Archive for April, 2014

The Importance of Responsive Design

Most business owners are not aware of the positive impact responsive web design can have on their business. The way customers are searching for products and services is changing. Consumers want a response to their questions, and answers to their problems. Modern technology such as the internet provides consumers with quick responses in record time.

Mobile technology is perhaps one of the quickest and most effective ways for businesses and consumers to communicate. Consumers can respond to emails, job requests, and conference calls regardless of where they are.

What Does This Mean for Business

This means that more and more customers are using the Internet to find what they want. These customers range in the category of business people, students, professionals and everyday housewives. Very few people are confined to a desktop computer. This is the age of technology.

Businesses Need to Invest in the Future of Their Business

There is “Office on the Go” which is what many people are using to keep in touch with their jobs and to keep an eye on their competitors. Nearly every mobile device being introduced to the market today, offers some type of responsive web design software. Consumers are able to make purchases, pay bills, and schedule their next dental appointment, from their mobile devices.

Responsive web designs allow consumers the freedom to search the website, request assistance and ask questions. Open communication is the key for businesses that rely on customer responses. This means that customers can enter a website from any mobile device and use any screen size. Businesses that are not using responsive web designs are losing out on customers, sales and profits.

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Why We Love Print (And You Should Too!)

We love print media and there is a reason that you should love it, too. When you are working on a marketing strategy for your business, print can help you to reach your entire target demographic, regardless of their age. You cannot rely solely on the Internet because print is how you are going to market to those who are right in front of your face.

Print provides security that someone is going to see your marketing message. You never have to worry about viruses or other malware preventing your message from reaching the intended audience. Once it is printed, it is available for the world to see – you just have to get it in front of the right people.

Printing is available using new technology that allows for higher quality images, larger formatting, full bleeds and real-life colors. This ensures that you are able to portray your company in the way that it needs to be so that people find out who you are and what you are all about.

We love print because it is diverse. You can choose small business cards to hand out to people when you see them, flyers for upcoming events, and banners to tell people where you are. It is a form of marketing that has always been around and will continue to thrive as long as there are face to face interactions taking place.

Print can be affordable and there is room for small and large businesses alike to partake in it. Small businesses generally focus on personalization while large businesses focus on bulk printing. Regardless of who you are, print media can help you achieve your marketing goals in one capacity or another. From catalogs to bulk mail to posters, it can all help you market your business.

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Making the Most of Your Email Lists

Santa is not the only one who benefits from the judicious use of lists. As a small business owner, you should be maximizing the return on your marketing investment by ensuring that you are getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to making the most value out of your email list. The tendency among neophyte internet marketers however, is that they view their electronic missives little differently than they view the direct, bulk-mail offerings that they have extended in the past. In fact, a highly calibrated email marketing campaign can lead to an increase in customer loyally, and a growth in newly engaged visitors who you can convert to future customers.

Segmented Email Lists

Just as Santa has two very distinct lists designed to serve two entirely different populations, you can also segment your email list to specifically target who gets what marketing message. After all, what sense does it make to craft a marketing message designed to lure in new customers, and then waste the energy sending it off to long-time, loyal customers who might be insulted that you seem unaware of their status as long-time loyal customers? Targeted email lists allow you to focus your marketing message like a laser on the specific segment of your customer base that you want to develop, which maximizes your efficiency while engaging your customer base.

Use the Customized Tools

Once a bulk, direct-mail campaign is launched and the coupons are in the mail, you really have no idea what is happening to those mailings until a customer hops into your shop, or places an order online for your wares. Utilizing the customized tools of email marketing programs gives you the power to actively track the progress and response to your mailings to each specific customer. You will know when they’ve opened it, read it, or horror of horrors, deleted it without so much as giving it a peek.

If you are going to use an email marketing list, you might as well make the most out of it for your investment in time and resources.

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PURLs – How They Work and How to Get Started

Personalized URLs, or PURLs, are exactly what they sound like. Rather than randomly-generated strings of characters, your clients or staff might log in to a page such as “yourcompany.com/JohnSmith” or “JohnSmith.yourcompany.com”. User John Smith will see a personalized message, which makes him feel valued no matter what role he plays to your company or website. This helps your company because people respond when others user their names. It’s why cashiers will look at a credit or store card and thank a customer by name as they’re leaving the checkout. Personalized URLs are also beneficial because they’re easy to remember.

The foundation of a personalized URL is to redirect to an existing website and serve visitors with customized images depicting their name or other personalizations based on the user’s demographic and data that you’ve already collected. With PURLs and personalized content, you’re more likely to snag that customer because you can appeal to their interests.

PURLs work well with print marketing because you can print a customer’s URL on a postcard and flyer and invite them to your website. Depending upon your platform, you can also use PURLs to track a specific user’s path on your website and use this to create the perfect follow-up plan. To retain greater control over that path, implement a call to action on that landing page.

A simple method might use a 301 redirect for the URL, but you’ll need a more complex system if you want to provide PURLs to many users. To save money and time, you might not implement a user-specific landing page. Many companies hire developers to create PURLs and the surrounding pages so that the systems will remain responsive and robust even as the company grows and add more personalized URLs to the system.

