Category Archives: General Marketing

Building an Email List for #GreaterProfits

Building a Colossal Email List for Beginner Marketers

Getting started with Email List Building

Email Marketing still remains one of the most cost-effective ways of growing your business. This is because in spite of all other means of communication and various channels now available, most of us are still using emails – and they are the cheapest to send out and consume. And as long as our emails escape the spam filter, these are being read.

But before you have a successful email marketing campaign, you need to build an email list. A targeted, laser focused list is truly worth its weight in gold. So how do we go about building an email list?  Listed below are a few of the options available to a start up marketer…
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How to increase sales by upto 800% – with a Contiguous Branding Experience.

In the first article on branding, we talked about why its necessary for an entrepreneur to think of branding even before his very first sale.

We talked about branding being important for the business to not to confuse the customer and to make sure that you are not having to create trust anew every single time. Once the customer has bought from you, and the experience has been good, the trust is already created. The business now only has to maintain and carry forward that trust and use it to sell more easily – and here is where the brand contiguity comes in.

A consistent user experience  needs to be created within the same session or across multiple interactions and across multiple properties – digital and offline with the company. Continue reading

12 Tips on Using QR codes In Your Marketing

QR codes are meant to avoid the need for typing in your web address into a smart phone (which usually carry a very small keyboard). Over the past few years, we have seen marketers adopt QR codes in a big way. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when using QR codes in your business.

This is a QR code pointing to the Noble RiverMarketing Services page.

Click to view how we can help your QR needs

  1. Use QR codes with smartphone users in mind.
  2. Display them where people walk by, or where they sit for a while, but dont have access to a computer.
  3. Lead them to landing pages, not your regular web site home page. Smartphone users dont want to go hunting for a special link on your website.
  4. Explain the advantage to the user in scanning your QR code right now. Are you offering them 15% off ?
  5. Do not replace web address with QR codes. Web addresses are for users sitting at a computer screen. They may not have a smartphone. They cannot use a smartphone to browse to your landing page if they are at a computer.
  6. Use web addresses in email. QR codes are useless.
  7. Keep it black or two toned. Multi color QR codes may throw some scanners off.
  8. Please provide instructions on how to use QR codes. For example, instruct your users to “Scan this code using your Google App”.
  9. You can also provide links to your favorite QR code readers.
  10. You can offer a link to a page that explains”What is a QR code?”
  11. Be creative with your QR code. A friend of mine has created a card that is the same shape as a QR code. The entire back side of his card displays his QR code!
  12. QR codes do not need to always point to your web address. Here is one pointing to our phone number. ( If you read it with a good app, it will directly initiate a call to our number.)

Important Note :

The Google Search App on my iphone4 could not read this QR code. My QRS+ scanner app did read this and immediately called the number.

Some QRCode readers :

BeeTagg ( if you are reading this on your smartphone, get it here. )

Free QR code generator qrcode.Kaywa.com

OmniQRcode.com : This site has QR codes that can redirect users appropriately to the right app for their device.

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And one more thing before you go! Take a look at this article on mashable regarding people who never read this article.

And for those who don’t listen to me, you end up here in stupid QR code museum!

This post by Deep Janardhanan, CMO at Noble River Marketing.

Marketing Mythbusting : Caveat Emptor

For ages, we’ve heard  the phrase Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware. And for years, it has been true. It was up to the customer to do the due diligence. If you were not careful, you would be taken for everything you had, and there was nothing to be done about it.

Boy, have things changed now! Its understood that goods are returnable if proven faulty. Warranties are the rule rather than the exception. Department stores have policies in place that make it easier for you to return products.

So, how does it affect the small business person?

  • Well, it has upped the ante for you. If you are selling a product, the onus is on you to make sure that your product is faultless; or its coming back to the store.
  • Even when people deal with faceless websites, they expect free shipping even on returns.
  • Your customers expect only the best quality checked products; anything less is frustrating and disheartening. They feel cheated.
  • Customers look for exemplary service, anything less is business suicide.
  • Buyers have learnt not to worry. They know they can return it if your product isn’t up to the mark.

