voice to the masses.

Much has changed and the new paths have opened the way for businesses to chart their own course. There are fewer barriers to getting your message to your targeted audience (unless you are trying to reach them on their office phone, right?) but many more fragmented choices to reach out and connect with them to get your message heard.

 Develop a well-thought-out strategy

As with all marketing, the best-laid plans produce the best results. Businesses today need an online strategy, an industry strategy and a direct-marketing effort to build exposure.

Understanding what potential customers want and need is imperative to success, as is knowing where potential customers hang out so you know the best opportunities to connect with them.

Chart your own course

The Internet offers no barriers to entry. Unlike having to pitch your story or white paper to an editor to get it published, the Internet freely accepts whatever information you would like to create and share with its open universe of information seekers.

This accessibility means opportunity is at your fingertips to populate that universe with your information. Popular forms of providing information include websites, blogs, press releases, white papers, case studies, educational videos, virtual webinars, various forms of presentations and pictures of products, comparison matrices, social media sites, such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and so on.

Some Internet services, such as those that distribute press releases, charge a fee, whereas posting sites, such as blogs or social bookmarking sites such as Digg, are free. Tracking engagement and turning engagement into opportunity begins with a solid website that effectively communicates your message, is connected to all of the information you have placed on the Internet and is optimized for search engines.

Becoming visible within targeted industries is more traditional. Strategic sponsorships of industry association events, trade shows, informational seminars and forums, as well as advertising and editorial within trade news vehicles — both print and online — are just a few options.

Think of sponsorships as your connection with the industry that can match you with potential customers. You are benefitting from relationships these industry associations have with the individuals and companies you want as customers.

Your direct strategy is about getting your company in front of a prospect so that when there is a need for what your company sells, the prospect is already familiar with you. This can include direct mail, email campaigns (make sure they are opt-in) and invitations to webinars or seminars where you present meaningful information.

Other options include Google AdWords or other pay-per-click campaigns, trade advertising, trade shows, online advertising, etc.

Plan for a comprehensive, integrated approach

To get noticed today, companies need to have an integrated plan of action, one that is comprehensive in nature to reach the intended target audiences. Just having a website is not the answer, nor is just going to a trade show or having a video on YouTube. It is much more complex than that.

Building a known name in the marketplace takes a commitment to a planned approach and follow-through. And don’t forget the importance of a consistent brand message and voice, as well.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

 

Published in Columbus

I have worked with CEOs for more than 30 years, and one constant that I have seen is a lack of clarity about goal setting. CEOs know what they want and usually have a growth number or percentage in mind, but they don’t have clear vision or a plan for how they will get there. This point was confirmed once again during a recent round-table session I facilitated for Conway Family Business Center.

There is a huge advantage for CEOs and their sales, marketing and operations teams to understand exactly where growth will come from. Here are some considerations for establishing a crystal clear vision as you begin setting goals for 2013.

Break it down

Measurable metrics give your goal a whole new meaning. If you could describe your goal in terms of activity, what would it look like? How many new prospect meetings and proposals? How much in proposed new business? How many new customers? How much new growth will come from new or existing customers? What is your annual customer attrition rate?

If your business is broken into market segments or business lines, you should answer these questions for each category of business so you know which ones to support with marketing, sales and operational dollars.

Another important consideration is analyzing market share — are there enough new business opportunities available to reach your growth goals, or do you need to diversify geographically, look for new market segments or expand your product or service offerings?

Also, look at the average annual sales volume by customer type so you understand how many new customers are needed to reach your goal. When you understand, for example, that $1 million in new business equates to 10 new customers, it is more palatable and much easier to understand what activity it will take to secure those relationships.

Develop a plan in support of action required

When there is clear vision of what needs to be done to reach the company’s goal, a laser-focused sales, marketing and operational strategy can be developed to support the effort.