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4 Reasons Why it Pays to Poll Your Customers

What are your customers saying about you?

If you’ve ever wondered whether your small business is hitting the mark with the people it serves, a survey may be in order. Consumer surveys give you insight into every facet of how well, or how poorly, your business is performing.

Who’s Buying What?

This is probably the most important reason to survey your customers — finding your product’s demographic. How old are the people who are buying what you have to sell? Are they male or female? College-educated or blue-collar all the way?

A well-written survey form collects this type of personal information which then gives you better insight into who your customers really are.

How Are You Doing?

Are your customer service representatives friendly? Do they go the extra mile to assist each customer that walks through your brick-and-mortar store or who logs onto your website? Do they say “Thank you” and “Please come back again”? If they don’t, a survey is one of the most-efficient ways of finding out this important piece of information.

What’s the Next Step?

When it comes time to expand your operations, which direction should you take? Try asking your customers. A survey that asks clients what new features, products or services they would love to find inside your place of business gives you an idea of where you should begin and what products you should focus on next.

What Are Your Opportunities for Improvement?

Is your parking lot too small? Do you keep your store cool enough in the summer? Are your credit card readers and cash registers fast and efficient enough to keep people coming back for more? If you’re not sure, get a survey into the hands of every customer and find out which areas need improvement.

The future of your business is in the hands of those you serve. Make sure your consumer surveys are there as well.

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Common Marketing Mistakes

Common marketing mistakes fall into general categories; failure to understand your customer, resistance to change, and ignorance of current strategies. These categories can overlap but we will use them for our discussion.

Failure to understand your customer is the basis of all marketing mistakes, because marketing is about understanding people. Do you collect data from your current customers so you know who your base is, how they heard about you, why they come and why they come back? Do you know who else might need what you offer? General marketing research is a tool, but it has limits. The more you connect with your actual customers and understand them, the more focused your marketing will be. People buy with their right brain (connections) more than they do with the left (logic) and they rarely buy the first time they hear a message. Do you know which message connected and how long it took to get a response?

Resistance to change plagues all of us because it takes effort and money to adapt to what is happening. It’s easier to do things the way they always have been done. Identifying your unique selling proposition (USP) means analyzing your business honestly and stepping out in new territory might involve taking decisions out of committee. When was the last time your committee agreed on which donut was best? If they can’t agree on donuts, how will they agree on marketing?

Ignorance of current strategies is easy to fix: invest in professional marketing advice. All the social media techniques, website and SEO strategies, and understanding how to mix the traditional with the cutting edge is what a professional marketing firm does every day. They already know what it will take you valuable time to find out on your own.

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Tools for the Print Industry

The print industry is still very much alive. Throughout the industry, there is more technology than ever before and this has led to a better quality image that can be produced. As a result, when you work with a printer, you can enjoy such things as a clear image of the photos you wish to print, a full bleed on your flyers, and colors printed in the exact hue that you need them to be.

One of the primary tools that everyone in the print industry should be using is a digital printer. Digital printers ensure that there is no pixelation on larger prints and that the images are as clear as they can possibly come out in a printed format.

Large printers are also a must to ensure that you can get the banners and posters that you need. If you need a 24×36 poster, then it should be made available to you without having to work with a company clear across the country, which also involves shipping, handling and a longer wait time.

Various die cut tools should also be available so that you can get the shapes that are important to you. Whether you want club cards to hand out that are round or you want business cards with rounded corners, you should have the options available to you.

Not everyone in the print industry uses the same tools – or uses them in the same manner. It’s important to ask questions of a print company before you submit your order to ensure you are getting the quality that you need.

A significant amount of technology is available and anyone in the print industry should be tapping into this technology to provide you with a superior product to enhance your business.

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Design: Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to designing anything that is going to be used for marketing, be it a logo, business cards or flyers, there are some things that you don’t want to do. Marketing dollars need to be stretched and used effectively. If you make some basic design mistakes, you could be doing more harm than good for advertising your brand.

Choose the Right Logo

You don’t want to choose a logo that is so intricate that it is hard to read or duplicate. There have been countless businesses that have created a logo that looks great when it’s blown up on a banner. However, as soon as they try to print it on a business card or a T-shirt, it looks too blurry and is impossible to read.

A logo should be clear and crisp. Don’t overcomplicate it because it is the logo that will be used on everything pertaining to your business. It should be easy to read and only contain a few colors so that it can be produced easily.

Brand Yourself

Branding needs to occur with your designs, which means they should look similar. Whether you are printing banners, posters, flyers, business cards, company t-shirts, or anything else for the purpose of marketing, you need to have a similar look. This means using the same logo, colors, and font so that people recognize you.

Don’t Confuse

You cannot afford to confuse your consumers. If you continuously re-design your logo or change the feel of your marketing materials, you are going to have brand confusion. People won’t know who you are and what you stand for.

All marketing materials have to be clean, crisp, and well branded in order to effectively penetrate the market and ensure that your marketing dollars are stretched properly.

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