Category Archives: Business

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Effective Social Media Marketing Starts With A Clear Message

Before social media, timelines, and news feeds, companies of all sizes could generate clear messages through email marketing, newspapers, and radio ads. The message was simple and direct, with the objective to get customers to visit an online store to purchase a company’s products, or promote a physical location to shop or visit. Today with social media marketing, many small businesses lack a consistent message because they either don’t post enough, or they post so often on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that each status or tweet has absolutely nothing to do with the previous posting. Coherency and staying on point is a lost art in marketing, especially on social media, and the businesses that do stay consistent with their message, get engagement.

There are businesses among all sectors that struggle with sticking to one message. The companies that are succeeding have done an excellent job with defining who they are, whether that be the solo entrepreneur who knows his or her business and market completely, or leaders within a larger company that have instilled in the marketing department the culture and brand the business is expressing to their customers through social media. With that being said, what about the businesses that don’t have a clear message, and often deviate from being consistent by posting too many updates that don’t stay on point? Why are they struggling and can it be fixed?

The best examples of companies in major business sectors that are brutally awful at social media is automotive and real estate. Both industries have put so much effort into sales that they’ve completely forgotten that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter aren’t necessarily selling platforms, but in fact marketing avenues that attract customers by enticing them, rather than pushing them into buying. Most notably in the automotive world, once you get to the dealership level, any semblance of good marketing is rare at best, and as a result, you get incoherent messages or posts that make no sense for the car selling business.

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A local Volvo dealership who usually posts sporadically throughout the year, must have gotten the urge to start posting around the holidays. But instead of actually promoting sales offers or cars on the new and used lots, the social media manager decides that sharing a YouTube video of two non street legal Volvos racing around a track in Sweden is relevant to customers interested in purchasing a Volvo. What is the message that the dealership wants to portray to past, present, and future buyers? If posting Car & Driver or MotorTrend articles are the basis of their social media strategy, they’ve failed at using Facebook as a viable platform to sell cars on.

These dealerships have vehicles that they know inside and out as they’ve been trained to sell them to people who walk in the doors. They know the specifications and price tags, but more importantly, they’ll be the first ones to receive new models. The message should be quite clear and if I was the social media manager, this would be my statement to the department. “Our mission is to sell cars, with that being said, we should create our own content surrounding the cars on our lots, and the service department that maintains customers’ vehicles and this should be the focus of our message”. Once the message is in place, then you can effectively market your business and products.

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Real estate, much like the car industry, is a very sales driven market. However, with social media now entering the picture, it appears that once hard selling companies have been forced to become friendly and informative, but they’re going about it the wrong way. In the picture above, Century 21 shared a link to an article about wall painting. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being informal, but what’s the message that they want to portray?

If selling property and houses are the main goal, why is painting walls relevant to potential buyers if they can get that information from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sherwin Williams? More importantly, renovation and updating the interior is the step after purchasing, which realtors wouldn’t be a part of. Technically, that’s not their role in real estate and it’s the contractors who would benefit most by sharing that article as it would be a message they’d want to promote on their Facebook page.

With the same mindset as the dealership, the social media manager has to come up with a clear message and build content around that message. “The goal is to sell houses, therefor creating content that’s beneficial to the buyer, whether that be through digital media or pictures, would be an immensely powerful tool to attract potential buyers to our realtor firm.” When it comes to social media, it’s all about the message. Once the message is set in place, then a strategy on content creating can be put in place.

Social media marketing is essentially the basis of your business’ mission statement. Why was your business created, who are your customers, and why would they choose you? The same questions can be applied to you social media marketing strategy. Once you get the answers, your message will be clear and effective. Until that point, you’ll never get the most out of your social media efforts.

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Facebook Live – Signaling The End Of QVC

When you think of QVC, Shark Tank’s Lori Grenier is probably the first person you’ll associate the channel with. Dubbed “The Queen of QVC”, Lori made a living from selling her products by using the platform to promote her products on television. Her success catapulted the channel’s household name recognition, and for the past 5 years or so they’ve been the king of infomercials, and arguably so as many businesses have reaped the benefits of using QVC as a marketing channel. However, all good things must come to an end, and sometimes even kings and queens get dethroned. Ladies and gentlemen, the new kid in the block, Facebook Live, is ready to change how you shop and how businesses advertise to you.

