Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Right Attitude for the Holidays!

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to represent BrightBlue Marketing as a volunteer at the Salvation Army. Myself and other volunteers bagged up over 400 Christmas dinners for families that couldn't afford to buy a special meal on their own. As we bagged these items and set up the room for the families that would be coming for the pick up we laughed and had fun just working together.

However, as the people we were there to help began to arrive I looked at their faces and there is one face that will be stuck in my mind for a long time. It was the face of a little boy holding on to the hand of his mom as they waited to pick up their food. He was cute as a button and had a smile that just made my heart feel all warm. I have a little boy of my own - OK, he isn't "little" any more and I would be in trouble if he heard that, but he is 12 years old. I thought about how stressed I was because I couldn't afford to buy him the new game system this year, but hoped he would get enough gift cards from other family members to be able to get it soon after Christmas.

I was thinking about this as I looked at the innocent face of this smiling little boy. My gaze moved to his hand holding onto his mom and then, I looked up to his mother's face - that is when it hit me. What if I was that mom? What if I couldn't afford to buy enough food for my little boy? What must it be like to look down at that sweet, smiling face and tell him that Santa wouldn't come to their house no matter how good he tried to be? How does that conversation feel?

It was at that moment that I stopped worrying about a game system and anything else I didn't have and started appreciating everything that I did have. I can feed my child, I can clothe my child, I live in a neighborhood that you don't automatically lock the car doors when you get near it, and my child will have no shortage of gifts on Christmas morning, even if one of them isn't a new game system.
I am so thankful for organizations like the Salvation Army that help people in need and can help sweet, smiling children have a Merry Christmas. I am thankful that I was able to do some small part to help them do this. This Christmas I am going to think more about everything I have and not about the things I just want!

Do you have a special holiday story you want to share? We would love to hear it!!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Appreciate Your Customers All Year Long

The holiday season is the most popular time of the year to tell our customers how much we appreciate their business during the previous year, but we need to remember to do that all year long. Every business has their competitors and every customer has a choice as to where they take their business. Customer appreciation is another way to have your business be heard “above the noise”.

Customer appreciation can be a wide range of things and it doesn’t have to cost any money or take much time at all.

• A quick thank you email or, even better, a quick handwritten note sent to a new customer helps to build and solidify a new business relationship
• Learning and using the first names of the key contacts at each customer
• Sending a happy birthday email to your contacts
• Learning the names of spouses & kids of long time customers can ensure them that they are appreciated for their ongoing loyalty
• Create special hours for loyal customers
• Have a happy hour event for your customers on a landmark day for your company such as your anniversary
• Arrange for special pricing at a local amusement park for your customers to take their families

Be sure to say Happy Holidays to your customers this time of year but don’t forget to appreciate them all year long too.

Let us know if you have some unique ways that you appreciate your customers during the year – we would love to hear from you!

For more information on how to appreciate your customers:

Don’t forget to always appreciate your employee as well:

Monday, 20 December 2010

A Designer's Experience in the Birth of a new Product: Virtual Marketing Outreach

What an amazing experience to be a part of the birth of a new product. From conception to birth, it was refreshing to create designs that all of you users will be sending to your contacts. The best part was, never before did I have so much flexibility in the quantity and creativity involved. I'm so excited about the great variety of creative options available to our users!

Here are a few things taken into consideration when we designed the materials for VMO:

• It's important to hook in the reader through a visual impact.
• The visual must tie to the messaging theme.
• The imagery must grab the viewers attention QUICKLY, ad make them curious, make them want to read what you have to say....

As VMO grows up, I can't wait to integrate more designs in the future that will help your business grow upward, too!

~This blog was written by Karen Lang with BrightBlue Marketing~

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Marketing and PR Tools & Tactics you can use to your advantage when exploring new markets

The Marketing Think Tank call hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications was facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue, focused on the topic of: Marketing and PR Tools & Tactics you can use to your advantage when exploring new markets.

