The Problem With Marketing Shortcuts

I was sitting in my office yesterday editing a video.  The sun was shining in my window as the signs of spring start to surface in Ohio.  My laptop was sitting beside me and the email application was sitting open.  It was 11 am eastern when the ads started to arrive.

Ding.  Ding.  Ding.

Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.

Ad after ad after ad.  All right about the same time.  This went on until about 11:03 am.  Then it stopped. (Actually it slowed down.  Emails never really stop, do they?).

The emails dinging interrupted my concentration on the video…and got me thinking about chasing marketing shortcuts.  (We can have a discussion about why I had my email open while I was trying to edit a video another time).

Chasing Marketing Shortcuts

When you are trying to tell your story or spread your message, it makes sense to look for the most optimized way to do it.  We see these suggestions on social media scheduling apps.  They suggest the most optimized time to post each time.  You can google the best time to post to Instagram on Thursday or the best time to send your email newsletter.  As you get started, it makes sense to do that research.  It would be foolish not to.  There is a ton of data out there that can help inform you on how to get started.

chasing marketing shortcuts

What I am saying is, don’t keep chasing that time.  Once you have decided that you are going to send your email newsletter to your subscribers at 10 am on Tuesday, stick with that.  Don’t be a slave to jumping around to different times, trying to find the most optimal time.  The idea behind many of those metrics is to combine when most of your audience will be able to see the message with when not everyone else is posting or sending their messages.

The problem of course comes when everyone tries to be different at the same time.  You know, at 11 am eastern.

The Power of Consistency

It’s better to pick a time and stick with it.  This consistency helps your audience to know when you will be communicating with them.  This builds anticipation and trust.  It can also shape the message you send.  Our newsletter is a good example.  I started sending email marketing messages MANY years ago as I got into sales.  I decided I wanted to take pro-active activity on Monday, so I decided to send out the message on Monday morning.

Now, if I started my email today I don’t think I would have chosen Monday morning.  But I have been doing it for years…so our subscribers are not only used to it, they tell me they look forward to it.  And since it is on Monday morning, I work hard to fill it full of inspirational content to help our customers start off their week on the right foot.  (You can sign up to get your Monday inbox filled with inspiration here).

So while it’s important to understand the basics of when to post or send an email, it can be fools gold to chase marketing shortcuts.  Your messaging and your message will be all over the place.

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5 Marketing Lessons From 2020

Whether you enjoyed it or not, 2020 taught us a lot of lessons.  It turns out we need to wash our hands and cover our mouth when we cough.  But once we got past the lessons we learned in Kindergarten, we found 5 marketing lessons from 2020 that can help us get ready to succeed in 2021…and beyond.

Use Foundational Marketing

When things are going well, it seems like every marketing tool and gimmick can be effective.  But when times are tough, the opposite can be true.  Not only can marketing efforts not work, but some can actually turn your clients off.  That’s why 2020 taught us to make sure we have our “foundational marketing” shored up.  This includes a more basic and cost-effective way of going to market.  We found that our requests for direct mail went way up in 2020.

Why?  Because our customers wanted to reach directly out to their prospects…and they wanted to do it in a very cost-effective way.  Scratch that…they NEEDED to be cost-effective.  When that happens, we often need to go “back to basics.”  This means we saw an uptick in direct mail, postcards and custom calendars.  These tools create the foundation for your marketing, and you should consider using them to build your brand in 2021.

Create Content…That Serves the Client

When everyone was required to start working from home, we saw a big spike in content being created.  From our perspective, that is a good thing!  But there is an important lesson to remember when creating content:  it should serve the client.  So much of what passes for “content marketing” these days is just a long form advertisement.  While those pieces of content certainly has a place, the best content is created with the customer’s needs in mind.  As a rule of thumb, no one searches for a commercial (unless they are created by Ryan Reynolds).  Create something that answers a question you are asked all of the time.  Giving value builds credibility with your audience and helps to create a relationship that can really help to grow your business.

Personalization Matters

Whether you want to create a marketing message that stands out, or you want to show your team that they are valued, personalization matters.  As I said here, the most powerful marketing word is simple…someone’s name.  This has always been true, but 2020 made us understand in a whole new way.  Not only does personalization matter to help your marketing stand out, it can also be a safety precaution!  No one wants to drink out of the wrong tumbler during a pandemic!  Giving value through content is a great way to show someone that you care…and so is putting their name on a branded gift!

Real Cause Marketing Matters

One of my favorite trends in marketing has been the increase in organizations tying their brand to a cause.  When we can promote our company AND do some real good in the world, that is a slam dunk.  It’s become such a trend that it seems some companies are hopping from cause to cause, hoping to catch lightening in a bottle from their ‘good work.”  I don’t think that is the way to do it.  It feels forced, and the audience will sniff that out.  On the other hand, if you can help a cause that really resonates with your brand and your team, you can not only make a difference…you can create great marketing too!

My friends Roger Burnett and Stan Phelps wrote a great book on this concept called Red Goldfish:  Promo Edition.  Check it out here.

Life Is Too Short For Cheap SWAG

For years, we have been proponents of focusing on higher quality branded merchandise and promotional products.  The reason is simple:  these items represent your brand.  If you use cheap promotional products, that is what prospects will think of you!  That concept has been highlighted in ALL CAPS during the pandemic.  Why?  Because most of the events where companies handed out “cheap swag” were cancelled.  So in order to reach their customers, organizations were forced to drop ship branded merchandise directly to customers.  And let’s face it, if you are spending $10 to $20 to ship something to your clients, you shouldn’t waste your money just sending a $.49 pen!

But an interesting thing happened.  When organizations needed to be more thoughtful about their branded merchandise, effectiveness of the media actually increased!  It turns out, when you create quality branded merchandise, your customers and prospects get excited to rep your brand.  It’s called Delivering Marketing Joy…and 2020 has taught us that it is alive and well in marketing done right.

These are just 5 marketing lessons from 2020.  We are excited to use these lessons in 2021…and beyond!

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Tips on Creating A Company Store

Let’s say you are in a leadership role in a growing company.  Good for you!  Whether you are in purchasing, marketing, sales or the C-suite, this might sound familiar.  You have worked hard to create a logo and brand messaging that works.  The key players were all involved.  You might have worked with an outside firm, or handled it with your internal team, but now you have a logo that you love.  The colors are perfect.  The feel is just right.  And you have even created a set of brand guidelines that make sure everyone understands what you can and can’t do with your beloved brand.  This is awesome…it’s how you create a tribe!

Then one day you see something that is very upsetting.

You are walking through the halls of your beloved institution and you see a fellow employee wearing a shirt that CLEARLY is outside of the brand guidelines!  At first, you think it’s just an anomaly…but then you see another.  And once you see it, you can’t unsee it.  There is “off brand” merchandise all over!  Apparently, a rogue manager (with the best of intentions) wanted to appreciate their staff, so they went and got some branded merchandise on their own.  Since there was no clear internal option to make this happen, they did it on their own…and the logo brand guidelines got flushed down the toilet.

This is every brand manager’s nightmare.  And this is just one good reason to create a company store.

A company store is an online e-commerce solution that offers branded merchandise for members of your organization to order.  Done right, this solution can be simple and easy to use.  And it will help to decrease the number of times that well-intentioned managers will “go rogue” for branded merchandise.  It gives members of your team a place to shop and find curated branded merchandise that is consistent with your brand AND can be vetted to make sure you can imprint the correct information.  While they do take some time to set up, they can help both marketing and purchasing be sure that promotional purchases are done right.

Understand the Kinds of Company Store

If you want to create a company store, it’s important to know what kind you want.  While there are plenty of variations, let’s stick with two basic types of stores.  These are inventory versus non-inventory stores.  Both types of stores have their place, but you need to understand them before you pick the one that’s right for your organization.

Inventory Store

An inventory store is where you (or your promotional products partner) order all of the branded merchandise in and warehouse the items.  Then, as people from around your organization order, the items can be shipped out “on demand.”  Sometimes these items are warehoused at the customer location and sometimes the promotional products partner manages that.  The advantages to this kind of store are speed and minimums.  Simply put, if you have the item imprinted, done and warehoused, you can ship them to your team right away.  In addition, if you just want one shirt, this is a very easy way to do it.  You can order just one.

There are several disadvantages to this type of store too.  First, someone has to purchase all of these items up front.  Whether it’s the customer or the partner, someone is on the hook for these items.  So if at the end of year these items don’t sell, you will ultimately own them.  So you better be really good at choosing items AND the quantity you will warehouse.  In addition, someone has to warehouse the items and manage the items.  For larger organizations, this financial commitment might be easy enough.  But for smaller organizations this can be a big cash flow challenge.

Non-Inventory Store

The other option for a company store includes the non-inventory store.  This option has become more and more popular over the last several years.  It allows companies to address the brand issues that arise at the beginning of this post without having to commit to large amounts of branded merchandise each year. In this option, a company creates an online store with curated products that match the company brand.  Then, as departments need to order, they can order from these selections with a manufacturers minimum.  The order is then created “on demand” and the customer is only billed for the items as they are created.