Live streaming is slowly becoming a part of hour daily lives. Whether it’s Periscope, YouTube, or Facebook, you’ve either watched a live event, tuned into your favorite vlogger’s live Q and A, or perhaps even you have picked up your phone and went live. Needless to say our phone, laptop, and tablets are just an arm’s reach away, and tech savvy businesses are well aware that your attention is no longer focused on the television, but on social media.

On my Facebook news feed, a childhood friend had commented on a live stream from a small business that was selling women’s clothing targeted towards women in their 20’s. Of course being a guy, I wasn’t interested in what these women were selling, but the marketer in me couldn’t help but notice the effectiveness of having a live infomercial where viewers’ questions were being answered immediately. The ability to interact live through the use of Facebook will eventually bring many businesses in television marketing, like QVC, to their knees. How can you draw businesses to use your platform if there’s a cheaper, more effective and direct solution to a problem that up until now, has been a brick wall that has stopped many small businesses from getting to the next level?

To get a spot on QVC, you’re looking at paying $10,000 if not more. On Facebook it’s free to live stream, and your only costs will be ad campaigns and boosted posts. What live streaming has essentially done is break down the barriers that have held small businesses back and now give them the chance at national, and possibly global expansion to new markets through the use of social media channels. The power is no longer in the hands of a selective few, and now women in their 20’s can pave their own way to success by utilizing Facebook live.

QVC may not be the only potential casualty as social media and live streaming become more common and mainstream. Many old technologies could become obsolete, and much like MTV’s emergence killed the radio star, social media could very well be the death of television as we know it, and along with its funeral, many businesses related to TV could very well go under if they don’t transition over to platforms such as Facebook.

Despite the many businesses that could be affected by live streaming replacing a large portion of television shows, infomercials, and sporting events, new companies will arise, ushering in a new era. We could be living through a technological revolution, bigger than many have anticipated, that along with it brings a wave of small businesses popping up across the country that will no longer be regionally based, but could conduct business throughout the county and internationally. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, and with each passing day, it just continues to get better and better.

While QVC’s days might be numbered, we are now entering the Golden Age for small businesses who effectively use social media to the fullest. Instead of throwing thousands of dollars away on television advertising that will continue to be less influential in the buying process for consumers as the years pass, social media will be the platform that yields a high reward because of it’s unlimited potential and ability to reach virtually everyone.

January 1st is right around the corner, and the perfect time for a new start and new direction for your business’ advertising strategies. Incorporating Facebook Live into your weekly activity on social media, could be the deciding factor between having a great year, or being left behind by those who were willing to innovate.

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With Social Media’s Existence, Are Email Subscriptions Even Necessary?

2017 is the start of a new beginning for many, including business owners, bloggers, influencers, and people who have a desire to further their physical development. In the technological and business realm, the ways in which we acquire customers changes with the new year as new and innovative ideas moves markets into a different direction for the better. Almost 20 years into the new millennium there are still businesses and old school entrepreneurs who try acquiring customers the old fashioned way, and email subscriptions could very well be the next causality of the social media age that many who live in the past still use today.

First, let’s understand why email subscriptions were so effective in the 90’s and early 2000’s. When the Internet was relatively young, email was the Facebook of it’s time. You could contact friends and family and companies that had your email from past purchases could promote coupons and sale events that you’d be interested in. Since email was the most widely used way of communication on the Internet, email click rates were very high for small businesses and large corporations because that’s where their customers were.

For the early day bloggers and influencers who were constantly writing articles, an email subscription list was very beneficial. Not only could subscribers get the latest updates sent straight to their email accounts, but the administrator of the website that was sharing content could also promote webinars or selling some form of software that his or her subscribers would have interest in viewing or purchasing.

Fast forward to a decade and a half later and social media is now the most used form of communication, whether it be for personal or business use. Social media’s emergence was the death of email marketing and subscriptions for many reasons, with the most obvious one being that customers’ attentions were no longer on email and the click rates reflected that. Myspace and Facebook made communication with friends and family more convenient, Twitter changed how we get news, consume content, interact with businesses, sports teams, and other people who share our interests, and Instagram gave people the ability to communicate their lives through pictures.

