How to generate over 3,000 ‘Likes’ in less than 5 months, for a completely new business!

I know it sounds like an infomercial but here is a real-world case study, with ‘me’ as the subject matter.

www.CustomCigarBandRings.com (Custom Cigar Band Rings) started out as somewhat of a hobby for me. As a cigar smoker, I always carefully peel the bands off the cigars and onto my fingers while smoking. This prompted the idea to find a way to turn paper cigar bands into actual rings. Working with a local jeweler, we were able to refine a process that made it possible; and now we can turn almost any cigar band into a beautiful custom ring.

With little to no budget to advertise (sound familiar?) I started a custom Landing Page, and a Facebook Fan page.

The first thing I did was to start posting pictures of the rings we created as samples on the Facebook pages of other cigar companies. One such post garnered over 400 “Likes” and just like that, a business was born! In less than one month, I had 1,000 Fans on the CCBR page and the momentum has not let up.

Our page strategy is heavily based around cigar lifestyle pictures, with occasional pictures of our latest rings. We post about once per day, but sometimes as much as four times per day. Engagement on each post is amazing, with many posts getting over 100 likes each.  We also ‘Like’ as many other cigar associated Facebook Fan pages as possible, and make sure to ‘like’ their posts and comment /share when appropriate.  In addition, we advertise on Facebook to the tune of $2.00/day using PPC, and adding all of the keywords/interests that revolve around cigars. The ads perform extremely well, with a lifetime .22% click through rate!

Our off page strategy includes a blog that I set up on Blogger.com, with a bi-weekly post, typically centered around cigar reviews. I also feature other cigar stores in the area, and mention as many local cigar personalities as possible. I use several blog posting services to get it out there and repost the link on my FB and Twitter pages. It has already started to show a dramatic increase in traffic with each post.

The Twitter account we opened is now over 200 followers. We use this primarily to interact with the movers and shakers of the actual cigar industry, and it turns into more of a b2b networking channel, than anything else. The value of this audience for a product like mine is invaluable and has turned into some of our most lucrative sales.

Speaking of sales, this is my favorite part of this post since most people say ‘Social Media is not about ROI’.  Well, our landing page has received 2,424 visits with 215 requests for quotes, that’s a conversion rate of…get this…8.87%! Our closing ratio is about 25%, not to shabby for a strategy that’s not about ROI.  Not to mention, that’s 215 names to my email database, that I now email once per month to keep them engaged with special offers. All of this and I still haven’t integrated YouTube or Google+ to the mix.

I realize certain businesses lend themselves better to social media than others. Vanity items like my rings strike the ‘all about me’ chord often associated with social media, and so, managed correctly can do very well. However, I’m confident that what I’ve done here with this, many other businesses, in different categories can also do, with the right strategy and consistency. If you would like to see how we can help you get real results by integrating a proper social media strategy, please contact me for a free consultation.

Promote the Heck out of it…Build it and they will come!

Oh, but how often do we ignore that first little line…Promote the Heck out of it…and just go right to the building part.

Back in my good ‘ol days, well before I ever had a ‘real’ job, I was a ‘DJ’. Any DJ worth listening to was also a great promoter. Any great promoter also had a team of promoters, insuring that thousands of flyers, were given out, by hand (this is before Facebook and MySpace, heck before the internet!) so that everyone knew when the party was, where, what time, who was DJing and of course, how much you had to pay to get in!

Thanks to all of those efforts we had many successful events, and long lines of people waiting to get in, even on those frigid winter nights in Jersey. That’s what I call social networking!

Sometimes I forget those lessons I learned, and what it really takes to create a buzz, and get enough excitement built around something so that a significant amount of people make it a priority on their busy social calendars.

One thing is for sure, I would never DJ at a club unless I was absolutely sure that the ‘street team’ as we called it, was in full force, handing out thousands of flyers, and submitting guest lists well in advance.

 

That one lesson could serve so valuable to so many new businesses that open up each day, without any fanfare or following to speak of. It seems they all think that they can simply open the doors and the people will come, and more often than not, their doors close within a year. To think that you can spend all of your money getting your new business ready to open and not have any budget to properly promote and market it, is a recipe for disaster.

