Marketing Tip of the Week: Spice Up Your Images!

Last week I discussed a free site perfect for creating short videos to wow your customer. This week we are going to cover another free site, only this time it focuses on image manipulation.

Let me introduce you to Canva!

The Importance of Images

It’s no secret that customers prefer images to text. Invariably, any post including either will get more views than one without. But although an image has the power to draw attention, they aren’t always able to do the whole job on their own. Clarification often requires a little additional text, and for optimal impact, the best text should be placed directly on the image itself.

But how many business owners are savvy enough on the computer to superimpose text on existing images?

That’s where Canva comes in. They are a free-to-use site that will allow you to modify images with ease adding texture, filters and text in a variety of fonts and colors. There is a pay option if you’d like to do more than the free options allow, but there is plenty of usability without paying a penny.

Create Informative Graphics

With Canva, you can upload an image of your stock or an item you want to showcase, and then place text boxes so you can write on the image itself! You can easily size the boxes and choose the font type and size you need to say exactly what you want to say. Wouldn’t announcing a sale on shoes work better if the image had a large 20% off emblazoned across the front?

But that’s not all Canva offers. You will also be able to create your own images and banners from scratch. That means you can make your social media or website look professional without breaking the bank to have someone come in and do it for you.

Good marketing is all about having the right tools, and free programs that do the work for you are never a bad idea. Have a favorite program of your own? Share it in the comments below!

Marketing Tip of the Week: Get Noticed with Video!

In the online world, be that social media or just your own blog, video is king. But not every business owner is an amateur film-maker, and not everyone has someone on staff capable of filling in the gap. So if you need video but have no idea how to make one, where do you turn?

The simplest program I’ve found is Animoto. And the best part? You don’t actually have to shoot any video at all!

Ease of Use

Animoto provides pre-built video templates each with its own theme and music that use the photos you’ve taken and streams them into a video format. All that’s necessary from you is to insert your photos and hit create, providing an instant video. But that’s if you only want the simplest method.


There are plenty of options to do things differently if you don’t like everything about the template you choose.

  1. Change Your Background Music - All you have to do is left-click the title of the music from the creation page, and it will let you choose music from a list. It even lets you load your own music, if you want something specific.
  2. Add Text - You can add text at any point in the video simply by choosing the ‘T’ instead of the photo icon. It’s a great way to cue the viewer that different types of products are coming or anything else you’d like to use it for.
  3. Add Logo – If you have a company logo, you can add that as well. There’s a selection bar on the left side of your screen with a convenient Logo button.
  4. Spotlight Individual Photos – If you want certain photos to show up more prominently in your video, that selection bar mentioned above also has a spotlight option!
  5. Increase or Decrease Time Between Photos - You can change the spacing between your photos to extend or reduce the run time of your video. Of course, keeping it viewable is of paramount importance.

And the best part about Animoto? The site is free to use! Of course, the free version doesn’t have all the templates or music options they subscription version has, but there will be plenty there to get you started!



Marketing Tip of the Week: It’s Okay To Alter The Plan

You’ve put together a marketing plan, and you begin implementing your strategy. Before long you realize things aren’t going as you expected. You look at the data and evaluate the situation. You spot the problem, but changing it would result in revising everything. There’s still a chance your original plan will work, just perhaps not as well as you hoped. What do you do?

It’s Up To You

That’s a tough call and not one that anyone else can make. But if you choose to stay the course, make sure you’re not making that decision out of fear. Changing the plan isn’t always the best course of action, but there are plenty of times where it can be. Here are some guidelines to help you decide:

  1. How Far Off Course Are You? - The numbers being below your expectations is not an immediate call to change everything. How off are they? If you’re off by 10-15%, you may be able to make up the difference on another stage of the path. If you’re off by 35-40%, it might be time to revise.
  2. Is It Too Late - Sometimes the faux pas in a marketing strategy can’t be fixed. It’s been done, it’s out there and there’s no taking it back. If you’ve already made the misstep, it doesn’t mean that the rest of your plan is bad. Stick with it if you think there’s a chance of pulling things out. But if the rest of your strategy follows in that same vein, it’s time to pull the plug.
  3. How Critical Was The Error? – Is it the linchpin holding the rest of your strategy together? If so, it’s time for a new course. If not, evaluate the remaining steps and see if there’s a way to pull this thing out.

A marketing strategy gone awry is no reason to panic. In fact, it’s the worst possible time to do so. Keeping a clear head and evaluating the situation thoroughly is always your best chance to pull success from failure!

Marketing Tip of the Week: Customer Surveys, Yes or No?

Are customer surveys important to your business? Well, to find the answer to that, you should ask yourself three very important questions:

  1. Do I own a business?
  2. Do I have customers?
  3. Do I want them to buy more from me?

If the answer to each of those questions is yes, then customer surveys are definitely for you!

