THE MASTER PLAN

Master-Marketing-Plan2018 is coming to a close. As a business owner or someone who works for a company, do you take the time and reflect back on the year to see if you hit the mark or where you fell short? If you don’t measure, you’re missing opportunities to either do more of what’s working or shift from actions that aren’t working. The one thing for certain is there will always be change.

Often, I’ll talk with business owners and ask how did that client come to you? They typically can tell me where the last client came from, but when we dive deeper into how many new leads have you had in the past 3 months and from those, what turned into business, they haven’t written the information down in some format – either a CRM, Excel sheet or whatever system works for them.

We are coming into the last month of the year. For many, that means a plethora of holiday parties and vacation days. Is your company preparing for a customer appreciation event? Add the stress of preparing for the holidays and often you will hear, “Let’s touch base after the first of the year”. So, how are you using some of the downtime toward the end of the year? Perhaps that is the time to lay out 2019’s plan of action.

Here are some things to consider:

Have you established strong referral partnerships? The Edmiston Group works closely with McKibbin Consulting. We look for opportunities for each other and as a result of this partnership, many of our clients are in the commercial construction field. We’ve made introductions for them and manage their marketing efforts. Some people have strong ties to BNI or are involved in other category specific networking groups. The point is, find what works for you to grow your business and nurture those relationships. Be certain that the giving of referrals and looking for business for each other is a two-way street.

Do you speak? There are often missed speaking opportunities for breakout sessions at trade show events, but you must plan ahead and submit the required outline that will position you as an expert. Are you trying to hit a niche market? Does that market have a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) requirement for licensing? Can you create a program to meet those requirements? Think about it, if you’re marketing to accountants, nursing, social workers or attorneys that have CEU requirements – you become a subject matter expert in front of a room full of potential customers. This takes some effort on your part, but it certainly is targeted advertising.

Email marketing is a great way to stay top of mind when the need arises. A client of ours, Wright Business Systems recently talked about branded apparel and corporate gift giving for the holiday season. They have over 400 people on their email list. We can see who opened the email and which contacts clicked on the links within the newsletter. They are now warm leads for the team to follow-up with. Undeliverable emails represent opportunities to touch base with companies to determine who the new purchasing agent is and set an appointment.

Social Media helps level the playing field for small business owners. In working with many smaller businesses, they don’t have the big bucks to compete with the large box stores, but through engagement with social media, they have grown their followers. Sometimes business owners we speak with say I don’t have the time or know what to post. At the beginning of the year, the Edmiston Group offers a free social media calendar to download. Look for that in our January issue. However, in 2018, we’ve developed some customized calendars for specific businesses. Branded sales and/or holiday wishes touch their social media audience. Business owners are given a plan and taught how to preschedule postings. For those that are too busy, they outsource this service to us or someone else, but there is a plan to follow.

Sample Customized Social Media Images

Thanksgiving-Social-Media-Sample    Custom-Social-Media-Sample

If you haven’t picked up on the theme of this by now, it’s having a plan and setting aside time to think about goals for next year. Write down monthly activities and execute the plan for 2019. This makes it easier for you and your staff to look ahead to first quarter and see things such as we’re attending a trade show, something for Valentine’s Day or a St. Patrick’s social media post that should happen.

The Edmiston Group helps you create a yearly marketing plan, customized social media calendars, and branded social media images specifically for your business. Customized programs can be designed to fit your budget. Take some time as the year comes to a close, reflect on your successes and plan for 2019. Want some help in putting together your 2019 plan? Download a sample of a Custom Marketing Calendar or give us a call at 724-612-0755 or email autumn@edmistongroup.com for more information. Make 2019 your best year yet!

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

CONSISTENT BRANDING AND ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

online-reputation-managementYou’ve worked hard to build a good business and reputation, but how do you spread the word to existing and new customers? Are you being found online? Is your information consistent? Local SEO plays a role in helping businesses grow.

Through a new service offering, and by leveraging technology, the Edmiston Group can help you manage and maintain and consistent online brand and messaging. Think about all the business directories and online opportunities out there to put your business on the map. Be present, be consistent and be found!

Once people know you are out there, now you need to manage your online reputation! We help businesses preserve their brand and create a positive digital experience for new and existing customers.

Components of our service include:

  • We can integrate your business directly with 75+ business directories including all the top maps, apps, search engines, GPS Systems, social networks, and digital assistants, making it easy to update your business information in one fell swoop.
  • Know that you have control over how your business is promoted and listed over the entire web. You can continue to update and promote your business regularly with new services, imagery and/or special hours for holidays. Imagine if your business has to close last minute due to an emergency and drive relevant messaging. It would be important to let a potential customer know this as quickly as possible. You can ensure that updates are delivered immediately so your customers are always in the know.
  • With Reputation Management you can take control of your online reviews! Online reviews are necessary in today’s digital world and also help your businesses with local SEO if managed properly. Good third-party reviews help a business grow. People buy as a result of reading third party validation on service delivery. Being alerted to unfavorable reviews and responding to the customer before they go live is now an option. This service allows you to be proactive in making sure your online reputation is at the top of its game.

To schedule your online reputation evaluation, email autumn@edmistongroup.com. We are offering a free audit of your current web listings and can demonstrate how it can be improved.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY

small-business-saturdaySmall Business Saturday celebrates and helps you discover small businesses. The Shop Small® movement began in 2011 and each year has continued to evolve and become a springboard for small businesses to leverage the holiday shopping experience.

According to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, in 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday — generating roughly $12 billion in reported spending.

As shopping small catches on in communities everywhere, Small Business Saturday goes from a cause to a day of community celebration. In 2017, there were 7,200 neighborhood champions organizing shop small events throughout their local communities. These champions spread the word about shopping small and supporting local businesses and encourage fellow business owners to unite in a community effort to attract new customers.

If you’re an independent business owner, now is the time to think about how you can leverage Shop Small Business on November 24, 2018!

By garnering support from fellow business owners, you can save by:

  1. Combining monies in a coordinated advertisement. Participating business owners, share in the cost of a print ad resulting in larger ad size at a fraction of the cost.
  2. Branded marketing piece featuring event highlights. It is recommended that this piece is professionally created by a marketing specialist and cost shared. Then each business participating in the event will be sharing the same message.
  3. Coordination of branded social media imagery and messaging. For those of you who manage your own social media – a joint calendar of standard messages can be created and shared amongst participating businesses. Therefore, all participating businesses are sharing the same message.
  4. Leverage newsletters and email lists. Tell your customers what you’re planning and to save the date. With each business sharing the same information, your business reaches new audiences.

Perhaps you’re a service business and not a brick and mortar store. How do you leverage this movement? Find a group of businesses to partner with. Participate as a sponsor. Have a grand prize give-a-way and collect contact information for follow-up. Be a breakfast or beverage sponsor.

The Edmiston Group works with a number of small businesses. By leveraging the power of the #shopsmall movement and planning ahead, small business owners can compete. Social media has made has helped to level the playing field. Create buzz around your event and get shoppers excited to see what each business has to offer. Download your Small Business Saturday Marketing Assets today. Need help to plan and execute? Give us a call at 724-612-0755.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.