As an entrepreneur myself, I know how anxious I get each time I have a new idea and want to bring it to market. I’m working on a new project right now and I just want to get the show on the road, BUT, a big part of getting the show on the road is the pre-show.

It doesn’t mean that you’re not moving forward, it just means you’re laying down the best foundation possible and opportunity to succeed. This entails many different tactics that in today’s world including PR on the web, social media, YouTube videos that go viral, events, sampling, endorsements, and so on.
Don’t wait until you’re open to start promoting, you should get your street team together and start promoting six months before you open. Set up a landing page, and offer a VIP invite for anyone who signs up, and they will also receive a special something on your grand opening.

Akin to a famous Abrahm Lincoln quote: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax”…if you have a new venture on the horizon, spend most of the energy getting the word out, to insure a successful opening and a strong foundation for the future!

The traffic driving value of social media

So many business owners today quickly discount social media as an ineffective medium to drive sales. They barely budge on the value of using social media to increase engagement or as a way to improve customer service, let along ring the register.

However, most business owners believe that there is value in driving traffic to their website. After all these years, many are convinced that a visitor, who frequents their site, is more likely a loyal fan of the brand or a very motivated buyer, and the chances to convert increase with each visit.

Using this mindset with social, and tracking the results, can prove just how valuable your social media network is to driving traffic to your site.

When you post a link on your Facebook page, and nobody ‘likes’ it did it have any value to your company? It is quite possible that although nobody liked the post, they actually simply clicked on the link because they were interested in learning more about it.

By adding a tracking tag to the link using a tool such as bit.ly you can instantly see just how often this occurs on each post. There have been times where I posted a new blog and have received hundreds of clicks on the link with barely a ‘like’ or new follow.  If I had not been tracking it, I may have been quickly discouraged and continued down the path of skepticism when it comes to the value of social media. The bottom line is that your Facebook Fans and Twitter followers freely chose to be a part of your network, and that is one of the most valuable commodities you have at your disposal.

This built-in focus group, may not reply the way that you want them to, by liking every post and sharing it on every network they are a part of, but they are looking for new information from you, and will engage if the message resonates with them.

It’s amazing how some things go viral, and completely change the landscape of that company’s business. There is no denying the power of a social media campaign that is embraced by the masses, and the impact it has on the recipient. Achieving that kind of success remains the result of creative posts, and consistently seeking the feedback of your network.

When you push messages that focus on you, you’re missing the target. Find out first what your audience is interested in and match your message to meet those needs. When you do that successfully, you will quickly see that your Facebook and Twitter account will become major traffic drivers to your site from your Google Analytics reports.

At what point should you consider an advertising agency?

I heard a quote recently that I love:

 

As a small company, the question of whether or not to use an agency for marketing and advertising is one that is not considered often enough. I believe there is a misconception that agencies are expensive and that no one knows how to market your company better than you (the owner) does.  When you weigh the costs of bringing the marketing ‘in-house’ it may at first look like a cost-savings move.  But in fact, the majority of the time the media spend becomes less efficient and less effective, and some companies never fully recover.

With the advent of social media, there has been an increase in companies taking their marketing in-house. Now that this ‘free’ medium is out there which makes it easy to market, many are of the mindset that money can be saved, and real ROI can be increased.  We’re all for that, and it’s a big part of our ‘tradigital’ strategy, but often the savings of in-house marketing is lost in wasted efforts that deliver poor results, as many find out that social media is not so easy, and generating results is not ‘free’.

In addition, many owners and employees fall victim to the old adage, ‘you’re too close to the forest to see the trees’.  By this we mean that many owners often do the advertising or marketing that they like the best, not necessarily the one that their audience likes the best.  We always start with the target market (demo) and the available budget and work it backwards to insure that we’re buying the most cost-effective media that delivers the largest share of your audience, combined with the best strategy (why buy) with tactics (why buy now). 

Many times as an agency we find that the owners and those who are responsible for marketing really do have the right ideas, but it’s a matter of pulling out the best ones, and then executing on the back-end. Ultimately a collaborative process yields the best results, combining the best ideas, with proven copy writing and creative production that delivers results.  Add that to the buying power of any good agency, and you can also significantly save on the cost of the media.