Setting It Up

Now that you know you should be doing customer surveys, how exactly does that work? Customer surveys are useful for everything from finding out what content your customers want to see on your blog to judging the success of a marketing campaign, but there are no right or wrong questions or formats. The only thing you really need is the question or questions you want to ask. The real difference is made in choosing your medium.

Choosing Your Audience

If you choose to do a survey on Facebook, you will mostly only get replies from your followers on Facebook. If you have your employees ask a question at the register, you’ll only get replies from walk-ins. If you send out an email question, you’ll get replies from your email list. If it’s on your blog, you’ll get people who read your site.

It’s true that some of those customers may overlap, but most likely you will have many that you’ll only get access to through one area. And that may be exactly what you want. Perhaps the question pertains to Facebook or email or the blog? But if you are looking for as well-rounded a response as possible, remember that you’ll need to post through all these mediums.

So go out there and find the information you really want to know about your customers and their buying habits. All you have to do is ask!


Marketing Tip of the Week: Pinterest Success Lies in the Re-pin

Every social media platform is different, and each one requires a different strategy to make your marketing plan effective. For Pinterest, the focus is all on the value of your re-pins.

What’s So Special About Re-Pins?

Of course your original material matters, but it’s impossible to generate enough to make your page interesting to other Pinterest users. Besides if all you post is your own material, you aren’t exactly being social. To involve yourself in the Pinterest community, you have to find pins from other companies and individuals and re-pin them to your page!

Selective Re-Pinning

So if re-pinning is the name of the game, how do you do it most effectively? You ask yourself some important questions:

  • Will this be valuable to my audience? – Re-pins are just as important to regulate as your own material. If it’s not something your audience will enjoy, don’t re-pin it! On the flip side of that, you are more able to target factions within your audience with re-pins because you can post them more often. You aren’t stuck pinning watered down over-generalized items in a vain attempt to reach everyone at once. You are pinning items that will find traction from different niches in your audience thereby growing your audience within those niches. And remember, being good enough for you to re-pin means the item also has to be good enough for your audience to re-pin.
  • Is the source valuable to my business? - A re-pin serves two purposes. One, it delights your followers and promotes re-pins from them, and two, it informs the poster you re-pinned from that you found their pin valuable. This may prompt that poster to come to your board and see if you have anything they might want to re-pin or possibly even follow you as a source of pin fodder in the future. That’s how the social aspect of Pinterest works, and if you are re-pinning from quality, well-trafficked accounts, you’re making it work for you.
  • Is the Pin Popular? - As you re-pin from an account with a large following, look to see how often it has been re-pinned compared to their others. Any pin that hits the sweet spot with their audience should hit that same sweet spot with yours.

Pinterest is an engaging platform, and now that you understand how to use it properly, you can finally get the most out of your marketing strategy!

Marketing Tip of the Week: 3 Tips Helping You Maneuver Toward Mobile

Just like online purchasing did before, so is mobile now quickly building a relevant market share. That means if you aren’t already, it’s past time to start taking the mobile marketplace into account when planning and scheduling online marketing. But what do you need to know to be successful? Read on for four easy tips to help you capture your piece of the mobile pie.

1 – It’s All About the Apps

While it’s imperative that you make sure your website is mobile compatible, the real key to any mobile user’s heart is through the app store. Making an app that will allow a user to shop your stock will do wonders, and app usage is increasing yearly whereas mobile website usage is steadily decreasing.

2 – Socially Acceptable

Social media owes a large portion of its success to the advent of the mobile phone. The ability to upload photos and tag locations in real time has made mobile the platform for most any flavor of social media. So it stands to reason that engaging on those platforms will do more to reach a mobile audience than any other marketing venue.

3 – Seize the … Evening?

Timing matters, and most mobile users access their devices in the evening. What better time to sit back and relax with your phone or tablet than after the workday has finished? That means you need to schedule your mobile-targeted marketing to post after 5 pm. It does no good to target an audience that isn’t tuned in.

Reaching the mobile marketplace isn’t complicated, but like anything worth doing, it requires forethought and planning. Now that you are armed with a little information, your mobile plan should yield even better results!

Marketing Tip of the Week: 4 Fantastic Twitter Tips

Is Twitter a medium that you’re still trying to master? Maybe you’re a Facebook guru, and that always seemed good enough. There’s no doubt that Facebook has long been the king of social media, but Twitter is proving itself a contender for the crown on a daily basis. If you haven’t familiarized yourself just yet, you are just one of a large number of business owners.

But the time to wait is over, and delaying any longer is only going to hurt your marketing future. It’s time to learn the Twitter ropes so that you too can make an impact in this rapidly growing social media platform.

#1 – Pictures and Moving Pictures

I’ve said it many times, but I’m going to go ahead and say it again: media makes your post. According to Twitter, tweets that contain an image are retweeted up to 35% more, and those containing videos see a boost of up to 28% more retweets than the standard text post. Make sure you are tweeting with attached media!

#2 – How to Search

The key to increasing your Twitter footprint is in talking to the right audiences. In order to find groups that share your interests, you can use the Twitter search function, but unlike modern search engines, it will not search for each word you type individually. Instead, it searches for the group as a whole, and that can be limiting your search results greatly.