You should have an understanding of what market segments will provide the greatest growth, what core prospects will get you to that goal, how you will expand your business with your current customers and what you need to do to improve your customer satisfaction and retention rates.

If you adjust your lens a bit further, you can see what opportunities you have to get in front of your core prospects and customers and analyze the best tactical approach to support your goal. And if you take the time to focus even more, you should be able to determine expected outcomes from every actionable activity.

 Track key performance indicators

Many of us are familiar with the term KPIs, or key performance indicators. Most financial reports are viewed historically — a recap of what happened to drive performance toward a goal. KPIs keep us focused on activity that leads toward goal achievement and as such should be reviewed at least weekly.

KPIs can vary greatly by company, but most businesses should track activity such as dollars of proposed business, percentage or likelihood of business to close, number of new leads, new business appointments and similar metrics.

Establish an infrastructure to obtain the level of reporting your organization needs to assure you’re on track and proactively moving toward your business growth goals.

Laser focus is a winning strategy

When employees in an organization can see and understand their role in helping their company achieve its goals, they will succeed in reaching that goal. It begins with laser focus at the top so the mission is clear and measurable. <<

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Published in Columbus

For many CEOs, it’s still a little mysterious how social media can benefit their business. But best practices do exist that can greatly improve brand awareness and profits. Social media can be a powerful marketing tool — if it’s used the right way. It opens doors for companies to create personal relationships with their current and potential customers online. And with the proliferation of mobile devices, more people are using the Internet to search and buy new products and services.

Your social media marketing plan should align with your company’s marketing goals. If your focus is to increase brand awareness and expose your company to a larger audience of potential customers, you should use targeted online advertising (such as Google AdWords, LinkedIn or Facebook advertisements), online-centered promotions and interactive tools such as YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare.

If you want to increase return on investment, focus on customer service and conversions. A conversion is a desired action that can mean potential new business for you. It can be an actual sale, a lead capture or even an email newsletter sign-up.

To capitalize on this marketing tool, start small and stay focused. Find a few social media sites where your potential customers interact the most and create a company page. Organize a small social media marketing team in your company and establish a brand-focused voice and participation guidelines.

With social media, you and/or whoever is representing your company are the face and personality of your brand. Remember to be friendly. Helpful expert advice is preferred to a sales pitch. Top off your social media marketing by monitoring conversations about your brand. There are free and paid services that can help you do this, but it’s very important for metrics and reputation management.

Imagine if you missed the opportunity to respond to a brand advocate promoting your company. Or what if you missed the chance to put out the fire of a negative comment?

At its core, social media is about participating in a dialogue and adding contributions to a community. Make sure your audience appreciates your company’s contributions.

Here are eight critical steps to developing a social media platform for your company.

Step 1: Observe. Before jumping in headfirst, take time to listen to the conversation already occurring to identify the best way you can add value to the dialogue.

Step 2: Define your metrics. What are you looking to achieve? Increased sales? Brand awareness? Traffic to your website? Credibility as a resource?

Step 3: Define your strategy. Develop a strategy that integrates well with your overall marketing strategy. Choose one or two social media outlets that make the most sense based on your goals and defined metrics.

Step 4: Develop your identity. It is imperative you have control of your identity in the online marketplace. Establish your company username and consistently use it in every social media outlet. Make sure your online persona mirrors the personality of your company.

Step 5: Create the rules for engagement. Remember this rule of thumb: For every 10 to 15 messages where you help someone else, you get to include one message that promotes your company.

Step 6: Monitor your success. Update your metrics monthly. Give the campaign at least two to three months to stabilize. Free measurement tools include Google Analytics, Google Blog Search, Twitter search, TweetDeck by Twitter, etc.

Step 7: Measure and tweak. Analyze each strategy to determine where you hit or missed the mark.

Step 8: Promote your

campaign. Add all widgets and URLs to employee business cards, email signatures, company website, press releases and advertising. Build relationships with others in your niche.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or @brandpro, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Published in Columbus
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