An article written years ago by Tony Benjamin still has just as much merit today as it does when it was written. It’s entitled 10 Reasons to Think Small, as in a ‘small agency’. Here are the 10 points:

1. You get better creative
2. Small agencies are less expensive
3. Substance over surface
4. Clients are more important to small shops
5. At small agencies people aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty
6. Small agencies are apolitical
7. Small agencies are faster
8. Small agencies are friendlier
9. Small agencies make a client’s budget go further
10. Small agencies need every client

Future posts will elaborate on each one of these points, but if you own a company or are tasked with the marketing and advertising success of that company, pick up the phone and give your local small ad agency a call (our number is 561-683-0404…shameless plug!).  Most often an initial consultation is free, and you can determine if they are the right fit is for you.

We consider our agency to be an extension of your company. When you work with us, it’s like partnering with another company that is focused on one task – increasing business through the message you convey. The goal is to allow us to do our job, and in turn let you focus on your job of running the company, and growing your company.

Don’t think you’re too small for an agency, the money you think you’re saving could be costing you a great deal. To schedule a free consultation with b digital, please visit us online at bdigitalagency.com (A division of Baldrica Advertising and Marketing) or call 561-683-0404

The new ‘Mind Your Business’ Video Blog

Welcome to ‘Mind Your Business’ a new video blog featuring your company! The idea is simple, we want to speak to as many business owners and marketers and find out how you’re integrating digital with your traditional efforts.

We call this ‘tradigital’, but you can call it whatever you like. The key is to learn what is working and what some of your challenges are. As an agency who focuses on ‘tradigital’ we see the many challenges business owners have today as they try and integrate digital.

The most obvious challenge is learning a new technology and deciding if it makes sense to apply time and resources to it. At what point do you decide that a certain tool or digital strategy is not ‘fly by night’ and that you’re company stands to benefit from it?

It seems that as soon as one strategy or resource reaches a critical mass, there is a new one waiting to replace it. While this has always been the case in technology, we have never seen such a rapid cycle of it. Even hardware is quickly outdated and replaced by newer models with updated functions and features.

There are however several undeniable digital products and services that have proven their worth, and though continually evolving, should be part of any marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimization using proper keyword strategies and blog posts for original content continue to dominate the internet ‘marketing’ space.

The practice of purchasing ‘adwords’ on Google, Bing and Yahoo, (maybe the original ‘online advertising’ strategy) continues to show dividends today, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Social Media seems to be the new ‘too big to fail’ strategy that has shown tremendous promise as more and more consumers look for new ways to interact with the brands they love the most. Facebook continues to dominate the space, but giants such as Twitter, Linked-In, YouTube and Google+ make managing the process that much more challenging.

This new video blog seeks to interview business owners and marketers and find out how they’re integrating these digital assets and what results they’re seeing.

Questions like:
• Are you seeing increased traffic to your website?
• Are your prospects finding you through social media?
• Are you using Pinterest, Instagram, Viddy or other social tools to drive traffic?
• Do you use Twitter for customer service purposes?
• Have you tested the use of a landing page or vanity URL?
• How do you integrate your blog with your marketing plan?
• Do you use custom tabs on Facebook and has it increased likes?
• Do you advertise online or on social media sites?

The key takeaway we’re looking for is to see how businesses are integrating digital with their traditional efforts, and what kind of results are they seeing? If you’re a business owner or marketer that has seen some success integrating digital, we’d like to schedule a 30 minute interview and find out how you’re minding your business! This video will be used on our site, and syndicated to our entire social media community, as well as sent out over the PR wire. In addition, you will receive a copy of the interview to use as you wish.

We hope this video series will not only teach and inspire other businesses and marketers, but that in true ‘Social Sense’, will also direct some eyeballs and eventually new business your way! Thank you for taking the time, please email me at jgarcia@bdigitalagency.com or call 561-288-1625 to schedule your on-site interview.

Think of ‘Tradigital’ as a way of teaching an old dog, new tricks!