How do you combat this problem? Simply type ‘the/or’ in between words to get full and partial results!

#3 – ‘Group’ Your Followers

Twitter allows you to place your followers in groups your create. Why is this important? Because it gives you the power to sort your followers by whatever method you choose which then makes it easier for you to talk to each group’s interests. In essence, you can personalize your tweets!

You can also set up those who promote your products in a group which customers and potential customers can search for and view as well as place your competitors in a private group so that you can monitor their activities, but no one can get to their feed from you.

#4 – Don’t Forget Communication

And this holds true for all social media. It’s easy to fall into the trap of turning your feed into one big advertisement for your business. The problem is, people don’t want to see or follow that. Social media is about engagement with your audience. Real connection breeds real brand loyalty.

Find things your audience will find interesting and retweet it. Ask open-ended questions (preferably about your industry, but don’t feel restricted), let your followers answer and then give them your actual opinion. This kind of engagement makes you approachable, and when your opinion pans out, it makes it validates you as an expert.

C’mon, folks. The Twitter train is pulling out of the station. Are you on board?

Marketing Tip of the Week: How To Do Native Advertising

In case you are unaware, native advertising is when you attempt to make your advertising look like a natural part of an already existing site. A vendor spotlight here on the FGmarket blog is a perfect example, (And that’s a free service for all our members, by the way. Talk to your sales rep!) but so is any article sponsored by you in your local paper or in your own blog that talks about you and/or your business but isn’t presented in traditional advertisement format.

So how do you do it right?

Make It Relevant

And that works both ways: Your advertisement needs to be relevant to your business and relevant to the audience of the site on which you’re advertising.

The first one seems like a no-brainer, but there are numerous examples of native advertising that has absolutely nothing to do with the company promoting it, especially on the web. But if the customer can’t make an immediate connection between the content and your brand or product, you’re wasting your advertising dollars.

As for the second point, if it doesn’t blend in with the site it’s technically not native. The whole idea is that the content is presented in such a way that it appears to be a natural extension of the site itself.

That being said, it is still important to label paid content as such. The idea is not to deceive the customer, merely make the experience more smooth and engaging than a traditional advert.

Native advertising has proven to be effective for all types of businesses. If you haven’t tried it, you should. And if you are already dipping your toes in the vast ocean of possibilities, make sure it’s being presented properly!

Marketing Tip of the Week: Social Media Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

While there are many campaigns you can design for immediate results, the choice to enter into social media is a process with a slow yield. Sure, when you first start your page, be it on Twitter, Facebook or your other social media site of choice, you will receive a flood of likes, but those are probably all from already established customers or personal friends. Once you’re past that initial onslaught, the pace slows dramatically, and that sudden change can be daunting, especially if you’re not expecting it.

Don’t Be Discouraged

That’s easy to say, but man is it difficult to do, especially if you’re staring at a Like counter or Follower list that never changes. But it’s to be expected. This is social media. It takes time to find people who want to interact with you, and it takes time for you to understand how to interact with them. It’s not as simple as just turning your page into a constant advert for your business. People aren’t fond of commercials, and if all you do is advertise for yourself, they will turn you off.

Follow the 80/20 Rule

What is the 80/20 rule? It’s a social media rule that says 80% of your content should be focused on your followers and 20% should be focused on yourself. Find content that your audience enjoys and direct them to it. Promote the content of industry leaders (especially if those leaders aren’t direct competitors) and show your followers that your page is more than an online billboard for your business. This will build your audience and also make any advertising you actually do that much more effective!

Building an online presence isn’t going to happen overnight, but with some love, care and nurturing, it will eventually blossom. Keep your head up, follow the 80/20 rule and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Marketing Tip of the Week: YouTube Matters

As social media platforms go, YouTube may be the internet’s best kept secret, especially among business owners. How often do you think about it as a viable platform for your business? My guess is not often, and that needs to change.

Looking at the Numbers

According to the people at Compete, as of June 2014 YouTube surpassed Facebook for most unique visitors. What does that mean? For the month of June, more people made their first ever visit to YouTube than those who made their first ever visit to Facebook. Okay, great. But what does that mean for marketers? It means that YouTube is growing as a social media platform at a now faster rate than Facebook. It means that YouTube is relevant for your marketing dollars and presence.

Getting Involved

So how do you get into YouTube? Fortunately, it’s easy and requires little in the way of initial investment. All you need to get started is a smartphone with a camera, and you’re on your way. The key to a successful video, be it an advert or just a community post, is the same as any other marketing content: keep it concise, sincere and interesting. And that’s really the key. Not every video you post has to be an advertisement, and they shouldn’t be. Just like with your website and other social media, you should give more than you ask.

Social media marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk calls it the give, give, give ask rule. You should always give three times more than you ask to keep your audience engaged.

YouTube is emerging from Facebook’s shadow. It’s time for business owners to take notice.