The downside to a store like this is, you don’t have these items on hand.  So time and minimums are more of a challenge (though both can be mitigated).  If you just need one last minute polo for a golf outing, this is not a great solution.  But if want to manage the brand, manage budgets and keep control on both, this can be a great option…even for smaller organizations.

P.S.  Another store, which we talk about here, is an employee sale.  This is a great way to allow your team to show their company pride and order just one at a time.  If you want to learn how to do this…read this.

So now that you know what kind of company stores there are…how can you make a good one?  Here are a few tips on creating a company store.

Include the Basics

When you are creating a curated collection of items for your company store, don’t out think the room.  Yes, you might want to include some cool and hot new products in the mix.  That’s great.  We are in favor of that.  But don’t forget the foundational products that most people want and need.  You will want to include a drink ware, writing instruments, and apparel.  These are staples.  You want to have items that are functional.  I would also recommend getting multiples in a couple of these categories.  While you may love a Nike 1/4 zip (and I do) not every budget will allow for that.  Give people basic options so they can use the company store without breaking the bank.

Keep It Simple

On the other hand, though you want options, you don’t want TOO many options!  Keep it simple.  Just like at the grocery store, if you give people too many options, they might not be able to choose at all.  It’s a delicate balance.  And remember, you can always add items down the road.  Which leads nicely to…

Update Items Seasonally

If you want people to continue to check out your store (and ultimately stick to the brand), continue to add options.  I recommend adding items at least once a quarter.  First, this gives your team some new ways to award their team and promote your brand.  In addition, this is part of the fun for you!  Be on the lookout for cool new items, or have us do that for you!  This is a great place to add items to the list that are missing…or give you a place to try more “off the wall” items that might fit during a time.

Get Feedback From the Troops

When it comes to your organization’s company store, your team members are your customers.  Listen to their feedback!  While you won’t be able to add every single item that is requested, you will likely see some themes.  Giving your team input into the items that are on the store will give them more ownership in the idea.  That makes it more likely that they will stick to the program and won’t go rogue again!

These are just a few tips on getting your company store up and running successfully.  If you want to chat more about whether a company store is right for your organization, we would love to talk!   

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Announcing Hasseman Marketing MasterClass

When facing times of retraction, the businesses and organizations that are willing to change are the ones that often grow and thrive.  Well we are certainly living in a time of change.  We must all be willing to look at what “we have always done” and re-evaluate.  We are doing that with Hasseman Marketing MasterClass.

But let’s start with the bad news.

We have made the difficult decision to not have the in-person Hasseman Marketing End User show that we have had for over 15 years in Coshocton.  It’s an event we love (and we hope you did too) so it was a tough choice.  But when you factor in the safety of our team and our customers, we just felt it was the right thing to do.  We are bummed…but have decided to make a shift that we are excited about.

Now let’s get to the good news.

hasseman marketing masterclass

We are VERY excited to announce that on Thursday October 15th, we will be hosting our very own Online Marketing Conference that we are calling Hasseman Marketing MasterClass.  The event will feature amazing speakers, targeted breakout sessions, an Expo area for meeting with our suppliers and more!

We are using a platform called Hopin that allows us have engaging content that keeps moving fast.  This is not just another zoom meeting and we are creating content with you in mind.

But wait there’s more.

There is a very small fee to attend the event (just $10), but we hope the value will far outweigh the cost.  In addition, the first 100 registered will received a box with some sweet branded merchandise to get them ready to learn.

For more information and to register, please head here.  We will be adding more information on sessions and speakers soon, but wanted to have you “save the date” and get in line for your sweet box of swag!

Thanks for your consideration, we hope to see you on October 15th!

Are You Willing To Change Your Marketing?

I pride myself on creating content.  At Hasseman Marketing, we create podcasts, videos and blogs, and if you are ready this, you probably know this.  In addition to enjoying the process, this content drives traffic to our website.  That’s all good, right?

Well this week, Eric Dingler did an SEO audit of our website and found something interesting.  (Yes we not only do website design, but can provide this sort of service for your website too.  Learn more here).  You see, some of my blogs are marketing related.  These posts are specific to our field of expertise.  I might talk about helping your team maintain culture and productivity with a “Work From Home Kit” or we might give you 10 tips on creating better video.  These blogs not only help to drive traffic, but they improve our SEO score.

