Creative Instinct Blog – Branding & Marketing Tips for Busy Professionals

Informative articles and tips on marketing for small businesses.


Tips for Email Marketing

Article written by Darrell Zahorsky, About.com Guide

emailFrom the daily onslaught of email spams and newsletters filling inboxes, you would think that email marketing is losing its punch. Email marketing is not dead, but a thriving medium for business today.

Business today is finding email marketing attractive for several reasons:

The cost of sending a direct mail piece by postal service runs over a dollar, email marketing can cost pennies.
A one percent response rate from direct mail is considered terrific. An email marketing campaign can have a five to ten percent response rate.
According to DoubleClick’s Email Consumer Study, over 78% of online shoppers have purchased because of permission-based emails and 59% of email recipients have bought in a retail store as a result of a merchant email.
The benefits of email marketing range from increased sales and lead generation to stronger brand awareness and improved customer relationships.

Instruments of Email Marketing

Email marketing is immediately associated with personalized bulk mailings, and possibly newsletters. A complete email marketing strategy can consist of more marketing instruments, however:

  • Individual replies to customer requests
  • Newsletters (both with original content and supporting a Web site)
  • Personalized mailings
  • Public mailing lists (for market research, support, etc.)
  • Autoresponders
  • Networking (participating in forums, discussion lists, fairs,…)
  • Web site

Of course, all email activities should also be in line with the overall marketing strategy.

Create A Clear “Call To Action”

Sometimes, I get newsletters and marketing messages via email that have everything except a clear call to action. They’re beautifully designed, a joy to read, and they get me in the mood to do something — if only I knew what the sender expects me to do. I don’t know where to click, what link to follow, where to order.

One of the crucial elements of an email marketing campaign is a clear call to action.

  • Lay out exactly what you want the recipients of your message to do, and
  • Design the message to make that path clear for the recipient, and easy to follow.

Don’t distract with too many links or offers, and make not only the call to action clear but also what recipients can expect when they click through. This can be as simple as “Click here for a 20% discount on your next weekend trip.”

Frequency

How often is too often? How often is not often enough? Your subscribers know best how frequently they want to hear from you. They’ll let you know by means of unsubscribing. To prevent that, consider asking them for a perfect frequency, test heavily, and maybe ask those who unsubscribe for their reason.

To get started, consider this rule of thumb, though:

  • Everything less often than at least every other month is not often enough. People will forget about you, and the surprise of an email from you showing up after a year will probably result in a surprise unsubscription.
  • Everything more often than once a week is too often unless your subscribers specifically agreed more frequent mailings. People will get tired and annoyed by your emails, and unsubscribe even if they like your content.

Reflect Your Corporate Design

Your email marketing strategy as a whole must be an integrate part of the overall marketing strategy. Similarly, the design (and the content) of your newsletter or email marketing campaign should reflect your corporate design. Your business “corporate design” or your business “brand” is the look and feel of all your marketing materials (print & online).

Ensuring that your emails reflect your corporate design ensures that recipients can make a connection between the emails and the sender’s other marketing collateral (even if it’s only a Web site). The company image and the image created by the email marketing efforts can interact and maybe strengthen each other.

If the email marketing does not reflect the corporate design, this can have a bad effect not only on the success of the email campaign, but also on the image of the company as a whole. In the subconscious minds of your audience, design consistency in your marketing materials = professionalism and trustworthiness.

Need some help with your email marketing?

Creative Instinct provides a powerful email marketing service that combines excellent design along with statistical analysis allowing you to view detailed breakdowns of your email campaigns’ effectiveness. Our email system  allows you to create and send your own email campaigns using a professionally designed “stationery” that we create for you (includes header and footer banners with your logo). Don’t have the time to create an email ad or newsletter? — Leave it to us. Creative Instinct can access your account, design a custom email campaign, and then deploy it for you.

Monthly packages or “pay as you go” plans are available. For more information, call Creative Instinct at 501-244-0573. Or, send an email to Gwen Canfield: gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To learn more about Creative Instinct, visit our website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.