The more we have these ‘tradigital’ conversations with our clients, the more I see the light bulb go off in their heads. It’s almost as you can literally see a flip switched and all of a sudden ‘they get it’.

If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s great (read on!) and if you have been having tradigital conversations, than you probably know what I mean.

Let’s go back for a minute…tradigital is the integration of traditional media with digital for maximum results. Basically, we teach that traditional media is by no means dead, it’s just that the message needs to evolve to match the expectations of the audience.

If our plugged-in society, in general, ‘Googles’ everything, why are you giving them a phone number exclusively in your ads? Or, for that matter, sending them to an unprofessional website home page that doesn’t even feature the offer you are promoting?

A colleague of mine was recently telling me about a new account that had been advertising their product specials every week, in a half page ad. Because they had stores at each end of the market, they were buying two major newspapers, and spending about $150,000 per year to do so.

They first redesigned their website to make it professional and functional. Then they changed the ad in the paper to half-page, and basically promoted a call to action that asked the readers to visit the website and sign up for weekly specials via email. The owner was reluctent, he was ‘old-school’ and didn’t think you could use a newspaper ad to drive people online. Well, he did get about 50 calls from the portion of his customers that absolutely refused to change their old ways. However, in just over two weeks he has received over 2,400 email opt-ins!

In the past 6 years combined this retailer had not collected that much information from it’s customers. Here we are two weeks into a tradigital campaign and the opt-ins are increasing daily. Think of the power this retailer will have at it’s disposal once this list gets to 10,000 or 20,000 names.

Do you think he will keep advertising in the newspaper? Absolutley, because when you have a well-crafted ad, with a call to action that drives people to respond online, it works! At the same time, he was able to cut his advertising expense in half (sorry newspaper), and now has an available budget to do the same with radio or TV.

Tradigital can teach an old dog new tricks because you keep enough of the old to keep the dog happy, and then once they see that the ‘new’ is good, they quickly embrace it.

For more tradigital strategies contact John Garcia at b digital agency, inc / bdigitalagency.com

What if you stopped advertising?

I’ve often asked this question, and it’s amazing to me the different responses I get. Generally speaking most ‘advertisers’ are unsure what the return on their advertising is, and so they’re unsure what the repercussions would be if they stopped.

I realize it takes a lot of effort to track advertising results and often busy small companies don’t have the resources in place (or so they think) that it takes to properly track campaigns. For all these reasons a ‘tradigital’ campaign makes all the more sense.

Tradigital simply means ‘traditional and digital’ working together. The sweet spot is using your TV, Radio, Newspaper ads etc, to drive traffic to a website or custom landing page. Basically, the ‘call now’ call to action is much less impactful in a plugged-in world, and offering a ‘digital’ response has shown to increase the response rates by 35% or more!

A report on radio campaigns that offer an easy to remember landing page or website, dramatically increase the number of response. Let’s look at the chart below:

So whether or not to stop advertising is not the question you should be asking yourself. Rather, what do you need to do in order for your advertising to evolve, is what you should be asking. The days of using media to ‘call today’ or ‘come in today’ are no longer relevant. Even JC Penney for goodness sakes is now promoting their ‘everyday low price’.

The key is to use digital components to increase responses and custom landing pages to increase conversion rates and build your own audience. As the number of people you Tweet, Facebook, Link-In, Google + and YouTube grows, your influence grows. Now when you take a break from traditional adveritising you still have an opportunity to reach those who most want to hear from you.

So don’t’ stop advertising, just be smart about it and you will know exactly what is working and why.

Do What you Do Best!

I am often told “don’t tell me how to run my business”. In fact, it might as well be the slogan of every small business in America. I absolutely agree, the question is – what business are you in?

If you’re a baker, a mechanic, a doctor, a restaurateur, whatever business you’re in, you’re only a ‘marketer’ if you’re in the marketing and advertising business. My point is, no matter how well you know your business, it does not qualify you to best ‘market’ your business.

Despite the millions of books and articles and even blogs like this one, the most successful businesses seem to have learned the golden rule…’Do What You Do Best!’ Those who don’t learn this, prefer to ‘do their own advertising’, or worse, they hire a marketing agency or rep, only to tell them what they want in their ads.

This is why the majority of newspaper ads look like a cluttered piece of mayhem with no clear call to action or visible headline, etc. Many TV and Radio ads just want to cram as much information as possible, and Billboards look more like graffiti than anything else.

Let me ask you, as a business owner, would you let me go into your business and tell you how to run it? Then why would you want to tell your marketing or advertising agency or media rep how your ads should look or sound like?

Even after many small business owners have failed miserably when it comes to their own marketing efforts, they still insist on calling the shots. Recently a new account tells me, “we lost a lot of money advertising and printing brochures on our last go-around” but he still wants to tell me what his billboard should look like.

I’m not sure if it’s the A type personality or the desire to control everything that hampers the ability of small business owners to let go of this part of their duties. Whatever it is, I can always tell when a local business has ‘made the switch’.

I’m not saying that all marketers get it right every time, but the basics of marketing and advertising are immediately recognizable. The clear message, the simple and creative approach, the clear call to action, and the better ones include the clear next step which should feature a ‘digital’ component such as a landing page, website or social network component.

I’ll summarize with this, if you want to take your business to the next level, you may want to consider a professional marketing agency. To be successful you need to give them as much information on your business as possible, and let them go to work. Otherwise, keep on ‘doing your own ads’ and then blame the media company or the rep when it doesn’t work.

If you’re ready to have this conversation, we would be happy to meet with you. Otherwise, we wish you well as you attempt to learn a new profession while trying to run your business.

“Hey, Traditional Media…If you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em”

After working 6 years at the largest daily newspaper in Palm Beach County, I have first-hand witness of what technology can do. I actually saw the same thing happen in the recording industry, when I managed the sales and marketing for a record label in New York.

When I started in the music business, vinyl or ‘records’ as it is commonly known, was still the preferred method of choice for DJ’s throughout the world. In less than a 5 year span we saw a huge shift to CD’s, which created a whole new generation of sophisticated CD players and all the sales that came with it. It hence moved to MP3’s and the use of laptops. Now, many world-renowned DJ’s play their entire set using sophisticated Apps that cost only $24.99 on their iPads.

Technology proves again, you either adapt or get out of the way. Well, I’ve added one more option, if you can’t beat the technology, join it. I’m talking specifically to traditional media, such as TV, Radio and Newspapers.

Again, my experience with Newspapers saw Craigslist sweep across the nation, from West Coat to East, slowly destroying the holy grail of newspaper income, the Classifieds! Once Craigslist added your city to its list, you can rest assured that income was going to go away.

THERE’S NO NEED FOR THIS TO HAPPEN:

To me, although there are many complexities, there is one glaring and obvious solution. Traditional media needs to facilitate the ease of access to the internet by providing more content and features of what’s going on online.

For example, if the newspaper created a ‘Found it on Facebook’ section, which could even be ‘advertorial’ or ‘pay for play’, I believe it would be very successful. Why, because it’s much easier to look through a daily paper, and read this section, and find new and wonderful pages on Facebook, that are local and relevant, then it is to go on Facebook and search all over. Beyond that, the feature could alert you to things you may not have ever even thought to search for, and expose new opportunities you would have never found looking online.

I’ve heard rumors of TV commercials being more interactive. Featuring a few buttons you can press on your remote to ‘respond’ to the ad. This technology seems way behind to me, and needs to be fully developed and implemented soon. With all of the internet TV’s already on the market, the world is begging for commercials with coupons you can redeem with the push of your remote, as long as say you’re logged in to your Facebook account – now who’s old fashioned?!?

Radio is not as easy, but bottom line, effective radio ads have proven to drive more targeted traffic to a website than any other form of mass media. Unlike other forms of mass media, you listen to the radio, as you do other things. Vanity URL’s have replaced Vanity phone numbers, and most of the audience prefers to respond to ads online, on their own time. When was the last time you picked up a phone after you heard an ad on the radio?

Yet, most commercials do and say the same thing that they always have, and results are weakening. If traditional media featured the ‘digital world’ in such a way that people would find value in reading, watching and listening to the messages again, mass media would be much more relevant again, and our plugged in world would benefit tremendously.