On the other hand, some of the content I write has more of a Personal Development feel.  These blog posts are designed to help you (and me) be more productive, chase goals and be more happy.  While these blogs are popular (and hopefully helpful), Eric’s assessment of our newly designed site tells us that they “confuse google” as to what Hasseman Marketing does!  Well that’s no good!

Would You Be Willing To Change Your Marketing?

The lesson here is simple.  It has been well documented that we are living in new and different times.  But are you taking a fresh look at your marketing tactics?  Just because one path you got you and your business here, does not mean it’s the best tactic to continue today.  Are you willing to take a long hard look?

For years, using trade shows and other in person events has been a great way to go to market.  But in 2020, that strategy is a tough on to implement.  Have you considered Replacing Your Events with Branded Merchandise?  This is the right time to have that conversation.

As for me, I am going to work to change too.  It doesn’t mean I will stop writing blog posts on why we need to stop being so angry!  I enjoy that style of post.  It helps me and I hope it helps you too.  But I will direct them to KirbyHasseman.com.  That is a site I created to promote my books and speaking (yes you can hire me to speak).  I will begin posting new blogs there very soon.  I am even planning to move some of my older blogs over there too.  This seems strange to me, but I am willing to do it if it helps me create better marketing for Hasseman Marketing.

So what are you willing to change in your marketing?  It might be time to take a look.  And when you are ready, we are here to help.

How Do I Market My Business in 2020?

So here we are in 2020.  A lot has been made about the “unprecedented times” we are living.  But here we are.  As I have said before, we need to stop talking about things getting “back to normal.”  The reality is, we don’t know when that might happen.  We do need to take an honest look at where we are…and start working to succeed from here.

We need businesses to get rolling again.  I mean, we NEED it.  But you might be asking  “how do I market our business in 2020?”  Times have changed.  People have changed.  We need to consider that as we tell our organizations’s story today.  So here are some things I see working (right now) to market your business in the world we live in.

Direct Mail

In a world where people are less likely to leave their home, direct mail has become more effective.  Yes, it’s a bit old school, but it’s a low cost way to reach the masses right where they are.  And if you can create a creative, valuable offer, you have a real chance to stand out in a mailbox full of bills.

Email

One of my favorite things that Joe Pulizzi says is that we are very comfortable ( as marketers) with “rented lists.”  The radio, tv station or Facebook owns the list…and we just rent access.  But a real, vetted email list of people who have subscribed to what you have to say is a list that you own.  You get to decide when you send it, what they see, and who gets to see it.  You have to provide value, or that audience can opt out.  But there is real power in owning the list.  And I am not sure how long it will last, but email open rates have actually gone up during this pandemic.  Give value through your email list and you can make an impact in 2020.

Postive Content on Social

In this 2020 world of arguing politics, racial divides, mean spirited debates and complaining, your organization has a chance to stand out.  Just create content that is nice!  Regardless of the content platform, most of us are starved for something that provides us joy and inspiration.  If you and your organization can show up like that (consistently), you have the chance to gain a real audience and a real following.

Branded Merchandise Kits

You don’t need me to tell you, but the traditional way we see our customers and employees has changed right now.  Many events have been cancelled.  Trade shows have been put on hold.  Heck, even the idea of going to work has shifted (it’s hard to believe March was only like 4 months ago).  With that in mind, Branded Merchandise kits can be an EXTREMELY powerful tool to reach your target audience.  When done right, branded merchandise kits can improve brand affinity, affect behavior, help company culture, and yes, get people to pick up the phone.  I talk about one of my clients using branded merch to replace an event they were holding here.  If you have your team working from home, there is a kit for that.  What if your team is coming back to work?  You can create kit to (safely) welcome them back.  What about creating an online conference and mailing attendees some cool swag to get them fired up?  The possibilities are limitless.

Online Learning

I have been a believer is providing value first in marketing for a long time.  Heck, I wrote a whole book about it!  Well 2020 is a great time to do just that.  Create online learning to provide value to your clients.  Our friends at Commonsku created an amazing online conference to do that for their clients and over 800 people attended.  It was awesome.  That is the inspiration for us creating Hasseman U.  We also spent some time creating a FREE 5 Day Marketing Course for anyone that wants to take it.  The idea is to provide value for your clients in a new way.  When you do that during this time, you have the chance to build real trust with customers and prospects, and come out stronger on the other side.

Those are just 5 ways that I see companies successfully marketing in 2020.  I hope this gets your wheels turning!  While these are not necessarily prescriptive for your business, what I will say is, now is not the time for business as usual.  It’s a great time to really consider how you want to tell your story moving forward.

Good luck!

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