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Publicity: 3 Steps to Getting Free Press Coverage

Article by Stewart Gandolf and Lonnie Hirsch

Tips for free publicity...Ever wonder what the difference is between advertising and publicity?

Simply put, publicity is free. Advertising costs money.

In other words, if a newspaper writes a news article about you (but doesn’t charge you), that’s publicity. If the newspaper charges you for the space (even if it is in article format), then the message just became advertising.

Wouldn’t we all like a little publicity – or “free press” – now and then…just to “get our name out there” a bit…help build reputation and recognition…and attract prospective clients?

Sounds easy enough…nice payoff…so where to start?

Before someone starts wordsmithing a quick news release from the top of their head, this quest does not begin with you or your business – at least not yet. The first and most important insight is that getting the publicity that you want – good, effective publicity – depends entirely on being able to help the news media get what they want.

In other words, your story has to be newsworthy and relevant to your target media outlets’ readers, viewers and/or listeners.

Keep in mind that “free publicity” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s seldom easy, never automatic, and the required investment will be careful and thoughtful research, plus a healthy pinch of creativity. What’s more, if you really want to maximize your chances of getting proper exposure, you may need to hire a professional publicist to get your message out, and publicists are definitely not free.

Begin with two important inventory steps. Make two lists…and the match between the first list and the second list is where you’ll find (or make) opportunity for publicity.

#1 MEDIA INVENTORY

Chart all possible media that touch the people you want to reach. Start by brainstorming to find relevant media. In addition to the obvious local daily newspaper, magazine and/or broadcast outlets, include community weeklies, ethnic or special interest publications, regional, monthly or quarterly magazines, industry newsletters, etc.

In this process, also identify appropriate sub-categories. For example, a newspaper or magazine may have a designated section, editor, reporter or periodic edition for your industry. Look at several editions to recognize what each media outlet favors and whose name is on the “by-line” or section. Identify as many people as possible by category, section, topic or interest.

It’s no secret that the purpose of any commercial media is to attract an audience – and it’s these readers or viewers that the advertisers want to target. So, if the media appeals to an “up-scale” audience, or a “Smallville/Main Street” audience, your best chance of successful publicity will be to tap into their goal.

#2 PERSONAL INVENTORY & POSSIBLE “HOOK” IDEAS

Now look for ideas that help the media. Take an inventory of your own strengths, special knowledge or other ideas that might be of interest to the media’s audience.

You may or may not personally be part of this audience, so focus on their point of view. Look beyond the obvious, be inventive (within reason) and create a list of possible “hooks” or “angles.” What might be attention-getting or unusual? Consider:

  • What is legitimately the first, newest, latest or unique?
  • Do you have a new way to solve a problem?
  • An insight to an emerging trend or something of benefit to a large number of people.
  • A story that is truly heart-warming, tear-jerking or emotionally compelling.
  • Is there a celebrity angle? …a “hero” angle? …an unusual hobby angle?
  • Can you provide expert commentary about a timely topic?
  • Do you know a local angle to a national item?
  • Are you an expert, author, inventor or credentialed authority?
  • Can you create a newsworthy event?

#3 CROSS REFERENCE “WHAT THEY WANT” WITH “WHAT YOU’VE GOT”

Brainstorm many possible topics…narrow to several…and refine the best two or three possibilities. The refinement step will also take into consideration the needs and interests of the specific reporter, editor or producer. And that’s the person to whom you will make your pitch.

It’s likely that you’ll find a match, but you may have to drill down and be a bit inventive to carefully make the match between what they want and what you’ve got. And when you do, that’s where your opportunity for free publicity begins.

That’s how the game starts. But there’s much more to winning publicity as well as planning, public relations, advertising, promotion, strategic thinking and effective execution for practice development.

Winning at the publicity game is challenging. Give us a call today at 501-244-0573 and we’ll be happy to help you grow your organization. Creative Instinct partners with some of the best PR strategists in the business, and can assist you with public relations planning, advertising, promotion, strategic thinking and effective execution. To learn more about Creative Instinct, and view our portfolio, visit www.creativeinstinct.biz.