This is a paradigm shift as far as the customer mindset goes; and you and me better learn to adapt. The only other option is to perish and there are many examples around us of businesses that perished because they did not rise the customers expectations.

So what do you do as a small business?

Simple.

  1. Explain in clear terms what your customers should expect.
  2. Explain the effort you have put into making your product stand out.
  3. Explain why your product is better compared to the competition.
  4. Explain how you stand behind your claims.
  5. Explain what you will do if your customer is unsatisfied.
  6. Provide exemplary service; go above and beyond; don’t cut corners.
  7. Expect to satisfy every customer that buys your product.
  8. Finally, keep your promise – accept a returned good and provide a refund without whining or misgivings! 

The positive effects from this are two-fold:

  1.  Word spreads that you stand behind your product; and that you keep your word. More people learn that its good business to be in business with you.
  2. The customers you treat fairly will feel the need to reciprocate and will bring you more of their business.

Follow the  few rules of Customer Satisfaction above and you will see your business grow and keep on growing.  

Here’s a similar post : How to make your customers feel special.

To Greater Profits Every Day,

Deep Janardhanan, Noble River Marketing.

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Noble River Marketing is a full service Marketing Agency in Richmond,Va providing consultancy services to growing businesses in Richmond and suburban areas.

25 Rules for Using Images on the Web

 Investing in an image might be good for your marketing.

An image is worth a thousand words.

This sure is a cliche, but has been true for thousands of years! Even today, a picture trumps text on your page by a huge margin. A glance at the above image is enough to understand what the artist wants to convey. So, it may be worth your effort investing in the services of a good graphic artist.

Here are a few rules of thumb that you may follow while using images on your web page.

1) Pictures of people always have better results than other images.
2) Pictures of smiling people perform better.
3) Pictures of your target demographic doing something healthy and fun may pull better.
4) All else being the same, pictures of pretty people(men/women/cute kids) are the best performing ones.
5) If you are using pretty people in the picture, they should be shown using your product or enjoying the benefits of using your product.
6) If your product is being shown in the picture, but its not being used, then make sure the people in the picture are looking at your product.
7) Preferably they should be wearing something in colors that match your theme colors or logo colors.
8) The background may be muted bringing attention to the person in the forefront.
9) It may be a good idea to keep the background relatively clutter-free too.
10) Your image should be placed above the fold, where the user can see it without scrolling.
11) If you are placing the image on the left hand side of the page, your product should appear on the right hand side bottom corner; or vice versa. This helps the viewers gaze to fall on your product as a natural extension of where he is going to look next.

 If you are using a video instead of an image,
12) Make sure the video snap shot that appears makes sense and is engaging  enough to make the user want to click to view it.
13) If  you are using a youTube plugin, normally the snapshot is taken from the middle, but you can set it to something else too.
14) You can use some scripting to display an image from anywhere in the video, then play the video in place when the user clicks on the image.
15)If you are hosting the video on a third party site, please load an in-place image initially so that there is no ugly empty space on the page. The video can be loaded hidden and displayed when fully loaded. Talk to your software guy about how to do this.

Tags:
16) Do not forget your tags. Use AlT tags for images and videos.
17) If you are using a video hosting service such as youtube, they allow multiple tags with your images.
18) Mention your product, then your company name if it makes sense.
19) Please do not use other people’s images without permission or at least attributing to the creator.  If you can provide a link to the creators site from your footer, that would be even better.
20) If the owner of the images asks you to bring it down, you have no option but to take it off right away.

Other tips:
21) If you are a solo-preneur or a mom and pop shop, put your picture on the front page.
22) If you are a local shop, it may help having your entire family’s picture on your web site.
23) Try to reduce your images to the smallest possible size without losing clarity to avoid long loading times.
24) Use sprites if you can; again check with your Software Guy.
25) Carry a camera with you, and snap anything that looks pleasing. You never know when the next big blog idea may show up and you can snap a picture go with it.

Do you have any words of wisdom regarding the use of images? Have you run any tests that disprove any of the rules above? Let me know … 

  * Image courtesy of Treehugger blog.

Certificate of Appreciation

This past weekend, my daughter attended one of her friend’s birthday party… They had lots to eat and lots to drink and played a lot of games just like any other 8 year old’s party she has attended in the past. It was great fun and she did great at darts. It was quite the same until the end.

Before she left, the birthday girl gave her a goody bag full of sweet treats. Plus, she  awarded my daughter with a “Certificate Of Appreciation” for doing great at darts! It was a paper printed in a certificate format with a picture of the beaming birthday girl. It was a very good keepsake and souvenir of the event.

Lets talk about your business!

Do you send Certificates Of Appreciation to your customers?  

How often do you appreciate the customers that choose to spend their money with you? Do you take the time to thank your customers? Do you tell them that their business means a lot to you?  Do you send them little thank you gifts in the mail?

Or do you just send freebies and other gifts to your prospects while completely ignoring existing customers?  

Do you consider retaining customers as a priority or are you only concerned with adding more people to your list?

Its been said many times before, but its worth mentioning again.

Its about 8 times more expensive to find a new customer than to get repeat business from an existing customer.

Its rather inexpensive to send a note in the mail to all your good customers. May be you could even add a discount offer in the letter.  Your customer will definitely appreciate you doing this.

Appreciating your customer properly has the highest ROI of any other marketing tool in your toolkit.  Try it and see your business explode.

Happy marketing,

Yours in greater profits everyday,

Dj.

http://nobleriver.com/Services/Growth-Services.aspx

All Customers Are Not Treated Equal

This evening I was chatting with a friend who runs a travel web site.  He was explaining how he wanted to make changes to his web site to cater to big organizations along with his existing customer base(which was mostly individual travelers). It occurred to me that most businessmen still dont realize the importance of customer segregation.

I went on to explain to my friend how it was advantageous to have separate web sites for individual customers and organizations. The needs and ways of the two are different and you cannot do justice to either by combining the two.

The individual traveller is often a deal hunter and is geared towards cheap tickets and accommodation whereas the business is looking for convenience. The CEO who needs to travel could care less if he saved his organization $30/- by driving up to the travel agent to pick up his own tickets.

The individual often books his tickets months in advance to get cheaper rates, while the businessperson is looking for an urgent ticket to go meet his client/supplier etc.

The deals that my friend is able to offer the individual customer may not be valid for his big business client. When he sends the two to the same website, he is just asking for trouble; certainly down the line; if not now.

The marketing he does also depends on what the particular type of client is looking for; hence having a single web site is not advantageous. 

Hence, in your businesses, you must separate your customers into as many groups as may be practical. This will be based on the availability of resources to adequately service each group.

Towards Greater Profits,

Deej.

How do I find new customers to market to?

We have routine visits with our clients where we update them with what was accomplished in the previous period and what we have coming in the next. We also try to answer any questions the client has about the market, his marketing assets and their performance or planning the next strategic move.

In this context, one of the questions he asked was one of the very basic ones in marketing. Where do I find new customers to send my messages to?

Though this can be a very easy question to answer, or a tough one depending on what exactly your customer is looking for, the answer is all around you.

Just because the web has become a nice tool to market, the old ways of marketing are still going strong. Do not forget the trusty old newspaper ad, the magazine ( at least in my hometown we have scores of them) offering ad spots at very decent prices.

Then there are the collaborative mailers such as VALPAK. A few of my clients are regulars in such mailings. The returns may not be as great as some other media, but the cost for mailing is also negligible.

The lesson is this: Dont forget the old and the useful just because the shiny new thing has caught your eye!

To Ever Greater Profits ,

DJ.