The end of email’s dominance was inevitable, and now email subscriptions face the same fate. If you look at marketers who made a living off email subscription lists and compare them back then to where they are now, most if not all who stressed the importance of email marketing are irrelevant at best. They failed to transition to social media, and as a result they were left behind.

As a small business owner and someone who created accounts and websites for hobbies I really enjoy, email subscriptions wasn’t even an option. When my content, whether it be on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook reaches my current and future customers, there’s no point in emphasizing email marketing. Click through rates are high, and 99% of traffic on all the websites I manage, including my business, come through social media, there’s no reason to explore abandoned avenues that consumers left behind many years ago.

Having followers is the modern day replacement for an email subscription list, especially with the use of direct and private messaging. Many customers of mine contacted my business through direct message before purchasing, and it’s that depth of connecting on a personal level that makes social media much more effective than email.

We’re living through a technological and marketing revolution. There’s no telling exactly where we’ll be in terms of business and reaching customers 3-5 years down the road, but one thing is for sure, with each passing day another old and decaying form of marketing is dying. It’s up to all of us to keep up with the times and our customers, or we’ll all be left behind wondering what could have been had we paid attention to where our customers were spending the most time.

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Is Boston Becoming A Center For Wealth?

Since the economic recession in 2008, Boston and Eastern Massachusetts as a whole has come out stronger and better than most parts of the United States. Boston has recently experienced a building boom in multiple sections of the city, including the Financial and Seaport districts that’s not only attracting corporations, but individuals with wealth. General Electric recently announced that they’re moving their headquarters to Boston, for reasons including the growing market of technology companies in the northeast and the number of certified tech talent. GE no longer wants to be recognized as a industrial company of the last century, but wants to be known as a leader in tech.

Another indicator of a wealth shift is the type of stores that are popping up in the area, especially those in the automotive sector. McLaren of Boston, located in Norwell, Massachusetts, recently opened their dealership near the end of 2015. Prior to their arrival, the closest McLaren dealership was in Greenwich, Connecticut. In a 30 mile radius of Boston, there’s three Maserati dealerships, one Lamborghini dealership, one Ferrari dealership, and now McLaren. These places aren’t just here to attract window shoppers, but are tailoring to a growing market of wealthy individuals.

Economists are always fear mongering on the economy and constantly spreading the awareness of another recession, starting with retail. On any given weekend, malls such as Burlington, Natick, and Framingham are packed with shoppers. Parking lots are full as if it’s still the holiday season, and even during the height of the recession, local malls really didn’t seem to be affected. Furthermore, retail stores continue to pop up in many cities and towns throughout the commonwealth, signifying a strong local economy.

As a resident of Eastern Massachusetts all my life, I’ve never seen Boston and the surrounding suburbs thrive like they have over the past 3-5 years. Sure, the strong economic climate in the early 2000’s was prominent, but not at the level we’re experiencing today. Million dollar homes are being built and people are moving in almost immediately, older two and three family houses are being renovated into condos and being re-sold for more than $500,000 and consumers are buying them, and Boston has had multiple luxury high rise apartment buildings with waiting lists for tenants to move in.

In terms of vehicles most local residents own, Mercedes Benz, Audis, and BMWs are becoming all too common. It’s almost become desensitizing seeing Bentley’s, Maserati’s, and Porsche’s everywhere you go, and cars exceeding $100,000 are certainly not rare to find roaming the streets. Fifteen to twenty years ago, this wasn’t the norm, in fact, it was a treat to catch a glimpse of a new BMW, now it requires a bit more to get notoriety.

No one really knows where the economic climate is heading, whether positive or negative. One thing is for sure, Boston is becoming a new center for wealth for corporations, consumers, and entrepreneurs. Because people from outside the region are moving into Boston, the city has attracted some big name events, such as the Olympics which plans ultimately fell through, and a IndyCar race which is still scheduled to take place in the Seaport district during Labor Day weekend.

It’s safe to say that we’ve been very blessed as of late to not really be impacted by any economic adversity. Now of course, there’s always cities that will be affected, and some being very close to the city of Boston, primarily because they were former industrial hubs. When the factories closed, the middle class moved out and haven’t returned since. These cities aren’t attracting technology companies or businesses in sectors that are very strong and likely won’t anytime soon. The opportunities are certainly there, but the wrong stores are moving in with low paying wages, which won’t accelerate the local economy or put money in residents’ pockets.