We looked at several ideas including:
• Developing a marketing & PR strategy for penetrating a new market
• Creative low/no cost ways to market and receive some good PR
• Effective ways to use social media to break into new markets
• Marketing through partnerships
• Marketing through events

To start with, everyone agreed that a company should decide if there is a real need to get into a new market. The main reason to move forward with this strategy is to take market share away from you competitors. To do this you have to know what the competition is doing right and what they are doing wrong and find something you can do differently that will move part of their market share to your company. You can do this by attending their events and following them on their social media outlets or you can hire a competitor’s employee. Hiring an employee from a competitor can be tricky but, when you are able to do it, they can be a great source of information on how your company can improve upon what is already out in the market place.

You can broaden your market definition by expanding on something that is already offered. Adding a different service or product related to what is already out there.. One example of this was the launch of Vonage.. They were moving into a new industry and had to try and define what it was and what it was not. Vonage had laid a lot of groundwork via PR about quality, consistency, etc. in order to overcome some bad press they had received about quality. They did this in a three phase approach:

• Phase 1: 2-3 months prior to launch – sent releases to key writers in the industry with high readership to serve as Vonage “champions” and becoming an excellent test market to tell their readers that already trusted them what they thought of the product.

• Phase 2: Send releases to even more established resources like “E Week,” Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, etc. as well as well known analysts in the tech community introducing Vonage to them. These journalists started asking questions which in turn helped with the final development points.

• Phase 3: Product launch – Vonage incorporated tier one writers and industry leaders and hit them hard from a PR relationship standpoint.

The people Vonage started with in Phase 1 helped them to get to the higher level industry leaders and publications by gradually building credibility for them in a new market.

How do you do this without breaking your marketing budget which may be tight?
There are actually some low or no cost ways to market and generate positive PR in the industry.
• Find new networking groups that you haven’t attended yet and focus on your new market.
• Offer to participate in speaking engagements at events in your new market area.
• Use social media regularly and consistently with announcements of your new product or service (The Big 5: Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, and LinkedIn).
• Guest blogging with other industry partners using and repurposing blogs you have already written for your site.
• Get involved with the community to promote yourself & your company as a good neighbor and as being actively involved in the community. This builds trust and when people compare apples to apples you stand out because you have been actively out in the community. Be sure you let news and media people know what you are doing and perhaps they might cover it as a story.

The Think Tank discussion focused on using social media to explore new markets, but how do you do that?
• Get involved with LinkedIn groups connected to your new market. Post promotions, discussions, etc. on these groups.
• Look to see what LinkedIn groups your competitors belong to and join those.
• YouTube – develop something that is uniquely you and bridges back to the value of your product or service in a slightly “nutty” way, but not just to be silly.

What are the benefits of building partnerships?
Partnerships can have huge benefits including:
• Providing access to a different set of contacts from yours that you will now be able to reach
• Giving the impressions of being more powerful and capable, going together instead of on your own.

However, you must be selective as to whom you choose as a partner. Be sure that they have the same vision and way of doing business as you do.

Another way of breaking into a new market is to produce marketing events. Events can be fun and a great addition as you work to get your business known in a new market. There are a variety of different types of events you can produce that have a range of costs including low or no cost options as well.

• A launch event, if done well, can bring a lot of attention to any new product or service you may be offering.
• A webinar virtual event to give a demonstration of new product or service
• Speaking engagements at other’s events that would have the right audience for your product or service.

Marketing events can be large, live events that include the entire community or something simpler you do that involves the virtual community.

As you start marketing to branch out into a new market the most important thing to remember is to be consistent while using multiple marketing and PR avenues. Studies show that customers need an average of 25 – 30 touches before they will purchase complex high tech services or products. So get out there and stay out there!

We would love to hear some stories from you and what has worked or hasn’t worked as you tried to break into a new market!

Here are links to further info about finding new customers in new markets:

and How to Penetrate New Accounts in Tough Times:

and Secrets of a successful entry into a new market: