With 2016 quickly approaching, make this the year you put a marketing plan in place and start measuring your success.
It’s one of the first things I ask my customers. Unfortunately, I don’t always get a response.
Anytime someone is considering advertising with Hardwood Floors, I’ll ask, “What do you hope to achieve?” Or, “What is your marketing goal?” The response to that question serves as the starting point for our conversation and helps me guide you to the right products. However, most of the time the customer hasn’t clearly outlined what they hope to achieve — whether it’s brand recognition, driving traffic to their site, lead generation, becoming a thought leader in the industry or all of the above.
Nearly every marketer I speak to knows that advertising helps their company. They know that reaching the Hardwood Floors audience can help drives sales. But as for the specifics? Many haven’t gotten that far. And that’s what I wanted to address in today’s blog.
Below are four recommendations to help you get started on your new and successful 2016 marketing plan.
1. Creating a Marketing Plan Helps You Maximize Your Investment
As Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” That’s not to say you’re bound to fail without a marketing plan. But having a plan will help you stay organized. It will lay out your key initiatives and a road map to achieve them. It will make your workflow more efficient. It will allow you to target key dates and maximize special promotions and trade show exposure. And best of all, it can help you maximize your investment and track the ROI. If you go into the year with a set plan and a set budget you can find advertising resources to make the most of that budget.
2. Outline Goals and Create a Plan Around Those Goals
Is your company looking for more awareness in the market? Are you looking to grow market share? Boost sales of a particular product? Improve the perception of your brand? Become a thought leader in the industry? Different companies have different objectives. Knowing what you’re trying to accomplish will help you narrow down your advertising options and find the solutions that are right for you. See what’s worked for some of the industry’s top brands in our Advertiser Success Stories.
3. Integrated Marketing is the Best Approach
It’s important to remember that different prospects engage with different forms of media. Digital marketing receives a lot of buzz and at Hardwood Floors we’re working hard on some advanced technology to make your digital advertising more effective. Yet, there is a large segment of our audience that only reads the printed magazine. In fact, 93% of professionals surveyed in a 2013 study by Martin Akel and Associates said that print publications are still a “desirable way” to access information. Also, in a 2015 HF readership survey done by Readex Research, 82% of respondents said the number one way they keep up to date on industry products is trade publications and websites.
Whether your advertising plans include Hardwood Floors or not, we recommend using an integrated approach — making your brand visible in print and online — to ensure you reach the entire market and not just a portion who chooses to consume one form of media.
RELATED: Why Marketers Can’t Ignore Trade Media
4. Determine How Success Will Be Measured
Perhaps the most important part of your marketing plan will be measuring its performance. This will vary depending on your marketing goals and the product mix in your plan. Common measurables for our advertising partners include number of impressions their ads receive, traffic to their website, growth in social media following, clicks on web ads, or open rates and click-throughs on Custom E-Mails. We can help you test different types of messaging and determine what is most successful for your brand.
With a new year just around the corner, it’s important to start thinking about your plan for 2016. I’d be happy to speak with you about your specific objectives and help determine the best path forward. In the meantime, happy planning!
It’s hard to believe, but summer is winding down and our staff is already hard at work on the 2016 Resource Book, the hardwood industry’s only comprehensive resource for everything wood flooring.
If you can name it, you can find it among the 330+ pages of the Resource Book: Products, which companies make which products, manufacturers, contractors, distributors by area, dealers and retailers.
This is one of our most anticipated issues each year and the great news is, there are many perks for advertisers in the issue. Here are five of the best:
1. Year-Long Visibility — Online and in Print
“We regularly hear stories from our readers who keep the Resource Book on their desk at all times, even after it’s torn and tattered from being referenced so often,” says Kim Wahlgren, editor of Wood Floor Business. “We love stories like that.”
As an advertiser in this issue, your company is bolded throughout and your, helping you stand out. But there’s also a significant online aspect.
Your brand will be featured in the online Resource Book, which receives more than 120,000 pageviews on woodfloorbusiness.com throughout the year.
2. Your Prospects Are Out There, Help Them Find You
In addition to the 23,500 people who receive the print edition of the Resource Book, thousands of people find it online each month. As an advertiser, your online listing includes a “Request a Quote” button, where prospects can request a quote right from your listing. In July alone, the online Resource Book had more than 14,000 pageviews.
3. Stand Out Above Your Competitors
As prospects search the Resource Book, both online and in print, issue advertisers are more likely to be found. In print, your listing is bolded, while non-advertisers are not. Online, you’ll automatically “pop to the top” of search results ensuring better exposure while your competitors fall to the bottom.
4. Increase SEO
Being listed in Wood Floor Business’ online Resource Book brings substantial SEO benefits, again helping more prospects find your brand. Many of our advertisers’ Resource Book listing can be found on the first page of Google results for their brand. In some cases, the Resource Book listing is higher than their own website!
5. No Extra Cost
When you advertise in the 2016 Resource Book, your brand reaps these benefits all year long just for the price of your print ad. With your purchase of any print ad—whether that’s a two-page full-color spread or a ⅙ page black and white ad—everything listed above is included. This makes your marketing dollars go further while gaining year-round returns.
Interested in helping your brand reach quality buyers in the 2016 Resource Book? Have additional questions you’d like answered? Just want to chat about your marketing goals and objectives? Don’t hesitate to call or email me anytime.
It’s no secret that marketing departments have shrunk over the years. If you’re at a large company, it’s likely you handle what was once the work of two or three people. If you’re at a small company, you might be your company’s entire “marketing department”—all while manning two or three other jobs.
It’s enough to make you freak out sometimes.
The good news: all that responsibility means every day is a new challenge. The bad news: it can get overwhelming. Below are seven tips to help you manage your time a little more efficiently and keep yourself less stressed.
1. Learn to Say No
It’s just two letters, but sometimes ‘no’ is the toughest word in our language. Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. Spreading yourself too thin causes all of your work to suffer. It’s important to be a helpful and cooperative coworker, but sometimes being honest with someone upfront is better than telling them ‘yes’ only to fail to deliver later.
2. Shut Down Your Inbox
It’s so easy to become beholden to your inbox. The key is managing your time, not letting your inbox manage your time. Set a block of time where you log out of email, put your phone out of sight (and on silent) and focus on the work you need to get done without the interruption of email.
3. Find Natural Transition Points
Wasting 10 minutes here or there can really add up. A common source of lost time is transitioning between tasks. It can be difficult to get one project out of your mind and immediately devote 100 percent of your attention to something new. To combat this, try to find natural transition points like meetings or lunch. Finish one task before these events. Then, when you return to your desk you can focus on what’s next with a clear head.
4. Plan for Interruptions
So you’ve been procrastinating. Your project is almost due so you think, “Today I’ll just focus on this project for four straight hours and get it done.” Of course, things don’t work out that way.
Even if you could focus on something for four straight hours you’re bound to be interrupted. People stopping by your desk, phone calls, emails (see #2), impromptu meetings. All of those interruptions can really stress you out if they’re disrupting what you “should” be doing. Keep that in mind when planning your day. You’re going to get interrupted. Things are going to take longer than expected.
5. Plan Ahead
Speaking of planning… It’s so simple, but even the slightest bit of preparation goes a long way. As Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Before heading home at the end of the day, take a look at your calendar and jot down some notes or at least mentally prepare yourself for the following day(s). Nothing worse than showing up to work and having a meeting that you forgot about.
6. Set Goals, Mini Goals
From the time we’re kids we’re told to set goals. But goals are worthless if they’re not reasonable. Set mini, realistic goals for your day. For example, when I have five custom proposals to create in addition to regular email and phone calls, writing down “Create five new proposals,” is overwhelming. But if I write down, “send proposals to XX and YY before lunch,” I suddenly have a reasonable goal that I’m motivated to get done. Plus, when you’ve achieved that day’s goals you know you can head home satisfied with your day’s work.
7. Eat the Frog
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Apply this mentality to your to-do list. Get your most unpleasant task out of the way first and your day will only get better from there.
Hopefully one or two of these suggestions help make your professional life a little less stressful. And less stress is important important. According to Harvard researcher and New York Times best selling author, Shawn Achor, a positive mindset is the biggest factor in professional success. Achor says 75 percent of our professional success is predicated not by intelligence, but by our optimism, social support network and the ability to manage energy and stress in a positive way.
Something to consider next time you’re ready to freak out.
In an earlier blog I recommended David Meerman Scott’s book, “The New Rules of Sales and Service” and explained how it advocates selling through storytelling.
Many marketers already know this, but they’re making one critical mistake. They think they can tell their story and reach potential buyers on their own. It’s a comment we hear occasionally: “Why would I advertise? We have an email list of customers, a website with great information and a social media following to blast our message to.”
Nothing wrong with that.
But what about those buyers out there who don’t know you? The buyers who aren’t on your email list, visiting your website or following you on social media? I hate to break it to you, but there are tons of them out there! And many of them are turning to their industry’s trade publications to guide them through buying decisions.
But rather than take my word for it, here is some powerful data to consider:
In an independent study, media consulting firm Martin Akel & Associates surveyed business professionals across 27 different industries, including marketing, manufacturing and retailing.
A few facts from the study that lend credence to the power of trade media:
As I said in my last blog, it’s crucial to be telling your brand’s story and giving potential buyers information. But you can’t go it alone. Trade media is a great way to continue to tell your company’s story and expose that story to thousands of new prospects — prospects with real buying power.
The trusty website advertisement is a mainstay in many of our customers’ marketing packages. With more than one million people visiting woodfloorbusiness.com each year, a banner ad — whether it’s the leaderboard or a block ad — can be an efficient way to gain exposure among wood flooring professionals. Over the years, we’ve seen hundreds of different banner ads on our website and we’ve learned that the most effective ones have several things in common.
Here are five simple steps to an effective website banner ad: (These same tips would also apply to advertisements in Wood Floor Business E-News.)
1. Keep it Simple
You only have so much real estate to work with in this space. (See our exact specs here if you’re curious.) This is not the space to list off every feature and benefit of your new product. Let your website do that. The ad should simply entice the prospect to take your desired action. Choose one clear message or focal point of your ad. A solid background with a clear message and/or graphic is best. Clutter is your enemy in this space.
2. Mimic Your Website Design
When a prospect clicks through to your website, make it clear immediately that they have ended up where they intended — the banner design should have the same color scheme and branding as the landing page. Consistency is the key.
3. Include a Call-to-Action
Some customers use banner ads as nothing more than a digital billboard. They simply want exposure for their brand to keep it on the minds of prospects. However, if you’re seeking click-throughs, adding a button or text with a specific prompt has been proven to increase the click-through rate. For example: “Sign Up Today.” “Click Here to See the Video.” “Click Here to Download.” If the goal is clicks, a call to action should be included.
4. Consider an Incentive
Along the lines of including a call to action, is including an incentive. A special promotion for prospects that is available only through the banner campaign. This allows you to direct sales by offering a unique promo code or phrase, specifically for those prospects who saw your advertisement.
5. Test! Test! Test!
The great thing about digital advertising is the detailed reporting that comes along with it. We can tell you just how effective your ad is. Take advantage of the data by testing different ads to see which ones work best. Run an A and B banner consecutively and monitor which one garnered more clicks. You might be surprised at the results, and this can help guide the design for your future digital marketing materials.
Of course, every marketing campaign is different. Depending on what your goals and objectives are, our team can work with you to make sure they’re achieved.