So far all signs are pointing up for the city of Boston and surrounding suburbs in 2016, and we can only hope that this continues. With the strong local economy, the city’s skyline is beginning to change and evolve, showcasing the progress and economic environment the city is currently in. It’s going to be exciting to see the further transformation of this great city as some new high rises and skyscrapers are in the works, with some already breaking ground.

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Instagram Has Become A Consumer-Friendly Platform: Which Is Good News

Three years ago, what was Instagram and Pinterest? What value did they bring to the consumer, and were they worth the devoted attention by marketers? Some would argue that Facebook was and is currently the primary focus, and that it should be. However, has Facebook reached a point where not only the advertising has lost its effectiveness, but that, combined with Facebook’s evolution to becoming the platform to discuss social, political, and religious issues has pushed consumers to other platforms? Absolutely. There has been a major shift to Twitter and Instagram, and with that brings bigger and better marketing opportunities for businesses both big and small.

What makes Instagram so different is that the picture is what draws people in, not the written text below. Hard selling is very difficult as putting out quality, native content is a number one priority that will make more of an impact due to great visual posts. On Instagram, the consumers come to you. By effectively using hashtags, you’re drawing customers in, but the ball is in their court, not yours. They have the power to choose whether they’ll follow and consume what you sell, and they’re the ones that are engaging with you, rather than you engaging with them. Facebook has become a push platform, where Instagram is at it’s best when you’re attracting customers.

Companies are now promoting their products with the use of great content, and in-turn, are now getting inquiries about prices and services by serious consumers. On Facebook, it’s become rare to see customers engage with companies in such an open manner, unless those companies are very friendly, open, and direct through the use of their content. Small businesses ranging from selling t-shirts to car services, are seeing results through the content they share. Visualization is key. The better the picture, the more engagement.

Instagram is also a platform where it’s a must to update on a regular basis; four, five, sometimes even six pictures a day aren’t enough. But it should be noted that you have a clear strategy when it comes to the distribution of your content as certain hours of the day work better than others. To some degree, Pinterest has a lot to do with Instagram’s growth and maturity as a social media marketing platform. Pinterest is essentially the visualized version of eBay and Amazon, and through that, a great quality of content has now shifted to Instagram.

Consumers have a desire to become “friends” with companies, and build a connection through the use of content. At the rate Facebook is going, advertisements along with boring content is repelling customers, which may eventually lead to Facebook becoming valueless to businesses in terms of selling products in mass volumes. Right now Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms out there, and it would be a mistake to not use it to your company’s advantage.

Prepare to put out great content and engage with your followers. Social media is changing, and Instagram’s current setup is the direction social media marketing is heading. Visualization will be key to selling anything, so it’s time to make the switch and focus on other platforms that aren’t named Facebook.

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Sell Emotion, Feeling, And An Experience To See Sales

Being a car enthusiast, and someone who is studying social media marketing for car dealerships, the notion of selling emotion, feeling, and experience is rather fascinating. A highly effective form of advertising that is often used in the hotel and resort industry, isn’t being utilized in other industries, or rather, not being used correctly. I believe that the greatest motivator in the buying process is feeling. When your favorite car brand promotes their new convertible, the scenery and sound affects draw you in, and if the commercial is successful, you’ll have a growing desire to experience what the actor is in the ad.

You’ve probably heard business people asking a salesperson to sell them a pen. Most of these sales pitches fail because they talk about the pen, but not about what the pen can do for you, as in how do you benefit from that pen. Selling cars has always been hard selling, and not about the benefits that buyer will see after they purchase that car. Instead of rushing someone into a hasty decision, either use marketing campaigns that strike at the heart of consumers, or consistently post content that gives a potential car buyer the desire to purchase a certain vehicle.

The home decor industry has fallen into the same trap, where spokespeople talk about “great deals”, but don’t try creating an emotion, feeling, or experience. What is better than sitting in an air conditioned house on a summer night, with a comfortable leather coach, watching a movie with the entire family? That’s an experience, a feeling, or emotion that many family-oriented adults desire to feel. We’re living in an amazing time where social media is dominating the marketing world, but industries aren’t using these tools effectively. Instagram and Pinterest are picture based platforms, and with great photos, you can create an experience for customers that will be desired.

It’s incredible that HGTV seems to be more effective at selling home decor products than the companies who produce and sell them. The same goes for the automotive industry where Car and Driver uses pictures, and posts content that could motivate a car buyer to choose a certain brand over the other. For Car and Driver, it’s not their job to sell cars, they’re specialty is reviewing them, and informing consumers. Yet, they’ve become a primary resource where car buyers could easily be influenced by a magazine article.

If you don’t start creating a feeling, an emotion, or start selling an experience, you will not see the ROI you desire from your social media marketing campaigns. Hard selling is slowly becoming the normal strategy for companies, not only those who produce the products we see on the shelves and in showrooms, but the ones who also sell them. How do car dealerships expect a certain model to sell, if they don’t promote their vehicle in a way that creates a desire to experience the feeling behind the wheel of that car? For HGTV, I get the feeling they’ve become more trustworthy and a better source of buying information on everything about homes and interiors than the companies themselves.

Social media has become the tool where customers grow trust in certain brands, whether that be a company, magazine, or television network. The reason why car dealerships and companies in other industries see low engagement rates is because they’re not posting content that builds emotion and a connection. The social media marketing era has created many winners in a multitude of industries, but now that social media is maturing, we’re seeing a lot of losers pop up, and that’s because they’ve resorted to hard selling. Sell emotion, feeling, and an experience if you want to succeed, because the hard selling days are over.

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Not Marketing On Social Media? You’re Playing With Fire

On my other website, Boston Auto Blog, I’ve discussed the importance of having a sound social media marketing strategy for car dealerships, but it’s essential for any industry. Over the past three months I’ve spent much time looking over companies’ social media strategies, while also taking notes on the businesses who aren’t taking social media platforms seriously. The findings were alarming for the businesses who weren’t consistently posting content, engaging with followers, or didn’t have any social media presence. We are now living in a time where marketing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are vital, similar to when big conglomerates moved to neighborhoods, killing the small businesses off in the process.

As in the early days of the shopping mall and companies who could market, advertise, and mass produce products on a grand scale, new businesses who have the foresight of marketing on social media are stealing market share away from local perennial powerhouses. In 2015, it’s a friendly environment for young startups because they can use social media to their advantage as the virtual word of mouth. They can engage with followers even before their doors open, update their future customers on news regarding their startup, and already make an impact before their grand opening. The local stores with a strong tradition of being a great place to shop at is no longer good enough, especially if they’re not using Facebook or any other platform.

This year, there has been a new car dealership that’s moved into the local area. Months ahead of time they were posting updates and promoting their dealership with Facebook ads, so when the doors were finally ready to open, they had immediate customers. In turn, some dealerships in the area started scrambling and began promoting their Facebook fan page, but it was too late. The new dealership was not only promoting, they were also posting native content of their showroom, cars, nail salon, and memorabilia store. So far after 6 months since their grand opening, they’re by far the most popular dealership and have a following of over 8,500 fans on Facebook, which is more than dealerships who have been open for decades.

Traditional businesses who operate the old-fashioned way are playing a very dangerous game. By not going digital and updating their marketing strategy, they’ll get beat by the companies who are primarily marketing on social media. In fact, I haven’t seen one commercial from that dealership. Their popularity arose from word of mouth, social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and engaging with the local community. They were already a member of the neighborhood before the store even opened, and no one can deny that it had an impact on the local area.

Social media marketing will continue to help grow the companies who use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter effectively, and will kill off the businesses who don’t take social media seriously. It’s already become apparent that this new dealership is taking business away from other showrooms in the area. For any company out there, the new kid on the block who is reaching out to the community should be putting fear in the hearts of the hometown boys who’ve owned the local turf for decades. You either update your marketing strategy, or you’ll be forgotten like the town diners and local stores that were eaten up by companies who could advertise on a mass scale.

Marketing on social media is serious. Without a sense of urgency, and not putting in the time and dedication to grow your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followings, you’ll be opening the door for others businesses who understand the importance of online marketing, and they’ll gladly take your customers away from you.